10 Songs From 2020 So Far for Your Workout Playlist

By Brandon Sasserson on March 27, 2020

While COVID-19 forces everyone into quarantine, it is a great time to focus on fitness and health. A workout playlist can help! Although every public gym is closed or closing in the near future, you can still follow a workout routine at home that includes bodyweight exercises, cardio, and more. The extra time that has been freed up as a result of this adjustment is another factor that should motivate you to work out consistently. However, social distancing has caused many fitness buffs to lose their “gym buddy,” which can negatively impact how often you workout and how effectively you work out.  Therefore, a workout playlist can be the perfect substitute for a “gym buddy,” as booming beats can motivate you to keep that nose on the grindstone.

I have put together a list of songs from 2020 so far that would make great additions to your workout playlist. I didn’t include well-known songs or well know artists in order to give exposure to artists with less recognition. This collection offers a decent diversity of sound, attitude, and mood, but all are capable of hyping up their listener. It would be very surprising if anyone were to like each and every track on this workout playlist, but hopefully, a few tracks appeal to your taste.

10. Flux Capacitor – Jay Electronica 

Jay Electronica signed his deal to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Record Label all the way back in November 2010. The New Orleans rapper’s debut album “A Written Testimony” was just released on March 13, 2020. The decade long period of Electronica’s apprehension and delayed release dates certainly caused his name to slip away from the public eye. Nonetheless, the project is very ambitious and propped up with an abundance of features from Jay-Z. “Flux Capacitor” has a chaotic sonic environment with blaring sirens, mild drums, strange patterns of high-pitched electronic noises, and a soulful vocal sample in the background to tie everything together. The two lyricists profess eloquent verses that tackle heavy topics such as Jay-Z’s request, “When I die, please don’t tweet about my death / Tryna get mentions, bringing’ attention to yourself.” The thirty second outro of “Flux Capacitor” is magnificently explosive, as the vocal sample looped throughout the track comes alive from out of the background and rides over quaking bass. I wish that the last 30-second portion was expanded into a full song because it gives me the energy to lift a car for some reason.

9. Checkered Flag – Curren$y & Fendi P

Curren$y is one of the hardest working rappers in the game, dropping projects for his cult following almost monthly it seems. In his latest output “Smokin’ Potnas” he teams up with fellow New Orleans rapper Fendi P. The tandem’s southern roots shine in their drawled verbal deliveries throughout the tape. In particular, “Checkered Flag” is a point in the tape where both rappers are hungry on their verses. The instrumental has a noir vibe to it with piano keys and a ghostly vocal sample, but still strikes with deep bass and alluring synths. The combination of the duo’s aggression and the hard-hitting instrumental is ideal for a workout playlist.

8. Baby – Four Tet

This song is certainly an outcast in this collection of mostly trap and gangster rap, but “Baby” still thrives in spiking energy and adrenaline. The electronic track weaves gliding synths and entrancing vocals with kicks of bass that force you to move. It does have its somber, meditative backdrop that may interrupt the heat of your workout, but the breakdown is fairly brief and leads to an intoxicating crescendo. Four Tet forces its listener to move with its provocative sound and jolting rhythm that adds an enthusiastic kick into any workout playlist. “Baby” is simultaneously bouncy and relaxing, and I fell like it would be the perfect track to run to.

7. I’m Convinced – Mick Jenkins

Mick Jenkins is a no-nonsense lyricist, so it’s no surprise that his short new album “Circus” is crammed with sharp rhymes. “I’m Convinced” struck me as the track in this project that is most pertinent to a workout setting. Its instrumental is animated with several phases of build that develop as Mick Jenkins fires impassioned words. The most impressive part of the track is certainly Mick Jenkins’ vocals because they are delivered with blistering energy and clever lines. The Chicago rapper vehemently challenges other members of the rap game to test his skills, which are on full display throughout the tape.

