Every year I typically just post a list of my five favorite albums to Twitter, but I wanted to make sure I highlighted these EPs because they make up a large portion of the best music I’ve heard this year. I’ve seen some artists and label-heads talking about how ranked music lists are disrespectful or belittling to artists. It’s really not that deep for me. If an album is ranked higher it just means I enjoyed it more personally. It doesn’t mean the other albums are any less valid or worthy of listeners and respect. However, to avoid musicians getting their feelings hurt, I’m calling this a list of my “favorite” extended plays, rather than the “Top 25 EPs of 2020.” I’m hoping the more subjective title will help me avoid offending anyone, but if not then fuck the world. I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to review every single EP here, so hopefully this will be a good way for me to give them some more shine.
I actually think this is the best project Skyzoo has ever made. There’s not a single track here that I don’t like, and I have zero gripes with it overall. I frankly think he nailed the concept of this project. I think this’ll be very emotionally poignant for those who have strong relationships with their fathers, and it might even be more gripping for those who don’t know their fathers at all. I personally know my father, and I don’t really like him, but even I was moved by this project. It’s definitely one of the best EPs I’ve heard this year. It’s also the best fatherhood-themed project I’ve heard. That’s mainly because I think it’s the only fatherhood themed project that I’ve heard, but still. This shit is great. Do not sleep on it.
This EP is pretty awesome. I’m very glad this happened. I really enjoy every single track here. Kaelin Ellis’ production is fantastic, and it’s nice to get a handful of well written conceptual songs from Lupe. Virgil Abloh’s involvement in this project didn’t really add much for me personally, although I can’t say I really minded him. It’s awesome to see Lupe reaching out to an obscure artist like Kaelin Ellis and doing an entire project. I imagine the reason stuff like that doesn’t happen more often is just because a lot of artists are assholes. Not necessarily the bigger artists, but the more obscure ones too. It goes both ways. Anyway, I’m glad Lupe decided to give us this project to hold us over, and I know he’s been working on a lot of other shit as well. I’m looking forward to that, and I’m also excited to see whatever Kaelin Ellis does next. This shit is really dope.
This is actually my favorite K-Beta project now to be honest. I think this shit is borderline amazing. I really don’t have a single consistent gripe. This shit got me really excited to hear more work from Grussle, and I was introduced to a shit ton of really dope artists through the features as well, which I can always look forward to from a K-Beta project. K-Beta is still a beast on the mic. He’s one of those guys who you can rely on to always deliver a well-written verse. He’s not boring. He keeps me interested in what he’s saying. He knows what he’s doing. His production has been steadily improving with each project too. He’s been rapping for decades, but he’s relatively new to the art of production, so hearing the growth in that department has been really dope. I almost don’t know what to say just because I have no real complaints. Do not sleep on this EP. He’s dropping his album with DJ J-Scrilla at the end of the month, so if you wanna get a taste of his style be sure to give this a listen before that shit is released. This shit is super dope. Listen to it. I’m telling you to listen to it. Do it. There’s not a single bad track here. Do what I tell you to do. Listen to this EP, and tell me what you think of it.
Honestly, this project is pretty amazing to me. It’s just as good as I was hoping it’d be. Alchemist’s production is on point as always, and Conway bodied this shit. At this point, I’m just hoping we get a full album from these two in the near future because I need more of this shit. I’m glad there were only a couple features since the project is so short. Honestly, I don’t have any consistent gripes with this project. I think it starts off relatively slow, but there aren’t any songs that I don’t like. This just further solidified Conway as the best MC out of the Griselda crew, and my favorite gangsta rapper right now. I think this is one of the best extended plays I’ve heard all year. It’s dope af.
This project is awesome. This is an early contender for EP of the year for me honestly. I love this thing. Every single beat here is really good; these are some of my favorite tracks from Illingsworth ever. I’m not sure if this is my favorite overall project from him though. It’s either this or his trenches EP from December of last year. Both of them are amazing to me. He’s released 6 extended plays—one of which I haven’t heard yet—in the past 6 months, so it’s entirely possible that he’ll surpass this project by the end of the year, but for now this is easily one of the best releases I’ve heard in 2020. I love it.
