The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022: This is a work in progress. The only way to compile an authoritative list is to keep track of new releases week-by-week, day-by-day even. This list will be updated regularly until the end of the year when it will result in our best-of-the-year list.
There’s still lots to look forward to in the last quarter of this year, with a bunch of ‘sequels’ slated to be released – Redman’s Muddy Waters 2, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx III, Ghostface Killah Supreme Clientele 2, De La Soul’s AOI3, LL Cool J’s GOAT 2, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 3, and Jay-Z’s Blueprint 4 all are albums we are eagerly anticipating. We’re also looking forward to expected releases from EPMD (Big Business), Q-Tip (AlGoRhythms, Riotdiaries, The Last Zulu), and Danny Brown (Quaranta). It’s unlikely ALL of these albums will still come out this year, but even if only a few drop we will be happy enough.
As always on our best-of-the-year lists, not included are instrumental albums, compilations, and EPs. Some artists market barely 30-minute-long projects as albums – however, HHGA categorizes a project that clocks in at under 30 minutes as an EP, and we do not rank EPs on our album list: an album = an LP. But having said that, lots of dope EPs drop each and every year, so we will not ignore them – scroll down for a section with some of the best EPs released in 2022, as well as a listing of 2022’s best instrumental Hip Hop projects.
This is a top 60, albums that don’t make our best 60 of the year but which are worth listening to anyway can be found in the honorable mentions.
Let’s get into it, check out what we think are the best Hip Hop albums of 2022 so far – best first.
Last updated: November 17. Latest entries: #4 Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene – Cost Of Living; #6 Nas – King’s Disease III; #23 AKAI SOLO – Spirit Roaming; #38 Homeboy Sandman & Deca – Still Champion
Danger Mouse & Black Thought - Cheat Codes
So this is what happens when one of the most skilled producers in the music biz joins forces with one of the most talented emcees of all time. The long-awaited Cheat Codes is a Hip Hop masterclass, delivering on its promise to the fullest. Danger Mouse’s soulful boom-bap production is elegant and hard-hitting at the same time, and Black Thought effortlessly proves for the hundredth time he is one of the best to ever do it – his flow, his delivery, his vernacular: even in his fourth decade in the game as a recording artist there are few (if any) rappers who come close to the level of skill he has been consistently displaying.
At 38 minutes, Cheat Codes is a concise affair, and the momentum doesn’t falter for a single second. The album manages to maintain attention throughout its whole runtime with ease, not only because of the quality of the music and the vocals but also because pretty much every song has something unique to offer. Black Thought kills it throughout the whole tracklist and the stacked feature list is top-notch: Raekwon, Joey Bada$$, Run The Jewels, A$AP Rocky, and Conway The Machine (among others) all add value with their contributions, and MF DOOM steals the show with a bittersweet but outstanding posthumous verse on “Belize”. There’s not a moment wasted on skits or other such nonsense, and all 12 tracks are equally strong with nothing but top-tier production and lyricism. AOTY.
Release date: August 12, 2022.
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 albums. History 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 Unknowns, Hiding 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.
Release date: April 8, 2022.
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.
Release date: October 28, 2022.
Apollo Brown & Philmore Greene - Cost Of Living
“What are the consequences of living in this f***ed up world? Within the first few seconds of their collaborative album Cost Of Living, rapper Philmore Greene and producer Apollo Brown articulate this question with unequivocal clarity. It’s an inquiry that looms at the core of their elegiac and existential soundtrack to modern inner-city life. How can one escape the systemic traps that have ensnared generations since time immemorial? What does it mean to make the right choices? And if you emerge from the chaos to live a beautiful life, how do you overcome the survivor’s guilt and lingering trauma?
Cost Of Living is an album full of authenticity that can’t be faked. These are songs that betray the scar tissue. Contemplative fire. Verité films of the west side of Chicago. It’s this noirish part of town that nourished Greene and gave him nightmares. The place where he saw his first dead body in his early teens, where he lost his brother to street violence only a few years later, and where he turned to the pad, pen, and microphone as a refuge and way to share his hard-fought wisdom.
Behind the boards, Apollo Brown creates a cinematic backdrop of tense, moody strings and hand-of-god drums. Philmore Greene is an ideal match for Brown’s sumptuous canvasses. On the Evidence-assisted lead single “Paradise,” Green unspools his gift for classic rap storytelling, comparing Chicago to Pakistan, noting the sex workers, church bells, and constant paranoia. He cites the hypocrisy of a world where you can get 40 years for drug trafficking and be out in three for murder. The centerpiece might be “This is Me,” where Greene details his own personal struggles and psychological turmoil.
The cost of living may be high, but Greene and Brown allow you to understand that it is not insurmountable. There are too many losses and not enough gains, but as long as there remains a belief in something deeper and the possibility of something better, hope remains alive. This is soul music in the deepest sense, not as an aesthetic but as a physical place, where heart, philosophy, and the spirit reside. This is something for the ages, a work of tragic timelessness. After all, these issues have been here before us, and they’ll be here long after us.”
Philmore Greene has plenty of great music on his name already (his Chicago: A Third World City (2018) is on our best of 2018 list) but it is Cost Of Living that should bring Philmore Greene into the consciousness of wider Hip Hop audiences. His flow is flawless, and his mature street poetry is poignant and relatable – this is some REAL sh. The album will also rightfully cement Apollo Brown’s status as one of the top-tier producers in the game. The impeccably produced Cost Of Living is on par with recent masterpieces like Sincerely, Detroit (2019) and As God Intended (2020, with Che Noir), two of his career-best projects. No doubt about it: Cost Of Living is one of 2022’s best Hip Hop albums.
Release date: November 15, 2022.
Roc Marciano & The Alchemist - The Elephant Man's Bones
The Elephant Man’s Bones is the long-awaited collaborative album from Roc Marciano & The Alchemist, fully produced by The Alchemist, featuring Action Bronson, Boldy James, Ice-T, & Knowledge The Pirate.
Roc Marciano is one of the indisputable Hip Hop MVPs of the past decade. After being part of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad and a quarter of underground crew The U.N. around the turn of the millennium, he later reinvented himself to become the main player responsible for revitalizing the mafioso subgenre (pioneered in the 1990s by icons like Kool G Rap, Raekwon, and Nas). He also is the originator of atmospheric, gritty lo-fi beats as a backdrop for his rhymes – setting the trend for lots of newcomers who would go and build on this sound (think Griselda and all their affiliates and copy-cats).
Marcberg (2010), Reloaded (2012), Marci Beaucou (2013), Rosebudd’s Revenge (2017), RR2: The Bitter Dose (2018), Behold A Dark Horse (2018), Kaos (with DJ Muggs, 2018), Marcielogo (2019), and Mt Marci (2020) are all excellent projects, and at least the first two are subgenre classics. The Elephant Man’s Bones is Roc Marci’s ninth solo album and one of his best.
