Iron City’s Finest: Top 20 Songs from Birmingham Artists in 2020

Words by Jakob Frazier

Look, y’all… I usually try to be ultra-professional in my writing, but I’m exhausted. This year took a toll on everyone. That didn’t stop my wonderful city of Birmingham from releasing some incredible tunes, though. Here are twenty of my favorite songs from this absolute hellscape of a year. A Spotify playlist of all the songs will be listed at the end.

Note: while most of these songs fall into the larger hip-hop or R&B genres, there are a few that stray. Take it as an opportunity to try out something new. Or don’t. It’s up to you. Just don’t be bitter. Please.

Bitter” – The Frequently (single)

IG: @thefrequently

Punchy drums and scattered guitars accompany scathing lyrics from a lover scorned, creating a song perfect for radio.

Boys Break Too” – Sebastian Kole (Numb)

IG: @sebastiankole

Kole forgoesthe drums, keys, and synths, instead filling the space with only his voice while lamenting the expectations constantly placed on him.

Build” – Jahnah Camille (Denim)

IG: @jahnahcamille
Lush chords and gentle strumming accentuate Jahnah’s sweet voice as she looks toward the future with love on her mind.

DAHLIA” – Mel. Crozby & Richard Daniel (iris.)

IG: @melxcrozby; @_richarddaniel

Crozby introduces iris. by expressing painfully raw emotions in a drunken stupor over a woozy beat from Richard Daniel.

Don’t Need” – C.A.m ft. Jaz (Lost Songs EP)

IG: @cjlindsey; @jazakexander__

C.A.m employs his cohort Jaz as they both lay out slick, thoughtful verses atop a dramatic, orchestral production.

Energy” – K1NG ELJAY & InkLine (Kintsugi)

IG: @k1ngeljay; @inkline_uno

ELJAY matches the vigor of InkLine’s driving instrumental, supplying the listener with cleverly constructed and coolly rapped bars.

Hardfall” – Gap Toof (single)

IG: @gap.toofed

Gap effortlessly trades off between humble and proud over a soulful sample, ending the song with a subtle breakdown.

Heart on Sleeve” – OZU8LACK & Aztecky (Phonk’n’Aztecky)

IG: @ozu8lack; @aztecky94

OZU’s catchy delivery about the difficulty of love combines with Aztecky’s regal synths and sharp drums to produce a radio-ready jam.

Here Now” – G.I. MAGUS ft. Wisdom Bibbs (Verses the World)

IG: @githeartist; @wisdombibbs_

A bouncy beat accompanied by celebratory horns soundtracks verses and hooks from GI and Wisdom in a track about acknowledging their blessings.

Hoodtep” – You Gene Write & ITP (I and I: Itty and Izzy)

IG: @yougenewrite; @__itp__

A confident You Gene spits with a particular bravado on this head-nodding, bumping ITP collaboration.

iiWii” – Love Moor (Motions)

IG: @lovemoorson; @uncle_seej

Uncle See’J provides Love Moor with a screaming saxophone sample and riveting drums as she adamantly professes her acceptance of certain situations.

Moss” – The Monastery (Different World)

IG: @wearethemonastery; @carlos_charm; @digitalundergroundpac

An urgent bassline contrasted with subdued drums allows the duo to express genuine heartbreak and contempt over the loss of a lifelong friend.

Outside” – Richard Daniel (single)

IG: @_richarddaniel; @suazeone

Utilizing a haunting Suaze instrumental, Richard discusses police brutality and racial tension to create a fiery protest song.

Plot’n” – 729 (Proceed with Caution)

IG: @729ne; @ozu8lack;

Beginning with a relaxed soundscape, the beat switches to a pulsating, triumphant instrumental that showcases both OZU’s and Erthling.’s strengths.

Risk” – Dee Skillz ft. IndYah Rashaud (The Life and Times of a Radiant Child)

IG: @deeskillzmusiq; @indyahrashuad

A frenetic beat and a powerful vocal performance from IndYah Rashaud juxtapose with Dee Skillz’s timid voice in this anxiety-riddled track.

Snow” – theSportingLife (A Proper Racket)

IG: @ymocco; @blackplastique

Gifted a stylish bassline and a smooth piano melody by Black Plastique, lead singer Jovani Occomy sings gracefully about the need for comfort and communication.

Something New” – Penny Circus (single)

IG: @pennycircus

Feelings of apathy and regret make their way through crunched guitars and punctuated drums to make for an unexpectedly upbeat tune.

“Sure About It” – Akil Pratt (Depressed Genius – Genius Version)

IG: @akilpratt

This deep cut sees Akil penning a love song dedicated to his wife, backed by an elegant, romantic sample.

Wasteland” – Black Plastique ft. Corey Brandon & Dolo Fibonacci (Wasteland)

IG: @blackplastique; @coreybrandon; @dolofibonacci

Verses of consciousness and braggadocio from Plastique and Dolo are accompanied by an appropriately abrasive chorus, soundtracked by a dirty, thumping 808.

“Welcome to the City” – Ethos (The City Wants You Alone)

IG: @whoisethos

Ethos ponders his confusion and loneliness by way of a somber guitar riff and despondent drums before the song descends into chaos and madness.

Check out the playlist below.

Jakob Frazier, aka Phrasure, a rapper who sometimes writes words that don’t rhyme. He’s committed to spreading word about some of the best MCs from Birmingham, Ala. He can be found on Facebook and Instagram.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.