Burbs Music Awards: Q2 2020


The Burbs Music Awards are back! Our original squad of Evan Linden, Ralph James, Howie Butler, and Marty Gross reassembled to honor a solid three months of music. For this edition, we only considered music released between April 1 - June 30, 2020. Without further ado, let's take a look at this quarter's nominees:

Best Rap Album

  • Pray for Paris by Westside Gunn

  • Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist

  • High Off Life by Future

  • THE GOAT by Polo G

  • RTJ4 by Run the Jewels


Best R&B Album

  • It Is What It Is by Thundercat

  • It Was Good Until It Wasn't by Kehlani

  • A Muse In Her Feelings by dvsn


Best Alternative Album

  • The New Abnormal by The Strokes

  • Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple

  • Notes on a Conditional Form by The 1975


Best Artist

  • Westside Gunn

  • Lil Baby

  • Freddie Gibbs


Best New Artist

  • Undisputed nominee...


Best Producer

  • Undisputed nominee...


Best Instrumental

  • "$500 Ounces" by Westside Gunn [prod. The Alchemist]

  • "Pain 1993" by Drake [prod. Pi'erre Bourne]

  • "1985" by Freddie Gibbs [prod. The Alchemist]


Best Song

  • "The Bigger Picture" by Lil Baby

  • "Living Happy" by Quelle Chris 

  • "God Is Perfect" by Freddie Gibbs

  • "327" by Westside Gunn

  • "3 Headed Goat" by Lil Durk


Best Verse

  • JID on “End of Daze”

  • Lil Yachty's first verse of “Split / Whole Time”

  • Freddie Gibbs on “$500 Ounces”


Best Feature Artist

  • Tyler, the Creator

  • Young Thug

  • Lil Baby


Best Cover Art

  • Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist

  • Pray for Paris by Westside Gunn

  • WUNNA by Gunna


Best Music Video

  • "Lockdown" by Anderson.Paak

  • "The Bigger Picture" by Lil Baby

  • "End of Daze" by Spillage Village


THE WINNERS



Best Rap Album

Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist


By all accounts, 2020 has been the oddest, most unfathomable and least enjoyable year of our lives. I’m not sure if it’s despite or because of the racial injustice protests and COVID quarantines that The Alchemist has transitioned from one of the best instrumental musicians in hip-hop to the undisputed title-holder. Alchemist teamed up with one of the five best bar-for-bar rappers in modern hip-hop, Freddie Gibbs (a.k.a. Gangsta Kibbs, a.k.a. Kane Train, a.k.a. Akademiks’s worst nightmare). Gibbs has solidified himself as a master of rhythmic delivery and flow switches through some of the most simultaneously challenging and graceful instrumentals known to man thanks to his two projects with Madlib (Piñata from 2014 and Bandana from 2019). On Alfredo, Gibbs contributes to his sequel of mob boss memoirs while his rugged Gary, Indiana, bred voice is juxtaposed against the conduction of Alchemist’s symphonic melodies that belong in The Godfather trilogy. It’s this project which truly proves that Gibbs is the closest hip-hop has come to producing another Jay-Z as far as tonality, unshakable swagger and lyrical talent go.


Ralph James


Best R&B Album

It Was Good Until It Wasn't by Kehlani


With her second studio album, Kehlani gave us a friendly reminder that she’s only tightening her grip on the game. It Was Good Until It Wasn’t is arguably her most polished release to-date, with cohesive themes, impeccable production, and perfectly-fitting features. Kehlani has already been one of the most consistent and appreciated R&B acts of recent years, but this album set her up for true stardom.


Evan Linden


Best Alternative Album

Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple


Fiona Apple is nothing if not challenging, contemplative and enigmatic. With her fifth studio album, Fiona returned for the first time since 2012 with a genre-blending sound that plays as both a masterful project and an example of Attention Deficit Disorder. The instrumentals are often chaotic and her vocal register often reaches catastrophic levels with shrieks and screams, but above all else, she is in utmost control of this craze. “Shameika” is both the project’s most memorable and best track.