Honestly, I actually think this project is amazing. Since there are only five songs they really didn’t have much room for error, and they thankfully knocked this thing outta the park. I think it’s one of the best projects I’ve heard all year. Substantial’s production is still top notch and better than it needs to be in all honesty. T.Lucas could’ve done his thing over some average production and it still would’ve been a good project, but Substantial’s production really put this over the top for me. T.Lucas himself is a very talented MC, and he sounds like a seasoned songwriter. I really don’t have any gripes with this project to be honest. I’d love to hear more work from these two in the future because this shit is dope as hell. Don’t sleep on it.
This project is actually pretty amazing. It ended up being way better than I was expecting. I think my favorite aspect of it is the actual lyricism, but that’s not all the project has to offer. I just really love how dense the rhymes are. It’s a breath of fresh air when rappers are actually writing about stuff that not a lot of other MCs are. There aren’t just a ton of lines about being better than other rappers. I like that stuff, but it’s nice to have some variety. I was apprehensive towards a lot of the Electronic influenced beats because that style can sound very flat and soulless if it’s not done well, but OneWerd thankfully did a great job. I don’t think any of the beats are wack. OneWerd can actually sing too, so that was nice. I like Dan Dillinger’s rapping voice more personally, but they’re both very talented writers, and I think they make a good pair. This project technically isn’t even fully released yet, but I’m already excited at the prospect of a full length album. This shit is really goddamn good, and easily one of the better projects that I’ve heard so far this year. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope af.
This is another amazing project from Sadistik. The dude is just in a really great mode right now. Everything he’s released over the past couple years has been stellar. I will say that on my very first listen of this project it didn’t really blow me away like the previous couple releases have. I think it’s just as good lyrically, but I didn’t love as many of the beats or hooks. These tracks took slightly longer to really grab me and sink in. I love it more and more every time I listen to it. I think that Sadistik’s writing is just as stunning as always. The beats are pretty nice for the most part. If anything could’ve been better it’s the song structures, but the rapping is just so good that I don’t even really care to be honest. This shit is fantastic. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope as hell.
17. Heavens to Mergatroyd by Stik Figa & Conductor Williams
This one came out right at the end of November, and it’s currently my favorite project that I’ve ever heard from Stik Figa. The reason I like it so much is pretty simple. The production is just really goddamn good, and Stik Figa killed it. I think Village is my favorite song from Stik Figa now. That Les Izmore dude on KCaliens was really nice too. The closing track, Aaway, kinda gave me the same feeling that Quelle Chris‘ Sudden Death gave me, so that’s cool. It kinda sucks that I didn’t get a chance to review this, but I obviously highly recommend it. It’s amazing.
16. SHADOWS 3 by Lord Juco
Lord Juco has been popping up on a ton of underground releases throughout the year, and he impressed me every single time. I unfortunately didn’t cover any of his solo work, but that’ll have to change in 2021. This EP just dropped on Christmas day, and it’s fire. The production from Bohemia Lynch is really great, and Lord Juco killed every track. My favorite one is Staff Picks. I’ve always liked Flashius Clayton, so I wasn’t surprised by how great his performance was. I’ve been seeing Skunkz’s name floating around Twitter, but this was my first time hearing him, and he slaughtered it. There’s not a single wack verse on this project. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope af.
Honestly, I think this EP is amazing, and it’s also probably the most creative instrumental project I’ve heard all year. I didn’t mention this before, but brainorchestra. actually collaborated with some visual artists named Thug Mom, Mario Yakovi, and Fatblood to create a comic book that goes along with the music in order to help the audience visualize the narrative. Everything about the manner in which this EP was presented is awesome to me. I definitely gotta give everyone involved kudos for the art direction because it’s awesome. See, other artists need to take notes. This is the kinda merch fans are gonna wanna buy. Nobody wants some basic ass plain T-shirt with your square album cover in the center. That’s boring. This is actually unique though. I’ve never seen any other Hip Hop artist do something like this. The closest thing I can think of is the screenplay that goes along with Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet album, but that felt different. I feel like this is far more digestible. The storyline is far less convoluted and serious. Anyway, aside from the eye-catching art direction and unique content, the actual music is just really goddamn good. There’s not a single average beat on this project. Don’t sleep on this shit. It’s dope as hell.
