After his response to a crude internet poll led to a flurry of headlines yesterday, Atlanta rapper Trouble posted a video explanation of his comments to Instagram. Clarifying that he doesn’t even have a wife, Trouble insisted that the hypothetical answer he gave referred less to a life partner and more to a companion. He said that the trade would be well worth the monetary value a song with Drake would bring in, and says that if his relationship were more serious, he’d have a different response in real life.
“Y’all honestly got it f*cked up,” he argued. “Y’all been living through social media, living through these social sites. Y’all ain’t in the real world ’cause if you was in the real world, any snack, any female, lady — whatever you wanna call it — I ain’t never dealt with that. Any n**** in the street will tell you you can’t even look at my female brazy. You know you gone get f*cked up. I ain’t Superman or none of that sh*t but you gotta have nuts to still keep honking or looking at my snack without it being a problem.”
After clearing up his relationship status, he continued, “I’m talking about a little snack you just be f*cking around on or something. You don’t think I’m finna let her bust down on Drizzy for a verse? When I’m a make millions off that verse? And if he slide in her DMs anyways, she gon’ go? Hell yeah, we finna get them M&Ms.”
So, basically, he doubled down on what he already said, while clarifying the point that if he wasn’t serious about the woman he was seeing, he’d trade her away because he doesn’t trust women anyway. Also, he believes that the Drake Stimulus is more powerful than it actually is. There are a lot of things wrong with his line of thinking but hey, everybody’s got a different experience. While this level of objectification of women is really, really gross (like, he literally just thinks of women as a commodity for trade. That’s… horrifying), the real culprit who has to be stopped is Lil Duval, whose inane Twitter poll started this whole thing.
It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of the bold bourbons coming out of the Lone Star State. I’m a Texan, after all. But I also leap at the chance to try unique whiskeys from other regions of the country. And you know which state has consistently exceeded my expectations when it comes to the art of whiskey-making?
Colorado. The Switzerland of America. John Denver’s stomping grounds.
Much like the distinctive Texas terroir and its wide range of climates, Colorado features a variety of factors within its boundaries that set its whiskey expressions apart from anywhere else in the U.S. From endless springwater to rich soil to expansive farmland to variable weather – the state has everything necessary to distill some of the most diverse, complex, and flat-out tasty juice in the country. And it all starts with the H2O.
Generally speaking, water is whiskey’s most unsung key ingredient and that’s a place where Colorado thrives. The state is crisscrossed by rivers and springs, and fed by snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains. It’s a feature beer has keyed in on for decades, and distillers are wisely catching on. TINCUP Whiskey, founded in 2014, buys their juice from Midwest Grain Products (MGP) in Indiana, but they cut their whiskey to proof with fresh Rocky Mountain spring water.
“I started distilling back in 1972, with the conviction that Colorado’s water – and its tradition of distilling – had the makings of great whiskey,” says TINCUP founder Jess Graber. “The Platte River, the Arkansas River, the Rio Grande River, and the Colorado River all have their headwaters and begin their journeys in the high peaks here. In my opinion, we have the best water in the world.”
Colorado’s altitude plays an integral role in the overall character of the state’s whiskeys, too. Virtually all of the whiskey distilleries in the state are situated at least over one mile above sea level. Breckenridge Distillery lies at 9,600 feet, while Deerhammer Distilling Company is based at approximately 8,000 feet.
“We find our whiskey to be impacted by the extremely dry climate and radical swings in both temperature and barometric pressure,” says Lenny Eckstein, Founder and Head Distiller of Deerhammer. “That’s unique to our state, in comparison to the more traditional whiskey producing regions in the U.S.”
“Our high altitude in Colorado leads to a unique angel’s share loss,” adds Owen Martin, Head Distiller at Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. “That’s the amount of alcohol and water that evaporates out of the barrel. Due to the dry climate at this altitude, we lose more water out of our casks than we would if we were maturing our whiskey at sea level – creating a higher-proof product with a potent and complex flavor profile.”
With all of the Centennial State’s unique elements in the mix, it’s no wonder that the local distilleries are creating some of the most exciting whiskey expressions in the county right now. To help you get started tasting them, we’ve listed our favorite Colorado single malts, bourbons, and ryes below, complete with tasting notes.
Leopold Bros. Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery: Leopold Bros., Denver, CO Average Price:$66.99
Founded by brothers Scott and Todd Leopold in 1999, this distillery is among the handful of craft whiskey pioneers in the country. The bottle is one of the newest in the Leopold Bros. portfolio — aged five years in new American white oak charred barrels, in what the distillery describes as an “unheated dunnage-style bonded warehouse.”
Your nose is welcomed with a strong-yet-enticing tri-blend of oak, rye, and subtle cocoa. On the palate, rich toffee is met with a hint of spicy cinnamon, creating an ethereal experience that crescendos with black pepper mid-sip. The creamy mouthfeel fades into a finish that’s warm and drizzled with dark chocolate notes.
Most people love chocolate; I don’t. Still, this finish made me fall in love with dark chocolate; I’m completely here for it.
Breckinridge Rum Cask Finish Bourbon
ABV: 45% Distillery: Breckenridge Distillery, Breckenridge, CO Average Price:$52.99
The Breckenridge Distillery — situated at 9,600 feet above sea level — has dubbed itself the “World’s Highest Distillery.” The Rum Cask Finish Bourbon was initially a distillery exclusive, but its’ popularity compelled the company to expand its distribution to 22 select states.
According to the distillery, the process for this expression begins after making basic spice rum, barrelled with macerated dried fruit peels, roots, barks, herbs, and spices. After recognizing that some of those components paired well with their high-rye bourbon, they began experimenting with rum cask-finished recipes. After several years of development, we now have the opportunity to enjoy the distillery’s beloved bourbon, finished in rum casks.
