Let’s face it—2020 has been a dizzying roller coaster year of ups and downs that have left the nation reeling. The coronavirus, which has resulted in a global pandemic, has disproportionately impacted Black America. Civil unrest set the streets ablaze. In November, we witnessed an historic presidential election that gave us a vice president-elect who will double as the first Black and Indian American person to fill the seat, as well as becoming the first woman ever to hold the office. It also showed the world the power of the Black vote, where four states flipped from red to blue, after unprecedented turn-out.
And like always, Black America has provided a soundtrack throughout it all to score the year’s extraordinary happenings. BET.com takes you back on this wild ride by presenting 50 of the biggest musical moments that have entertained, empowered, enraged and inspired us. Buckle up and get ready to fly!
Six years after Brandy reunited with Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, and Yo-Yo for their classic remix of “I Wanna Be Down” for the 2014 BET Awards, the woman called “The Vocal Bible” ran it back during the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards. This time she was joined by R&B stars Teyana Taylor, H.E.R., and Erykah Badu (who performed double duty on the turntables). The ladies-only cypher surprised the viewers with mind-blowing verses over the instrumental of the track that gave “Moesha” her hip-hop stripes. And oh yes, best believe B closed out the session spitting some fire of her own.
Throughout the 2020 presidential race, hip-hop played a role on both sides of the aisle. Artists such as De La Soul,Public Enemy, and Common have dropped songs encouraging people to vote Donald Trump out of office, the #45Lies2020 campaign gathered lyricists from across the country to blast 45 of Trump’s lies in rhyme, and rappers like Lil Wayne and Ice Cube lent their names to the president’s agenda. Meanwhile, Diddy and Kanye dipped their toes in political activism, forming their own political parties, Our Black Party and The Birthday Party, respectively.
Since establishing their [combined net?] worth at over $1.4 billion, Jay-Z and Beyoncé have been on a major money-making roll. Beyoncé relaunched her Ivy Park streetwear line with Adidas, selling out in days. She also released the visual album, Black Is King, on Disney+, donated $6 million to coronavirus and mental health causes, $1 million to support Black-owned businesses, and invested in Peloton, the fitness brand. In addition to making music, Jay-Z and his Marcy Venture Partners joined a $42 million fund that invested in the fitness startup called CLIMBR and he became chief visionary officer at TPCO Holding Corp, the largest cannabis company in California.
Grammy Award winner Will Smith and the cast of the classic ‘90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its first episode. The long-awaited reunion tugged at all of our hearts with reflections on some of the show’s most memorable moments, the passing of beloved actor James Avery who played Uncle Phil, and it allowed fans to catch up with favorite characters from the series. It also featured a special reunion between Janet Hubert, the original Aunt Viv, and Smith. The two finally settled their differences after their messy 27-year fallout.
COVID-19 social distancing mandates left the future of this year’s award shows in a state of uncertainty. However, with innovation, amazing performances, and a bold theme—Culture Can’t Be Canceled— the 2020 BET Awards persevered. The show celebrated its 20th anniversary and made history as the first-ever simulcast on ViacomCBS, boasting 3.7 million viewers. Hosted by Amanda Seales, the show also made history as the first award show to feature its own virtual performances. Big winners included Roddy Ricch, Megan Thee Stallion, and Beyoncé, who took home the Humanitarian Award.
In response to the tragic police killing of George Floyd, music industry insiders Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas launched #BlackoutTuesday, an industry-wide social media campaign aimed at disrupting the “business as usual” attitude of the music industry. Leading with the slogan #TheShowMustBePaused, record companies stopped their day-to-day operations and discussed ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement. “The music industry is a multibillion-dollar industry,” the duo explained in a joint statement. “Our mission is to hold the industry at large—including major corporations [and] their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles, and successes of Black people—accountable.”
After releasing her version of the soundtrack to Disney’s 2019 live-action remake of The Lion King, Beyoncé delivered the critically-acclaimed visual album, Black Is King exclusively on Disney+. Met with high praise, the film made a huge impact as it reportedly brought 3 million new subscribers to the platform and spawned the #MyPowerChallenge on social media. “My hope for this film is that it shifts the global perception of the word 'Black,' ”The Queen shared, upon its release. By dropping the 85-minute masterpiece, she made it clear that “Black is regal and rich in history, in purpose and in lineage.”
