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list Dec 24 2022 Written by

Best 25 Left-Field Hip Hop Albums Of 2022

Best 25 Left-Field Hip Hop Albums Of 2022

Best Left-Field Hip Hop Albums Of 2022: Alternative Hip Hop, Experimental Hip Hop, Abstract Hip Hop, Industrial Hip Hop, Noise Hip Hop. There’s no shortage of labels to stick on acts and albums that color outside the lines of mainstream or traditional Hip Hop. On this list, you will find 25 excellent left-field Hip Hop albums released this year, taken from our lists with The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022 and Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022 – The Honorable Mentions. So here goes, in no particular order: the best left-field Hip Hop albums of 2022. Which is your favorite album from this selection? Are there albums missing that should have been mentioned here? Share your thoughts in the comments!

ShrapKnel - Metal Lung

Backwoodz Studioz‘s ShrapKnel pairs two long-time friends and frequent collaborators Curly Castro and PremRock. Although the two rappers have long been part of Philly’s Wrecking Crew, ShrapKnel is a pared-down affair; sharp knives in tight spaces. While Curly Castro’s and PremRock’s most recent solo albums are pretty strong (Castro’s incendiary Little Robert Hutton is one of our favorite albums of 2021), their work as a duo is on a whole other level. Their eponymous debut full-length album (2020) was an excellent presentation of left-field boom-bap Hip Hop, and their sophomore effort Metal Lung is even better.

The bulk of the production on Metal Lung is provided by Steel Tipped Dove (who has worked with billy woods and R.A.P. Ferreira), additional production comes from Child Actor (ELUCID, Serengeti, Armand Hammer), and Olof Melander (Moor Mother, Project Mooncircle). Just like on ShrapKnel, the production and flows on Metal Lung are slightly off-the-wall, making for an unbalancing but fully engaging listening experience from start to finish. The mainstream rap music media are collectively overhyping the mostly so-so albums of the big industry names who all dropped new music in 2022, but in the shadow of all that mediocrity 2022 is turning out to be a top year for left-field Hip Hop. Metal Lung is the best the subgenre has to offer, better Hip Hop in any case than most of what the high-profile media darlings released this year.

Killah Priest - Horrah Scope

It’s hard to keep up with Killah Priest’s release schedule in the 2020s – Horrah Scope is his second project of 2022, following on the heels of Savage Sanctuary, a collaboration with The Holocaust. Savage Sanctuary is the only mediocre KP release in recent times, Rocket To Nebula (2020), The Third Eye In Technicolor (2020), Lord Sun Heavy Mental 1.1 (2021), Summer End Cafe (2021), and The Mantra (2021) all are quite excellent. Horrah Scope is a great piece of music too. Experimental and idiosyncratic – this is one for people who loved Rocket To NebulaLord Sun Heavy Mental, and Summer End Cafe – the album is largely drumless, the left-field instrumentals laced with obscure samples and Priest’s stream-of-consciousness type bars. Killah Priest is an acquired taste even at his most accessible, and Horrah Scope is one of his least accessible works – so not for Killah Priest noobs probably. We are KP fans, so we think Horrah Scope is dope as f.

billy woods - Aethiopes

billy woods is a rapper who defies easy categorization; he was born in the U.S. but spent much of his childhood in Africa and the West Indies. On the mic, woods is no less of a conundrum, possessed of versatile flows and an ability to not only tackle topics other artists wouldn’t dream of, but also to bring unique perspectives to the familiar ones. 

billy woods’ earlier albums – solo and as a member of Super Chron Flight Brothers – are all strong enough, but the next level was reached when woods struck out on his own after the now-defunct Super Chron Flight Brothers with 2012’s audacious mission statement, History Will Absolve Me. An album two years in the making, History… was a molotov cocktail of sarcastic fury, with production to match its uncompromising vision.