This bourbon had me hooked right away, with its fragrant swirl of fruit, caramel, and vanilla. The first sip is like biting into a Honeycrisp apple — delicate, yet bursting with flavor. The velvety mouthfeel is made complete with a hint of ripe banana that shines through in a surprising way. No heat on the finish, but dark chocolate amplifies the finale of this delightful tasting experience.
I let out an audibly loud, “Oooh!” when drinking this. Yeah, it’s just that good. This bourbon is delicious in a spirit-forward cocktail (e.g. Whiskey Tiki Sour), but better enjoyed neat.
291 Small Batch Colorado Bourbon
ABV: 50% Distillery: Distillery 291, Colorado Springs, CO Average Price:$73.99
Owner and founding distiller, Michael Myers, states, “The 291 Colorado Bourbon is our very first recipe, ([the] very first grain put in water and distilled) with one slight change. The original recipe was 80% corn [and] 20% rye malt. It is now 80% corn, 19% rye malt, and 1% malt barley.”
This whiskey is distilled from a bourbon sour mash, triple distilled in copper pot stills (the finishing still is made from photogravure plates from Myers’ past life as a photographer), aged in American white oak deep char barrels, and finished with toasted Aspen staves.
An appealing honey aroma is fused with the scent of oak with a bit of smoke (thanks to the staves). Subtle spice and smoke balance out the primarily sweet flavor profile, which is heavy on vanilla and maple. Slight heat at the back of the tongue at the finish, but without a harsh bite — surprising, considering this comes in at 100 proof.
This would make a great gift for your bourbon-loving relative (or yourself). Unlock even more flavor by adding a couple of drops of water, but no ice.
Stranahan’s Mountain Angel
ABV: 47.3% Distillery: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Distillery, Denver, CO Average Price: $129.99
Mountain Angel is Stranahan’s oldest, rarest release to date and their first 10-year-old American single malt. Like all of Stranahan’s single malts, Mountain Angel is comprised of 100% Rocky Mountain barley and Colorado spring water, made in small batches before aging for 10 years in new American oak barrels with a #3 char. According to the Stranahan’s Head Distiller, Owen Martin, “After a decade of maturation in Denver’s high, dry climate, Mountain Angel saw a unique angel’s share loss (several barrels experienced a loss of up to 80%) that is par with Scotches over twice its age, resulting in a liquid with a stunning concentration of flavor.”
The scent transports you to your childhood when you’d eat caramelized apples by the truckload. Rich molasses and dark chocolate swings open the gate for a peppery nibble midway through the tasting experience. Long and sweet finish with notes of caramel and oak.
I was fortunate enough to try this extremely limited release (less than 500 bottles hit the market). It’s worth every dime and important to savor each drop. So if you get your hands on a bottle, enjoy it slowly, neat, and only with the friends you *really* like.
Deerhammer American Single Malt
ABV: 46% Distillery: Deerhammer Distilling Company, Buena Vista, CO Average Price:$35.99
Founder and Head Distiller of Deerhammer, Lenny Eckstein, says, “Deerhammer’s American Single Malt recipe was adapted from an imperial porter that I had brewed in the past. Of the various malt barley grain bills that were trialed along the way to our current recipe (now in its ninth year of production), this particular recipe relies heavily on a significant portion of dark roasted and kilned malts to bring forward a flavor profile that is unique to Deerhammer.”
Imagine cacao and caramel that’s been set aflame. That’s the toasty, tantalizing aroma you’ll pick up from this whiskey. The sip itself marries together bittersweet coffee and dark chocolate for a flavor takeover that’s alluring and just a notch below running the risk of being too sweet. The dram is made complete with a pop of spice amid a wave of hazelnut and more chocolate at the finish.
This stunning sipper is the best introduction to the world of US-based single malts.
Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Bonded
ABV: 50% Distillery: Laws Whiskey House, Denver, CO Average Price:$67.99
Laws Whiskey House is the grain-to-glass distillery behind Colorado’s first bottled in bond bourbon in the state’s history. In line with the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, this bourbon is a minimum of four years old, a product of a single season and a single distiller, and has been aged wholly in a federally bonded rickhouse.
Come for the honey and orange peel aroma, stay for the complex and divine palate. Bold black tea and dark chocolate work their magic on the tastebuds, while a hint of cinnamon completes the job, adding a potent punch of spice. The lingering, spicy finish doesn’t disappoint before you go in for round two.
You can easily drink this either on the rocks or as the base of a classic Old Fashioned.
Woody Creek Colorado Straight 100% Rye Whiskey
ABV: 45% Distillery: Woody Creek Distillers, Basalt, CO Average Price:$49.99
Woody Creek’s Rye Whiskey is made with 100% Colorado rye sourced from local farms. They use custom 40-foot CARL stills to create a spirit that’s as distinctive as it is delicious. The rye whiskey is aged for a minimum of four years in new American oak barrels.
Black pepper steals the show with the aroma only allowing a subtle scent of vanilla to peek through. That’s okay, because the palate follows through with the vanilla and added crisp apple notes next to oaky spice. The sip comes to an abrupt end with a dry, spicy-sweet finish.
Not a bad price for one of the tastiest ryes I’ve ever experienced. I tried this whiskey in a Rye Manhattan and it was exceptional. You should do the same.
TINCUP Straight Rye
ABV: 45% Distillery: MGP, Lawrenceburg, IN; Bottled at TINCUP Whiskey in Denver, CO Average Price:$32
Before you jump all over my case: Yes, this rye is distilled and aged for three years in Indiana. However, it is cut to proof with pure Rocky Mountain water and bottled in Denver, Colorado. TINCUP Whiskey Founder, Jess Graber, states, “The town of Tin Cup, Colorado was established in 1879, and takes its name from the nearby gulch where local prospector Jim Taylor first found gold — carrying it back to town in a tin cup. In a similar fashion, the local miners there would drink their whiskey from tin cups, sharing stories at the end of a long day.”
Thus, the name TINCUP and the cap on the bottle are both nods to Colorado’s history.