It’s the majestic work of The Alchemist on the boards that elevates this project to another level. There’s a perfect balance of drumless and hard drum instrumentals on The Elephant Man’s Bones, and it cements The Alchemist’s status as one of the foremost producers in the game ever. From his work with Mobb Deep just before the turn of the millennium to the albums he produced for Freddie Gibbs, Boldy James, and Armand Hammer in recent years – his legacy is indestructible at this point. The Elephant Man’s Bones is another gem in his crown – the silky smooth instrumentals on this album are spectacular, addicting even. The guest vocalists kill it too, best contributions here are from Knowledge The Pirate and Boldy James. The iconic Ice-T shows up too, he doesn’t have an actual verse but his short storytelling bits on “The Horns Of Abraxas” still add flavor and attitude to the album.
The Elephant Man’s Bones is an amazing record. Alchemist’s flawless production and Roc Marci’s illustrious wordplay combine into a hypnotizing cinematic experience, in the form of a 14-track album that will soon be considered a modern classic.
Release date: August 26, 2022.
Nas - King's Disease III
King’s Disease III is the fifteenth studio album by Hip Hop icon Nas. It serves as the third part of his King’s Disease series of albums, once again produced by Hit-Boy. We’re not the biggest fans of the polished sounds Hit-Boy usually crafts, his sound is sometimes too pop-oriented as far as we are concerned. The uneven KD1 was let down a bit because of this pop orientation, with misplaced features from the likes of Don Toliver, Lil Durk, and Big Sean. KD2 was better rounded but also suffered from some weak and unnecessary features. King’s Disease III has no features at all, and the album is better for it – this is easily the best album of the trilogy, and Nas’s best full-length since Life Is Good (2012). We get just Nas and his virtually unparalleled pen game here, and Hit-Boy’s instrumentals are better than on the previous two KD albums too (there’s only one little misstep with “Hood2Hood”). While the album retains the polished sound palette of its predecessors, there’s more boom-bap grit to it at the same time – Nas gels really well with the beats here. What Nas proves with his Hit-Boy collaborations is that he firmly has his finger on the current pulse of the culture, that he is still hungry and relevant, and that he is able to appeal to old as well as to new audiences. In his fourth decade in the game, Nas still is a force to be reckoned with.
Release date: November 11, 2022.
JID - The Forever Story
Atlanta native JID is the most interesting artist to come out of J. Cole’s Dreamville camp. The Never Story (2017) was an impressive debut album, and DiCaprio 2 (2018) was a solid follow-up. The Forever Story came highly anticipated after a four-year wait and with his third solo full-length JID does not disappoint – in fact, The Forever Story is his best album yet.
Conceptually, The Forever Story is a sequel to The Never Story. The title is a direct reference to the 2017 album’s title, and the artwork alludes to the 2017 album’s artwork. With his flow and musical choices, JID has all the characteristics to appeal to fans of mainstream rap but unlike most mainstream rappers he doesn’t sound generic and he actually has bars worth listening to – so fans of more traditional Hip Hop should be able to get into The Forever Story too despite its pop-appeal. JID succeeds where lots of his contemporaries fail: on the hour-long The Forever Story he manages to perfectly balance banging trap-flavored cuts, smooth neo-soul-tinged songs, and punchy boom-bap tracks into a dynamic but coherent whole (despite a host of different producers being involved). JID’s flows are on point, his pen game is strong, the hooks on this album are enjoyable, and the features (EARTHGANG, 21 Savage, Ari Lennox, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Lil Wayne, among others) all come through. The Forever Story is an excellent album, one that met – or even exceeded – the high expectations preceding it.
Release date: August 26, 2022.
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.
Release date: September 16, 2022.
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.
Release date: September 30, 2022.
Benny The Butcher - Tana Talk 4
Benny The Butcher’s official debut album Tana Talk 3 is one of the best Hip Hop albums released in 2018 and one of the best three albums to ever come out of the Griselda camp, arguably even the absolute best. Tana Talk 3 was followed in 2020 by Burden Of Proof – an OK album, but not nearly as good as its predecessor. By naming his third album Tana Talk 4, Benny The Butcher set the bar high – it implies a return to the gritty sounds of Tana Talk 3, and a departure from the more polished, mainstream-friendly beats on Burden Of Proof. Whether or not Tana Talk 4 will eventually be considered to be on par with Tana Talk 3 remains to be seen, but it is a great album – way better than Burden Of Proof in any case.
Burden Of Proof was produced by Hit-Boy, and his sound is too clean and polished for Benny The Butcher as far as we are concerned. Thankfully, Tana Talk 4 is mostly produced by Daringer and The Alchemist – which means a glorious return to the murk and grit of Tana Talk 3. Benny also sounds great on here – his lyricism, delivery, and flow are on point as always. Regular collaborators like Conway The Machine, Westside Gunn, 38 Spesh, Stove God Cooks, and Boldy James show up, as does the kind of unexpected J Cole – who kills it on “Johnny P’s Caddy” with the best feature on the album. There are twelve tracks on Tana Talk 4, and all of them are strong – nothing but hard bars and killer beats here. Tana Talk 3 remains our favorite Benny project, but Tana Talk 4 is a very close second.
Release date: March 11, 2022.
Logic - Vinyl Days
Logic is one of those artists who always have opinions firmly divided – there are plenty of Logic fans, but more haters it seems sometimes. His inconsistent output no doubt is a part of the ‘problem’ a lot of people have with the Maryland native. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2019) was an especially terrible album, and there are other duds in his catalog that are best forgotten. His supposed retirement album No Pressure (2020) was not at all bad though, and with Vinyl Days – his seventh (and first post-retirement) studio album he delivered a winner – absolutely his best project yet.
Vinyl Days is a monster of an album – just over 70 minutes in length. Too much for the ADD crowd probably, but perfect for listeners who still appreciate the art of creating LPs. The lyrical content on this album may not be deep or profound, and guests like Action Bronson, Curren$y, Royce Da 5’9″, RZA, Blu, AZ, and The Game (among others) outshine Logic on occasion, but it doesn’t matter. This album FLOWS and despite its runtime, the momentum never falters – 30 tracks (including skits that uncharacteristically do not break the flow of the album), but the album doesn’t feel bloated at all. No real weak spots on the tracklist, and plenty of highlights – including tracks such as “Tetris”, “BLACKWHITEBOY”, “Quasi”, “Bleed It”, “Clouds”, “Therapy Music”, “Kickstyle”, “Ten Years”, “Porta One”, and “Vinyl Days” (with DJ Premier).
Vinyl Days lives up to its name – it serves as a warm love letter to the golden age of Hip Hop, with diverse and appealing sample-based boom-bap production from start to finish. Slick, refreshing, and fun – Vinyl Days is one of the biggest positive surprises of 2022. Logic dropped a better Hip Hop album than Kendrick Lamar this year – who would have thought?
Release date: June 17, 2022.
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.
Release date: August 19, 2022.
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 year. Avantdale 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.
Release date: September 30, 2022.
