2020 won’t be forgotten in a hurry! Today I’m gonna review the year that was in music releases.
For me, one of the overriding themes of the year was that women took over in rap and other genres. There were a number of landmark moments and Denise Chaila was at the heart of a few of them.
Her performance at the National Gallery early in the summer was iconic, and later on she represented herself really well on the hugely watched Late Late Show, not once but twice. Denise managed to bring out the now ubiquitous “Chaila” as well as her debut mixtape this year too, and she made appearances on a whole host of other releases from both her own Narolane camp and with her other peers in Ireland too.
The whole squad went in really in 2020, and her co stars Murli and God Knows were there every step of the way too, and both further established themselves as two of Ireland’s finest MCs with their own material too.
Tolu Makay made a big impact with some superb performances and a brilliant EP, while Erica Cody became another one of the many high-profile voices in the Black Lives Matter protests that dominated this country this summer, before releasing her own ‘Calculated’ hit recently. Celaviedmai, Gemma Dunleavy, Efé, Fehdah, Tomike, Loah, Cmat, Alicia Raye, Biig Piig, Minnie Marley, Bukky, Shiv, Zali, NC Grey, Yesunia, Meghan Murray, Ade, Melina Malone and Carrie Baxter are just a few more of the Irish girls making massive waves in 2020.
The guys did their thing too and Nealo released one of the best rap albums of the year, with All The Leaves Are Falling. Alex Gough released a superb mixtape, while UD kicked off the year with a superb EP that shows his versatility. Jafaris and Jyellowl also smashed it with recent releases and both have big futures ahead, while on the west coast Hazey Haze killed it, as did his PX Tipperary label mate Gavin Davinci. Other Irish artists to impress me this year included Plantain Papi, Danny G, Paj, Tebi Rex, Rejjie Snow, Mango x Mathman, Kojaque, Kean Kavanagh, Selu, Drew Hall, thelastpoetzen, Pharaii, Bantum, Pat Lagoon, Invader Slim, Strange Boy, 7th Obi and Citrus Fresh.
There are many more guys and girls making great music in Ireland this year who I didn’t mention, but overall this is just a taste of the talent here at the moment.
The Weeknd dropped his (strangely overlooked at the Grammys) ‘After Hours’ project on the back of the huge ‘Blinding Lights’, and it’s one of his best yet. Freddie Gibbs, Run the Jewels, Don Toliver, Dababy, 21 Savage and the sadly departed Pop Smoke also came correct in 2020.
Many of the big hitters were quiet but the women were anything but, and this was the year where ‘WAP’ took Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B into nearly every conversation.
Amid all of the hot-takes, Snoop Dogg, one of the most traditionally sexist rappers of all time, found time this week to criticise these women for bearing such sexual info in public. Irony season is in full swing!
Megan also came out with the ‘Savage Remix’, where she traded bars with Beyonce, and her own album is packed full of bangers. The girls took over, and Doja Cat had a huge viral hit with ‘Say So’, while City Girls, Saweetie, Chloe x Halle, Flo Milli, Kash Doll and many more helped dominate the airwaves at a time when unfortunately the clubs lay empty.
My own love of afrobeats meant that I was keeping a close eye on Nigeria, where Yemi Alade, Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Olamide, Davido and many others released big albums in 2020. I’ve written extensively about the power and potential of this music, and it’s not just in Nigeria that afrobeats and other afro-pop is making strides. The wider world finally caught up with Beyonce’s 2019 ‘Lion King’ project too, when the visuals dropped, but ultimately this is just a small taste of Africa.
In 2021 we will hopefully all have a much better year. I wish you all a happy Christmas!!!