Vanilla and baking spices tickle your senses from nose to palate. While most ryes have a bold spicy flavoring, this rye has a lightness that’s refreshing and leads to an exciting apex. The peppery sweet finish is like a quick kiss goodbye, leaving you with eager anticipation for more.
I’m not one to drink rye neat, but this one is a suitable sipper. Besides, who can resist drinking out of the literal tin cup cap when you’re out camping?! It’s apropos to the setting and my new (second) favorite whiskey producing state.
Jim-E Stack debuted his Bon Iver, Empress Of, and Octavian-featuring project Ephemera last month. Though the LP has only been out for a few weeks, Stack has already been hard at work on new music. The musician released a re-imagined version of Perfume Genius’ Set My Heart On Fire Immediately track “Without You,” and it perfectly encompasses both of the musicians’ reflective sound.
Stack’s remix infuses warmer tones into the song through resonating synths and a dynamic, shuffling beat. Stack also extends the song by nearly a minute, stretching out its outro with a hip-swinging bass guitar sample.
Speaking about his decision to remix the song, Stack praised Perfume Genius’ songwriting:
“To my ears a Perfume Genius album always embodies excellence, from the song-writing to the production to the mixing. Every word, note, and sound feels so purposeful while playing its role in each song and in the greater context of the album. I chose to remix ‘Without You,’ because something about it felt timeless and familiar but also grounded and confident. That gave me room to make a completely new instrumental around the vocal. Even though Mike and I are friends and we’ve worked together in the past, I was admittedly intimidated by the task of remixing ‘Without You.’ Once I found a way to bring the song into my world, I started listening to the remix outside the studio and I knew I had done my thing. I just hoped Mike would want to listen to it too.”
Listen to Stack’s “Without You” remix above and find our recent interview with Stack here. Also check out where Set Me Heart On Fire Immediately landed on Uproxx’s Best Albums Of 2020 list.
The NBA season is, somehow, right around the corner, and with it come a bounty of future odds at your local sportsbook. There are team win totals — if you plan on betting these, please remember it’s a 72-game season, not an 82-game season, and adjust your math accordingly — as well as player props on everything from points to rebounds, but the odds that get the most attention on the player side are the MVP odds.
This season will be a difficult one to handicap for both team and player future bets simply because it’s happening under such unique circumstances and there is the ever-present possibility of someone missing considerable time should they come down with COVID-19. However, beyond just that looming risk, the swift turnaround from the Bubble to this season also means you have to factor in things like player rest and how teams will treat this season with an eye towards the playoffs with guys having an abbreviated offseason and training camp.
It is with that in mind, along with how MVP voting tends to work, that we look ahead to the NBA MVP odds (courtesy of BetOnline) and present our five best and five worst bets you can make going into this season.
Luka Doncic (+350): The Mavs star is the betting favorite for a reason, but if you shop around, you can get his odds above 4-1, which I’d highly recommend seeking out. Dallas should be a playoff team once again this season, although it remains to be seen if they improve on their standing from seventh in the West with such a stacked conference and the lingering question of Kristaps Porzingis’ health. However, Kristaps’ absence early and the caution they’ll likely use in bringing him back means Doncic is going to put up a ton of points, to go along with his eye-popping assist and rebounding numbers. If Dallas is simply a decent playoff team, that means Doncic will have been unbelievable this season and he will have near triple-double averages with huge scoring, and we know that’s a recipe for an MVP win.
Anthony Davis (+900): LeBron James shares this 9-1 mark. Under most circumstances, it would be reason to jump on James’ odds, particularly given the push last year to tout his efforts at 35 years old. However, the quick turnaround presumably puts James on the shelf more than we usually see as he’ll probably rest a good bit early on after playing a Finals just a couple months ago. That means Davis will have the spotlight, and if the Lakers still manage to pull out the top seed in the West, it will be Davis who likely has the most production (coupled with DPOY caliber defense) in the most games for L.A., all while the “pass the torch” narrative that, early in the Finals, led some to think he’d win the Finals MVP award in the Bubble swirls. As such, I believe his value is pretty strong.
Jayson Tatum (+2500): We now turn to further down the odds board to seek out some value for high ceiling players. First up is Tatum, who has a chance this season to continue taking the leap into superstar status. It would take something truly sensational from him, but with Kemba Walker likely being brought along slowly with his lingering knee issues, Tatum could see even more of the ball and be asked to take on an even bigger scoring and creation load in Boston. Given they’ll be in the hunt to be a top-4 team in the East again this season, it stands to reason that he could have huge numbers for a good team, along with being a young guy who is likely to play almost all of the Celtics’ games if healthy and that will matter this season.
Kyrie Irving (+3300): The Nets are expected to make a huge leap this season as they get their two new superstar teammates on the floor together in Irving and Kevin Durant, both of whom return from injuries. Irving got off to a scorching hot start last year, and while Durant will certainly get his, he’s also not going to be playing back-to-backs for much of the season coming off of the Achilles injury. As such, Irving is likely going to have nights where it’s his show. We know he will happily produce huge numbers when that is the case and, similarly to the Davis reasoning, if the Nets pop as a team as some believe they can, Irving will likely have played more than KD at similar production and it could vault him firmly into the conversation.
Trae Young (+6600): The Hawks have gotten much better this offseason. While that may mean Young doesn’t score quite as much, his assist numbers and efficiency should benefit greatly, and it’s possible he still averages near 30 points a night. As such, his odds being as long as they are makes him, for my money, the best value on the board overall. That’s not because I think he’s some kind of lock to win, but he should probably be in the 33-1 range just by virtue of the numbers he’s capable of producing and the fact that Atlanta is likely a playoff team this season. If they overachieve as a team and Young continues to put up big stats, he’ll get buzz and is worth a flyer at this longshot number.