Ralph James


Best Artist

Westside Gunn


Gunn wasn't necessarily the best musician or performer of the quarter, but as an artist? No question. He treats this rap shit like it's fine art. With Pray For Paris, not only did he bring coke rap to its most classy and polished, but he did it while bringing his team with him. Griselda Records puts out a lot of good music, but this quarter Gunn went the extra mile to ensure that this was going to be exceptional music; a turning point in the careers of the boys from Buffalo. If you haven't listened to Pray for Paris yet, please go do so!


Howie Butler


Best New Artist

Polo G


Ever since gaining buzz off last year's Die A Legend and its hit single "Pop Out", Polo G has been one of the most promising rising stars in rap. Die A Legend gave us our first full taste of the Chicago emcee, but THE GOAT picked up right where he left off and pushed the young artist to the next level. He is undeniably a product of the Chicago drill legends and pop-trap trailblazers that came before him, but he is heads and shoulders above his competition. His vivid storytelling, clever rhyme schemes, refreshing flows, addictive vocals, and solid beat selection all help make him an unmissable talent. He's two-for-two with his projects, but I'm sure he'll clinch the three-peat next season.


Evan Linden


Best Producer

The Alchemist


I am convinced that this man does not sleep. There is just no way. I don’t know if his inspiration comes from sheer musical intelligence or the lethal concoction of cigarettes and joints. Probably both. The production quality and quantity that Al has amassed in not just Quarter 2, but all of 2020, has been stupendous. Utter lunacy. The Alchemist and Freddie Gibbs amalgamated majestically on Alfredo. He produced two absolute slappers in “Claiborne Kick” and “$500 Ounces” on Westside Gunn’s gritty and gnarly Pray for Paris. Hell, if you still aren’t convinced, he even produced Earl Sweatshirt’s slow-building, ominous cut “WHOLE WORLD” featuring Maxo. There was just no competition worthy for Alc this Quarter, earning him back-to-back Best Producer awards.


Marty Gross


Best Instrumental

"$500 Ounces" [prod. The Alchemist]


No way! The best instrumental comes from the best producer of the Quarter? I would have never guessed that. On a real note, what other instrumental could we have picked? The amount of brass is something that no ordinary producer could even fathom implementing. To put it simply, the emotion of the women in the sample is exactly how I feel. This instrumental is just enchanting, to say the least.


Marty Gross


Best Song

Bronze: "Living Happy" by Quelle Chris


Many people don’t even know who this man is and it’s a shame. Quelle needs more respect. In late April, Quelle Chris and Chris Keys dropped their sophomore album Innocent Country 2. It had plenty of songs that could have landed on this list, but I don't think that any of them could surpass “Living Happy”. The song contains three amazing verses from Quelle himself, Pivot Gang legend Joseph Chilliams, and Brookyln’s finest Cavalier. Each verse provides incredible insight on cultural beauty, nostalgia, and pure happiness. On top of that, Chris Keys provides some fast-paced, fitting piano chords on top of booming drums. This song alters my mood every time I listen.


Marty Gross


Silver: "The Bigger Picture" by Lil Baby


Many of today's musicians have used their platform to say something about the BLM movement. It's obvious that Lil Baby can make songs that GO; he's been the MVP of this year. "The Bigger Picture" is actually pretty profound in its lyrical and thematic content. The production on this track is absolutely amazing, and does Lil Baby just have an endless supply of flows? He never stops amazing me.

"We just some products of our environment

How the fuck they gon' blame us?

You can't fight fire with fire

I know, but at least we can turn up the flames some"


Howie Butler


Gold: "327" by Westside Gunn


I remember being stunned when I saw this one on the tracklist. Tyler, the Creator and Joey Badass on a track with Westside Gunn? My immediate thought was, "sign me the fuck up." I'll admit that once Pray for Paris dropped, I put this track on first and looped it about five times before checking out the rest of the album. From day one, I proclaimed it to be a "song of the year" contender. Two months later, my proclamation still holds. "327" is truly the epitome of fine art in hip-hop, much like the rest of the album.


