A 2020 mixtape

As long as there is something to strive for

Pardis Noorzad
6 min readJan 3, 2021
Outdoor dining, 2020 style.

Following the tradition from the last two years, I picked out 20 of my favorite songs from 2020. Before I get into the songs, I wanted to share some interesting links from friends in music.

DJ Keybo

I love this original mix by DJ Keybo. He describes it as, “Hip Hop & Alt Rock sitting in a tree, M-I-X-X-I-N-G.”


I recently learned about Lyrah’s beautiful work on Twitter. She is a singer, songwriter, and producer based in San Francisco.

Sim Simah

Sim Simah recently released an EP called “Entropy Led Them.” You can read more about his impressive background in this VoyageLA article.

Myles Yachts

Here’s a beautiful Gap ad featuring the extremely talented duo, Myles Yachts and Lil Buck, as they improvise to the song “Too Fast” by Sonder.

Here is my list of top 20 songs of 2020. They are ordered such that they flow well together.

The songs

FRANCHISE (feat. Young Thug & M.I.A.) by Travis Scott — Single.
This Travis Scott single interpolates Dem Franchize Boyz’ 2004 single, White Tee. In this video, SLAPSTAR creates a cool mix of the two music videos (from 2004 and 2020). Dem Franchize Boyz, an Atlanta hip hop group, is credited for turning the white tee into a statement piece. The song’s name, is in reference to the group and to the McDonald’s franchise.

Apple by KIRBY—Sis.
This song is from the debut album of KIRBY, a Memphis-born, Mississippi-raised, singer and seasoned songwriter. Signed to Roc Nation, she has written for the likes of Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Paul McCartney, Jennifer Lopez, and Common.

Prey 4 Da Sheep (feat. Big Boi) by Goodie Mob — Survival Kit.
Goodie Mob is a 4-member hip hop group (Big Gipp, Cee-Lo Green, Khujo, and T-M) based in Atlanta. Big Boi is a member of the Atlanta hip hop duo Outkast. This beautiful song is produced by Organized Noize (Rico Wade, Ray Murray, and Sleepy Brown), one of the most iconic group of producers in Southern Hip Hop.

Grey October (feat. Evidence) by Boldy James—The Price of Tea In China.
Detroit veteran rapper Boldy James had a successful 2020, releasing two studio albums. The Price of Tea In China is produced by The Alchemist, a prominent producer and Eminem’s official DJ. The album features Benny The Butcher, Evidence, Freddie Gibbs, and Vince Staples. This playlist also contains a song from Boldy’s other 2020 album, Real Bad Boldy.

Beat Cry by Young Scooter, Zaytoven & Chief Keef—Zaystreet.
Atlanta rapper Young Scooter is the CEO of the label, Black Migo Gang. Like Boldy James, he has released two studio albums last year. In Beat Cry, Young Scooter sings the praise of the prominent producer, Zaytoven, who has also produced the album. The title of the song caught my attention because of a similarly titled JAY-Z song, produced by Just Blaze.

Dough by Key Glock—Yellow Tape.
Key Glock is the cousin and protégé of Memphis rapper Young Dolph, who is featured later in this playlist. Yellow Tape is his fifth solo mixtape. Dough is produced by BandPlay, his frequent collaborator with the tag, “Let The BANDPLAY.” The chorus of Dough is an interpolation of Snoop’s verse in Nuthin’ But a G Thang by Dr. Dre.

Ego Death (feat. Kanye West, FKA twigs & Skrillex) by Ty Dolla $ign — Featuring Ty Dolla $ign.
Ego Death is the lead single from Ty’s third studio album, Featuring Ty Dolla Sign. The song is reminiscent of Kanye and Ty Dolla Sign’s previous house collaboration, Fade.

Teyana Taylor in the Fade music video.

The song’s outro contains a sample of Queen Latifah’s 1989 Dance for Me.