Kevin Durant (+1200): As mentioned above, I just can’t see Durant playing enough to warrant being this high on the odds sheet. He’s not the absolute worst bet — we’ll get to that in a bit — but I simply think there’s not much value here. He’s coming off of an injury that has, historically, been extremely difficult for guys to return to their absolute best form from, especially in the first year back. On top of that, I’d be pretty surprised if he plays more than 60 games this season, and to be clear, the Nets absolutely should be cautious with him and try to have him at his best come playoff time.
Kawhi Leonard (+1400): I mean, he’s the king of load management in what might end up being a season defined by it. On top of that, he doesn’t produce the eye-popping numbers you see from other superstars around the league. Kawhi’s a sensational player, but it’s hard to envision him having the regular season production to earn himself MVP favorite status and at this number, the value’s just not there.
Nikola Jokic (+1600): Jokic is one of the league’s absolute best players and I’m thrilled to see him getting the kind of respect as a player that’s indicated by this position on the MVP odds board, but also, no. Don’t bet on him. Denver didn’t do anything this offseason that makes me believe they’re going to take a leap this season, and if anything, the rest of the West likely started reeling them back into the middle of the playoff picture. On top of that, with Michael Porter Jr. likely taking on a bigger role and Jamal Murray emerging in the Bubble as an apparent No. 1 (now, if that’s for the better of the Nuggets is a legitimate debate), I don’t see Jokic’s role expanding in anyway and he would need that to happen to have a shot at MVP. He’ll be All-NBA, but I don’t see him being seriously in the MVP conversation.
Jimmy Butler (+2000): We have arrived at the worst bet on the MVP board and maybe for any NBA future. I want to preface this by saying Jimmy Butler is an awesome player and what he did last postseason is, truly, the thing of legends. But the MVP is a regular season award and Butler, for all his talents, is not a guy who puts up the production that will have him in the MVP discussion. Like, he averaged 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.0 assists last year, which is terrific and will get you in the conversation for All-NBA when you combine it with his defense on a good team, but it’s not what you’re going to see out of the MVP. Again, this isn’t a slight against Butler, it’s just the simple fact that what he does is all the little things that help you win, and, whether you like it or not, that’s not what MVP voters are voting for when there are the eye-popping stats we see from other top stars.
Donovan Mitchell (+2500): I do not believe Mitchell is about to reproduce his production from the Nuggets series over the course of the NBA season and that is really the only reason anyone would put money on him at 25-1. Mitchell, like Butler, is a very good player and while he’s more of an offensive focal point than Jimmy, he’s just not going to go out and put up what you need to win MVP and this number is just not providing you any value for a guy like Mitchell. If he were in the range you find Trae Young? Sure, you can talk me into that as a flyer. But he can’t be 13th in MVP value right now. His primary value is scoring and he doesn’t score enough to be among the league’s best in that category and he doesn’t do enough as a facilitator to make up for that. Again, a terrific player who could be an All-NBA candidate, but there’s just so far to go to be in the MVP-caliber tier.
Animated in a whimsical fashion, the visual shows vocalist Joe Talbot and his fellow band mates using kindness to their deathly advantage. The black-and-white video was animated by Pip Williamson and directed by James Carbutt, who said the clip’s pub setting is based on a real bar: “The dingy pub setting in the film is based on the Working Men’s Clubs of my hometown, Barnsley. It was nice to imagine IDLES bursting in and spreading a message of love. During our research we discovered that no two Wetherspoons carpets are the same, they are all unique like snowflakes, so yeah making this film was a wild ride.”
Speaking to Uproxx in an interview about the album, Talbot said that stomping around on stage, as seen in the “Kill Them With Kindness” video, is actually an act of tenderness:
“If you look at the most tender moments in your life when you’ve been the most sincere and loving to someone, they’re the most violent, potent, and memorable moments. People confuse tenderness with softness. Tenderness can be something that cuts through everything else like an explosion. Stamping my feet comes from love and empathy as much as it does anger and shame. I’m definitely violent on stage but that comes from all sorts of emotions. Sadness, loss, love, lust. Sometimes I’m just hungry.”
Watch Idles’ “Kill Them With Kindness” video above.
English rock duo Royal Blood have teamed up with American rap duo Run The Jewels for a “Royal Jewels” remix of the latter group’s song “The Ground Below.” Originally appearing on RTJ4 and featuring a sample of Gang of Four’s “Ether,” the track somehow gets even more aggressive than ever, bringing chunkier guitars, harder-hitting drums, and vocal work from Royal Blood’s Mike Kerr between El-P and Killer Mike’s bruising bars, replacing the spoken chorus originally performed by the Jewels.
Run The Jewels teased the defiant single’s remix on Twitter a day before its release, ensuring that the hype would be at a high. Since dropping RTJ4, the duo has kept busy with “live” appearances, original tracks, and cross-branded merch, giving the fan-favorite project even longer legs. In October, they performed the album in its entirety for Adult Swim’s “Holy Calamavote” event, while in November, they released their contribution to the long-awaited video game Cyberpunk 2077 soundtrack, “No Save Point.” They continued their collaboration with the game by launching a line of IPAs celebrating its (eventual) release.
Hip-hop, you really outdid yourself this year. Rappers used the time spent in isolation to write and record such a wide variety of work that the debates over what to include in this year’s Best Of list turned downright contentious. In the end, though, the 30 albums here are the ones we feel best represented that variety. While the genre has pushed its boundaries outward each year, within those boundaries, the rules have changed. Once disparate subgenres now intermingle and coincide, feeding off one another and inspiring entirely new interpretations of each.
Sure, more rappers than ever are using that slurry, melodic trap delivery, but have you ever noticed how astute their observations are or how clever their wordplay is? Traditionalist rappers have — and they’ve upped the ante by borrowing the sticky 808s from their Southern peers, proving that even the most staccato, sharp-edged flows have a place alongside the more fluid cadences that dominate playlists. The samples in the beats got weirder, the drums sometimes disappeared altogether, and one guy even brought his disco ball and roller skates to the party.