Sadistik & Kno - Bring Me Back When The World Is Cured
We’ve never really connected with Sadistik’s ’emo raps’ before, but this album is something else. On Bring Me Back When The World Is Cured Sadistik paints dark and beautiful pictures with his rhymes – his moody words and flows are truly touching here and more than on any of his earlier albums the emotional impact of his content is amplified by the strength of the production. Kno is one of the best producers out there and has been for well over a decade – his work as one-third of CunninLynguists (especially on A Piece Of Strange (2006), Oneirology (2011), and Rose Azura Njano (2017) is superb, and the instrumentals he crafted for his solo masterpiece Death Is Silent (2010) are next-level too. He is a true master of creating atmospheric soundscapes – music you FEEL – and the hauntingly beautiful beats he crafted to bring the best out of Sadistik on Bring Me Back When The World Is Cured are simply gorgeous. Powerful stuff – not for everybody probably but one of our favorite albums of 2022 anyway.
Release date: April 1, 2022.
Nerves Baddington - Micro/Macro
Nerves Baddington is a trio from Birmingham, Alabama, consisting of Kilgore Doubt, inkline, and Cam the Invisible Man. Their Micro and Macro albums are two fantastic projects we will consider a double-LP because the two are inextricably connected. In this era of music streaming, we see a lot of artists dropping short EP-length projects, presenting them as full-length albums. Nerves Baddington bucked this trend by dropping two ambitious 45-minute projects that combine into one near-flawless album that’s not a second too long. Micro/Macro offers an hour and a half of top-tier experimental but accessible Hip Hop – this is one of those rare projects that might appeal to casual rap fans and to more discerning Hip Hop listeners alike.
Micro/Macro features production by all three Nerves Baddington members (mostly from Kilgore Doubt), with some assistance from outside collaborator The Phasing Octopus. Nerves Baddington emcee inkline is joined on the microphone by a host of other Birmingham rappers, like MC Kano, Black Plastique, Shaun Judah, Nick Dire, Mane Rok, Fleetwood Deville, Akil Pratt, K1NG ELJAY, and others.
Micro/Macro is a project with power and purpose. The soundscapes are meticulously crafted, the rhymes offer a perfect blend of the thoughtful and the abstract, and the flows of inkline and guests are tight. Micro and Macro are excellent listening experiences separately – and because of subtle sonic and lyrical cross-reference points, they are even stronger combined. Micro/Macro is an ambitious and totally captivating piece of music.
Release date: February 22, 2022.
Kendrick Lamar - Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers
Kendrick Lamar’s fifth studio album is one of the most anticipated releases in recent memory, coming five years after the Pulitzer price-winning DAMN. For us, that album was generally overhyped and overrated, not on par with Kendrick Lamar’s masterpieces good kid m.A.A.d. city (2012) and To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) anyway. And while it remains to be seen if Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers will eventually be able to stand side to side with GKMC and TPAB, it definitely is a sight better than DAMN, reconfirming Kendrick Lamar’s status as one of the leading and most important Hip Hop artists of his generation.
Kendrick Lamar always offers new sounds, new flows, and new perspectives with every project he releases, and Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is no exception. Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is an intimate album full of musical precision, with a sharp focus on Lamar’s personal traumas, doubts, and contradictions. Where GKMC explored Kendrick’s origins in Compton, and TPAB scaled up to the collective and intergenerational trauma of the entire black community, this album succeeds in finding the middle ground. Kendrick gives us a status update, a state of affairs, good and bad, still taking a confrontational look at himself. A large part of the bad influences that shaped his youth are behind him, but that past itself doesn’t just leave you behind. With his relatable and self-reflective content on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers Kendrick Lamar shows us sensitivity, and how this sensitivity can be converted into anger, fear, uncertainty, and bitterness on the turn of a dime. The mental and emotional volatility that characterizes Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is one of the album’s biggest strengths – even if some of the themes presented can seem contradictory (reflecting the ‘mirror’ concept of this double album).
There’s a lot to unpack on Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers – this is an album that will have to marinate a good while before making any determination where it ranks even in Lamar’s own catalog is possible. That said, there’s nobody quite like Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is just another affirmation of his top-dog status.
Release date: May 13, 2022.
Nord1kone & DJ MROK - Tower Of Babylon
Following their underground hit LP Escape The Yard, emcee Nord1kone and DJ MROK re-team to bring more boom bap to the masses. This time they brought along an all-star lineup including Kool G Rap, Chuck D, Gift Of Gab, Masta Ace, Craig G, Chip-Fu, Donald D, Chill Rob G, El Da Sensei, Phill Most Chill, and more to construct a rap odyssey strictly for the heads. Hard beats, razor-sharp lyrics, scratches & cuts.
Tower Of Babylon is our kind of Hip Hop.
Release date: September 16, 2022.
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.
Release date: October 7, 2022.
Conway The Machine - God Don't Make Mistakes
Conway The Machine’s God Don’t Make Mistakes is his best album yet. On his Shady Records debut and second solo studio LP – following From King to a God (2020) and a long string of collaborative projects, mixtapes, and EPs – the Buffalo-based Griselda rapper gets more introspective and personal than ever before, evidenced by standout tracks such as “Guilty”, “Stress”, “So Much More”, and “God Don’t Make Mistakes”. Other strong songs include “Tear Gas” (with a surprisingly good guest verse from Lil Wayne), “Piano Love”, “John Woo Flick”, with Griselda family Westside Gunn and Benny The Butcher, and “Chanel Pearls”, with a rapping Jill Scott. Production from Daringer and The Alchemist stands outs, of course, but all producers involved deliver – managing to keep the overall sound of the album reasonably cohesive, even if the differences in gritty vs polished production styles of the individual producers involved can easily be recognized.
A couple of small issues stand in the way from God Don’t Make Mistakes being an AOTY contender – some of the hooks and features are kind of weak, and we could have done without “Wild Chapters” in its entirety, the only song on the album that should have been left on the cutting room floor. That said: God Don’t Make Mistakes is a great album overall, another one in a long series of dope Griselda family projects that are instrumental in bridging the gap between the underground and the mainstream.
Release date: February 25, 2022.
Napoleon Da Legend & Clypto – Maison De Medici
Maison De Medici is a collaboration between prolific Comoros-born Brooklyn-based emcee Napoleon Da Legend and West Coast producer Clypto. It’s hard to keep up with Napoleon Da Legend’s release schedule: he had a couple of strong projects in 2021, and Maison De Medici is his second full-length of 2022, coming hot on the heels of the solid as f Modus Operandi – a collaboration with French Marseille-based production duo Just Music Beats. Where Modus Operandi‘s sound is straight (but melodic) boom-bap with a focus on hard bars, Maison De Medici is a more toned-down affair, with stylish instrumentals crafted by Clypto and clever content from NDL and guests such as Supreme Cerebral and Nejma Nefertiti (among others). NDL’s cadence and flow are great, he is one of those natural emcees who makes riding a beat sound effortless. Maison De Medici is a mature and tasteful Hip Hop album, one of Napoleon Da Legend’s best yet, and a must-listen.
Release date: March 11, 2022.
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.
Release date: June 10, 2022.
