There are some great hip-hop songs that are released every year, and some rappers focus on one aspect of their life. For example, the Migos are an incredible group that focus on creating hits that will ring out in the nightclub. Lil Uzi Vert is a modern superstar in his own right, and a lot of his lyrics tend to focus on his relationships, depression, and drug use. Meek Mill, on the other hand, might rap about his past, struggles with the criminal justice system, and how he has overcome all odds to get where he is now.
Different perspectives are great for music ? and this isn?t anything new. Artists often evolve, and it can lead to some great strides in various genres. Jay-Z is now married with kids, rather than resembling the rapper who once proclaimed that he was ?Big Pimpin?.?
However, some rap songs simply come across as more inspired than others, and might motivate you to ?get up, get out, and get something?, like the famous Outkast/Goodie Mob song.
As for the list: are these the best songs of 2020? Of course not ? I listen to many genres. Are these the best rap songs of 2020? Well, not necessarily. There are rap songs that are meant much more for partying, pregaming, chilling at the house, whatever?but if you are looking for a rap song that will motivate you: keep reading. Either way, here are five inspiring (according to me) rap songs from this year.
?Broke In A Minute?, Tory Lanez
Tory Lanez may have gained a lot more fans during the quarantine, thanks to the fact that he was creative enough to come up with the concept of Quarantine Radio, which entertained everyone from bored teenagers to some of the most respected moguls in the music industry. However, I do feel like his latest project, The New Toronto 3, has slipped under the radar as a result. Lanez has proved himself to be incredibly consistent, and this latest album is no different.
Tory Lanez sounds great over certain instrumentals, and the horns here allow him to create the kind of anthem that has some real lasting power. Lanez proudly proclaims that he hasn?t been ?broke in a minute?, while he acknowledges that he once used to be. When this song was first released, I was stunned at the lack of attention it received. I was pleased to find that there was an official video out a couple of days later. The visual isn?t exactly revolutionary, but it gets the job done:
Here, Lanez juxtaposes his life before and after music consistently, with lines like: I was just working at Denny?s / came back and counted some millions?, with a new layer of drums dropping right on time. Lanez knows how to inject the right amount of charisma and humor into his art, as well.
He continues to impress, thanks to lines about whether or not he should care about a sex tape leaking, or poking fun at gender roles: ?Don?t sell me pussy, I need a percentage/ if you gon? fuck me, the shit is expensive.? Lanez might not get too deep here, but the production makes this the kind of song that you might want to play before you get some work done. At least, it has been for me. Whether you are broke right now, or haven?t been ?broke in a minute?, this is a solid playlist add for those who appreciate some inspiring lyrics and strong production.
?Guess What,? Russ feat. Rick Ross
Russ is one of the most outspoken rappers in the game, and he isn?t afraid to speak his opinion. This has led to a lot of backlash, but it doesn?t change the fact that he remains arguably the most self-sufficient artist in the world right now.
Russ is capable of creating the beat that he raps on, then recording and mixing the song ? and having it chart internationally. I don?t believe that there?s anyone in the world that can do that, and Russ deserves praise for this kind of versatility.
He also deserves praise for bossing up on ?Guess What?, which features a Rick Ross verse. The beat is slow and elegant, but Russ is eager to brag about everything that he?s accomplished. You know a rap song is inspiring when Rick Ross is rapping about the Met Gala and Russ is bragging about the fact that he just put his own logo in his pool.
Russ speaks freely about how much creative control he has on the chorus, but the first verse really contains some gems. In the first minute of the song, Russ understands that he has to grab all ears with lines like: I can spot a fake before we even finish dapping up / Clapping when they win, but when I win, they never clap it up?. There is a sophistication and elegance to the production that is hard to deny, and Ross was the perfect choice for a feature here.
The video has garnered only 5 million views, which isn?t monumental by Russ standards, but it?s easily one of the most motivational rap songs released this year:
Gunna simply isn?t missing ? at all. This man has so many high-profile features at this point that I could probably spend the next month writing about them, but his consistency stands out among the rest.
He also isn?t afraid to work with artists that ?seem? outside of his lane, only to prove that he can add to any kind of song or production in a unique way, and elevate the track in some form or fashion. If you think that I am exaggerating about his features, consider this ?Skybox? Youtube comment (the most-liked comment on the video):
I love lyricism, and regularly listen to rap albums from the 1990s all the time. Even with this perspective, I simply can?t deny how incredible Gunna?s melodies are, and it?s probably the reason why he?s so sought after in the music industry right now. On ?Skybox?, he literally creates a song that FEELS like the title ? as if you?re somewhere above it all, soaking it in from a luxurious birds-eye view.
The production is top-notch here, as the 26 year-old rhymes about Gucci socks, diamonds, sex, cars, renting out hotel floors, and more. The catchiness of it all, and the way he rides the beat, is what makes this song so catchy.
If ?Guess What? is the song that you listen to before you start getting some work done, ?Skybox? might be the song that you bump once your work is done and you feel like dancing in your cubicle for a while (or living room, if you are working from home, like so many are right now).
The song might not inspire you lyrically, but everything about the song urges the listener to hope and hustle for more. This is the first single off WUNNA, his sophomore studio album that has no set release date (as of press time). The video is quite interesting, as well, and Gunna decided to go to Jamaica to film it:
?Ezekiel?s Wheel?, Jay Electronica featuring Jay-Z and The Dream
There are not many rap songs that I would describe as ?ethereal?, but Ezekiel?s Wheel is certainly worthy of the adjective. The Dream provides a captivating chorus over the understated beat, but the entire experience is quite inspiring.
The fact that Jay-Z is a billionaire (?Billion on me, right now?) and decided to create an EP with Jay Electronica, a man who has released classic songs without ever putting out a full debut of his own ? is the kind of move that lets you know that Hov is now doing whatever he wants, and neither are holding their tongue here.
Jay Electronica explains his absence from the scene here, but he isn?t afraid to give us the gems we know him for: ?Sometimes I was held down by the gravity of my pen / sometimes I was held down by the gravity of my sin / sometimes, like Santiago, at crucial points of my novel, my only logical option was to transform into the wind.?
This is elite lyricism here, and Jay-Z is fine with playing the background, offering some observations about his success on the chorus. As a New Orleans native, I was thrilled to finally get a full project from Jay Electronica, with Jay-Z all over the songs as well?something Electronica admits is ?highway robbery? in this song.
I should note that the song loses a bit of its magic over time, and it could?ve been condensed a bit. However, if you need to take a drive to clear your mind ? this is easily the best rap song of 2020 for that particular objective. One of the coolest things about this song?
Jay Electronica also produced the song himself. Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, both legends in their own right, also have something to do with the song ? which might be why it?s one of the more unique rap songs of the past several years.
At the end of the day, these songs might not make the best songs of 2020, or even the best rap songs of 2020. However, they are great songs to play first in the morning, when you are ready to get a couple of things crossed off your checklist.
I found these songs to be cool to play in the background when cleaning, or simply a cool song to play while going for a drive. I?ve also taken some time off work, played these songs, and decided that it was time to get more work done ? almost as if the song had given me a boost of energy.
I also want to thank you all for helping me reach 1000 followers, despite the fact that I haven?t been posting much! I hope you enjoyed some of these songs. If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read some of my other music-related posts.