At the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, while various artists were searching for creative ways to give fans live content on Instagram, producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland hit the switch on an idea for a live hit-for-hit song battle series they had been working on since 2017 called Verzuz. From the jump, the concept was successful and has featured 21 contests between 42 artists, earning the franchise millions of views across IG Live and Apple Music. Additionally, many of the performers who participated have seen streams of their music go through the roof after their episode aired.
In 2020, DaBaby continued to show his fans that he’s the hardest working rapper of his generation by feeding them multiple projects. In April, he released “Blame It On Baby,” which hit #1 on the Billboard 200, and he delivered a tribute EP, My Brother’s Keeper (Long Live G), in November. The seven-track memorial was dedicated to his late brother, Jonathan Kirk, who had committed suicide earlier that month. The rapper also earned a record-setting 12 nominations at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards, making a statement with his Roddy Ricch-assisted and Grammy-nominated “Rockstar (Black Lives Matter Remix)”.
Throughout 2020, Tory Lanez has faced the highest highs and the lowest lows of his career. Almost overnight, he went from superstardom to being called an industry pariah. At first, Lanez made the most of not being able to tour by creating the Instagram Live show, Quarantine Radio, eventually using it for his COVID-19 relief efforts and to promote his mixtape The New Toronto 3. But things rapidly began to crumble after rapper Megan Thee Stallion alleged that he shot her in her foot. Now, the “Say It” singer has been charged and faces over 22 years in prison if found guilty.
On Memorial Day, the Verzuz series shot to new heights in Kingston, Jamaica, upping the ante for every other battle that would follow. After their original Sound Clash battle in the early 90s, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer faced off again in this epic battle that gave the uninitiated a taste of dancehall culture. Despite a brief interruption by island police, viewers witnessed an epic showcase by the two Jamaican legends. The event was so special to Jamaican culture that even Prime Minister Andrew Holness got in on the fun by live-tweeting throughout the entire event.
Chicago Drill pioneer Lil Durk has steadily become one of hip-hop’s most influential rappers. After a heap of professional and legal setbacks, 2020 would be the year he solidified his dominance in the mainstream with his fifth studio album, Just Cuz Ya’ll Waited 2 peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. As the self-proclaimed “Voice of the Streets,” he has been sought out by numerous rap stars for features. Just this year, he worked with Drake, Nas, City Girls, Megan Thee Stallion, Meek Mill, Young Thug, Lil Baby, Lil Uzi Vert, and many more, further polishing his star’s shine.
This year, we saw the deaths of many Black music legends and emerging stars. While some passed away suddenly like music mogul André Harrell, others such as rapper Fred Tha Godson, gospel singer Troy Sneed, New Orleans bounce artist and radio personality Go DJ Black N Mild and country music legend Charley Pride succumbed to complications from COVID-19. Meanwhile, rappers Pop Smoke, FBG Duck, King Von, Nick Blixky, Blue Benji Kobe and Mo3 all fell victim to gun violence.
Other notable deaths included: Lexii Alijai, 5th Ward Weebie, DJ Mike Huckabee, Huey, Chynna Rogers, DJ Eric Morillo, Malik B, Mac P Dawg, Rance Allen, Pamela Hutchinson, Edna Wright, Ronald "Khalis" Bell, Tray Savage, Betty Wright, Bonnie Pointer, DJ Lance, Bill Withers, and the Supremes’ Barbara Martin. Rest in power to them all.
Because nightclubs, concerts, music festivals, and large-scale parties were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, DJs were largely out of work, losing massive amounts of income.
Out of necessity, DJs held live sets all across social media. But when the DJ D-Nice opened the doors to his Club Quarantine on March 18, the game immediately changed. On its biggest night, where over 100,000 people filled up the digital dance floor, celebrities and dignitaries including Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Bernie Sanders, and Oprah Winfrey were in attendance, making it the hottest party on the ‘Net.
Yung Miami and JT from The City Girls produced their docuseries on YouTube and detailed their rollercoaster of a year. We saw one member give birth to a beautiful baby and the other was released after a two-year prison sentence. It also showcased their incredible snapback in the game. The duo dominated the summer without missing a beat, riding the wave of their third album, City On Lock to the top of the charts, and performing their hit single, “P***y Talk” on the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards. They also landed on the remix of Chloe X Halle’s “Do It.”
BET faves Brandy and Monica united for one of the most anticipated Verzuz battles ever. Fans gathered to watch the two ‘90s stars celebrate each other’s greatest hits to the tune of 1.2 million views on Instagram, making it one of the franchise’s highest-rated episodes of the season. The former teen stars set the landscape for artists such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Teyana Taylor, and H.E.R., who started out by following their idols’ blueprint. They’ve each experienced personal victories this year: Brandy released her critically acclaimed album B7, and Monica earned the “Lady of Soul” honor at the 2020 Soul Train Awards.