Hip-hop is more diverse, strange, poignant, and self-aware than ever. This year taught us a lot about ourselves, not just who we are but who want to and could be. That applies to the music that was made as well; here are the best examples of that principle as exercised through the most powerful genre in the world.
30. Young Dolph – Rich Slave
Young Dolph has mastered his brand of trap music like few others. That skill permeatesRich Slave, his first album in three years. He’s the boss of his domain on “To Be Honest,” and “RNB” with Megan Thee Stallion. But as the title suggests, he knows that racists view him as anything but, as he reflects on “The Land.” The Rich Slave dichotomy could have been deeper explored, but he’s so good at braggadocio we understand why he didn’t.–Andre Gee
29. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin – Savage Mode II
21 Savage was missed from the hip-hop game for nearly two years, dating back to the rapper’s 2018 album I Am > I Was. The Atlanta native made his return in 2020 with the same man that helped introduce him to the world: Metro Boomin. The two reunited for Savage Mode II in what was a cinematic affair that showed 21’s raw and unfiltered world in such a thrilling manner thanks to the booming narration from none other than Morgan Freeman.–Wongo Okon
28. Duckwrth – SuperGood
In the late stages of the blog era, LA rapper Duckwrth emerged as an exciting and promising genre bender, dropping the acclaimed Nowhere mixtape with The KickDrums. Unfortunately, the energy from that early wave had already begun to dissipate, leaving him stuck in a limbo between engaging and overlooked. Then, however, the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack came along, reinvigorating interest in his unique take on hip-hop mixed with punk and other subcultures’ aesthetics. For his deferred grand arrival, he settles into a disco-themed, dancefloor friendly blend of rap, R&B, and EDM. You can practically see the mirrorball glittering as bops like “”Quick“” and “”Coming Closer“” transport you to a euphoric dance fantasyland with Duckwrth as the ever-affable host.–Aaron Williams
27. Benny The Butcher — Burden Of Proof
Benny The Butcher paid homage to a classic era of East Coast rap on Burden Of Proof. Griselda is known for loops that are alternately warm, sinister, and warped — but Benny tasked Hit-Boy to get to choppin’ on tracks like “Where Would I Go” and “Trade It All.” For his part, Benny isn’t lost in the nostalgia. He tells his story and holds his own with Freddie Gibbs on “One Way Flight” and Lil Wayne and Big Sean on “Timeless.”–A.G.
26. G Herbo — PTSD
G-Herbo’s PTSD album art is one of the most jarring things many of us will ever see. He’s holding a flag containing over 50 deceased friends, including Juice WRLD, who appeared on the eponymous track with Chance The Rapper and Lil Uzi Vert. All four are distinct artists but are bonded by proximity to a traumatic environment that Herbo deftly delves into on “Feelings,” “Death Row,” and “Gangsta’s Cry” with BJ The Chicago Kid.–A.G.
25. Boldy James & The Alchemist — The Price Of Tea In China
Despite originally breaking out in the early blog era and seemingly fading away since, Detroit rapper Boldy James found a second life in 2020 as an affiliate of Griselda Records. In fact, Griselda’s onslaught revitalized and brought new fans to the audience of one of James’ oldest and most prolific collaborators, The Alchemist, with whom he’d crafted his 2013 Mass Appeal debut My 1st Chemistry Set. Reuniting under the banner of Alan’s new label, James and Alchemist get right back to business, cutting together druggy gems like nary a day had passed. With the inclusion of bubbling collaborators like Benny The Butcher, Freddie Gibbs, and Vince Staples, Boldy is finally getting the recognition he’s long deserved.–A.W.
24. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist — Alfredo
More than most artists, Freddie Gibbs is a testament to doing you and winning. There’s no confusion about what you’re gonna get from a Gibbs record or project, and his purist fanbase loves him for it. Enter Alfredo, another Alchemist collaboration where Gangsta Gibbs tears through a 10-pack of warm, minimalist tracks geared to let his melodic flow shine on tracks like “God Is Perfect,” and “Scottie Beam” with Rick Ross.–A.G.
23. Rod Wave — Pray 4 Love
It would have been easy for St. Petersburg, Florida sing-rapper Rod Wave to coast on the success of his 2019 debut Ghetto Gospel. After all, that album was stellar; it earned him a spot in the 2020 XXLFreshman Class and generated a massive groundswell of goodwill for his traumatized street anthems. Instead, he doubled down and proved he could maintain his consistency with Pray 4 Love. Songs like “F*ck The World” and “Rags2Riches” detail his brokenhearted world view, tugging on heartstrings and pulling back the curtain on the emotional interior life of a trap veteran.–A.W.
22. Big Sean — Detroit 2
It was only right for Big Sean to return to one of his fan favorite mixtapes for inspiration for his long-awaited comeback album. He’d only been gone for two years since I Decided but it felt like longer; between the pandemic and watching so many of Sean’s peers turn in the polished, mature works we’d sought from them since the blog era, fans couldn’t help feeling like there was 5’8″ hole in the rap game. Fortunately, he returned in prime form on Detroit 2, bearing a fresh vulnerability on “Harder Than My Demons” and “Body Language” and rhyming like a man possessed on “Friday Night Cypher” and “Deep Reverence.” He’s also gotten even more proficient at crafting pop radio-ready anthems like “Wolves” and “Lithuania.” Detroit 2 is the complete package, the album we’ve always known Sean had in him.–A.W.
21. Blu & Exile — Miles
Following up on the chemistry of their seminal 2007 debut, Below The Heavens, and its sumptuous 2012 follow-up Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, Miles: From An Interlude Called Life finds Blu in a contemplative, nostalgic mood. He graciously looks back at all he’s accomplished — and the places where he’s come up short — over suitably jazzy sample work from his best production partner. They told Uproxx their back-to-basics approach brought them closer as brothers, but it also reminded us all why we loved them best as a duo in the first place.–A.W.
