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list Aug 30 2022 Written by

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022

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 half 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, Jay-Z’s Blueprint 4, and Nas’ King’s Disease III 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), Freddie Gibbs (Soul Sold Separately), and Danny Brown (Quaranta).

As always on our best-of-the-year lists, not included are instrumental albumscompilations, 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: August 30. Latest entries: #1 Danger Mouse & Black Thought – Cheat Codes; #3 Roc Marciano & The Alchemist – The Elephant Man’s Bones; #5 JID – The Forever Story; #7 ShrapKnel – Metal Lung; #37 Meyhem Lauren & Daringer – Black Vladimir; #39 Alsace Carcione – Luto; #43 The Silversmiths – The Beat Shall Inherit The Verse; #46 Bloodmoney Perez – Curses

Also check: Greatest Hip Hop Albums 1980 – 2021 & Top 250 Hip Hop Albums Of All Time

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022

Danger Mouse & Black Thought - Cheat Codes

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 not a long album, 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.

Top-tier production and lyricism – Cheat Codes is one of the best Hip Hop albums released in 2022.

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 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 – Aethiopes is 2022’s first AOTY-contender.

Release date: April 8, 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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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 the year 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, one of the best Hip Hop albums of the year so far.

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.

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.

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.

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 great 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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

KRS-One - I M A M C R U 1 2

KRS-One - I M A M C R U 1 2 | Review

“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 tooI 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.

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 ChinaBo 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.

AA Rashid & DirtyDiggs - The Nod

Los Angeles rapper AA Rashid teamed up with production duo DirtyDiggs for The Nod, an album that manages to stand out from the crowd because of its dreamlike left-field instrumentals, and AA Rashid’s off-the-wall flows and clever free-associative lyrics that mesh perfectly with the idiosyncratic beats. Features from Planet Asia, Tristate, and RedPill help round out what is our favorite project released in the month of July.

Release date: July 12, 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.

Tom Caruana - Strange Planet

Tom Caruana is a producer from Britain, and the conceptual Strange Planet is his best project yet. For this LP he recruited a host of top-notch American and British underground emcees – most notable among them Prince Po, billy woods, Mr. Lif, Denmark Vessey, Boog Brown, Paten Locke, and Jehst. Tom Caruana cooked up a potent mix of 90s-centric boom-bap and experimental, futuristic beats for Strange Planet – the result is a surprisingly cohesive album with a sound that definitely is not thirteen to a dozen, an album that manages to captivate from start to finish. Strange Planet invites requires and rewards repeated listens – there’s a lot of musical and lyrical depth to decipher. Take your time, open your mind, and allow yourself to be swept away by the beautiful and refreshing Strange Planet.

Release date: March 4, 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 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.

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.

Alsace Carcione - Luto

Alsace Carcione is an artist from Dallas, Texas, and Luto (the Portuguese word for ‘mourning’) is her first full-length release since 2015’s Cryptic Conundrum. That’s a long time between projects, but in this case, the wait was worth it. Luto is an outstanding piece of music, with a 14-song tracklist composed of nothing but captivating instrumentals and thoughtful, emotionally-charged lyrical content.

In Alsace Carcione’s own words: “This project was a process to create because it dwelt with confronting massive levels of pain and hurt. After experiencing some of the darkest days imaginable, I went through a period of grief and intense mourning. Luto, the perfect word to describe my state of mind, that is a constant battle to acknowledge but not to dwell in. I claim victory over loss, this is that story.”

Don’t sleep on Alsace Carcione and her Luto, this is one of the best albums released in August.

Release date: August 12, 2022.