On January 26, the morning of the 2020 Grammy Awards broadcast, the world nearly came to a standstill as the news broke that NBA legend, rapper, and Oscar award-winner Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others were all killed in a horrific helicopter crash. In response to the sudden tragedy, the award show immediately pivoted into a touching celebration of his life as performers such as host Alicia Keys, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Boyz II Men, and Run-DMC with Aerosmith paid tribute to the legend throughout their sets, and hundreds of fans mourned his untimely death outside the Staples Center.
When the cover art for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s smash hit, “WAP” was revealed prior to the song’s debut, the Internet began salivating over their long-awaited union. Hungry fans were fully-fed after the stars released one of the most outrageously erotic singles to hit radio in ages. Despite garnering backlash from GOP politicians, social media critics, and male rappers, the song became one of the biggest hits of the performers’ careers, spending 15 weeks (and counting) on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and setting a new record for the most weeks within the Top 5.
For years, the Recording Academy has been under fire for sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination. These claims came to a head during the 2020 Grammy Awards season when then Academy president Deborah Dugan was fired after reporting widespread corruption within the organization. The Academy has denied these accusations. Consequently, Tyler, The Creator, admonished the Academy’s treatment of Black artists in his post-victory speech saying, " [When] guys that look like me … do anything that's genre-bending … they put it in a rap or urban category. I don't like that 'urban' word — it's just a politically correct way to say the n-word."
The second season of Verzuz opened with one of the most explosive beefs in all of hip-hop. Two of Trap music’s most influential pioneers, Gucci Mane and Jeezy, finally united to settle the score once and for all after having on-and-off conflict for over a decade. The resulting clash was as fierce as expected, with each rapper firing off their greatest Trap anthems. The episode had intense, but honest moments, resulting in the Atlanta natives finally settling their differences with a surprise performance of their 2005 hit, “Icy” for the first time in years.
Brooklyn’s brand of Drill music has been bubbling for years, yet recently, the subgenre has unleashed its musical fury in the mainstream. Even in the face of the devastating murders of Pop Smoke, the biggest star of the movement, and Nick Blixky, artists including 22Gz, Sheff G, and Fivio Foreign have proudly marched the movement forward with new music. Pop Smoke’s label released the murdered artist’s debut album, Shoot For The Stars, Aim for the Moonafter his demise, which won him the posthumous honor of Best New Artist at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards.
The Weeknd broke through 2020 with his most ambitious project to date: his fourth studio album, After Hours. During the promotion of the project, fans saw him bandaged and “bloodied,” and just knew someone had clocked him. No one had beat him up, but he beat up the charts, solidifying the 14-track as a classic. It not only became his fourth #1 on the Billboard 200 charts, but it stayed on the Adult Pop Songs chart for a record-setting 20 weeks, and the Billboard 200 for 49 weeks. Every song from the album has all landed on the Hot 100 and yet, he was excluded from the 2021 Grammy nomination list. It was enough for The Weeknd to take to Twitter and express his displeasure by saying, “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency..."
The tragic murder of DJ Jam Master Jay, a founding member of Run-DMC, has been one of hip-hop’s biggest unsolved mysteries since his passing in 2002. After years of being considered a cold case, the culture might have finally found justice. This past August, federal and local authorities in New York City announced that the alleged killers had finally been caught. Two men, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr., face a minimum sentencing of 20 years to life or a maximum of the death penalty if found guilty.
When Jay-Z heard about Ahmaud Arbery being chased and gunned down by two white men in Georgia, he immediately stepped in to support the deceased man’s family’s pursuit of justice. Hov gathered the folk at Team Roc including Yo Gotti, Meek Mill, Alicia Keys, and several lawyers to pen an open letter in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution demanding justice, and he loaned Arbery’s attorneys use of the Roc Nation private plane when they were unable to find transportation.
His support and the work of many other activists led to the arrest of Gregory and Travis McMichael, who were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault on May 7, 73 days after Arbery was killed. A third man, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, was charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment charges. He also faces possible hate crime charges.
