As we wave goodbye to another year in the terrordome and try not to think about what 2021 will bring, we can at least be grateful that British musicians somehow managed to top the year before—no mean feat, given the blockbuster works 2019 gave us. Established dons like Footsie, Manga and Potter Payper all released some of the best work of their careers, which again, we don’t say lightly. Elsewhere, it was a time for new voices to rise up and make themselves heard.
Pa Salieu became the runaway hero we all needed with a flawless run of singles that led to Send Them To Coventry, an album that will still be revealing its true brilliance for years to come; Bree Runway took everything she’d learned from Missy Elliott, flipped it into overdrive and then put a massive UK stamp on it to give us 2000AND4EVA; and Headie One, Loski, Unknown T, and M24 each used their wildly different approaches to create projects that proved there is so much more to drill than controversial YouTube videos. It’s been a year of unfathomable pain, confusion and hurt—for so many reasons—but, at least culturally, the year just passed has also offered some much-needed solace.
Here are the albums we loved the most in 2020.