The D.C. region is a hotbed of talented musicians. And while the region hasn’t quite received the recognition it deserves, the time is now to see the culture as it is: gushing with creative and eccentric musicians. From established stars to up-and-coming talents, these are five of the best albums from DMV born or raised artists in 2020.
Wale — The Imperfect Storm
Only eight months after his October 2019 release of Wow… That’s Crazy, Wale dropped The Imperfect Storm on Juneteenth, an apt appreciation of the momentous holiday. Defined by an unapologetic “no justice, no peace” mentality, unrelentingly bouncing go-go beats, and top-shelf bars, Wale’s talent is on full display on this project. While other albums of his have tended to obscure his skill on the mic, this one shows him embrace himself from every angle. Upbeat tracks like Maajo and BYGPW are infectiously entertaining, and he slows it down with “June 5th / QueenZnGodZ” and “SHIT DON’T STOP,” two heartfelt tracks. An easy listen at only 18 minutes, Wale left no stone unturned with this project.
Brent Faiyaz — Fuck the World
Fuck the World’s brooding beats and sexually enticing delivery make this album one of the most alluring of the year. Faiyaz’s neo-soul delivery allows him to communicate a series of emotions that range from sex to self-doubt to ego inflation, and the toxic king pulls off each message with clarity. And while he’s being rude pretty often, his messages are often poignant and heartfelt, leaving a strong impression.
The album’s fifth track, “Let Me Know,” pulls this off to perfection, as Faiyaz sings “Who can I love, when they tell me I can’t love myself?” The track’s downtrodden message is relatable; even though he dropped it before the pandemic hit, its message endures. And while Fuck the World isn’t the kind of album you’d want to toss on at a function due to its morose vibes, it’s a great companion for lonely times.
Kali Uchis — Sin Miedo (de amor y otros demonios)
Kali’s newest album is almost entirely in Spanish, a departure from her mostly-English albums beforehand. Embracing her native language brings about new sounds all over the album, departing the more poppy sounds on Isolation to opt for a more grand, supervillain theme on Sin Miedo. The transition goes over beautifully; Uchis is able to present a whole new aspect of her personality on the album. Sin Miedo proves that Uchis is one of the best singers in the game right now, and her unwillingness to stick to one sound renders the future exciting.
Dayon Greene — Me
Greene’s debut album is a story of self-empowerment and growth. Over the album’s 11 songs, Greene tells stories of heartbreak, difficulty, and growth. The album is sequenced perfectly, starting with more somber tracks to begin the album, and developing into some head-boppin’ tracks later on. The way he talks about his mental health is powerfully destigmatizing and will hopefully inspire other artists to do the same.
While this album is not without its share of kinks that arise in any debut album, it’s a statement album that introduces folks to Greene’s life in an honest manner. It’s impressive that he was able to put out such a well-produced project amidst such difficult conditions, and he gives fans no choice but to be excited about what’s to come.
Make sure to check out our interview with Greene to learn more about his perspective!
Rico Nasty — Nightmare Vacation
Nightmare Vacation takes the listener through a variety of soundscapes through a dynamic attempt at dipping her toes into the waters of thrash-rap and trap. Her ability to jump from one sound to another can be jarring, but it makes Nightmare Vacation one of the most interesting albums of the year. She puts together trap-inspired ballads, tagging Gucci Mane, Don Toliver, and Aminé, and she ascends into thrash-mode for several other tracks.
Her dedication to loud and distinctive music will turn many folks away that aren’t willing to give her a second chance, and they’re wrong for that. Nightmare Vacation joins Nathy Peluso’s Calambre as two albums carrying a variety of sounds pulled off with finesse, and it’s inspiring to see these two artists standing up to an industry unwilling to see femmes outside of cleanly polished, essentialized boxes.