This is another amazing project from Sadistik. There’s not a single track on this EP that I don’t like. I honestly don’t know whether I prefer this or Haunted Gardens. They’re both amazing. They’re not the same, but they’re similar enough to be in the same family. I feel like this EP is what happens when Salo Sessions has a baby with Haunted Gardens. If I had to choose one over the other I’d probably go with Haunted Gardens just because it’s longer and more ambitious, so there’s more shit to break down, but both of these projects are all killer and no filler. I think I might’ve said something along the lines of “I don’t know if he can surpass this” when I reviewed that album, but this new project is so amazing that I don’t even know if I believe that anymore. It just depends on what he’s inspired to do in the future. This shit right here is fire though. The funny thing is, I don’t think I’d ever heard of any of the producers involved in this project, but every single beat here is fantastic. Everybody here knew what the fuck they were doing. I almost forgot to mention that all the songs transition into each other really nicely as well. I love this shit. It’s definitely one of the best extended plays I’ve heard all year. In fact, it’s one of the best overall projects I’ve heard this year too. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope af.
Honestly, I think this project is amazing. Since there are only four tracks there wasn’t really a lot of room for error, and he thankfully didn’t miss. Honestly, as a full project, I think this is the most I’ve enjoyed any of Kemba’s releases. This shit is really well done. The entire EP is exactly eight minutes and forty six seconds long. I don’t know how long he was working on this because one of these songs was written in 2016, but the fact that he put this thing together in about a month is super impressive. I love this thing, and I can’t wait to hear more from Kemba. Don’t sleep on this one. It’s dope af.
This project is amazing to me. Honestly, I’d say I enjoyed this as a whole more than Things Got Worse. I wouldn’t say that this is necessarily a better project, but it’s more to the point and less ambitious. It’s kinda like the difference between Atrocity Exhibition & uknowhatimsayin¿ by Danny Brown. Atrocity Exhibition is obviously the more grandiose and memorable release, but I personally think the latter is more consistent. That’s how I feel about the two latest releases from Dope KNife. Damn near every song here blew me away. It’s all killer and no filler. It did leave me wanting more though, so I’m very excited for whatever Dope KNife has coming in the future. Don’t sleep on this one. It’s not only one of the best extended plays I’ve heard all year, but one of the year’s best projects period. It’s dope af.
I think this EP is amazing. Personally, I would probably choose Ikarus Rising over this, but it’s mainly only because it’s a longer project, so there’s just more to dig into. I’m ready for a full album at this point though. I still think Ronesh is one of the dopest underground producers out right now, and I love how much effort D. Lanham puts into his writing. He says shit that nobody else is saying, so I of course appreciate that. There’s nothing generic about his writing style at all. The main appeal of this project is definitely the lyricism for me. I think Ronesh did a really great job at crafting a consistent soundscape too. The EP actually sounds exactly like the cover art to me. It sounds heavenly, yet turbulent. It sounds like somebody going through some shit, but growing in the process of his struggles. It’s like audible liberation. I love it. Don’t sleep on this shit. It’s dope as hell.
This EP is honestly pretty amazing to me. I think it’s a pretty good entry point too, just to get a taste of what both of these guys’ music is like. If you enjoy this project, then you can move onto the SLEEPER EFFECT album that I mentioned in the preamble of this review. Anyway, I really can’t decide who I’m more impressed by between Sleep & Kane. I think every single instrumental here is fire, and I would be scrambling for a beat from Killer Kane if I was a rapper. Sleep Sinatra is exactly the kind of rapper I gravitate towards as well. He actually has interesting ways to say shit. I feel like if you’re into [sLUms]. you’ll probably appreciate the kinda stuff he does. I like him more than that crew though. This shit is fire. I really don’t have any consistent gripes with it. I can’t wait to hear more work from both of these guys. Don’t sleep on this shit. It’s dope af.
