Music I Discovered in 2020


Music is the food of the soul. The companion of the alone man.

Adebayo Alonge

Discovered these artistes during my time earlier this year in Abi Dhabi & San Francisco. And they have been my companions through 18 hour work-days all through the year via their music.

Some years ago I called Burna Boy one of the biggest artistes to soon rank in Africa and he has come into his own last 2 years.

Watch out for the first 2 below in my list. Their impact in this new era of music will be immense. The last feature in my list Pop Smoke for sure if he was still alive- nonetheless his style will be greatly influential this new decade.

  1. Roddy Ricch – Leader of Sing-Song Rap
Really enjoyed all songs on this album, especially War baby

Amazing singer-rapper. He leads the new era of sing-song rap. Never knew one could sing rap until I listened to him.

Every song from his Mix Tapes – Feed Tha Streets to his 2019 Please Excuse Me for being Antisocial Album simply top class.

Every song is amazing and I love his live performances and even orchestral harmonization. My biggest discovery from the USA for 2020. And only through Youtube adding to my playlist, did I find him.

Listen to his recent Apple Music performance – no auto-tune pure talent.

Roddy Ricch’s Live Performances push a new boundary for sing-song rap with smooth harmonisations
and band play

2. Fatoumata Diawara – Queen of SaharaSoul

After watching the decline of the Afrobeats genre in horror, especially given how everyone in there now sounds so alike, I was seeking new Afro music that is still authentic.

I found Fatou via a referral from my Algerian Berber friend and man! was I blown away. Melodies, soul and sonorous singing. Through listening to her I discovered so many other great singers from the Sahara Soul or Bambara Music genre from Gambia, Mali such as Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate. As more Africans seek more Afromusic authenticity , watch this genre become more mainstream

Fatoumatou’s Fatou Album is a classic . Every song is a listen. I especially love Makoun Oumou . Soul stirring. Amazing nights it pulled me through all-nighter work , generating deep thinking simulation.

Makoun Oumou is a vocal melodious wonder

3. Pop Smoke: Lord of Drill Rap

I only discovered this artiste when l got a news flash early morning about 4am on February 19, 2020 from BBC News that ” New York Rapper Pop Smoke shot and killed”. I was in San Fransciso at the time.

I rate this mixtape over his posthumous album Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon – he was in his element here

I was like who is he. Then all day the news kept on talking about him and so I decided to check him out. Great Lord of brooding dark drill rap. In 2016 when I wrote a paper in music class at Yale on rap Music I had explored the evolution of Black American music from the work songs through blues, jazz and rap. In that paper I showed how rap had evolved from lyrical based rap to the innovation of the time- trap rap ( a repeat short form non-sensical rap style). And I did not expect that genre to have added a new form in just 4 years.

Drill Rap is possessive. Super syncopated beats and repeat short form sensical lyrics built as phrases- never full sentences makes it a genre to get hooked by. Pop Smoke however brought something different as well – his voice and persona. Not since 50 Cent or DMX have I found a rapper whose voice really represented him well – as dangerous.

Loved his voice on the drill drop beats on the song Wolves with NAV

If he would have lived longer, he would have dominated the drill rap scene at such a level as we last saw 50 Cent and DMX do in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

Nonetheless his influence will remain long in the rap industry.

His music was good to vibe to and I enjoyed it this year especially in the summer.

Looking to new music discovery in 2021.

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