History Will Absolve Me was the first in an incredible run of top-quality left-field Hip Hop albumsHistory Will Absolve Me (2012), Dour Candy (2013), Today, I Wrote Nothing (2015), Known Unknowns (2017), Hiding Places (with Kenny Segal, 2019) and Terror Management (2019) are all about as good as it gets. Together with the projects he dropped as Armand Hammer (a collaboration with rapper/producer Elucid) – Race Music (2013), Rome (2017), and Paraffin (2018), that’s nine straight top-tier projects released in the 2010s. billy woods continued his run of excellence in the 2020s, with BRASS (2020), a collaboration with experimental musician and poet Moor Mother, and two more strong Armand Hammer albums – Shrines (2020) and Haram (2021). Aethiopes is up there with billy woods’ best albums, on par with History Will Absolve Me, and arguably even better than Known UnknownsHiding Places, and Haram – all albums that were among the best 5 albums of the years in which they were released.

Aethiopes is fully produced by Preservation, who delivered a suite of tracks on Terror Management and the two collaborated again on Preservation’s 2020’s LP Eastern Medicine, Western Illness. Preservation’s dense and eerie production on Aethiopes is phenomenal, and billy woods’ pen game feels like it’s hit another peak. As always, it will take multiple listen to digest and be able to fathom his deep semi-abstract bars – but by now it’s undeniable: woods is one of Hip Hop’s greatest poets, along with Brownville’s Ka, to name one of the few who can play in billy woods’ league. Elucid, Boldy James, Quelle Chris, Denmark Vessey, Breeze Brewin, and El-P (among others) make appearances to add some extra flavor, but Aethiopes very much is billy woods’ own show. He’s as good here as he ever was, and his forward-thinking content is amplified extra by Preservation’s unique and flawless instrumentals. To top it off, sequencing and transitioning on Aethiopes is perfectly done too. Thirteen tracks, and not a weak one among them.

Quelle Chris - DEATHFAME

DEATHFAME is another excellent album from left-field Hip Hop icon Quelle Chris, one of the most authentic artists in Hip Hop. Quelle Chris’s music is never easy or straightforward – and arguably DEATHFAME arguably is one of his most inaccessible albums. The superb production is murky, nihilistic, and sinister – perfect backdrops for the moody bars and wonky flows from Quelle Chris, and those of guests such as Navy Blue, Denmark Vessey, and Pink Siifu. DEATHFAME is Quelle Chris’s most trippy and disjointed record since Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often (2017) – and because Being You Is Great is our favorite Quelle Chris album to date, it will be no surprise that we love this 2022 album too. The single “Alive Ain’t Always Livin” is an obvious highlight, but the rest of DEATHFAME is strong as well: challenging, dark, vulnerable, and mature – one of the best left-field Hip Hop albums of the year.

Jermiside & The Expert - The Overview Effect

The Overview Effect by emcee-producer duo Jermiside & The Expert is a vast musical collage of psychedelic soundscapes merged with Hip Hop’s golden age. A socially conscious psychedelic Hip Hop album inspired by Marvin Gaye’s narrative on What’s Going On mixed with tripped-out beats reminiscent of Edan’s Beauty & The Beat (2005).

The production on The Overview Effect takes on late-60s psychedelic folk/rock, viewed through a 90s b-boy mentality of heavy drums and dope breaks. Built with a keen ear for detail, The Expert densely layered his productions with tons of samples, seamlessly weaved together. Swirling strings, sitars, Moogs and crunchy guitars are all present, accompanied by trippy sound effects.

The Overview Effect is an album that never overstays its welcome and demands repeated listening. The carefully crafted collage on the album cover reflects war, greed, injustice, racism, and social ecology. Jermiside’s vivid imagery paints his own picture of a broken world yet one where the power is still in our hands to change it, with stand-out tracks including “I Love You, Still?” which has Jermiside questioning his love for his home country, “Black Tears” that sees Jermiside and Stik Figa trade experiences about racial challenges and inequalities, while “Bullet shock” deals with police and the use of authority. The album then ends on a positive note with “A Little Love”, stating that love conquers all.”

The Overview Effect is a GREAT piece of music, don’t sleep on this one.