6. Life to the Edge – Sonny Digital & Black Boe

Off of their project “Black Goat 2,” elite producer Sony Digital and rapper Black Boe team up with an unknown feature (trust me I searched everywhere) that sounds vaguely familiar to Lil Wayne (but it’s definitely not Lil Wayne) for “Life to the Edge.” Although the track is faltered with an overly basic rap hook, the two rappers spit rapid flows that weave nicely through amplified percussion. Black Boe performs at a high-level on his opening verse with a laid-back delivery that juxtaposes nicely with the track’s belligerent instrumental. Nonetheless, whoever performs on the second verse dominates the track with stout bars and quick flows. “Life to the Edge” is a short peak of savage aggression that can spark up your workout.

5. Gold Platinum (feat. Apocalypse Da Emperor) – Westside Gunn

Similar to much of Westside Gunn’s well of other music, his new output “Gold Platinum” sounds like a joint from the late 90s that was refined and upgraded. This nostalgia may be the result of Gunn’s prevalence for jazz instruments and his keen focus on high-quality lyricism. Apocalypse Da Emperor opens up the track with supreme lines that fiercely ride over the old school, NYC reminiscent instrumental. Westside Gunn breaks open the second verse with an undeniable swagger and goes on to feast on the beat with savvy rhymes and wordplay. The Buffalo rapper has been in the game for a long time but still hasn’t received the widespread recognition and acclaim he deserves.

4. Fashion Nova Man (feat. Foolio) – Zaytoven & Lil Gotit

The hip hop icon and producer Zaytoven recently dropped a compilation project called “A-Team,” and the A-Team is comprised of Lil Gotit, Lil Keed, and Lil Yachty, plus some features. Without much surprise, Zaytoven excels in producing head-banging instrumentals that are layered with thick bass. However, there are many abysmal and downright silly vocal performances on this tape. Don’t expect these artists to display as much vigor as say a Mick Jenkins or Jay Electronica. That being said, there are moments where Lil Gotit exhibits immaculate potential with his zany style and exuberance. Some may disagree as a result of the traces of “mumble rap,” but I think LilGotit buries his verse on “Fashion Nova Man” (in a good way). Foolio’s part may be abrupt and rugged but I feel like it grows on you with more listens. The beat on this track is vibrant and propelled with a thumping bass that should complement the push and pull of a workout.

3. Breaking Bread – The Leonard Simpson Duo

Guilty Simpson is a rap veteran whose career spans over several decades. Hailing from Detroit, Simpson teamed up with the New Zealand producer Leonard Charles for their 2020 project “LSD.” A psychedelic influence is certainly present in “Breaking Bad,” but the effects are mild and far from jarring. Imaginably, psychedelic music does not warrant much use in a workout setting because such discordant rhythms and fuzzy noises can be distracting. Nonetheless, “Breaking Bad” employs stark bass to anchor an instrumental made up of royal-sounding horns and synths. Simpson’s signature deep and slow spoken style melds well with Charles’ cold-blooded creation. Not only does the chugging beat motivate its listener, but Simpson’s underlying messages of perseverance, quieting outside chatter and focusing on oneself also make great fuel for working out.

2. Young Lordz – Elcamino & 38 Spesh

When I first heard this I was surprised Elcamino wasn’t more famous, as he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. He sounds like such a seasoned veteran with a swift flow and an arsenal of impressive bars. He also spits with so much confidence and bravado. The producer 38 Spesh crafts an assortment of sonically rich instrumentals on their new collaborative project “Martyr’s Prayer.”"Young Lordz” is a relatively brief track but Elcamino spares no effort in dominating the airwaves with tight rhymes and smooth cadence. The theme of leveling up and excelling oneself that is endemic to this track also resembles the pursuit of fitness.

1. Thou Shall (feat. Kid Vishis) – Royce da 5’9”

Ice-veined and unapologetic, Royce da 5’9” lyrically rips through the murderous environment he produced himself (tip of the cap). Immediately, bass erupts with a ghoulish whistle peering in the background and sudden strikes of violins. Royce da 5’9″ is angry on the track as he spits threats and boasts accomplishments. There are so many quotable lines in his verse. When he passes the torch to Kid Vishis he is able to hold his own with a solid performance, but there is no mistaking that the first verse of the track is the highlight. This track is very mean and aggressive, and it may be a good addition to your workout playlist if you like harder music.

Check out: 10 Songs From Summer 2019 So Far For Your Workout Playlist

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