9. Sage of the Season by Noveliss & Hir-O
This one came out December 17th, and, despite its brevity, it’s now my favorite Noveliss project. I’ve heard rappers try to make Christmas themed releases in the past, and they almost always end up feeling lame and gimmicky. I liked when Mega Ran did it, but even he didn’t blow me away like Noveliss did. I guess those Winter Breaks EPs from Bop Alloy are pretty good too. I actually don’t know why it’s so hard for rappers to make Christmas music without sounding corny. This feels authentic though. It doesn’t sound like he was trying too hard. My favorite track is Christmas Gaiden. The way he was telling a story about delivering gifts was really fucking awesome. I mean, that honestly does sound kinda corny on paper, but when you listen to it it’s fire. Don’t sleep on this project. Noveliss killed it, and Hir-O’s production is fantastic. This shit is dope af.
Honestly, I think this project is amazing. A lot of people have been focusing mainly on the full album that Backxwash dropped earlier this year, and I guess I can understand why since it’s the main course. This project is more like the dessert. I definitely think the content was more personal on the album, and it was probably more balanced as a project. It was diverse, yet cohesive. This project just really packs a punch. It comes outta nowhere and immediately impales you. It’s really dark, aggressive, fucked up sounding stuff, but in the best way possible. I really don’t have any gripes with this project to be honest. There was very little room for error, and I think Backxwash delivered on all fronts. The production here is fucking crazy too. This has me curious about what it would sound like to hear her produce for other rappers. I think that could be interesting. Anyway, if you’re into dark religious and horror themes along with super fucked up, Industrial Rock adjacent sounds this is definitely worth checking out. I would say to start with her full length album, but if you’re a fan of that record and you haven’t listened to this one yet you are fucking up big time. This shit is dope af.
This project is honestly pretty goddamn amazing to me. There’s not a single track here that I wasn’t blown away by in some way or another. Every single beat from Nick Arcade provides the perfect backdrop for Defcee’s beautifully composed verses, who solidified himself as one of the genre’s best writers with this EP. It’s only about 10 minutes long, but it’s truly all killer and no filler. Overall I prefer this project, but his album Lacuna definitely gives listeners more to digest. I think this would be an amazing entry point for new listeners though. If you’re like me and you value top notch lyricism first and foremost, you should love this EP. I guess a minor gripe would be the scant song structures, but everything here is so well done that I barely even cared. I think this shit is dope af. If you sleep on this, especially after reading this review, you’re fuckin’ up.
6. Manifest Destiny by Cambatta, Loaded Lux & Black Magik
If you read my review of Cambatta‘s latest solo album, you probably understand why I was so excited for this EP. His work with Black Magik is always fire, so adding one of the greatest battle rappers of all time into the mix was a surefire recipe for a lyrical inferno. This one came out on December 21st, and is currently only available through Black Magik’s web store. I believe it’ll be added to streaming platforms in the next few months, so if for whatever reason you don’t wanna stream it through the website you can wait, but that’d be kinda lame of you. It’s definitely worth the purchase. There’s not a single song here that isn’t dope. There’s this narrative that battle rappers kinda suck when it comes to making recorded music. For the most part, I think that’s kinda true, but there are exceptions like Marv Won & Locksmith. I think Loaded Lux has always sounded pretty great on a beat, and he kills it here. There’s also a killer feature from Sa-Roc on the penultimate track. My favorite song is easily the closer though. That beat from Black Magik sounds like pure evil, and Cam & Lux spazzed. This shit is fire. In the wise words of Justin L. Hunte, if you haven’t heard this yet, punch yourself in the face. It’s dope af.