Ardamus - Psychedelic City Cowboy $h!t
Ardamus is a prolific Washington DC-based emcee/producer, and his Psychedelic City Cowboy $h!t is one of 2022’s hidden gems – arguably a career-best for Ardamus even. Psychedelic City Cowboy $h!t is an album about living in a city for so long that you develop a relationship with it, and about the effects of such a relationship. Ardamus shares production duties with Height Keech (the two worked together earlier on their 2020 album Astro Blocks) over the 16 tracks on this album – all songs composed of booming drums, creative sampling, dope throwback flows, and listen-worthy bars. Psychedelic City Cowboy $h!t offers close to 50 minutes of mature and relatable Hip Hop, you will not regret giving this album a listen.
Release date: October 21, 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.
Release date: November 11, 2022.
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.
Release date: April 29, 2022.
Jesse the Tree - Pigeon Man
Pigeon Man is Rhode Island-based emcee Jesse the Pigeon’s debut album on Sage Francis’s Strange Famous Records. With Mopes on the boards and Buddy Peace providing the cuts & scratches as the backdrop for Jesse the Tree’s laidback flow and his clever and relatable rhymes, this album is a delight from start to finish.
Release date: August 19, 2022.
Lupe Fiasco - Drill Music In Zion
Lupe Fiasco’s eighth studio album Drill Music In Zion is not his best effort, but it’s a strong album nonetheless. As a spiritual successor to Tetsuo & Youth (2015), the compact and uncomplicated Drill Music In Zion offers 40 minutes of heartfelt and meaningful bars over jazzy and sometimes trap-esque production – an unorthodox blend of musical styles that works surprisingly well. All instrumentals are intimate and accessible, and Lupe’s bars are clever and captivating. The incredible “Ms. Mural” – one of the best songs of the year – is the centerpiece of this album, but the whole project is super solid. Lupe Fiasco is one of the best post-2000 lyricists, and Drill Music In Zion is a worthy addition to his catalog.
Release date: June 24, 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.
Release date: January 28, 2022.
Awon & SOUL.DOPE.95- Infinite Wisdom
Bandcamp blurb: “Infinite Wisdom is a collaborative album from Virginia emcee Awon and LA-based producer SOUL.DOPE.95. Rashard Whitehead aka Dugga, happened to come across the mysterious producer, SOUL.DOPE.95 while scrolling beat videos and sounds on Instagram. After reaching out he connected him with Awon and instantly a chemistry was born. Bonding over fatherhood and music the pair seemed to know one another without ever speaking over the phone. SOUL.DOPE.95 infamously does not own a cellphone and only operates online and through email. After months of file sharing back and forth, Infinite Wisdom has come to life. This body of work is an exploration of blackness and the standing of African Americans also Africans living in the diaspora in popular culture. There are many recurring themes that question blackness, heritage, love, and a mental resolution to break generational through positive self-images. It is more of a reflective celebration that sounds thoughtful and liberating. The production offers flavors of jazz, soul, and gospel to create the sonic gumbo that pairs well with Awon’s introspective approach to writing. The duo hopes to share this celebration with the world and invites everyone to listen in and learn. The artwork for the album is an actual painting owned by Awon created by the burgeoning artist Dathan Kane titled “1988” after the graffiti tag of Awon. The mood is one that is warped and represents the artist’s abstract interpretation of warped vinyl. This is a nod to the celebration of Heritage as Dathan is also an artist of color operating in a space where many African Americans are not recognized.”
Brooklyn, NYC-born, Newport News, Virginia-based rapper Awon founded Don’t Sleep Records in 2014 along with frequent collaborator Phoniks. Don’t Sleep Records has been one of our favorite record labels since then – both the DSR roster and their combined catalogs are top-notch. The first three Awon & Phoniks collaborations are among our favorite Hip Hop albums of the 2010s, and in the 2020s Awon and company are not letting up – this collaboration with SOUL.DOPE.95 is another Don’t Sleep sure shot. Awon’s wife Tiff The Gift makes an appearance, as do other label mates Anti Lill y and Dephlow, along with Napoleon Da Legend and others. Soulful and jazzy instrumentals serve as a tasteful backdrop for mature and meaningful bars – Infinite Wisdom is a great piece of music.
Release date: October 17, 2022.
Mopes - Unwound
Mopes is a veteran emcee/producer from Rhode Island, formerly known as PROLYPHIC. His The Ugly Truth album (with Reanimator) is one of the best Hip Hop albums of 2008, and one of the best albums ever released on Sage Francis’s unsung Strange Famous Records label. Unwound is not quite as good as The Ugly Truth is, but it is an excellent album nonetheless. Personal and introspective bars, supported by self-produced melodic boom-bap instrumentals – Unwound is a mature album that gets better with each spin.
Release date: February 18, 2022.
AJ Suede & Televangel - Metatron's Cube
Seattle, Washington’s AJ Suede teamed up with Televangel (half of the unsung production duo Blue Sky Black Death) for Metatron’s Cube, an album of psychedelic, biting rhymes with smooth flows over brooding, nostalgic beats with a touch of noir that will hit you hard and envelop you in their world. Metatron’s Cube is AJ Suede’s best project yet, a presentation of underground Hip Hop at its finest, dark and abstract but inviting and accessible at the same time – this is a stylish and well-rounded album that will prove to have staying power.
Release date: January 14, 2022.
Freddie Gibbs - $oul $old $eparately
His first collaborative album with the iconic Madlib (2014’s Piñata) remains our absolute favorite Freddie Gibbs album, but $oul $old $eparately is definitely up there with his best work too. $oul $old $eparately sees Freddie Gibbs going in a more mainstream direction musically, and he mostly pulls it off (not completely – we could have done without that Offset and MoneyBagg Yo tracks, for instance). The album may lack the gritty sounds of his albums with Madlib and The Alchemist, but the polish of $oul $old $eparately goes surprisingly well with Gibbs’s gangsta bars, the album doesn’t get too excessively commercial and simply is a super smooth start-to-finish listening experience – Freddie Gibbs is such a strong and versatile rapper he can even make generic trap-tinged instrumentals sound good. Favorite tracks: “Space Rabbit”, “Feel No Pain” (with Anderson .Paak and Raekwon), “Rabbit Vision”, “Dark Hearted”, “Gold Rings” (with Pusha T), and “CIA” (the only song here produced by Madlib).
Release date: September 30, 2022.
Boldy James & Real Bad Man - Killing Nothing
Killing Nothing is a collaboration between producer Real Bad Man and Boldy James, one of our favorite emcees in the game right now. Real Bad Man and Boldy James collaborated on Real Bad Boldy (2020) and Killing Nothing builds on the standard set by that little project. At 42 minutes, Killing Nothing is a more fully realized album, one that, in terms of quality, fits right in with The Price Of Tea In China (with The Alchemist, 2020), Manger On McNichols (with Sterling Toles, 2020), and Bo Jackson (with The Alchemist, 2021) – all among the best albums of the years they were released in. Real Bad Man’s production might not be as experimental or boundary-pushing as The Alchemist and Sterling Toles’s work on Boldy’s recent albums is, but his dark and atmospheric beats work great anyway. While Killing Nothing doesn’t quite reach the greatness of Bo Jackson, it’s up there with Boldy’s other projects.
