Seigfried Staff Picks:
Top Albums of 2020

Happy New Year from The Seigfried Collective!

It's been a year full of highs and lows, but the level of incredible releases has not stopped. After much careful deliberation, we've managed to narrow down a few of our favourite albums of the last year for our final Seigfried Staff Picks of 2020 - it wasn't easy! Hopefully you'll be able to spot a few of your favourites in here too.

Here's to a new year of creativity, inspiration, and most importantly: great music.

KAYTRANADA
BUBBA

Music has a way of taking us out of certain feelings, while providing us with a way to feel the heaviness we’re going through - it allows us to enjoy the production and lyrics in ways that make us feel good. For the most part, it’s one of the reasons I haven’t gravitated to the genres I often go for to make me feel good in a year filled with grievances, loss and uncertainty.

If you know me, you know I love to dance - but it’s been a while. Soca, Dancehall and Afrobeats definitely have me moving, but it’s not the same as something that hits you in a way you just want to free-flow with reckless abandon. That’s what I’ve been missing in my life, and that’s where BUBBA has comes in clutch - there’s no shortage of the urge to dance, period. No matter where you are in the world listening to this album, there’s a pulse that just reverberates through your system and makes you want to move. '2 The Music' is a new-age Soul Train. 'Go DJ' treats the DJ club atmosphere as a religious experience. And after his amazing remix of Teedra Moses’ 'Be Your Girl', 'Culture' is another standout. These features fit right in with the house music experience that KAYTRANADA gives - similar to the sonic nature of 99.9%.

My personal favourite is 'Freefall'. It hits me in a way that not only makes me want to groove, but relaxes me in a way where I can hone in on my emotions. Durand Bernarr sounds like he’s falling through a sea of satin-lined sheets. I can’t place my finger on why, but this record is Black as fuck. It sounds like shea butter love.

This album is inspires me to keep pushing forward and recognise tough times won’t always last, despite them being out in full force in my heart. It’s the perfect sound for what people need - nowadays there isn’t a lot of music to make your soul feel like it’s been hugged. This is that, and I’m thankful for it. Let it flow through what you’re going through, and it'll elevate your current high, or bring you out of a dark place.

Pedro Edu (Founder of Seigfried Co.)

Top tracks: 'Freefall (ft. Durand Bernarr)', 'Culture (ft. Teedra Moses)', 'Worst In Me (ft. Tinashe)'

Thundercat
It Is What It Is

An interesting and chaotic year for sure, but the fantastic records released definitely made it more tolerable. It Is What It Is is Thundercat’s fourth full length album with impressive feature tracks. The sound of this record isn’t much different than his previous ones: psychedelic soul and funk mixed with some ridiculous basslines. But the musical chemistry on these tracks takes it to the next level. A Kamasi Washington sax solo squalls through the thunderous jazz fusion of ‘Innerstellar Love’. The song ‘King of the Hill’ is moodier piece with chilling pianos and atmosphere from BadBadNotGood.

But the album's magic moment comes when Thundercat links up with Steve Lacy, adding vocals from Childish Gambino, combined with probably his most impressive bassline yet. The album balances heavier moments, cosmic junctures and some groovier elements in a way that lands this record among my favourites of this year.

Balint Marjai (Co Founder & Creative Director of Seigfried Co.)

Top tracks: 'I LOVE LOUIS COLE', 'BLACK QUALLS', 'KING OF THE HILL'

Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes
What Kinda Music

As the world dropped into a year of uncertainty back in the spring, this record came out at just the right time. What Kinda Music soundtracked my transition into summer, fuelling my creativity and offering something fresh, enticing and much-needed to bite on.

What Misch and Dayes have created resembles cosmic panoramas and vast universes, combining worlds and leaving their signatures all over it, masters each in their own right. Tom Misch has revealed himself and his musicality to be so much more than we knew. When fans called for another Geography, he gave them something unexpected, something so far-flung from his debut; something a Geography Pt. 2 could never be.