This shit is amazing. Again, I was legitimately shocked by how good this shit was. There were some signs that kinda foreshadowed the quality though. The anecdote about the recording process definitely had me hooked. I forgot to mention this in the preamble, but the cover art was also very intriguing to me. I literally stared at the cover for like an hour before actually listening to the project. It appears to be three different images laid over one another, so I was trying to make out everything in the cover. D. Lanham’s actually writing is kinda similar in that there’s a lot of depth to what’s being said. You can kind of take everything in at a certain level, but you’ll get much more fulfillment from taking the time to study what’s there. Generic is the last word you can apply to someone like him. He doesn’t have the most eccentric flow or delivery, but his writing is undeniable. The average rapper isn’t saying the kind of stuff he is. He clearly takes the time and effort to actually say something interesting that isn’t just gonna bounce off your ear drums and be forgotten seconds later. It actually made me think of Ka. They’re similar to me because the main selling point is clearly the actual lyricism. Nobody goes to Ka for super flashy flows and catchy shit that inspires twerking. He’s a poet, and the same goes for D. Lanham. I have to mention the production too. I don’t know how the hell I haven’t heard of Ronesh before. Well, that’s not true. I feel like there are a lot more talented producers that I’m not familiar with than rappers. This dude is super talented though. The beats are layered and dynamic; there’s not a single instrumental here that bored me. I don’t wanna put anyone down, but it is wild that certain big name producers are making the most generic, formulaic bullshit and then dudes like this are just being overlooked. Or maybe it’s just me and everyone’s already been fucking with both of these dudes for a while. If that’s the case, fuck y’all for not putting me on. Ronesh & D. Lanham are both incredibly talented, and this is easily one of the best EP’s I’ve heard all year, and I doubt that statement will be any less true on the last day of December. This shit is amazing. Do not sleep on it.
4. Dirty Sneakers: Relaced by T.Lucas & Substantial
This is a four-track EP that came out towards the end of September. Two of these songs are remixes of tracks that originally appeared on the original Dirty Sneakers EP, and one of them is an original song called Supreme, which I covered during one of my “Best Singles of the Week” posts. The closing track is a remix of another loose single that T.Lucas released earlier this year entitled Dropping like flies, which I also covered earlier this year. It’s kinda rare for me to love a remix project this much more than the original release on which it’s based, but Substantial went ham and cheese on these beats. He also added an additional verse to the opening track, which is great. The remix of My Sole is my favorite track, which is cool since the original version is my least favorite track from the standard version of Dirty Sneakers. They murdered this shit. Check it out.
This EP is incredible. Since it’s only three tracks, there’s really no room for error, and thankfully Blockhead made none with this project. It’s the best release that I’ve heard in 2020 so far, and one of the best instrumental projects I’ve heard period. Since it’s so concise and to the point, I think it’s an easier listen than Bubble Bath overall. The beats are super detailed and layered. I really think people need to start recognizing Blockhead as one of the greats in the underground at this point because the dude is a beast. If I was a rapper I’d be scrambling to get a beat from him. This shit is absolute fire, and I feel like it’s gonna fly under the radar for a lot of people since it’s just two “B-sides” and a previously released song. It’s definitely worth your time though. Do not sleep on this shit. It’s dope af.
This is yet another amazing extended play. In the preamble I said that I was expecting this to be worse than the first Director’s Cut project. I guess this one is marginally worse, but it’s really… I mean, it kinda isn’t. They’re basically equal in terms of quality. I think the first one is more consistent since it didn’t have any features and Ransom was just slaughtering everything. There was no fat to trim there. The same can pretty much be said about this one. If Scene One was 97% muscle and 3% body fat, this one is 96% muscle and 4% body fat. I’m beyond satisfied. Ransom has the two best projects I’ve heard all year. Nicholas Craven’s production here is absolutely spectacular. Both of these guys are operating in peak condition. Do not sleep on this shit. It’s dope af.
This is the best project I’ve ever heard from Ransom, and it’s also the best project I’ve heard so far in 2020. I seriously think Ransom & Nicholas Craven are a perfect pair for each other. These sample-based instrumentals are genuinely beautiful, and Ransom was operating in rare form throughout the whole extended play. There’s not a single blemish here. I’m so happy that they’ve already released a second EP, and I’m hoping we get a third sooner rather than later. This shit is incredible. If you haven’t heard this yet, you’re fuckin’ up, but I understand because not enough people are talking about it. However, if you’ve read this entire review and still don’t plan on checking it out, you’re really fuckin’ up. This shit is fucking incredible.
So yeah, there’s my list. Please note that these are far from the only enjoyable extended plays that came out this year, and I surely missed a few really good ones. Let me know what you think of these, as well as what your favorites are.