The year 2020 could be called the “Year of The Comeback.” In an era where music charts are usually dominated by younger performers, a plethora of legacy artists from the ‘90s released new albums this year. Some rappers, who have nearly 25 years or more in the game, have earned high critical praise and even Grammy nominations. Lil Wayne and Eminem’s new projects debuted at #1 on Billboard. E-40, Missy Elliot, The Lox, Busta Rhymes, and Commonall made a significant impact with their releases, and Royce da 5’9 and Nas have both been nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album.
No Limit founder Master P has demonstrated that he is hip-hop through his illustrious rap career, humanitarianism, and big business moves. He defined a new sound for the South and developed an all-encompassing empire including music, TV, film, his “Uncle P” food line, and so much more. This year, BET even aired a documentary about his life called The No Limit Chronicles. And even with all these business ventures, his real pride is in giving back. When COVID-19 hit, P donated PPE supplies to the elderly in New Orleans and deep-cleaned their homes, at no charge. Few deserved BET’s 2020 “I Am Hip Hop” Award more than he did.
The fallout from the police-involved killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and so many other Black Americans sparked a wave of civil unrest all over the world, and artists joined the protests in various ways. A Who’s Who of rappers participated in BLM protests and awareness campaigns through their social media platforms. Ice Cube offered to pay $100K to Walmart to cover the lost inventory lifted by looters during the protests. And some artists released music to express their outrage: DaBaby and Roddy Ricch released “Rockstar (Black Lives Matter Remix),” and Lil Baby sounded off with the song, “The Bigger Picture.”
Travis Scott is an unstoppable force. Not even a pandemic could prevent him from having an epic year. The “Goosebumps” rapper broke new ground in the gaming world by performing a 15-minute set from inside the mega-hit Fortnite game. Appearing as an avatar, he rocked his hits and premiered “Astronomical” and “The Scotts,” featuring Kid Cudi. The virtual event garnered 28 million unique players from around the world, making it Fortnite’s largest in-game gathering, ever. He also made history when McDonald’s dropped the Travis Scott meal, making him the first celebrity to have an item named after them on the menu since Michael Jordan.
This year saw underground rappers elevate to mainstream stars, on their own terms. The Griselda trio, Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, and Westside Gunn each had their share of success, receiving strong praise for dropping solid projects. Freddie Gibbs, who’s been riding his own wave for years, also broke through with his collaboration album, Alfredo, with producer Alchemist. Considered one of the best albums of 2020, the project earned him his first Grammy nomination. And G-Herbo landed his first Billboard Hot 100 entry with the platinum single, “PTSD.” Acts like these are making sure that true-school hip-hop is never lost.
Hands down, Megan Thee Stallion is one of the hottest rappers of her generation, man, woman or otherwise. Her infectious brand that fiercely campaigns for female power makes her a nearly unstoppable force on social media, in major advertising campaigns, and on issues that disproportionately harm Black women. Throughout 2020, she dominated rap music with her smash projects, Suga and Good News. And she proved she’s a bankable star with history-making songs like “WAP” with Cardi B and “Savage (Remix)” featuring none other than fellow Houstonian, Beyoncé. But nothing this year topped her memorable performances at the 2020 BET Awards and on Saturday Night Live.
On May 9th, the world received the devastating news that Little Richard, the “Architect of Rock & Roll,” had passed away from bone cancer. His fans, contemporaries, and many touched by his legacy delivered passionate tributes across social media. Hip-hop artists in particular, shared about the legend’s willingness to teach them about the business. Since then, his enormous legacy has been honored in numerous ways. His passing is most noteworthy because new fans have dramatically increased his music streams by 4.1 million plays. One of the most touching and spirited tributes was delivered by Wayne Brady at the 2020 BET Awards. He had practiced having portrayed the “Tutti Frutti” singer on BET’s American Soul.
Hip-hop legend Da Brat warmed hearts when she announced her love for her girlfriend, Jesseca Dupart. The “Funkdafied” rapper went public with her relationship in an emotional Instagram post ahead of her 46th birthday. The SoSo Def artist said of her big reveal, “I’ve never confirmed anything because in the ‘90s it wasn’t cool … I’m not a public person when it comes to my personal life. But when you get blessed, and they love you like you’ve never been loved before, it’s a whole different experience.” Congrats to Da Brat for living in her beautiful truth.
The 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions were particularly special as the late Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. were inducted this year. Whitney’s mother and sister-in-law, Cissy and Pat Houston accepted the award on her behalf, remembering that this was something “Nippy” always wanted. Pat recalled that the legend once talked about her accomplishments saying, “There’s only one thing missing: I’ve got to get the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.’” Diddy spoke about his dear friend Biggie during the induction, reminding everyone that the giant would have loved the recognition and that he’d “wanted to have influence and impact people in a positive way.”