20. Don Toliver — Heaven Or Hell
From top to bottom, Don Toliver’s debut album Heaven Or Hell is an entire draped-up and dripped-out vibe. The chop not slop version helmed by DJ Candlestick and the legendary OG Ron C offers another level of audio experience supercharged-up with Houston culture, where the phenomenal melodic rapper is from. All 2020, H-Town folklore invaded TikTok with his Sonny Digital-produced track “After Party” in both versions of the song — regular and slowed up, thanks to Donny. Tracks such as “Cardigan” and “No Idea” also found a loving home on the TikTok platform as well. The way Toliver inflects his voice, giving a variety of emotions and sounds to immerse in, it’s hard not to fall deep into his world and want to stay there for the album’s entirety.–Cherise Johnson
19. Jay Electronica — A Written Testimony
In 2020, the sheer abundance of surprising news desensitized us to surprising news. Still, the release of A Written Testimony is a shocker. Jay promised it several times over the 2010s and finally delivered — with Jay-Z. Fans could anticipate moments like “Ezekiel’s Wheel” and “The Neverending Story,” but the invigorating “Flux Capacitor” and “The Blinding” indicated that he had the versatility to be a one of a kind presence all along — if he wanted to be.–A.G.
18. Burna Boy – Twice As Tall
The biggest moment of Burna Boy’s career came with his 2019 album, African Giant. The project launched the afro-fusion singer into a higher level of mainstream acclaim. However, this success failed to bring in the accolade Burna truly desired: a Grammy. He lost in the World Music category and a year removed from that career-boosting album, he shared his fifth album Twice As Tall to emphatically prove that his defeat simply made him stronger than ever.–W.O.
17. Mulatto – Queen Of Da Souf
This year, Mulatto came through with much assertion and confidence on her debut project Queen Of Da Souf. It’s expected, though. Big Latto has been rapping since she was Little Latto and it’s evident in her Southern-charged delivery on tracks such as “Youngest N Richest” and “Muwop” with Gucci Mane. On “Pull Up,” Latto shows how she can switch up her flow, keeping her debut fresh, while songs like “In-N-Out” featuring City Girls and “On God” offer something for all the strip club trappers of the world. There are a lot of women in rap on the come up, Latto however, has been doing this for a long time and it’s clear as day this young lady is here to stay. “From the jump, I was like, ‘I know I’m here to say,’” she told Uproxx in an exclusive interview. “‘Nobody can convince me otherwise.”–C.J.
16. Deante’ Hitchcock – Better
Atlanta’s Deante Hitchcock gained some acclaim with his invitation to the 2019 Dreamville recording sessions in his hometown and paid off that promise in full on Better — with interest. He smoothly runs the gamut of rap mainstays — the club banger (“Gimmie Yo Money” with Yung Baby Tate), the relationship drama song (“How TF” with 6lack), the triumphant celebration of his move from ashy to classy (“I Got Money Now“) — but he does so with a poise and panache few rappers can carry off for a full project.–A.W.
15. Westside Gunn – Pray For Paris
When Jay-Z “said goodbye” to rap in 2005, he made a farewell album. Westside Gunn has made three and counting. Pray For Paris made our list because it’s his best reflection of Westside at his best: danger and designer over stick-to-your-ribs soul samples. From top-to-bottom, Pray For Paris’ soundscape makes his buoyant boasts all the more captivating, showing that he’ll still be an impactful presence in rap as an A&R.–A.G.
14. Gunna – Wunna
The marketing rollout for Wunna reflected Gunna’s newfound appreciation for astrology. But he didn’t pivot into experimental, soul-searching Neo Soul or anything, he stuck to his script of slinky harmonies over murky, 808-based production. Astrology, more than anything, is all about knowing who you are. And Gunna was firmly in tune with his greatness on tracks like “Nasty Girl / On Camera,” “Skybox,” and “Dollaz On My Head” with Young Thug.–A.G.
13. Megan Thee Stallion – Good News
Nothing can stop Megan Thee Stallion’s reign. Not a pandemic, not a bullet. Her debut album Good News is proof of her triumph, which landed at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Hot Girl Meg offered her fans an assortment of sounds to dig into on this project including TikTok’s favorite “Body” and the pop-leaning track “Don’t Rock Me To Sleep.” Megan is showing everyone that she can make more than music to make that ass shake. She can make feel-good songs made for sunny trips to the beach, too. “Freaky Girls” featuring SZA, which samples Adina Howard’s ’90s hit “Freak Like Me,” is one of the Good News standouts produced by Juicy J and is one of many tracks on the album that samples music from the nostalgic ’90s and ’00s eras. Good News is Megan Thee Stallion’s victorious collection of songs that offer a variety of positive vibes, despite the tragedy she went through this year.–C.J.
12. Kota The Friend – Everything
After making a splash with 2019’s Foto and proving his lyrical skills with his Lyrics To Go, Vol. 1 EP, Brooklyn rapper Kota The Friend wanted to make a, well, friendlier album. He accomplishes that goal deftly on Everything, which sees him contemplating the question, “What means everything to you?” Family, friends, financial freedom, and legacy are Kota’s answers, on feel-good songs like “BQE,” “Morocco,” and the title track.–A.W.
11. Blimes And Gab – Talk About It
The next time someone says women in hip-hop “don’t rap about anything” or “can’t rap,” pull this album up on the streaming service of your choice and immediately smack them across the head with the screen (I’ll cover the damages). Blimes Brixton and Gifted Gab dispel all that crap from the first song with a devastating lyrical “Baptism” that gives way to show that even this backpacking-ass rap duo can tackle a variety of sounds and moods. From the dance-pop, ’80-inspired “Shellys (It’s Chill)” and the house party vibes of “Feelin It” to the smoothly sensual “Hungover With You,” these two are more than capable of setting a mood, but when it’s time to drop fire and flames on a misogynist rap hater, B&G can fricassee any doubter with blazing bars on “Hot Damn” or countdown doubters’ demises with “Un Deux Trois.” Do. Not. Sleep.–A.W.
