How are you supposed to respond when the world turns upside down in the midst of one of the most important years of your career? That’s the challenge that faced every rapper on this list in 2020. This year didn’t go according to anyone’s plans, but the most successful artists figured out ways to adapt and keep pushing their careers forward anyway.
Intended to serve as a snapshot of the best hip-hop artists in their 20s over the past year, this list focuses on overall impact, skill, quality, and influence in the time since we published our previous rankings on Nov. 26, 2019. As rap has evolved, the definition of being the “best rapper” has expanded as well. Mastering lyricism and flow is still very important, but it’s not everything. To be the best, you also need to be innovative, understand how to craft complete songs, and bring a fresh style to the table.
This year in particular, it pays to be quick on your feet and stay ahead of the curve. The music industry moves quickly, even during a pandemic, and the most adaptable artists are the ones who find the most success. And of course, the measuring stick has shifted in 2020, too. Many artists pushed back release dates and chose to be more intentional with the music they did put out in the world. So, when evaluating the artists on this list, we paid attention to how effective each of them were with the music they did decide to release. For example, an artist like Tyler, the Creator didn’t put out an album of his own in 2020, but he still figured out ways to stay relevant with a series of standout guest verses on critically-acclaimed projects.
As 2020 nears its final weeks, we put together a list of the artists in their 20s who were able to excel and leave their mark during a wildly unpredictable time. These are the 20 best rappers in their 20s this year.
Previously: The 20 Best Rappers in Their 20s (2019)