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world hard in March, and as infection increased, the clamp down caused a crippling effect on the concert-touring industry—a major cash cow for music artists and producers. Entertainers were forced to cancel or postpone their performances. As a result, everyone had to get creative with the technology at their fingertips. Artists including Erykah Badu, Chief Keef, Gunna, and more held intimate virtual shows from their remote locations, while large festivals such as Lollapalooza and Rolling Loud expanded into nightly, live-streamed shows, and inspired partnerships with Twitch, Instagram, and Caffeine for virtual sets.
Drake expanded on his mega empire while making music history in 2020. With 208 songs in his catalogue, he earned the most Hot 100 entries ever. Some 400 weeks since its release, his sophomore album, Take Care, still lives on the Billboard 200, and after earning his 21st #1 hit on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart, Drake topped the records previously held by Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. The rapper also signed an exclusive partnership with live-streaming company Caffeine.tv, and the premier battle rap platform URL to revolutionize their content-distribution model. And if that wasn’t enough, he announced a forthcoming shoe collaboration with Nike.
At the top of 2020, Lil Baby released My Turn, which debuted at #1 and was his fourth album to reach the top 10. He also shattered records as the album had 12 of its songs land on the Hot 100 and he tied with legends Prince and Paul McCartney with 47 songs to have entered the heralded charts. The rapper shocked many of his critics when he dropped, “The Bigger Picture,” where he aired the frustrations of Black Americans on wax. After reportedly making $1.5 million from the Grammy-nominated song, he’s since decided to donate the money back to the community.
During the 2020 Democratic Primary, hip-hop fans were stunned by the public feud between Chuck D and Flavor Flav over an endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders for president. To everyone’s relief, they squared up to drop their album, Loud Is Not Enough. They later released What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? on Def Jam, a return to the label that launched their career in 1987. The group then blew the roof off at the 2020 BET Awards by opening the show with the 2020 remix of “Fight The Power,” featuring Rapsody, Jahi, YG, Black Thought, and Nas.
Kanye West continued to dominate headlines in 2020. First, we watched him claim to be a billionaire. Then, we marveled at his bid to become president of the United States under the Birthday Party, a political party that he created, which resulted in him qualifying for ballot access to 12 states with the possible achievement of 84 electoral votes. While he didn’t win, he still garnered over 60,000 votes across the country. Yeezy also sought to change the music industry by uploading his lengthy Roc-a-Fella contract in an effort to push labels to do business that is more artist-friendly.
For close to four decades, the legendary R&B diva Mariah Carey has been a trailblazer in Black music and mainstream pop culture. However, few actually know her story. In 2020, she finally lifted the veil off of some of her most personal anecdotes in her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. Throughout the book, she gives insightful, and at times, heart-wrenching details about her experience growing up as a biracial child in America, the abuse she suffered by her family, her marriage to former Sony Records president Tommy Mottola, her most notorious diva moments, and so much more.
During the 2020 election season, an unprecedented number of rappers aligned with the Democratic party to get the current president out of the White House. However, some were not so quick to “dump Trump.” Ice Cube, while pushing his “Contract with Black America,” caught heat when it was revealed that he reportedly advised the Trump administration on its “Platinum Plan,” which was designed to appeal to Black voters. He has since denied giving Trump an endorsement. Meanwhile, other rappers such as Lil Wayne, Lil Pump, Polow da Don, and Gunplay decide to publicly endorse the president via photo ops and Instagram posts.
After the season finale of Power, the series that put him on the map in television, 50 Cent unveiled four new spin-offs on Starz, and other projects with ABC and CBS. Before he could celebrate his ABC courtroom drama For Life’s return for its second season, Starz dropped the news about the mid-season premiere of Power Book II: Ghost, along with a docuseries based on hip-hop’s most volatile incidents, Moment in Time: The Massacre, and a yet-to-be-titled sports drama in development. ABC has also ordered a musical comedy series where he and Mary J. Blige are tapped as executive producers.
Motown Records has been Stevie Wonder’s musical home since 1961, when he was just 11 years old. Sixty years and 40+ albums later, the master artist surprised the world when he officially announced in a press release that he was leaving the label in lieu of his own imprint, What The Fuss records. He revealed he also found a donor for his kidney transplant. In 1963, the musical genius accomplished the first history-making moment in his career with the release of "Fingertips Pt. 2,” which landed #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making the then 13-year-old the youngest solo artist ever to top the chart, to date.