Backburner - Continuum

Backburner is a collective composed of Canada’s best underground Hip Hop artists, and Continuum is their third (and best) album. Production is handled by Fresh Kils, Uncle Fester, Ghettosocks, Tim, MisterE, Savilion, Beat Mason, and Peter Project, and to take care of the vocals there are appearances from Backburner members Chokeules, Ghettosocks, Psybo, Frank Deluxe, Thesis Sahib, Ginzeintriplicate, More Or Les, Wordburglar, Jesse Dangerously, Timbuktu, Savilion, Mister E, Ambition, Jay Bizzy, and guest verses from Mega Ran, Aquakultre, Sean One, Tachichi, and Nilla. It is often said that too many cooks in the kitchen will spoil the broth, but that doesn’t apply in this case. Over the course of fifteen banging tracks, Backburner and guests manage to come off with infectious energy, making for a cohesive, entertaining, and fun album that will especially delight fans of early-90s positive-vibed East Coast Hip Hop.

Release date: February 11, 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.

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. 

The Silversmiths - The Beat Shall Inherit The Verse

The Silversmiths are a duo composed of regular collaborators JON?DOE and Sankofa. The two worked with producer Agent Orange for The Beat Shall Inherit The Verse, who reemerged from an extended absence to help finish this album years in the making. It’s a good thing this project wasn’t lost because it is a fun and infectious listen. Fresh, slightly left-field boom-bap beats and energetic back-and-forth wordplay – The Beat Shall Inherit The Verse is a great album, uncomplicated and unpretentious but entertaining and enjoyable to the max.

Release date: August 25, 2022.

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 set 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.

Release date: April 22, 2022.

Sankofa - BLKTCHP2

“Boom-bap with wicked lyrics making the tunes slap.” Sankofa is an emcee from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and BLKCHP2 is one of the many strong projects he dropped in the past couple of years, and his best of the year as far we’re concerned. The album is a continuation of last year’s BLKCHP, and like its predecessor, it is another kick-ass presentation of soulful boom-bap and dope wordplay – also like BLKCHP somewhat darker than most of his other releases. Go and check Sankofa out if you’ve slept on him up to now, you will not regret it.

Release date: July 28, 2022.

Bloodmoney Perez - Curses

Bloodmoney Perez’s Second Hand Accounts is our favorite album released in January of this year, and this follow-up is excellent too. It’s built on unfinished cuts at the time of the recording of Second Hand Accounts, songs that clearly were too good to keep unfinished and shelved. Baltimore producer Messiah Musik once again took care of most of the production duties, and AJ Suede, Sleep Sinatra, and Blu show up for “Dante’s Inferno” – one of the best posse cuts you’ll hear this year.  Curses is a concise but well-rounded project, a must-have for those who also liked Second Hand Accounts. 

Release date: August 26, 2022.

Che Noir - Food For Thought

Buffalo, New York-native Che Noir’s Food For Thought is a solid follow-up to As God Intended, one of the best Hip Hop albums released in 2020. As God Intended is a more fully realized project, not just because of Apollo Brown’s direction but also because it’s 15 minutes longer. At 34 minutes, Food For Thought is too short to consider it a proper LP, but thankfully the content that’s there is consistently strong. Despite the number of different producers involved (CartuneBeatz, TrickyTrippz, Gods Children, Chup, JR Swiftz, Motif Alumni, and Che Noir herself) Food For Thought is surprisingly cohesive – with stylish boom-bap beats that serve as fitting backdrops for Che Noir’s bars. Her voice and flow are great, and she has something to say too. Strong guest appearances from Ransom, 38 Spesh, Rome Streetz, Jynx716, 7xvethegenius, and Armani Ceasar add extra value. A little more substance to the tracklist would have made the album more memorable, but overall Food For Thought is a dope project that serves as a confirmation – Che Noir is one of the finest emcees out there today. Favorite tracks: “Split The Bread”, “Ladies Brunch”, “Table For 3”, “Gold Cutlery”, and especially “Brains For Dinner”.

Release date: January 21, 2021.