Boldy James is one of the most consistent artists in the game, his recent run of releases is incredible. His ‘lazy’ flow may be an acquired taste, but his murderous bars and attitude are second to none – few (if any) do this street rap sh better.
Release date: May 20, 2022.
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.
Release date: May 13, 2022.
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.
Release date: March 18, 2022.
Rome Streetz - Kiss The Ring
Rome Streetz’s Griselda debut full-length Kiss The Ring is one of the best albums released on Westside Gunn’s label this year. Kiss The Ring offers 50 minutes of straight gangsta bars by Rome Streetz and guests Conway the Machine, Stove God Cooks, Benny the Butcher, Armani Caesar, Westside Gunn, and Boldy James), and immaculate production by the likes of Conductor Williams, Camoflauge Monk, and Denny Laflare, with single tracks done by Daringer, DJ Green Lantern, and The Alchemist. Along with last year’s DJ Muggs-produced Death & the Magician, Kiss The Ring is Rome Streetz’s best work to date.
Release date: September 30, 2022.
KRS-One - I M A M C R U 1 2
“I am an MC, are you one too?” 35 years in the game, and KRS One is still ready to challenge and beat any rapper out there. KRS-One is a REAL emcee, you see?
After KRS-One dropped a couple of singles in 1986 with the late Scott La Rock, the duo debuted as Boogie Down Productions with the now-classic LP Criminal Minded in 1987. The rest is history. By All Means Necessary (1988), The Blueprint (1989), Edutainment (1990), Sex & Violence (1992) are all classic Hip Hop albums too. Sex & Violence was the last BDP album, the iconic Return Of The Boom Bap (1993) started KRS-One’s solo career.
In 2022, KRS-One is still going strong. “The top 1 of the top 5, and that’s the end of it.” KRS tells us on the standout cut “Achieving The Levels”. And: “I’m 50, and 20-year-olds can’t match the energy / on stage, I’m in a rage – yeah, it’s like ten of me / disrespect the Teacha, you know the penalty / KRS-One: I’m from a whole different century / I’m Paid In Full, so you can ch-check out My Melody…”
Unlike most of his post-Millenium efforts, I M A M C R U 1 2 is totally solid and consistent: it’s one of KRS-One’s best albums in over 20 years. As always, KRS comes with socio-conscious rhymes mixed with braggadocio bars, delivering his bars with a hardcore, powerful, and energetic attitude. His flow and his articulation are as immaculate as ever – KRS-One might be 56 years old by now, but his vocal power and the strength of his pen game are undiminished. Production is super basic but functional (beats made for live performances it sounds like), but a KRS-One album is all about his BARS anyway. “The Beginning”, “Raw Hip Hop”, “Achieving The Levels”, “I M A M C R U 1 2”, “Drop Another Break”, “Have To Wait”, and the Slick Rick-inspired “Knock Em Out” – lots of timeless KRS bangers on this LP.
Like his last album Between Da Protests (2020), which was quite good too, I M A M C R U 1 2 will suffer from underpromotion and disinterest (read disrespect) from mainstream Hip Hop outlets and uninformed younger Hip Hop listeners – but here at HHGA, we know what’s up and who is the GOAT. KRS-One is the top 1 of the top 5, and that’s the end of it. Fresh for ’22, you suckers…
Release date: February 22, 2022.
Black Star & Madlib - No Fear Of Time
After 24 years, No Fear Of Time finally reunites one of the greatest Hip Hop duos of all time—yasiin bey (f.k.a. as Mos Def) and Talib Kweli are Black Star. Recorded guerrilla-style in hotel rooms and dressing rooms around the globe, the 9-track album has a future vibe with vintage soul, fitting for one of the most anticipated releases in decades.
Too bad attention for No Fear Of Time will suffer from its terrible roll-out – the album was exclusively released on the podcast platform Luminary, which will severely limit exposure to wider audiences. A shame because No Fear Of Time signifies a great return for Black Star. The album is entirely produced by the iconic Madlib, who brought a fantastic crop of trippy instrumentals – without intending to take away anything from yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli’s bars and flows (not to mention those of guest emcee Black Thought), but Madlib’s musical backdrops arguably are the strongest aspect of the album.
There’s no sense in comparing No Fear Of Time to the classic Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, with almost a quarter-century between them this tight little project is no follow-up or continuation of early Black Star in any way, nor should it be. What No Fear Of Time is, is an intriguing renewed collaboration of two Hip Hop greats, bolstered by the production of a third legendary name who also came up in the late 1990s. If No Fear Of Time will be mentioned in the same breath as Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star 25 years down the line is doubtful, but it doesn’t matter: this is a great piece of Hip Hop whichever way you look at it.
Release date: May 3, 2022.
Homeboy Sandman & Deca - Still Champion
The soulful and upbeat Still Champion is one of Homeboy Sandman’s finest albums, the Queens underground rap veteran’s unique spoken-word-style flow perfectly gelling with Deca’s captivating soundscapes. Short, but sweet.
Release date: November 11, 2022.
Phife Dawg - Forever
Forever arrives exactly six years after the untimely death of A Tribe Called Quest icon Phife Dawg from diabetes-related complications at the age of 45 on March 22, 2016. Posthumous releases are hard to pull off, but fortunately Forever is an example of a posthumous album done right. Forever is largely based on unfinished demos – executive producer DJ Rasta Root did a great job overseeing the molding of the available material into a cohesive whole. It’s also obvious Phife Dawg’s friends and loved ones were intimately involved (his mother has a touching spoken word interlude right in the middle of the album to prove that point, Q-Tip’s emotional hook on “Dear Dilla” is another). Beats from J Dilla, Nottz, 9th Wonder, and Khrysis (among others) and appearances from Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Redman, Maseo and Pos of De La Soul, Rapsody, and Little Brother (among others) help round out a what is a respectful and at times heartbreaking send-off for one of the most likable characters in Hip Hop history.
Release date: March 22, 2022
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.
Release date: June 28, 2022.
Curren$y & The Alchemist - Continuance
Mostly everything iconic producer The Alchemist touches turns to gold, ever since his mid-90s work with Mobb Deep – but especially the last couple of years. His albums with Boldy James (The Price Of Tea In China, Bo Jackson), Armand Hammer (Haram), and Freddie Gibbs (Alfredo) are among the best of the years they were released in. In 2022 it’s New Orleans rapper Curren$y who gets to benefit from The Alchemist’s superior production on their fourth collaborative project, Continuance. Curren$y’s low-key classic Covert Coup (2011) showcased the duo’s chemistry for the first time, and they doubled down on it on The Carrollton Heist (2016) and especially on Fetti, the amazing EP Curren$y and The Alchemist did with Freddie Gibbs in 2018. With Continuance, they continue their streak of excellence.
Uncle Al’s lush sonics are tailormade for Curren$y’s chilled-out flows, and well-placed features from the likes of Boldy James, Havoc, Wiz Khalifa, Styles P, Babyface Ray, and Larry June provide the icing on the cake. Continuance is a concise but fully realized front-to-end listen, with no weak spots at all.
Release date: February 18, 2022.