10. Polo G – The Goat
Polo G is the leading figure in the new generation of Chicago drill. He’s showed off why throughout The Goat, his thrilling, affirmative sophomore album. He’s right in line with his predecessors throughout the gritty, melodic project. But he’s transcendent through his avid curiosity for the “why” on songs like, “Trials And Tribulations” and “Wishing For A Hero.” Again, the environment Polo explores here shouldn’t exist — but he’s damn good at reflecting it.–A.G.
9. Aminé – Limbo
From the opening strains of “Woodlawn Park” to the semi-social-consciousness of “Becky,” Adam Aminé Daniel offers up one of the genre’s most fully-imagined and emotionally-resonant works. He’s a bar-smith of the highest order on songs like “Shimmy Ya,” where he channels the spirit of the dearly departed ODB with a wicked, Biggie-Esque lyrical bent. Then he bares his heart on “Compensating” and “Riri,” fully embracing hip-hop’s turn toward romanticism and the heartbreak endemic to it. It’s on songs like “Becky,” “Mama,” and “Fetus” that Aminé offers the most trenchant reveals, as he wrassles with the anxieties inherent to being a minority in America, leaving a legacy through offspring and paying homage to the ancestors before they’re gone. Limbo sets the bar as high as it’s ever been.–A.W.
8. D Smoke – Black Habits
One of my early personal picks for top albums of the year, this one remained a favorite throughout a year packed with stellar releases mainly because of its dedication to an institution that doesn’t get nearly enough love in hip-hop: The Black family unit. That’s what Black Habits primarily deals with: D Smoke’s upbringing and how his family has helped shape him into the man and artist he is today. As a highly biographical work, it’s still expansive and inclusive enough to encompass a broad array of experiences, while from a technical standpoint, you’d be hard-pressed to find better lyrical displays than “Bullies” or “Like My Daddy” or “Lights On.” With this album, D Smoke proved that he’s got the scope for a career far beyond Netflix.–A.W.
7. Flo Milli – Ho, Why Is You Here?
The dope thing about Flo Milli is that everything she raps clearly comes from a place of experience. Ho, Why Is You Here? sees the Alabama native spitting hyper bars over bouncy beats aided by catchy hooks. Her breakout single, “In The Party,” was a viral sensation in 2019 and though she didn’t have a project out at the time, the anticipation for a full-length collection of songs was high and Flo did not disappoint. Keeping the same energy that previously caught the attention of millions, Flo Milli spits rhymes that boast of confidence and braggadocio. Out the gate, between “Beef FloMix” setting the tone as the album enters into the essence of the rest of the project, Milli’s storytelling capability jumps out accompanied by affirmations of self-love. Ho, Why Is You Here? is an incredible debut from Flo Milli as a woman in rap who is fresh on the scene.–C.J.
6. Lil Baby – My Turn
After taking the melodic rap formula first popularized by Future and innovated by Young Thug then putting his own, confessional spin on it, Lil Baby straight up entered the flow state on his sophomore project. When he broke out in 2018 with the Harder Than Ever and Drip Harder mixtapes, it’s fair to say that some tweaks were needed. He had a strong sense of his identity and the things he wanted to do with his flow and lyrics, but he was still solidifying all those components, requiring timely assists from the likes of Drake and Gunna to up the “wow” factor while he tinkered. But on My Turn, he’s the star of the show no matter which guest is rhyming alongside him. He spends the entire album in the zone, from vulnerable revelations like “Emotionally Scarred” to boastful declarations like “Sum 2 Prove.” He even improved on the formula with the deluxe edition, adding “The Bigger Picture” and becoming an inadvertent focal point of the summer’s uprisings against police brutality.–A.W.
5. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
There was a point during this summer where everything aligned to make it feel like the latest dystopian (or maybe post-apocalyptic) effort from El-P and Killer Mike wasn’t just paranoid fantasy or pessimistic speculation but instead the soundtrack of a movie we were all trapped in like The Final Girls. The police had killed George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, people took to the streets in droves to protest the injustice amid a deadly global pandemic, and a demagogic wannabe dictator was making nihilistic pronouncements from his golf course in Florida. RTJ4 is damn near a history book in audio form, from the defiant “A Few Words For The Firing Squad” to the capitalism burning video for “Ooh La La.” We aren’t out of the woods yet, but shout-out to the Jewels for keeping our spirits high as we fought against what felt like the end of the world.–A.W.
4. Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
Compton native Roddy has had one hell of a year, riding the success of his single “The Box” (which spent no less than 38 weeks on the Hot 100, 11 of which were at the No. 1 position) and popping up on fan-favorite singles from the likes of DaBaby and Lil Baby (their names get stuck together a lot, don’t they?). All of that, though, was launched from the impressive late 2019 debut album that saw him go from burgeoning hometown hero to a legit superstar as he wrestled with the results of trauma (“War Baby“), bragged on his newfound success (“Boom Boom Room“), and warned haters away from making any moves that might be hazardous to their health (“Start With Me” featuring Gunna).–A.W.
3. Mac Miller – Circles
Circles,which was completed by Jon Brion after Mac’s tragic death, showed the Pittsburgh artist scrutinizing his discontent over a soundscape that fused rap, funk, and emo. The raw despair of thematic predecessor Swimming had lessened with songs like ”Blue World” and “Complicated,” where he eerily vocalizes “Some people say they want to live forever / That’s way too long, I’ll just get through today.” Through Circles, he lives forever.–A.G.
2. Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake
Lil Uzi Vert had the rap world waiting on Eternal Atake for years. When he finally dropped it at the top of 2020, he delivered. The 18-track project is a quintessential exhibition of why people love Uzi, with earworm melodies over vibrant, often-quaking thumping production. Maybe there’s a universe where the genre-bending stargazer isn’t one of the most fun listens in music — but it ain’t this one.–A.G.