Marlowe - Marlowe 3

Marlowe is the duo consisting of emcee Solemn Brigham and producer L’Orange. The first Marlowe album was one of the best (and most underappreciated) albums of 2018, Marlowe 2 was a top 3 album in 2020, and Marlowe 3 continues L’Orange and Solemn Brigham’s streak of excellence. L’Orange’s trademark psychedelic and dusty boom-bap instrumentals laced with obscure samples are as strong as ever, and Solemn Brigham has something distinctive that sets him apart from other emcees – an erratic one-of-a-kind type flow that perfectly matches the unique atmosphere set by L’Orange’s production. There’s Run The Jewels, and there’s Marlowe – these two acts are responsible for the best series of albums released in the past five to ten years.

The Difference Machine - Unmasking The Spirit Fakers

“Loosely based on an essay by the master magician himself, Harry Houdini, Unmasking The Spirit Fakers finds the Atlanta-based psychedelic Hip Hop outfit examining the motives and practices of those who attempt to provide cure-alls and treatments for spiritual ills. Are they gurus or snake oil salesmen? Though abstract in their approach, The Difference Machine attempts to pin down these answers for the listener via a vast backdrop rich with dense lyricism and mind-bending production. Songs like “Repeater” and “Flat Circles” place them in the role of shaman whereas songs like “Car Key” and “It Ain’t” venture to ask if they themselves are the spirit fakers in question.

Regardless of what role the ensemble assumes, the album was crafted with the human psyche in mind. Poignant guest appearances from Hip Hop heavyweights such as Sa-Roc, Quelle Chris, Homeboy Sandman, and Denmark Vessey (among others) add more colors to the canvas.”

The Different Machine – the duo composed of Day Tripper and Dr. Conspiracy – delivered a gem with this conceptual album, their third full-length album. The sound is experimental and dense, but the album is accessible enough to appeal to more Hip Hop listeners than just the left-field crowd. Unmasking The Spirit Fakers is a great project you will not regret checking out.

Cities Aviv - Working Title For The Album Secret Waters

Memphis-based artist Cities Aviv’s work has always been firmly left-field, ever since he transitioned from hardcore punk to Hip Hop in the early 2010s. So of course, Working Title For The Album Secret Waters is abstract and experimental – but it’s pretty accessible at the same time. No doubt Cities Aviv is an artist for a niche audience, but people who slept on him up to now just might be in for a nice surprise if and when they give Working Title For The Album Secret Waters a chance.

Dälek - Precipice

“Forged in the fires of the East Coast underground music scene in the 90s, experimental Hip Hop pioneers, Union City, NJ-based duo Dälek has spent decades carving out a unique niche fusing hardcore Hip Hop, noise, and a radical approach to sound. Their brutal sonic temperament pushes rap music’s capacity for noise and protest to some exhilarating conclusions. For their latest and eighth album, Precipice, Dälek unleashes a work that is practically bristling with fury and power. Predominantly the work of the core duo, Will Brooks, aka MC Dälek and Mike Manteca (Mike Mare), Precipice features a guest appearance of Adam Jones of Tool.”

From Filthy Tongue Of Gods And Griots (2002) and the masterful Absence (2005) are Dälek’s best albums, iconic records in the industrial Hip Hop subgenre. Precipe is not as memorable as these two classics are, but it is a strong album nonetheless. Boom-bap-driven beats backed up by an unsettling ambient droning create an overall dark and dreary atmosphere, further exacerbated by MC Dälek’s thought-provoking semi-abstract lyrics. Precipe is a slow-burner of an album, a fitting document for the chaotic and uncertain times we are currently living in.

Backxwash - HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING

HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING by Zambian Canadian trans artist Backxwash is a perfect end to a phenomenal trilogy. Religion and identity and the contrast these themes present in Backxwash’s life make for an intense and meaningful listening experience. HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING builds on last year’s harrowing I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES and is just as strong. Hard-hitting chaotic sonic content is the perfect backdrop for Backxwash’s simultaneously abrasive and vulnerable lyrics. This album is INTENSE.