DJ Muggs & Rigz - Gold
The iconic DJ Muggs has been on an incredible roll in the last couple of years. In 2021, he was responsible for two of the year’s best projects – CARTAGENA (with CRIMEAPPLE) and especially Death & The Magician (with Rome Streetz). Muggs has been a master-producer of dark, sinister instrumentals ever since his Cypress Hill days in the early 1990s, and this time around it’s Rochester emcee Rigz (from Da Cloth) who gets to benefit from Muggs’ elite production. Rigz’s 2021 sophomore solo album Wake Ups was pretty good, but Gold is his absolute best work yet – thanks to Muggs’ atmospheric instrumentals which are perfectly suited for Rigz’s smooth flows and Griselda-style street raps. Meyhem Lauren, Rome Streetz, Big Twins, Mooch, Rob Gates, Times Change, and MAV show up to add extra flavor and to help round out what is one of the best Hip Hop albums released in January.
Release date: January 14, 2022.
bRavenous - Ghosts Of Rockingham Vol 1 / Ghosts Of Rockingham Vol 2
bRavenous is a Canadian emcee, hailing from Rockingham, Nova Scotia. His previous two albums – Between The Lines and Flaunting Imperfections – were among the best ‘traditional’ boom-bap albums of the years they were released in, 2020 and 2021 respectively. Ghosts Of Rockingham is even better and bRavenous’ best album yet – no weak spots among the 15 tracks on this LP. Ghosts Of Rockingham is not ‘just’ a throwback album, musically it’s fresher and better-rounded than most of the dozens of other 90s-centric boom-bap albums out these days – if you’re going to pick up only one true-school Hip Hop album this year, make sure it is this one.
Ghosts Of Rockingham was released in March, and in July it was followed by Ghosts Of Rockingham 2 – which is just about as good, and one of our favorite albums released in July. Looking for fresh-sounding 90s-centric boom-bap Hip Hop? bRavenous got you covered.
Release date: March 18, 2022 / July 29, 2022.
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.
Release date: April 8, 2022.
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.
Release date: April 29, 2022.
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.
Release date: May 6, 2022.
Hush & Bobby J From Rockaway - 7182313
7182313 is the long-awaited collaboration album between Queens, NYC rapper Bobby J From Rockaway and Detroit veteran artist/producer Hush. The album title refers to the ZIP codes of both NYC & Detroit respectively and the joining of forces between the two cities’ rich Hip Hop scenes. The album boasts high-profile guest appearances from the likes of Daru Jones, Trick Trick, Guilty Simpson, Marv Won, Kwamé, Lil Dee, DJ Rob Swift, DJ Godfather, and Ro Spit among others. With 11 of the 13 tracks produced by Hush, 7182313 takes the listener on an audiovisual tour through both cities by showcasing the best talent each region has to offer.
Hush’s production is dope as f and the bars and wordplay of Hush, Bobby J, and guests are top-notch. If not for a couple of tracks with (as far as we are concerned) out-of-place poppy production and hooks (“Kolm” and “Running” most notably) this album would have ended up even higher on this list – but as it is this is a must-listen anyway, especially for Hip Hop traditionalists. Favorite tracks: “The Truest”, “Let The Opera Sing”, “Oh Yeah”, “Capers”, and “Posse Cut”.
Release date: June 28, 2022.
Short Fuze - The Painkiller Boutique
“Short Fuze’s words cut through you as they pour out of the deep crevices of his many identities. A proud Chicagoan, a proud Mexican, a re-formed gang member, a person with a physical disability, a young father, a young grandfather, a dedicated lover of Hip Hop and so much more. The Painkiller Boutique dives in feet first with “Drowning In My Own Skin” breaking down his journey navigating being multi-racial and also dealing with physical disabilities. From there we follow his ups and downs, joys and pains, and his growth as a man in modern times. The album deals with overcoming childhood and adulthood trauma. The record also touches on self-reflection, aging, debilitating chronic pain, overcoming broken homes, and mistakes made while on the journey for fulfillment and happiness.
Short Fuze’s wisdom is backed primarily by production from Upstate New York Producer Dr. Khil who brings fully programmed drum kits to life balanced against emotive keys, organs, and synths. Short Fuze also calls upon Uncommon Nasa, Bloodmoney Perez, and Messiah Musik for additional production on the album. He’s also joined by fellow Chicago emcees Defcee and Collosoul Structure, and his long-time collaborator Uncommon Nasa on the mic.”
Intensely personal and emotional at times, but the ‘realness’ of The Painkiller Boutique is what makes this album something special. Also, the slightly left-field instrumentals are dope as f too – so there’s no going wrong with this Short Fuze project. Don’t sleep.
Release date: October 14, 2022.
Fly Anakin - Frank
Fly Anakin’s Frank draws influence from the classic R&B and Soul his father played him as a child, showcasing a gift for songwriting alongside the high-pitched raps he’s become known for. Recorded at the same time as FlySiifu’s, it features Pink Siifu on the DJ Harrison produced “Black Be The Source”, as well as link-ups with Fly Anakin’s mentor Nickelus F, and fellow Mutant Academicians Big Kahuna OG and Henny L.O. Fly Anakin’s delivery and style fit the shadowy beats like a glove, there’s an ethereal aspect to Frank that transcends the ‘standard’ stoner vibes that usually characterizes this kind of Hip Hop. Fly Anakin’s recent run of EPs has been hit-or-miss, but this full-length debut is a multi-layered piece of top-notch music from start to finish.
Release date: March 11, 2022.
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 Nebula, Lord 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.
Release date: April 30, 2022.
Meyhem Lauren & Daringer - Black Vladimir
Black Vladimir is Queens-based rapper Meyhem Lauren’s eighth full-length studio album, and it’s his best release to date – largely thanks to Daringer’s menacing production. Daringer’s signature sound is a perfect fit for Meyhem Lauren’s booming baritone and his gritty street raps, while guest rappers Action Bronson, Conway the Machine, Westside Gunn, Hologram, Elcamino, and Flee Lord showed up to provide the icing on the cake. Lots of similar albums out these days, but Black Vladimir is one of the best of the year in this ‘noir-rap’ subgenre.
Release date: August 26, 2022.
Libretto & Vitamin D - Rusty Bladez
“Libretto returns for his sixth full-length album entitled Rusty Bladez, and is accompanied by Seattle legend Vitamin D handling all production duties, plus a few standout verses of his own. As evidenced by his inmate ID on the cover, Libretto’s meditations on his time spent in the Federal Penitentiary system run throughout the entirety of Rusty Bladez. Libretto recounts in vivid detail the experiences and lifestyle that led him there, and his experiences and mental state once released. Rarely has an album so clearly captured a mood, and provided the type of first-person insight that is captured on Rusty Bladez. Helping round out the complete picture, Libretto & Vitamin D are joined on the album by top-notch lyricists and vocalists including Roc Marciano, Guilty Simpson, Gift of Gab [R.I.P], Planet Asia, Keisha Plum, Jumbo (Lifesavas), Toni Hill, Syndel, and more.”