This was the year that Americans fell head-over-heels in love with artists like Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Davido, and Mr. Eazi, particularly after they released new music and freaked epic crossover collaborations. During the 2020 BET Awards, Wizkid took home trophies for Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl,” and Burna Boy won Best International Act for the second time in a row. And in the wake of the Lekki toll gate massacre in Lagos, these Nigerian superstars paired with Black American artists to raise awareness for the #EndSars movement by contributing through music, protests, social media posts, and charitable donations.
The devastating deaths of rap superstars Mac Miller, JuiceWRLD, and Pop Smoke still hurt but the world has been able to appreciate these artists’ brilliance through the posthumous release of their new albums: Circles, Legends Never Die and Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, respectively. Mac Miller’s album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, while JuiceWRLD earned his second #1 album, which became the biggest debut for any album in 2020. And the success of Pop Smoke’s SFTSAFTM was uniquely remarkable, as he joined the late XXXTentacion, 2Pac, and The Notorious B.I.G. as the only rappers with albums debuting at #1 posthumously.
After turning heads with his notorious trolling antics and gang affiliations, Tekashi 69 (or 6IXN(NE) landed himself a two-year prison sentence. However, because of COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons and jails across the country, the disgraced rapper earned an early release in April, four months before his initial release date. Since then, he’s renewed his reign as the self-proclaimed “King of New York,” dropping music like his shocking pro-snitch anthem, “GOOBA,”and “TROLLZ” with Nicki Minaj. His album Tattletales debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, but failed to live up to the fanfare that hyped it.
While the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on fashion shows in 2020, it didn’t stop the music/fashion/beauty mogul Rihanna from making history once again with the second edition of her Savage X Fenty fashion show, aired exclusively on Amazon Prime. This year, the show premiered a new men’s line of boxers designed by Christian Combs, pieces of high-fashion lingerie, and the models included some of the music industry’s biggest stars. Artists including Lizzo, Rosalia, Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, Bad Bunny, Willow Smith and Ella Mai walked the runway, all while working around new guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
With over five decades under their belt, The Clark Sisters are known as one of the most impactful gospel acts of all time. The award-winning singing siblings directly influenced the sound of modern music and inspired some of your favorite R&B singers such as Faith Evans, Kelly Price, and Mariah Carey. Yet, many don’t know how they became stars. Their story was finally told to a new generation after Lifetime premiered their biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. The film earned critical acclaim, became the highest-rated movie on Lifetime in four years, and had Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott as executive producers.
The Beyoncé-backed duo Chloe X Halle broke out from the superstar’s shadow and leaped into their own shine in 2020. With the release of their critically-acclaimed sophomore album, Ungodly Hour, with its hit single, “Do It,” few could deny the artists’ star power. They’ve been on a consistent roll throughout the year, premiering a spellbinding virtual performance of their single “Forgive Me” at the 2020 BET Awards, featured on The Disney Holiday Singalong, and receiving a nomination for “Best Progressive R&B Album” for the 2021 Grammy Awards. We have a hunch that this is only the beginning for the Atlanta natives.
Many watched with curiosity when Joe Budden signed a deal with Spotify in 2018 to further expand The Joe Budden Podcast. The rapper-turned-media personality recently parted ways with the streaming giant after completing a two-year exclusive deal. Since then, he’s launched The Joe Budden Network for independent podcasters and won an award for “Best Hip Hop Platform” at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards. Other rappers followed suit, such as Gillie Da Kid who saw huge success with his A Million Dollarz’ Worth of Game podcast under Barstool Sports and Fat Joe, who partnered with Diddy’s REVOLT TV for The Fat Joe Show.
Despite having a rocky start to the year with racially-charged controversy and a recovery from COVID-19, Doja Cat still had a monumental 2020. In January, she released the Nicki Minaj-assisted “Say So” from her 2019 sophomore album, Hot Pink. The song made history by charting at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, joining Megan Thee Stallion and Beyonce’s “Savage (Remix).”
As a dope example of girl power, this was the first time four Black women held the #1 and #2 positions at the same time. Doja has since won two American Music Awards and has been nominated for three 2021 Grammy Awards.
For more of the best of 2020, check out our BET 100 list for the most awesome entertainers, social justice warriors and innovators in business, politics, and style.
*This countdown is not listed in any particular order of importance.
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