AJ Suede - Oil On Canvas

Oil On Canvas is Seattle-based artist AJ Suede’s third project of the year, following on Metatron’s Cube (January) and Hundred Year Darkness (April). Metatron’s Cube is one of the best Hip Hop albums released in January, and Oil On Canvas is just about as good. Where Metatron’s Cube was produced by Blue Sky Black Death’s Televangel, Oil On Canvas is entirely self-produced – showing AJ Suede is as strong on the boards as he is on the mic. His semi-abstract wordplay perfectly meshes with his sample-based psychedelic beats, resulting in a slightly left-field Hip Hop album with lots of replay value.

Release date: August 5, 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.

Prop Dylan - Bushido Code

Prop Dylan’s fifth studio album Bushido Code is an ode to the alternative lifestyle. It’s also a roadmap taking us from Prop Dylan’s hometown streets of Borlänge, through Southern Europe, and all the way to Detroit City. The majority of beats (10 of the 14 tracks) on Bushido Code have been supplied by Detroit’s producer extraordinaire Apollo Brown, whilst Gravy Sparks and DJ Connect produced the remaining songs. Elzhi from Detroit appears as a featuring guest, as do Termanology and Fashawn who feature on two different tracks. Cosmic from Looptroop Rockers and the soul singer Erik Runeson add the final pieces to the album.

Release date: May 6, 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.

Chill Rob G - Empires Crumble

33 years after his classic debut Ride The Rhythm, iconic Flavor Unit co-founder Chill Rob G returns to the scene with the surprisingly strong Empires Crumble, released on Chuck D’s SpitSlam Record Label Group. Featuring a Flavor Unit reunion with Double J, God Lakim (formerly Lakim Shabazz), and The 45 King on “F.U. (Rockin Wit The Best)”, Rob also teams up with Chuck D to present a rugged new version of his 1990 hit “The Power”. The rest of the tracklist is solid as f too – C-Doc’s production is fresh and consistently strong, and sharp cuts & scratches on almost every track give the whole album that late 1980s/early 1990s feel, without sounding dated at all. Empires Crumble is a dope album, a must-listen for those who were rocking with Chill Rob G and his Ride The Rhythm back in the day, and for younger listeners who know and appreciate Hip Hop history too.

Release date: March 4, 2022.

ILL Conscious & Mute Won - Acres Of Diamonds

Acres Of Diamonds is Baltimore-based emcee ILL Conscious’s fourth LP, this one solely produced by Camden, NJ’s Mute Won. On Acres Of Diamonds, ILL Conscious comes with some of his best content to date – this album is filled with strong storytelling and vivid lyrical imagery from start to finish. Mute Won’s instrumentals are dope as f too – which means you can’t go wrong with Acres Of Diamonds.

Release date: January 28, 2022.

IM'PERETIV - Burial Plots & Pyramid Schemes

Burial Plots & Pyramid Schemes is the first full-length project from Canadian producer IM’PERETIV. The album features appearances from a host of underground spitters, including the likes of Benny the Butcher, Elcamino, Daniel Son, Asun Eastwood, and Josiah the Gift, plus sharp cuts & scratches from Dystrakted. IM’PERETIV’s beats are dope as f, in the vein of the dark and gritty sounds you know from top-tier producers like The Alchemist and Daringer. With fourteen full tracks, this is a fully realized record composed of nothing but killer instrumentals and hard street raps – no doubt about it: Burial Plots & Pyramid Schemes is one of the best underground projects of 2022.

Release date: April 1, 2022.

Pan Amsterdam & Damu The Fudgemunk - EAT

EAT is the brand new album from your favorite rapper trumpeter, Pan Amsterdam. Made with fans of both food and Hip Hop in mind, the LP opens up a new pocket in the Pan Am dimension: the rapper-producer album. The whole thing’s a collaboration with underground legend and Def Pressé family Damu The Fudgemunk. Perceiving the world in terms of taste, EAT is musically wistfully joyous, and lyrically playful – a full menu with Pan Am your maître d’, and Damu the chef du cuisine. Damu’s beats are deep, warm, melodic, and progressive, a perfect playground for the duality of Pan Am’s beat poetry and Leron’s caressing trumpet, which as always is a persona in itself.”