Open Mike Eagle - Component System With The Auto Reverse

Component System With The Auto Reverse is FIRE – peak Open Mike Eagle in terms of clever bars full of relatability, charm, humor, and emotion. Where his last album Anime, Trauma, and Divorce (2020) was intensely personal, this one has more of an outward focus – looking back on the days when OME first got into Hip Hop. The album’s focus comes back in the sound of the album too, through a ‘mixtapey’ messy feel at times. Appearances by Aesop Rock, Diamond D, Armand Hammer, R.A.P. Ferreira, and Serengeti, plus production from Diamond D, Madlib, and Quelle Chris (among others) add extra value to what is an awesome project, one of Open Mike Eagle’s most enjoyable efforts. Dark Comedy (Mello Music Group, 2014) and Brick Body Kids Still Daydream (Mello Music Group, 2017) remain our favorite OME albums, but Component System With The Auto Reverse comes close.

Brian Ennals & Infinity Knives - King Cobra

Experimental and political – Baltimore-based duo Brian Ennals and Infinity Knives’ King Cobra is a must-listen for anybody who appreciates forward-thinking and thought-provoking Hip Hop. Like fellow Baltimore experimentalist JPEGMAFIA, these two pull no punches. Brian Ennals has a straightforward old-school flow, his socio-political bars hit hard, and Infinity Knives’ unsettling soundscapes amplify his content – the production on King Cobra is genuinely great. On the album, their sound is described as ‘post-apocalyptic Run-DMC’, and that sounds about right: the instrumentals and flows on King Cobra are abrasive and innovative at times but rooted in traditional 80s Hip Hop at the same time (listen to “Premium Malt Freestyle” for instance – old heads will recognize the Schoolly D and Sir Mix-a-Lot inspiration there). King Cobra is a special album, unlike anything else released in 2022.

AKAI SOLO - Spirit Roaming

Spirit Roaming is AKAI SOLO’s first full-length collaboration with Backwoodz Studioz. Spirit Roaming arrived on the heels of his Body Feeling EP, building on its material and existential themes. Here, AKAI’s unique palette is applied to a bigger canvas, without losing the intimacy and the sardonic self-awareness that helps define him as an artist—alongside a delivery and cadence all his own.

Spirit Roaming features an eclectic group of producers, from vets like Preservation, Animoss, Messiah Musik, and August Fanon, to emerging talents Theravada, ibliss, WifiGawd, Roper Williams, and JUNIE. AKAI lends bits and pieces of his own production to the mix, but goes mostly dolo on the mic, with Armand Hammer as the lone feature arriving just in time for the curtain call.

Working amidst a renaissance in NYC indie rap, AKAI is both part of that wave and a man apart. The 27-year-old Brooklyn native has collaborated extensively with many of the scene’s stalwarts (including Pink Siifu, Armand Hammer, and Navy Blue), but, true to his name, has always navigated his own course.”

AKAI SOLO and Backwoodz Studioz are a perfect fit. His music is for a niche audience, as is most of what comes out of Backwoodz Studioz. Still, the move to Backwoodz is likely to raise AKAI SOLO’s profile – also because this easily is his best-rounded and best-produced album. Not an easy listen, but accessible enough to gain him more exposure and take him to a next level.

Linqua Franqa - Bellringer

“In linguistics, “lingua franca” is a term for a language used to communicate across cultures. For instance, the lingua franca of the Internet is typically English; in post-colonial Africa, French is often the lingua franca. For Athens, Georgia-based rapper, linguist, activist, parent, and politician Mariah Parker (they/them), aka Linqua Franqa, music is the tool they use to communicate – and educate – across cultural boundaries. Parker is a linqua franqa for the people.

Weaving a rich tapestry of Hip Hop lyricism and neo-soul hooks, Parker imbues every song with a sense of urgency and keen social consciousness. This is particularly evident on the forthcoming sophomore album Bellringer, produced by Parker, Reindeer Games, and Joel Hatstat and featuring guest spots from Jeff Rosenstock, Of Montreal, Kishi Bashi, Dope KNife, Wesdaruler, and Angela Davis. On Bellringer, Parker does not hold back, touching on issues like police brutality, social media addiction, mental health, anti-capitalism, and labor organizing, among other topics, ripped from the headlines.”