Freddie Gibbs lends a slick verse on 'Nightrider', the effortlessly cool track with a mellow, sunset-toned animated video to match. Virtuoso bassist Rocco Palladino, son of Pino Palladino (known for his work with D’Angelo), steps in on the whirlwind, out-of-body experience that is 'Lift Off'. This is a song I get so totally, meditatively lost in, in which the trio push themselves to their very limits within its rumbling soundscape. The few but carefully chosen features each add something special - there is no wasted space here.

An enviable demonstration of masterful jazz drumming from Dayes, fused concurrent with Misch’s knack for a melody and dexterity for contemporary pop structures, and What Kinda Music’s resulting sparks are flying. Whisking each other off on journeys into their respective musical minds, Misch and Dayes beckon you along: “come with us,” for an unforgettable ride.

Henna Malik (Head of Media & Music Editor)

Top tracks: 'Nightrider (ft. Freddie Gibbs)', 'Lift Off (ft. Rocco Palladino)', 'Last 100'

Gunna
Wunna

This album definitely doesn’t seem like it came out in 2020. Gunna’s astrology-themed album came out earlier this year and for me it’s been my soundtrack to this crazy year. Being able to experience music live has been one of the key things coronavirus restrictions have taken away from music enthusiasts. It's unfortunate that we haven’t been able to see Gunna perform his best body of work thus far in a live setting. However, I’m sure most of us appreciated listening to this treat in the midst of the lockdown. Without this album, I doubt I would’ve been able to stay sane during the lockdown period.

Stand out tracks including, 'Met Gala', 'I’m On Some' and 'Do Better' reminded me that there are brighter days ahead even if it means I’m restricted to vibing to music in my bedroom for now. Wunna is my favourite release this year because of how positive and energetic it is. The space-themed sounds literally take me out of this world (not to sound cliché) which is something I needed in order to forget about the world's current state. I would like to say a special thank you to Wunna's producers, including Wheezy, Turbo, Taurus and Aviator Keyz as well as Gunna himself. You released a project I will remember for saving my 2020.

Jed Blankson (Podcast Host and UX Designer)

Top tracks: 'Met Gala', 'I'm On Some', 'Do Better'

Run The Jewels
RTJ4

Run The Jewels albums have always been thoroughly plotted, scrupulously crafted, and yet brutally instinctive. Heavy artillery kick drum sounds, vocals that suggest the desperation and agony of the mass and music that swathes hip-hop juju are just things you expect now from an RTJ album. And with RTJ4, the street sergeant-at-arms tag team of Atlanta erudite Killer Mike & Brooklyn hip-hop virtuoso El-P have harmonized & transmogrified their pummel like characters out of a Street Fighter video game.

RTJ4 is packed with music that does not necessarily invite the listener into their room but bulldoze through the doors guns blazing. They pontificate the breadth of their vision with unmistakable synth-driven boom-bap sounds. They expand their protest rap panoply with their uncompromising and punctilious approach which gives the album a consistent theme. They manage to cloak their references with a finesse note of goofiness or an out of nowhere metaphor.

RTJ4 swings hard between conjectural images and more concrete real-life snapshots of condemnatory journalism. At its core the album's sound and sensibility is redolent of old-school hip-hop, but in its semblance it transfigures into a piece illustrious modern art - Like from a Transformers movie when Optimus and Jetfire combine their powers and evolve into something puissant.

Abhishek Ramadasan (Writer)

Top tracks: 'holy calamafuck', 'walking in the snow', 'ooh la la'

Kid Cudi
Man On The Moon III: The Chosen

As Kid Cudi's journey with his trilogy comes to an end, you can hear the artist's transition over the years as every track represents a story of his time. His melancholy is something I connect mine with, and the journey I feel like I've been on the last two years of my life. This album is definitely a ride full of waves, vibes and just the right amount of goosebumps. The music production has been executed with such excellence that when you put your headphones on and sit back and relax, it sure will take you to the moon and back. Definitely one of the sickest albums of 2020.

Umama Zardari (Writer & Content Creator)

Top tracks: 'She Knows This', 'Mr. Solo Dolo III', 'Lovin' Me (ft. Phoebe Bridgers)'

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