Portland, Oregon’s Libretto is an emcee who deserves more spotlight than he had up to now. His voice and flow are great, and his content is strong too. Will Rusty Bladez finally bring him wider recognition? Let’s hope so – in any case: those into soulful 90s-centric boom-bap instrumentals complemented by powerful bars better go give Rusty Bladez a listen.
Release date: May 10, 2022.
Elzhi & Georgia Anne Muldrow - Zhigeist
Zhigeist is Detroit-based Elzhi’s fourth studio album. Elzhi with Georgia Anne Muldrow is an unusual pairing, and although we prefer to hear Elzhi rhyming over more boom-bap-centered production, this collaboration works. As always, Georgia Anne Muldrow’s music has an experimental edge to it but is easy-listening as well this time around, with lots of room for Elzhi’s superior skills to take center stage. Elzhi is one of the best all-around emcees active in the last two decades – his flow, cadence, diction, and wordplay are always top-tier. His solo-debut The Preface is one of the best albums released in 2008, his take on Nas’s Illmatic – Elmatic (2011) – is one of the best mixtapes of the 2010s, his intensely personal sophomore album Lead Poison was a stand-out in 2016, and his third studio album Seven Times Down Eight Times Up was in our top 10 of 2020.
Elzhi’s pen game is strong as ever on Zhigeist – his bars are thoughtful, thought-provoking, even touching at times. Zhigeist clocks in at under 40 minutes, which makes it feel kind of ‘breezy’, at least compared to Elzhi’s earlier albums. That said: there’s enough lyrical substance here to give this album weight. We’d love to see Elzhi teaming up with Georgia Anne Muldrow again somewhere in the future, after an album with more traditional boom-bap production maybe.
Release date: March 11, 2022.
Vic Spencer & August Fanon - Psychological Cheat Sheet 3
Chicago emcee Vic Spencer has been dropping heat for a while now, with numerous dope projects every year. His Spencer For Higher series (with Sonnyjim) and the Psychological Cheat Sheet albums constitute some of our favorite works of his. Like the previous ones, Psychological Cheat Sheet 3 is produced entirely by the underappreciated August Fanon – who always manages to put his own authentic stamp on anything he produces. His ethereal instrumentals here are flawless and tailor-made for Vic Spencer’s distinct baritone, his off-beat flow, and his stream-of-consciousness rhyming. Most of his work is worth listening to, but this one is one of Vic Spencer’s best yet.
Release date: September 16, 2022.
Denzel Curry - Melt My Eyez See Your Future
TA13OO (2018) is Denzel Curry’s magnum opus and one of our favorite alt-trap albums ever. Psychedelic, atmospheric, hard-hitting, and unpredictable – TA13OO is a masterpiece. Zel’s other projects are all quality too, so expectations for Melt My Eyez See Your Future were sky-high, and fortunately, expectations are met – for the most part, that is.
The first two songs – “Melt Session #1” and “Walkin’” make up for the best opening salvo of any album this year, and the third track “Worst Come To Worst” is just as good. The rest of the album is more of a mixed bag though – it is the jazzy boom-bap and neo-soul-tinged side of the album that is the strongest, but there are a couple of trap-flavored songs (“X-Wing” most notably) that bring the album down a little. But because Melt My Eyez See Your Future luckily is boom-bap and neo-soul dominant, it is a strong project overall – Denzel Curry’s most conscious yet, and one on which he shows personal growth and increasing maturity.
Denzel Curry works with a diverse set of producers here – from JPEGMAFIA to Kenny Beats, to Thundercat, to Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper, and others – and collaborators like Saul Williams, T-Pain, JID, and slowthai: the list of producers and featured artists says enough about the musical diversity of the album. Because of its raw intensity, TA13OO remains Denzel Curry’s best and most defining work, but the commercially more viable Melt My Eyez See Your Future is a pretty strong album too.
Release date: March 25, 2022.
Coast Contra - Apt. 505
Coast Contra is a group consisting of Ras and Taj Austin (sons of West Coast rap legend Ras Kass), Teedra Moses, and Rio Loz. Their debut LP Apt. 505 is an interesting album, this quartet manages to seamlessly blend modern rap vibes with early 90s-style Hip Hop in the vein of acts like The Pharcyde and Souls Of Mischief – with the same kind of infectious energy that made listening to these iconic acts so much fun. Apt. 505 holds a lot of promise for future Coast Contra projects, keep an eye on these guys. Favorite tracks: “Pimpin’ Benjamin” and “Pangea”.
Release date: March 24, 2022.
Pusha T - It's Almost Dry
It’s Almost Dry is Pusha T’s long-awaited and highly anticipated fourth studio album, serving as a follow-up to his third studio album, DAYTONA, four years after its release. DAYTONA was great but not a ‘real’ album as far as we are concerned – at about 20 minutes the project is short even for an EP. It’s Almost Dry is longer but at 35 minutes the album is still very concise for an LP. Now, was It’s Almost Dry worth the four-year wait? Not really, unfortunately. On a 35-minute project, EVERYTHING has perfect, no misses can be afforded. And It’s Almost Dry has a couple of misses, most notably the pretty bad “Scrape It Off The Top” and the sleep-inducing “Call My Bluff”. With exception of the impactful album closer “I Pray For You” the whole back half of the album underwhelms in comparison with the much better first half, honestly. The involvement of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Kid Cudi, and Pusha T’s brother and Clipse partner Malice doesn’t prevent It’s Almost Dry from being a bit of a mixed bag.
No doubt many people will have It’s Almost Dry in their AOTY conversation, simply because it’s a Pusha T project and lots of listeners and critics seem preconditioned to love everything Pusha T does just because. We keep an open mind though, and from It’s Almost Dry we will keep the first six and the last track, and forget the rest. For Pusha T’s most accomplished work we will keep going back to his first two Clipse albums, and his best solo project King Push (2015).
Pusha T’s delivery and flow are strong as always and despite the staleness of the subject matter his coke raps still entertain – so don’t get it wrong: It’s Almost Dry is a fine listen and a solid enough addition to Pusha T’s discography. It contains some really great tracks – “Brambleton”, “Diet Coke”, “Neck & Wrist”, “Just So You Remember”, and “I Pray For You” especially – it just isn’t the classic we still expect to get from King Push someday.
Release date: April 22, 2022.
Joey Bada$$ - 2000
Pro Era chief Joey Bada$$’s third studio album 2000 is a solid record, but not the long-awaited return we were hoping for. Joey Bada$$´s debut album B4.DA.$$ (2015) was more fun and more consistent, and its follow-up All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ (2017) was more forward-thinking and more thought-provoking. Also, the album’s cover hints at a return to the classic sounds of Bada$$’s iconic debut mixtape 1999 (2012) – but 2000 is nothing alike really. What 2000 is, is a competently crafted middle-of-the-road Hip Hop album, with great flows and bars from Joey Bada$$ on occasion, supported by dope beats here and there. At the same time, the album is let down in places by bland cross-over instrumentals in other places, corny pop hooks on some songs, and wack features – most notably by the insufferable Chris Brown, who is one of the last persons we’d ever want to hear on a Joey Bada$$ joint.