Bellringer is a unique album by a unique artist. The mix of experimental Hip Hop, neo-soul, and indie-pop is unlike anything else you’ll hear this year. We gravitate more to the Hip Hop side of the sounds on this LP, and if the whole album would have maintained the standard by the first five songs, we would have considered Bellringer an AOTY contender. But even with a couple of songs in the middle of the tracklist that are not for us, the overall Bellringer experience is pretty awesome. Linqua Franqa’s diverse vocal abilities and the range of the subject matter – from views on social inequalities and public policies to personal struggles to straight-up sh*ttalking – make for an album that deserves all the attention it can get.

Wilma Vritra - Grotto

“The second album from the transatlantic duo Wilma Vritra is richly orchestrated, replete with references to faith, mythology, and the cosmos, its 11 tracks grapple with themes of self-preservation and refuge from the world, even as they edge their way to a sort of redemption.

Grotto is the work of two musicians separated by an ocean but undoubtedly operating on a shared wavelength. One is Will Archer, a Newcastle-born but London-based multi-instrumentalist and composer who today records as Wilma Archer. His debut solo album A Western Circular, featured guest spots from the late MF DOOM, Future Islands’ Samuel T Herring, Sudan Archives, and Laura Grove. The other is Hal Donell Williams Jr, aka VRITRA – a Los Angeles-based rapper whose tales of graft and grind are often couched in spiritual or cosmic terms. VRITRA has previously collaborated with Matt Martians via The Jet Age of Tomorrow, Pink Siifu, and YUNGMORPHEUS.

Grotto’s striking cover image is by Swampy, an enigmatic Californian street artist whose itinerant lifestyle – tales of squatting and train-hopping across North America – have made him a demi-mythical figure. It is a playful image, but it communicates the album’s themes – of a voyage through darkness and the promise of light at the end of the tunnel.”

Grotto is an enticing listen, one of the finest left-field Hip Hop albums of the year. The hypnotic and inventive production is magnificent, and the rapping is beautiful too. These two bring out the best in each other, let’s hope this duo will continue to make music together.

ELUCID - I Told Bessie

“I Told Bessie is the third solo album from New York City rapper/producer Chaz Hall aka ELUCID. The title is a reference to his paternal grandmother, Bessie Hall, a powerful presence in his life until she passed away in 2017. From childhood afternoons running around her apartment in the Red Hook projects to living under the same roof in Crown Heights when he was a young man, Bessie was an axis on which Hall’s family turned.

While best known as one-half of critically acclaimed duo Armand Hammer, ELUCID has also built an impressive resume of other collaborations and side projects over the past decade. His debut LP Save Yourself dropped in 2016 on Backwoodz Studioz and still holds up as one of the best releases in the label’s catalog. It’s fitting that ELUCID returns to fertile ground for I Told Bessie, a record of such confidence and power that it feels like a culmination.

I Told Bessie features guests Pink Siifu, Quelle Chris, and billy woods. The album’s production is handled by Child Actor, The Alchemist, P.U.D.G.E., Sebb Bash, The Lasso, Kenny Segal, August Fanon, and Messiah Musik. It’s an impressive roster of producers, all of whom add something to the hard-hitting funk of this record’s ever-warping sonics. Add to that the talents of engineer Willie Green, who helped build this from the ground up. Executive produced by billy woods and ELUCID, I Told Bessie is dedicated to its eponymous matriarch.”

2022 is another strong year for both halves of Armand Hammer. billy woods’ Aethiopes is pure excellence, and ELUCID’s I Told Bessie is just about as good. ELUCID’s unorthodox delivery and lyricism make for intriguing listening and the eerie, dusty beats help pull you in even deeper. With I Told Bessie ELUCID put together an abstract Hip Hop album that is coherent and consistent, challenging and accessible at the same time. I Told Bessie is a captivating album, ELUCID’s best solo project yet.

