It certainly doesn't need to be mentioned, but we'll do it anyway: 2020 was as tough a year as anyone has probably had to face given the state of the world. It gave us all us a health dose of a global pandemic, civil unrest, and as whacky political theater imaginable. As a result, everybody is looking to 2021 as a blank slate that is hopefully full of promise and prosperity for the 99 percent.
But alas, 2020 wasn't a total wash. There were plenty of good moments, music, and signs of hope that helped make everything we mentioned above a little easier to tolerate. Here's what we loved watching over and over in 2020.
Public Enemy (featuring Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, Jahi, YG & QuestLove) "Fight the Power 2020 Remix"
On one hand, it's a sad political state of affairs when a song that was first released in 1989 to address racial inequality needs to be remixed in 2020. Of course, any new material from Public Enemy is always welcomed.
Snoop Dogg and DMX's 'Verzuz'
Verzuz might just be the best thing to come out of quarantine. The weekly showdowns between legends morphed from socially distanced challenges to in-person affairs. The battle between DMX and Snoop showed how these digital sessions could actually be turned into actual concerts.
D-Nice's "Club Quarantine"
If you're noticing a trend here, we LOVED when people didn't let COVID damper their good time. D Nice's "Club Quarantine" became appointment viewing for his 2.5 million IG Followers.
DJ Cassidy's "Pass the Mic Volume 2"
DJ Cassidy recruited the legends of classic Hip-Hop for a one-of-a-kind cypher that stretched across the country. When we spoke to him about his thought process he said, "“They were my Spider-Man, and my Superman and my Captain America,” he says of that iconic trio of pioneering Hip-Hop DJs. “They were my Michael Jordan, my Magic Johnson and my Larry Bird. When I saw the video footage of Kool Herc riding around the Bronx in a convertible with the speakers coming out, that to me, was like superhero shit.”
LL COOL J's "Black Lives Matter Freestyle"
We would be remiss to not mention LL COOL J's politically charged "Black Lives Matter Freestyle" which gave us an unflinching look into the mind of the Queens legend as it related to the murder of George Floyd.
DJ Premier and RZA's 'Verzuz'
It was a nice twist on the format when Swizz and Timbo allowed the producers to get some shine. Preemo and RZA went back and forth on some shit that felt like heavyweight boxing before they implemented the 12-round bout limit. Haymaker after haymaker reminded us just how much heat both of them had in the catalogues.
Nas's "Ultra Black"
The return of Nasty Nas in all his glory had us feeling like it was 1994 all over again. The Queensbridge legend's project was highlighted by terrific visuals for "Ultra Black."
Big Daddy Kane's Quarantine Performance
Allow us to borrow from a tired but true sports analogy: Big Daddy Kane hasn't lost a step since he exploded on the scene back in '88. He certainly showcased both his longevity and mic prowess as he entertained us for a half-hour straight.
The Fresh Prince Reunion Special
With a dramatic Fresh Prince reboot in the works, it was nice to catch up with the OG Banks family — albeit without James Avery. The reunion showcased just how much chemistry was shared amongst the outstanding cast.
LeBron James' Kobe Bryant Tribute Dunk
The passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, dealt the entire world a blow that everyone is still reeling from. It's unthinkable that one of the greatest competitors of all-time is no longer with us. LeBron James' in-game tribute dunk was a powerful reminder that Mamba Mentality will never fade away.
Conway the Machine (featuring Method Man) "Lemon"
The Griselda camp is churning out music that feels like it was recorded during the same sessions that brought us classics from groups like Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep. Thus, Conway's link up with Method Man felt oh so right.
Run The Jewels (featuring Greg Nice & DJ Premier) "Ooh La La"
Just like in the case of Griselda, Run The Jewels seems to carry attributes of the golden age without seeming like they are relying too heavily on nostalgia. Rather, RTJ seems like the perfect repression of classic Hip-Hop with a modern twist.
Snoop Dogg Commentating During Tyson vs. Jones Jr.
The Mike Tyson Roy Jones Jr. had the potential to go off the rails given both fighters age and a lot of ring rust. Surprisingly, it was a a competitive fight that was heightened by Snoop's hilarious commentary.
Jeru The Damaja's 'Tiny Desk Concert'
NPR seemed to already have a jump on concerts in the age of COVID given their wildly successful Tiny Desk Concert series. We were overjoyed when they gave Jeru his much deserved shine.
Gucci Mane and Jeezy's 'Verzuz' Battle
This was the first Verzuz which felt like it could end really badly given the bad blood between Gucci and Jeezy. It played out with the seriousness and unease of the "Funny how" scene in Goodfellas.
The Last Dance
ESPN owned Sunday's thanks to The Last Dance which was thankfully moved up on the schedule because of COVID. While the doc certainly delivered on pulling back the curtain on the Bulls dynasty, we also couldn't help but notice the slick montage featuring LL COOL J's "I'm Bad."
Dave Chappelle's '8:46'
As they say, "laughter is the best medicine." Well, Chappelle decided that isn't necessarily always true. His Netflix special felt like the frank chat we all needed from one of the most brilliant minds out there.
Eminem's "Lose Yourself" Oscars performance
17 years after he took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself," Eminem finally hit the stage to perform.