1. Spillage Village – Spilligion
Imagine if Bob Dylan somehow joined the Dungeon Family in their late-90s heyday, but with all of the technical advancements and foreknowledge of the trash fire 2020 would turn out to be. They might make something similar to Spilligion, the first album from Atlanta-based super crew Spillage Village since 2016’s Bears Like This Too Much. Borrowing folk tradition, marrying it to Southern Baptist gospel, and slathering the whole thing in trap rap secret sauce, 6lack, Earthgang, JID, and the gang (Benjj, Jurdan, and Mereba — you thought I wasn’t gonna shout everybody out??) untangle their complicated feelings — and, by and large, ours as well — about the gnarly happenings of the last 12 months on songs like “End Of Daze.” The answers they tease out aren’t for everybody, but the musical process they use to do so sure is.–A.W.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
If this latest claim of voter fraud doesn’t convince you that the Saturday Night Live writers are scripting 2020, we don’t know what will.
Roger Stone, Trump’s infamous hype-man and a conservative political lobbyist who was convicted on seven felony counts related to the Mueller investigation (and recently pardoned) has tossed his hat into the ring for most-absurd-election-tampering-conspiracy-theory. Stone graced The Alex Jones Show to spread his theory that North Korea interfered in the 2020 Presidential Election.
“I just learned of absolute incontrovertible evidence of North Korean boats delivering ballots through a harbor in Maine, the state of Maine,” Stone told Jones. “If this checks out if law enforcement looked into that and it turned out to be true, it would be proof of foreign involvement in the election.”
If your head is also spinning after reading this, let’s break it down a bit. Stone, a man convicted for witness tampering and lying to investigators during Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential Election, is now claiming that North Korea — a country whose dictator Trump has claimed to be close friends with — sent votes for Biden by boat to Maine and that, somehow, those votes were accepted and counted. He’s making these claims on Alex Jones’ show — hosted by the guy who tried to convince people the tragic 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a hoax — and he’s free to do so because Trump commuted his three-year prison sentence.
Even if this bizarre claim was coming from a reliable source, it seems odd that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un would allow an operation like this to happen. After all, Trump has bragged about the pair’s friendship, stating the Supreme Leader sent him “love letters” over the course of his presidency, and that friendly relationship has helped North Korea ramp up their nuclear efforts. Still, Stone’s latest conspiracy theory seems in line with Trump’s renewed push to cast doubt on election results before the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14th.
Ballots coming in by boat from North Korea? Sounds like the kind of bonkers thinking that a guy with a Richard Nixon back tattoo would have.
Former president Barack Obama has been making the rounds doing press for his new book, “The Promised Land,” and after interviews with everyone from 60 Minutes to Oprah Winfrey, the 44th president took to Instagram Live with two-time NBA MVP Steph Curry to chat about their shared experiences as fathers and leaders.
As Curry enters a later stage of his NBA career, he asked the former president about how to lead when expectations are high and all eyes on are on you.
Here was Obama’s response:
One mistake I think a lot of people make is that you’re just either born a leader or you’re not. When, in fact, leadership is, like anything else, it’s a skill. And there are a bunch of different ways to do it. I‘ve known people who were great leaders but really soft spoken and weren’t always trying to seek attention. The thing I try to communicate in the book and I learned this, I wasn’t always perfect at it…number one was realizing that the most important thing a leader does is they set a tone in terms of culture as a team. Whether the team is a a basketball team or a business or an administration. What are the values in which you are organizing yourselves?….Being clear about what your values are as an organization, that’s part of leadership.
Obama also added how important it is as a leader to empower those around you and give them to space to be their best:
The second thing, and this, I know you can relate to, because it’s a direct analogy to basketball or any team sport…is figuring out, how do you help the people around you succeed?…If you can figure out how to empower the other folks on your team so they’re doing great, that’s good for you. And by the way, they’ll feel good about your leadership because they’re seeing that you’re invested in their success. And the mistake I think some folks make is to think being a leader is “How do I dominate and stay on top of other folks?” If you have that kind of approach, your organization or whatever it is, is not going to be as good as it should be and by the way, you’re not going to have the same tight bonds so that when, inevitably, something goes wrong, you got other people to pick each other up.
The two also discuss different moments from across Obama’s political career, including his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that served as a springboard into national politics and the raid he directed to take down Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011.
As the year begins to near a close, the music world is reflecting on all that 2020 had to offer. Uproxx rounded up the best albums and the best songs of the year this week, but we’re not the only ones compiling impressive releases. Billboard is looking back at the artists who secured No. 1s on their charts this year, and 2020 sees Post Malone as their top-charting artist for the second year in a row.
Per Billboard‘s year-end report, Posty has gone back-to-back as the top-charting artist. His charting success is thanks to the continued interest in his 2019 album Hollywood’s Bleeding. The LP debuted at No. 1 on the 200 Albums chart in September of 2019, and continued to remain in the top ten for the entire 52-week 2020 charting period.
Along with being top artist of the year, Posty’s Hollywood’s Bleeding was also the top album of 2020. The rapper is the first artist since Adele in 2016 to have the top album and also be Billboard‘s top artist. Posty’s consecutive top-charting artist win also takes a page out of Adele’s playbook. He is the first since Adele to be the top-charting artist back-to-back, after Adele claimed the feat in 2011 and 2012.
Though this is the rapper’s second year as the top artist, Posty has managed to place at least one album in the top ten year-end 200 Albums chart for four consecutive years. Last year, his Beerbongs & Bentleys landed at No. 5 at the 2019’s close, and it was at No. 3 at the end of 2018. His album Stoney was at No. 8 in 2018 and came in at No. 7 in 2017.
Despite not putting out an album in 2020, the rapper has appeared on a couple of singles. Posty lent a verse on Tyla Yaweh’s track “Tommy Lee,” which he performed at the BMAs this year, as well as Ty Dolla Sign’s “Spicy,” which he recently starred in a video for.
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