The Waxidermist - Tribe

“Attracted by a mysterious force that prompts him to leave his studio den, the Waxidermist embarks on a mystical quest, a Hip Hop adventure on the screen of which funk and soul collide, sampling and live. Against the backdrop of an Asian fresco, he traces a musical journey that draws in its wake long-time friends and new crusaders along the way.” 

The Waxidermist is a producer and bass player from Paris, and his Tribe is a great record filled with gorgeous soundscapes built on an organic blend of boom-bap stylings and live instrumentation. Cello, guitar, percussion, keyboard, flute, and live bass sounds are incorporated seamlessly with sharp turntable work – making for a musically rich album that’s Hip Hop to the core at the same time. The Asian-themed concept doesn’t really come off, but it doesn’t matter – this album is an all-around fun and entertaining experience anyway. Relative unknowns Starrlight, RacecaR, DistantStarr, Elodie Rama, Ta-Ti, and Bibi Tanga take care of the vocals, all their performances synergetic and on par with Waxidermist’s instrumentals. Tribe‘s cover art is pretty awesome too to top it off – this project is the total package.

Avantdale Bowling Club - TREES

Avantdale Bowling Club is the name under which New Zealand-based artist Tom Scott released a self-titled jazz-rap essential in 2018, one of the best albums released that yearAvantdale Bowling Club presented an effortless fusion of neo-jazz and Hip Hop, a must-have for Hip Hop listeners with an appreciation for music from acts like A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Guru, Freestyle Fellowship/Aceyalone, The Pharcyde, The Roots, and even Kendrick Lamar. Avantdale Bowling Club is a timeless piece of music, and this follow-up has that same kind of feel. TREES is more subtle and humble than Avantdale Bowling Club’s eponymous masterpiece debut but almost as beautiful. While the first album was more jazz-centered, this one leans more in a Hip Hop direction – stoner jazz rap would be a fitting description – offering one of the best mixes of jazz and Hip Hop since TPAB. Don’t sleep on TREES – this is one of the best albums of 2022.

Bloodmoney Perez & Messiah Musik - Second Hand Accounts

Alaska-based Puerto Rican Bloodmoney Perez teamed up with Baltimore producer Messiah Musik for Second Hand Accounts – an intriguing presentation of top-notch left-field Hip Hop. Messiah Musik’s experimental instrumentals are captivating, as are Bloodmoney Perez’s bars – his baritone is powerful, and both his flow and semi-abstract rhymes are reminiscent of billy woods, a big compliment in our book. Second Hand Accounts is the best Hip Hop album released in January of 2022 – don’t sleep.

Clouds In A Headlock - Breakfast In Phantasia

“Psychedelic Hip Hop supergroup Clouds In A Headlock exist in a parallel dimension. In the regular world, they are school teachers, ramen chefs, or goat farmers. In Phantasia, they can live without labels or barriers as fractals of light or sword-swinging assassins. Phantasia has no boundaries.

Lyrically the Clouds are somewhere between early Souls of Mischief, Company Flow, and the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud. The sonic backdrops are like a meeting of Azymuth and Alchemist in a smoked-out 60s jazz club. Breakfast In Phantasia takes the listener into a maze of gritty psychedelic loops and ninja-level wordplay.”

Heady beats and bars make for an interesting listen, intense and laid-back at the same time. Breakfast In Phantasia is one of the many excellent alternative Hip Hop albums released this year.

Raw Poetic & Damu The Fudgemunk - Laminated Skies

Laminated Skies is the sixth album for which Washington, D.C.-based Raw Poetic teams up with regular collaborator Damu The Fudgemunk. Nine genre-bending tracks form a gumbo of poetry, rock, funk, Hip Hop, electronic music, chamber music, pop, and jazz – among other styles – there’s nothing generic or run-of-the-mill about the eclectic Laminated Skies. It is a great piece of music nonetheless – not for everybody, but those listeners who want something different every once in a while could do worse than give this project a chance.