Sins of the Father (feat. Roc Marci) by KA—Descendants of Cain.
Descendants of Cain is Brooklyn rapper KA’s seventh album. Roc Marciano is Long Island rapper, songwriter, and producer. The intro to the song, Sins of the Father, is a sample from the movie The Ten Commandments (1956).

Makeitliveforever by Knxwledge—1988.
The album contains 20 instrumentals and 2 lyrical tracks featuring Anderson .Paak. This instrumental samples Tyrone Davis’ Ain’t Nothing I Can Do.

Light Bill (feat. Meyhem Lauren) by Boldy James & Real Bad Man—Real Bad Boldy.
Produced by LA-based Real Bad Man, Light Bill is my favorite song from the album. Let me know if you ever find the 🔥 sample used by Real Bad Man.

The car has a face!!

Makeudreamm by Knxwledge—Meek, Vol. 5.
There’s not much information online about this song or album, but it was too good to leave out from my playlist. It samples Meek Mill’s verse in the Phat Geez song, The Life.

Thanks to Genius for helping me track this down.

RNB (feat. Megan Thee Stallion) by Young Dolph — Rich Slave.
RNB, released as a single, is now part of Memphis artist Young Dolph’s sixth studio album. It features renowned Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion. The song is produced by Sosa 808 and Juicy J.

From Megan’s verse.

No Opp Left Behind by 21 Savage & Metro Boomin — SAVAGE MODE II.
SAVAGE MODE II is Atlanta artist 21 Savage’s fifth studio album, serving as a sequel to his first collaboration with Metro Boomin on Savage Mode. St. Louis producer Metro Boomin is owner of the label Boominati Worldwide.

HNY from 21.

Last Sniff (feat. MF DOOM) by Wilma Archer — A Western Circular.
Wilma Archer is an English producer. A Western Circular is his third studio album. MF DOOM was a renowned rapper and producer known for his lyrical prowess, super-villain alter-egos, and gladiator mask.

From here.

RIP MF DOOM. Thank you for all the years of art and inspiration.

Perfection that brings tears to your eyes.

BEST INTEREST by Tyler, The Creator— Single.
BEST INTEREST was produced during the IGOR recording sessions and released separately from the 2019 album. The song follows the same themes as IGOR. It samples Bless You With My Love by Heaven Sent & Ecstasy.

DYING 4 YOUR LOVE by Snoh Aalegra — Single.
Snoh Aalegra is an LA-based singer and songwriter, also known as Sheri. This beautiful single is produced by London-based producer P2J with Roc Nation.

No Idea by Don Toliver — HEAVEN OR HELL.
HEAVEN OR HELL is the debut studio album of Houston rapper Don Toliver. The song is produced by Canadian-Nigerian WondaGurl. She produces for the likes of Travis Scott, Drake, Rihanna, and Kid Cudi.

The Good Book by K.A.A.N. — Vivid Canvas.
K.A.A.N. (acronym for Knowledge Above All Nonsense), is a rapper from Maryland. His fast rhyming style is known as chopping, a style attributed to the likes of Twista, Tech N9ne, and Busta Rhymes. The song samples Joanna Newsom’s The Book Of Right-On.

Starlight Glitz by Pete Rock & Camp Lo — 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s II.
Pete Rock is a renowned producer, DJ, and rapper from The Bronx. Camp Lo is a hip hop duo, also from The Bronx. The album pays homage to the South Bronx gangs of the 70s, the name coming from the documentary by Gary Weis. The album was released in 2013, and later reissued in May 2020.

Lakeith’s Interlude by Kota the Friend — Everything.
KOTA The Friend is an independent artist from Brooklyn. In this album, he aims to present possible answers to the question, “What means everything to you?” Lakeith’s Interlude features actor Lakeith Stanfield.

It means to me to have everything to simultaneously have nothing
The state of neutrality, to have everything is to, be dead
As long as there is something to strive for
Something to continue to work toward
We um, validate our existence, um
Just try to have some fun while you doin’ it

Streaming options

The playlist is available on Apple Music and Spotify.

Thank you for reading and listening.
Please get in touch and let me know your favorite songs.

DJ Pardis