All that probably sounds more negative than it should – despite its shortcomings 2000 is a thoroughly entertaining piece of music, just not as good or as impactful as we expected from an artist of Joey Bada$$’s caliber.
Release date: July 22, 2022.
Westside Gunn - 10
Griselda has been dominating and determining the direction of underground Hip Hop for a couple of years now, and the one person responsible for Griselda’s rise to prominence and dominance is Westside Gunn, a natural entrepreneur with a sharp eye for style and a great ear for beats. Westside Gunn’s 10th and final installment in the Hitler Wears Hermes series is everything Griselda and WSG fans could hope for. The feature list is incredible (A$AP Rocky, Stove God Cooks, Black Star (Yasiin Bey & Talib Kweli), Rome Streetz, Busta Rhymes, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Run The Jewels, Benny the Butcher, Armani Caesar, Conway the Machine appear, among others), most performances are good, and production is elite (RZA, Conductor Williams, Swizz Beatz, Pete Rock, and The Alchemist contribute, among others) – in fact, the production is the best aspect of this project. We’ve never been big fans of WSG’s voice and adlibs though, and for us, it is his presence that brings down some songs and the project as a whole. But because it’s the features that carry the tape, it often feels like WSG is a guest on his own project – which is a good thing, really.
10 is not the best installment in the HWH series, but it’s definitely top 5, and a great way to close the series out. We didn’t like all tracks (the trap-tinged “Fly God Jr” opening song being our least favorite, together with the 3-minute spoken-word intro: that’s the weakest two tracks first), but the overall balance is positive – especially the second half of the project is dope as f, and that includes the Alchemist-produced 10-minute posse cut “Red Death” that serves as the last song of the tape and as a fittingly epic end of the series.
Release date: October 28, 2022.
Vince Staples - RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART
RAMONA PARK BROKE MY HEART is a personal and introspective, a smooth West Coast Hip Hop album filled with nostalgic content and laid-back vibes. The mainstream-friendly beats are on point, and lyrically Vince Staples is as strong as ever – making for an accessible and chilled-out listening experience all the way through. RPBMH is one of Vince Staples’ better albums, more fully realized than the two short projects preceding it in any case, with ‘full’ songs on it this time around. RPBMH is Vince Staples’ debut studio album Summertime ’06 (2015) remains his best work, RPBMH comes close though.
Release date: April 8, 2022.
Full honorable mentions list here.
9 Best Albums + Honorable Mentions Month By Month
Best Hip Hop EPs Of 2022
- Che Noir – The Last Remnants
- Tek & Big Head Science – TekSmokeeLah
- Big Kahuna OG & Graymatter – Metal Gear Solid
- Napoleon Da Legend & Sicknature – The Colossus of GOATS
- Mach-Hommy & Tha God Fahim – Duck CZN: Tiger Style
- Monday Night & Heather Grey – Soon You’ll Understand
- RJ Payne & Stu Bangas – My Life Iz A Movie
- Tha God Fahim & Jay Nice – Bloodspiller
- A.G. (D.I.T.C.) – Giant in the Mental
- Empuls – Astronaut Visions
- Moka Only – Midnight Sessions
- Brother Ali – Goin’ Through It
- 38 Spesh – 7 Shots
- Raze The Ratchet – Beautiful Decadence
- Andrew Broder – Sleeping Car Porters
- Eff Yoo & Rob Viktum – Charismatic Disrespect
- Ankhlejohn – Found Lonely in Las Vegas
- SonnyJim & The Purist – White Girl Wasted
- Tesla’s Ghost & Level 13 – Fort Vallance EP
- Big Kahuna OG – Blockavelli 2
- Milez Grimez & DJ Mekalek – Funkshwā
- Killah Priest – M.O.T.H.E.R
- Mickey Diamond – And His Name Was Death
- Guilty Simpson – Guilt
- Vic Spencer & Small Professor – Mudslide
- RZA Presents: Bobby Digital and the Pit of Snakes
- Ruste Juxx & Zealot of FWM – Ruste Juxx EP
- Pharoahe Monch – Get Down EP
- Bucky Luger – Predator
- Ankhlejohn – The Four Knights Game 2
- Daniel Son, 36 Cypher & Futurewave – As The Crow Flies
- Crimeapple & DJ Skizz – Breakfast in Hradec
- Mach-Hommy & Tha God Fahim – Dump Gawd: Triz 9
- no1semach1ne & Planet Asia – The Degree
- Dres (Black Sheep) & Stu Bangas – Sheep Stu EP
- TooBusy & Recognize Ali – No Games Strictly Bizniz
- Lord Juco & Finn – Company
- MC Ren (N.W.A.) & Tha Chill – Osiris
- Raz Fresco & Nicholas Craven – Boulangerie
- Hus Kingpin – Threesome 3: The Voyeur Edition
- Your Old Droog – YOD Stewart
- Bishop Nehru – Heroin Addiction
- Novatore – Master Of Morbid Creations
- Rick Hyde – Stima
- Comet & Swab – Authentic Kloth
- Trillmatic & Conway the Machine – Organized Grime 2
- Canibus & Pete Rock – C
- Action Bronson – Cocodrillo Turbo
- MC Eiht – Revolution in Progress
- Rockness Monsta – Chronicles of the Most High
- AJ Suede & Small Professor – Hundred-Year Darkness
- Sankofa – Legacy Materials
- RZA & DJ Scratch – Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater
- Your Old Droog & Nicholas Craven – YOD Wave
- ONYX – 1993
- Snotty – Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Hus Kingpin – Bjorkingpin
- Homeboy Sandman & Illingsworth – There In Spirit
- Tha God Fahim & DUS – One Thousand And One Nights
- Jynx716 & Che Noir – Careful What You Wish For
- Duncecap – Go Climb a Tree
- Scienz Of Life – Change Ya Views
- Aesop Rock & Blockhead – The Recycling Bin EP
- Earl Sweatshirt – SICK!
- Ally Vyne – American Winter
- RJ Payne – Beautiful Payne 4
- Karpenters (Kool Keith & Grant Shapiro) – Still Doing It
- Koncept Jack$on & Bane Capital – Good Product
- Kota the Friend – Lyrics to GO Vol. 3
- V Don – Better Than Money
- Buckwild – Diggin’ In The Tuff Kong Crates
- Conway The Machine – The Missing Bricks
- The Musalini & 9th Wonder – The Don & Eye
- Geechi Suede – SaPpHirE KiTcHeN
- Killah Priest – The Three Fantastic Supermen Epics
- Daniel Son & Futurewave – Son Tzu & The Wav.God
Best Instrumental Hip Hop Albums Of 2022
- DJ Too Tuff – Behold The Detonator
- Mike & Keys Presents: Midnight Mirage Instrumentals Vol. 2
- Apollo Brown – This Must Be The Place
- Mix Master Mike – Ready Slayer One
- Pete Rock – Petestrumentals 4
- DJ Qbert – Next Cosmos
- Small Professor – the next (temporal pincer) movement
Best Hip Hop Adjacent Albums Of 2022
- Sampa The Great – As Above, So Below
- Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen
- Moor Mother – Jazz Codes
Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021
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