Laminated Skies represents Raw Poetic’s most personal work so far, enhanced by Damu The Fudgemunk’s intricate production. Raw Poetic’s variety of vocal styles (he sings as often as he raps here) will take most getting used to, Damu The Fudgemunk’s instrumentals – performed with the assistance of an ensemble of other musicians – will go over with more ease: the blend of live and programmed drums and basslines especially is a thing of beauty. Laminated Skies is deep and textured, a perfectly sequenced Hip Hop-plus album that might make you frown on a first listen, but that will grow on you without a doubt.

Ka - Languish Arts / Woeful Studies

The Brownsville, NYC -based emcee/producer’s most recent albums – A Martyr’s Reward (2021) and Descendants Of Cain (2020) rank high in our best Hip Hop albums released in the 2020s selection, and his other masterpieces The Night’s Gambit (2013) and Honor Killed The Samurai (2016) are among the best albums of the 2010s.

The mostly self-produced Languish Arts and Woeful Studies are Ka’s ninth and tenth albums – we will consider the two a total package like a double album. The last track on Languish Arts ends with an instrumental with a flute very similar to the one on the first song on Woeful Studies, connecting the two albums seamlessly. Individually both projects are just under 30 minutes which would make them EPs in our book, but put together this double header offers close to an hour of top-quality music.

Fans of Killah Priest’s recent output should know by now not to sleep on Ka, also fans of Roc Marciano’s sound will find much to enjoy. Ka is the superior writer though, his pen game is deep and his poetic flourishes are second to none. Ka’s lyricism is unparalleled – as always it will require time and attention to really listen in-depth and dissect all of the layers in his bars here. Ka’s music can be enjoyed on a more superficial level too, the mostly drumless instrumentals and his spoken word flow are hypnotic and soothing – this is music to keep returning to, whatever you are looking to get out of it. With Languish Arts and Woeful Studies, Ka adds two more gems to an already monumental catalog.

Guillotine Crowns - Hills To Die On

Hills To Die On is the sophomore album from New York emcee/producer Uncommon Nasa and Chicago emcee Short Fuze, who have been regular collaborators over the years before formally teaming up as Guillotine Crowns in 2020. With dense left-field production and hard-hitting bars, this is an album that is perfectly suited for the rough years we are living through right now.

Ghais Guevara -There Will Be No Super-Slave

Following his short experimental BlackBoishevik album of last year, Philadelphia-based Ghais Guevara continues to show artistical growth on his best project to date: There Will Be No Super-Slave. Ghais Guevara’s lyrical abilities are amazing and his content is thought-provoking, his clever bars supported by energetic left-field production and creative sampling. There Will Be No Super-Slave is one of the most interesting experimental Hip Hop albums of the year, and Ghais Guevara is an artist to keep an eye on.

billy woods - Church

billy woods never misses. He truly is a generational lyricist, one of the best rappers active today (and not just in the experimental/abstract subgenre). His writing still seems to get better somehow, and he has really mastered his delivery – his spoken-word style is straightforward but totally commanding at the same time. Not even half a year after the outstanding Aethiopes, billy woods comes with a second project that deserves to be counted among the year’s best. Church is different from Aethiopes but almost as good. Whereas Aethiopes is heavier on the experimental side and arguably less accessible, Church – while still firmly left-field – is a more straightforward beats and bars affair, this time with production from Messiah Musik whose instrumentals are more in line with the sounds of Blockhead and Kenny Segal on earlier billy woods projects.

Church is a compelling piece of music, a near-flawless front-to-end listen. “Fever Grass”, “Classical Music” (with AKAI SOLO and FIELDED), “Cossack Wedding”, “Pollo Rico”, and “All Jokes Aside” are standouts – but as per usual on a billy woods project, there are no real weak spots to be found on Church. Production is dark and sometimes chaotic, but accessible and relaxing at the same time, and billy woods consistently kills it with his bars and flows. At this point there is no getting around it: billy woods is untouchable, and he is definitely stealing the show in 2022.

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