Evan Linden


Best Verse


Bronze: Lil Yachty's first verse on "Split / Whole Time"

Lil Yachty and his alien voice can go in two different directions - annoying or enchanting. Within the first two seconds of “Split”, the listener is immediately hypnotized with a downright disgusting instrumental and a hypnotic melody that simply recites, “Sippin’ the peach soda.” I personally hold “Split” right up there with “Life is Good” for my favorite song of the year thus far for its versatility and one-of-a-kindness.


Ralph James

Silver: JID on “End of Daze”


JID can rap his ass off. On "End of Daze," he puts on a show in a short 32 seconds, rhyming about what would happen to him if we were really reaching the end of days on this Earth. His rhyme scheme is immaculate, just like most JID songs. He asks listeners what the protocol is for new arrivals to Heaven and compares his ability to wield a gun to that of Pascal Siakam, the Toronto Raptors forward who maintained a true shooting percentage of 55% this season. JID won't have any issues in the Gulag if his shooting is as consistent and accurate as that of Siakam.

Howie Butler

Gold: Freddie Gibbs on "$500 Ounces"

As soon as "$500 Ounces" graced my eardrums, I could tell that it was crafted for Gangsta Gibbs to shine on. As much as Westside Gunn deserves praise for his stellar album, "$500 Ounces" is damn near Freddie's track. Bars like, "one day you gon' meet your maker / Kobe died, I swear a n**** might cry when I watch the Lakers," and, "I got skeletons in my closet, right next to Balenciaga / Call me Fred DiBiase, garage is a million dollars," gave Freddie the easy W over Gunn and Roc Marciano. Not that it was intended to be a competition, but when you put three lyrical legends on one track, you better expect a battle. Not only did Freddie secure the best verse of the song, but he secured the best verse of the Quarter while he was at it. Hats off, Skinny Suge.

Evan Linden


Best Feature Artist

Tyler, the Creator


In my humble opinion, Tyler had this award in the bag off his guest verse on Westside Gunn's "327" alone. But he didn't stop there. He outdid himself with two more solid verses over the past two months. He boasted his innate chemistry with A$AP Rocky on Lil Yachty's "T.D" and bodied a silky beat by The Alchemist on Freddie Gibbs' "Something To Rap About". Having features on two of the best rap albums of the year in Pray for Paris and Alfredo is a flex that is only shared by Benny the Butcher and Conway the Machine. I never imagined IGOR-era Tyler going bar-for-bar with coke rappers, but I'm 100% here for it.


Evan Linden


Best Cover Art

Pray for Paris by Westside Gunn


Westside Gunn is as calculated as any rapper in the game right now. Everything about him has to be memorable; whether it’s his “DOO-DOO-DOO” or “AYO!” ad-libs, the titles of his projects such as the Hitler Wears Hermes series, or his shockingly high-pitched register that blares out of his mouth like a siren. The same can be said about his most recent masterpiece’s cover art, Pray For Paris, which was designed by Virgil Abloh. The cover is both mob-centric and high-fashion concentrated, much like Westside and his virtuoso character. He looks like he once played runningback for his Buffalo Bills, but his voice sounds like Jay-Z under the influence of mass amounts of helium.


Ralph James


Best Music Video

"Lockdown" by Anderson .Paak


"Lockdown" is an excellent track that touches on the movement of the last month in the wake of George Floyd's wrongful death. Directed by Dave Meyers, the video focuses on a group of activists following a protest. Several artists had cameo roles in the video, such as Jay Rock, Sir, Syd, Dominic Fike, and more. Jay Rock has a nice verse that is only heard in the video, but not the streaming version. "Lockdown" is a wonderful track with a more wonderful video and an even more wonderful message.


Howie Butler

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