Top five albums to come out of quarantine


Tyler Kinzy

An arrangement of the cover art for the albums discussed herein.

COVID-19 may have prompted some musicians to postpone albums or cancel tours, but that’s not to say the past several months have been devoid of good music. Below are my top five albums that have been released since the March 13 national emergency proclamation in response to the pandemic.

5. Thundercat – “It Is What It Is”

Release date: April 3

Stephen Bruner was a key contributor to what I would argue is the best album of our generation in Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” which should be more than enough proof of his immense talent. The bassist shines once again with groovy instrumentation borrowing from funk, jazz, R&B and neo-soul on “It Is What It Is.” Bruner’s penchant for witty songwriting will also reel you in, only for him to put a lump in your throat when moments of levity give way to anguish and heartbreak. This is Bruner’s first album since his close friend Mac Miller passed away in 2018, and the former’s short but sweet LP culminates in a well-crafted tribute.

Favorite track: “Black Qualls” (ft. Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington and Childish Gambino)

4. Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – “Alfredo”

Release date: May 29

The list of contemporaries that can match Freddie Gibbs’ technical prowess as a rapper is a short one. He is also not one to mince words, utilizing his stellar flows to tackle subjects including drug dealing and police violence. The Alchemist, on the other hand, has a knack for churning out smooth, stripped back beats like clockwork. Combine the two and you get “Alfredo,” a breath of fresh air from the trap craze dominating mainstream hip hop.

Favorite track: “Scottie Beam” (ft. Rick Ross)

3. Childish Gambino – “3.15.20”

Release date: March 22

I loved this album when I initially reviewed it, and I still love it now. Donald Glover presents his most experimental sound to date in a compelling meditation on our increasingly turbulent world. With a healthy balance of introspection and big picture outlook, “3.15.20” coalesces into a project that exceeds the sum of its parts. In addition to his development as a lyricist, you can find an entry point into enjoying this album regardless of your musical taste buds thanks to the variety of genres that Glover taps into.

Favorite track: “53.49”

2. Run The Jewels – “RTJ4”

Release date: June 3

Killer Mike and El-P are back—and they brought their best all-around album yet. “Run The Jewels 2” set the bar for in-your-face hardcore hip hop production while “Run The Jewels 3” offered the duo’s sharpest political commentary yet. Until now, that is. “RTJ4” reigns supreme on both fronts to further embellish what was already one of rap’s most prolific discographies in recent memory.

Favorite track: “walking in the snow”

1. Fiona Apple – “Fetch The Bolt Cutters”

Release date: April 17

“Fetch The Bolt Cutters” is unapologetically raw in the best way possible. Fiona Apple channels depression, trauma and sheer anger into the type of album that could inspire the next hit Broadway drama. For as much as the 13-song masterpiece revolves around trying to “fetch the f—ing bolt cutters and get yourself out of the situation that you’re in,” this record is far from a clichéd empowerment anthem. The fusion of art pop, rock and blues creates a soundscape that is just as unique and personalized as the intimate lyrical vignettes and fiery vocal performances. Unless the back half of this year has an instant classic in store, Apple is a safe bet to run away with the best album of 2020.

Favorite track: “For Her”