Damu The Fudgemunk doesn’t miss, and his production on EAT is jazzy and tasteful – a joy to listen to. Pan Amsterdam’s vocals may not be for everybody: his idiosyncratic spoken word flows and semi-abstract oddball bars certainly are ‘different’, something like what a hybrid of Guilty Simpson and MF DOOM would sound like. EAT is a unique piece of music, an album that may require a few listening sessions to be able to fully appreciate it but one that will certainly grow on you.

Release date: June 24, 2022

Wilma Vritra - Grotto

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.

Release date: May 6, 2022.

Napoleon Da Legend & Just Music Beats - Modus Operandi

Prolific bilingual Comoros-born, Brooklyn-based emcee Napoleon Da Legend closed out 2021 in a strong way with the dope The World Changed LP (his best project of 2021), and just two months later he returned with his next album: Modus Operandi – a collaboration with French Marseille-based production duo Just Music Beats. Modus Operandi is a dark and melodic boom-bap album, with great beats complemented by dope bars and flows from Napoleon Da Legend and guests like Torae and The Bad Seed.

Release date: January 14, 2022. 

Snowgoons - Renaissance Kings

The Snowgoons are a team of Hip Hop producers based in Germany, consisting of DJ Illegal, Det, Sicknature & J.SKuster. Throughout the years, the buzz surrounding the Snowgoons has steadily escalated as their gritty, authentic, and eclectic beats have gained recognition in both the US as well as within the burgeoning European Hip Hop scenes. 

The Snowgoons philosophy is simple: if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. They can always be relied on to come up with banging bombastic bass-heavy boom-bap beats and they always manage to recruit a host of top-tier emcees to take care of the vocals – on Renaissance Kings, there are bars from Billy Danze, Fredro Starr, Sadat X, Cappadonna, Bronze Nazareth, Slaine, Ransom, Chi-Ali, Royal Flush, Napoleon Da Legend, Ty Farris, Rasheed Chappell, Nems, Reef The Lost Cauze, the late Sean Price, and many many more. The 90s-centric Renaissance Kings is a dope album – it gives you exactly what you’d expect from Snowgoons, and that’s perfectly alright.

Release date: January 14, 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.

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.

Honorable Mentions

Full honorable mentions list here.

Best Hip Hop EPs Of 2022

  • 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

  • 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

  • Moor Mother – Jazz Codes

Best Compilation Albums Of 2022

  • Bumpy Knuckles & DJ Enyoutee – Produced by Bumpy Knuckles Vol. 2

Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021

Click here or on the image for the full list.

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2021

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10 responses to “The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022”

  1. Dan Wade says:

    The Musalini & 9th Wonder’s new project is dope!

  2. MainSource says:

    Napolean da legend got AOTY so far. Gold and Metatron’s Cube is nice but nah man Napo got a really strong album.

  3. Dan Wade says:

    Nicholas Craven’s “Craven N 3” should be in EPs of the year, “Breaking Atoms” with Evidence is one of the best tracks of the year.

  4. Dea Phiri says:

    No Blackstar?

  5. duhhaag says:

    Just because its Kendrick doesnt mean its a good album, def not an AOTY contender

  6. Dan Wade says:

    IAMGAWD x The Black Depths – Murder House is an incredible album. Seek it out.

  7. kips says:

    check out exociety, them dudes released an album in march, all their solo discogs are goated

  8. Chris says:

    Check out The Hardcore Composer 2

  9. Funky Boy says:

    Seriously? Drill Music in Zion is lower than KRS One album? Drill Music In Zion definitely deserves top 7 spot. KRS One album had its moments but more amateur beats like ‘Wet It Up’.

  10. MainSource says:

    Full Court Press???? WIZ KRIT DZA

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