The Panther Knows Best: Michael’s Music MVPs of 2020


Michael Angee, Design Editor

2020 proved itself an ironic year of change and progression despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This unconventional time, paired with the talent of today’s entertainment industry, created an intriguing and enjoyable year in music for fans. 

Many of my favorite albums of the year consist of collaboration albums or albums which   contain features. I think of music as a shared experience, enhanced by other artists taking part in a project. 

On Jan. 8, the family of Malcolm James McCormick, professionally known as Mac Miller, released a statement that his posthumous and last studio album would release on Jan. 17. In my opinion, the album serves as the best posthumous album to come out this year, although the posthumous albums from American rappers Juice Wrld and Pop Smoke were also very powerful. 

Miller’s full evolution from young and inexperienced to a truly seasoned and dynamic artist makes the last album of his even greater and grand for fans of Miller. His ability to connect to his fans shone through with his anecdotal songs of mental health and struggles with substance abuse. 

The Weeknd, known for making huge hits for the radio and great numbers on practically all of his discography, came out with a bang in 2020 with his fourth studio album “After Hours.” The lead single from the project, “Blinding Lights” spent 40 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.

My most anticipated album that released this year was Lil Uzi Vert’s “Eternal Atake,” because of the piece’s pairing with a deluxe album whose release came only a week later. To me, the album’s two-year long wait proved worthwhile. The album provides a fun and exciting listening experience and, when the original version of the album released on Mar. 6 during school at the end of second period, many people stopped and listened, truly a moment that brought us together. 

Lil Uzi Vert then delivered once more on a collaboration album with fellow rapper Future entitled “Pluto x Baby Pluto.” A deluxe version became available soon after the initial release.

American producers The Alchemist and Kenny Beats released two of the best LPs, or long playing records, of the year with collaborations from rappers Freddie Gibbs and Denzel Curry. 

The Alchemist produced for Gibbs’ “Alfredo,” now nominated for rap album of the year. Kenny Beats produced for Curry’s “UNLOCKED,” one of Curry’s best pieces in his discography. 

The Alchemist produced five full length projects total in 2020, which include collaborations with Conway the Machine and Boldy James. 

“Tickets To My Downfall” upheld the title of my most listened to album of the year by Richard Colson Baker, also known as Machine Gun Kelly, and Travis Barker. Both Barker and Colson have collaborations with other artists including Iann Dior, for both artists, UnoTheActivist and Jaden Hossler for Barker. 

Later in the year I discovered American musician, Terrance Martin, who created a beautiful piece of work with Robert Glasper and 9th Wonder, called “Dinner Party.” The album incorporates sounds of Jazz, Soul and RnB to create a magnificent array of instrumentals which creates some of the most pleasant and refreshing production of the year. 

The revolutionary artist for the rap genre, Kid Cudi, released the third installment to his project series, Man on The Moon. “Man on The Moon III: The Chosen,” was the first album in the series released in the last ten years and a great follow up to its predecessors with its dreamy and expressive production and lyrics. 

Quelle Chris, a producer, rapper and songwriter from Detroit, Michigan released a full length project with producer Chris Keys. “Innocent Country 2” feels like a nostalgic trip during a summer day that the listener hopes never ends. 

My “Music MVPs” represent the musicians that I listened to the most and those who impacted me the most this year. Lil Uzi Vert, Mac Miller, The Weeknd, Kid Cudi, The Alchemist and Machine Gun Kelly became my “Music MVPs” of 2020.