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list Sep 16 2023 Written by

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2023

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2023

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2023: 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 this year, with a bunch of ‘sequels’ slated to be released – Run The Jewels’ RTJ5, 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 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 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 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 2023, as well as a listing of 2023’s best instrumental Hip Hop projects.

This is a top 60, albums that don’t make the best 60 of the year but which are worth listening to anyway are mentioned in the honorable mentions. Let’s get into it, check out what we think are the best Hip Hop albums of 2023 so far – best first.

Last updated: September 16.

Latest entries: #4 Apollo Brown & Planet Asia – Sardines; #19 Nas – Magic 3; #24 Big O – In The Company Of Others; #37 Shaheed & DJ Supreme – The Art of Throwing Darts; #39 Rasheed Chappell & The Arcitype – Sugar Bills; #45 Declaime & Theory Hazit – Rocketman; #51 Mike Flips, Nord1kone & Seize – Life Cycles

Also check: Greatest Hip Hop Albums 1980 – 2022 & Top 150 Hip Hop Albums Of The 2020s

billy woods & Kenny Segal - Maps

billy woods & Kenny Segal - Maps | Review

Maps is the new album from NYC rapper billy woods and LA producer Kenny Segal, their first full collaboration since 2019’s Hiding Places. Four years after that landmark record, the duo has reunited with a vengeance. Maps is a story of the road, or roads, taken and untaken; of living the dream and dreaming of another life. It is an album about trying to find your way home, after making your home wherever you lay your head.

“Kenny and I made more songs together before Hiding Places than we did after,” woods says. “I think we only collaborated once over the last four years and although we didn’t talk about it, I think we wanted to let that energy build again. Neither of us wanted to make Hiding Places 2. We needed to go on other journeys, artistic and otherwise, to come back and do something fresh.”

Produced in full by Kenny Segal, Maps features Danny Brown, ELUCID (Armand Hammer), Shabaka Hutchins, Sam Herring (Future Islands), Quelle Chris, Aesop Rock, Benjamin Booker, and ShrapKnel. Segal moves effortlessly through styles but everything is underpinned with deep basslines and mean drums laid down like railroad tracks. Weaving between poignant memoirs, deadpan humor, and incandescent bursts of surrealism, Maps cements both artists’ place amongst the best of their time.”

billy woods’ Armand Hammer partner, ELUCID, posed an interesting question upon the release of Maps: “Why is every billy woods album his best one?” This question is pertinent because it speaks to the consistency and quality of woods’ music – since the reboot of his career with the release of his monumental History Will Absolve Me album in 2012, woods has continued to impress with a string of exceptional solo and Armand Hammer releases.

On Maps, billy woods takes listeners on a road trip that depicts the ups and downs of touring, from the people and places to the food and the smells to the weariness of constant travel and performing. Meanwhile, Kenny Segal uses his often chaotic and dark atmosphere of boom-bap and jazz fusion to provide an immaculate supportive vision, creating a framework that allows woods’ complex wordplay to shine to the max. Expectations were high after Hiding Places, and expectations were met, and then some – the duo achieved a remarkable feat by producing something that is precisely what you might have anticipated and entirely novel simultaneously. With Maps, billy woods continues to redefine the possibilities of experimental underground Hip Hop – Maps is just another triumph for one of Hip Hop’s most innovative artists.

Release date: May 5, 2023.


JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown are two of the most forward-thinking artists in Hip Hop, responsible for some of our favorite experimental Hip Hop albums released in recent times – Danny Brown’s sophomore album X X X (2011), the underrated Old (2013), and the masterful Atrocity Exhibition (2016) are excellent works of art, as are JPEGMAFIA’s boundary-pushing Veteran (2018), All My Heroes Are Cornballs (2019), and LP! (2021).

Knowing both artists’ previous works, it’s no surprise this JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown collaboration album is an exciting project, that showcases the dynamic range and the creative audacity of both artists to great effect, seeing the two building on each other’s strengths even. The frantic energy created by Peggy’s abrasive soundscapes perfectly matches Danny Brown’s erratic flows and lyrical intensity. And while the overwhelming production drowns out some of Danny Brown’s and Peggy’s vocals here and there, the rawness of the mixing actually adds to the feeling of daring experimentation that forms the foundation of SCARING THE HOES – the rough mixing seems more like a stylistic choice than as a bug.

Because of the combination of intense lyrical performances and the distorting noise on some of the instrumentals, it takes some effort trying to decipher what the two are actually saying in most of the album’s 14 songs. Each track is packed with clever wordplay though: sometimes funny, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes disturbing, and yes, sometimes unintelligible – but always entertaining. “What kind of rapping is this?!” Peggy asks on the opening track. Maybe it will take a while, but the answer to that question will be found somewhere in the future, by which time SCARING THE HOES will be considered a landmark album. Anyway: the wild and weird SCARING THE HOES is a triumph of originality and creativity, a killer collaboration between two of Hip Hop’s most interesting left-fielders, and a future classic.

Release date: March 24, 2023.

Larry June & The Alchemist - The Great Escape

The Great Escape is the first collaboration album between top-tier producer The Alchemist and San Francisco rapper Larry June. Larry June has been a dope act in the underground for a good while with a bunch of strong releases on his name, but this collab with The Alchemist is his best work to date, some next-level sh. Uncle Al’s elite touch is unmistakable, his authentic-sounding drums, vibrant basslines, and appealing soul sampling accumulating in beautifully smooth instrumentals that are tailor-made for Larry June’s lazy flow and down-to-earth rapping style. 45 minutes of music, 15 full tracks, expert sequencing, no time wasted on useless interludes or skits, and great cover art that matches the vibe of the content – this is a blueprint of how to make an LP. A group of A-listers like Action Bronson, Big Sean, Ty Dolla $ign, Slum Village, Boldy James, Evidence, Wiz Khalifa, Jay Worthy, Joey Bada$$, and Curren$y show up for guest appearances to help round out what turned out to be one the best albums released in the quality-filled month of March of 2023.

Release date: March 31, 2023.

Apollo Brown & Planet Asia - Sardines

Underground Hip Hop stalwarts Apollo Brown and Planet Asia, reuniting after their critically acclaimed Anchovies album in 2017, elevated their collaborative efforts with SardinesSardines is as a masterclass in minimalist Hip Hop, marked by meticulous production and dope lyrical verses.

Apollo Brown’s soulful basslines provide the ideal canvas for Planet Asia’s razor-sharp lyricism. While by now we know what to expect from both artists and Sardines draws inspiration from classic Hip Hop elements, it successfully avoids the pitfall of stagnation or cliché. Instead, Brown and Asia breathe fresh life into the genre, putting their distinct approaches on full display. This album exemplifies the art of crafting a full-length LP, a form regrettably fading into obscurity as many artists these days opt for releasing a series of quick, 25-minute projects merely to maintain constant visibility on streaming platforms. Sardines stands as a fully realized and well-rounded project, clocking in at just over 45 minutes with a fluidity that immerses the listener in an experience that captivates from start to finish.

Sardines boasts numerous standout tracks, including notable highlights like “Get the Dough,” “Wide Awake,” and “Peas and Onions”. Planet Asia’s rhymes are infused with humor, taunts, and vivid narratives, complemented by Apollo Brown’s soulful beats. The album also welcomes guest appearances from underground heavyweights like Sick Jacken, TriState, Marv Won, and Ty Farris, who all add their own vibe to the album.

If Planet Asia and Apollo Brown aimed to surpass their prior work with Sardines, it’s safe to say they’ve achieved that goal. The production builds upon the minimalistic soul sounds of its predecessor, infusing hints of jazzier undertones this time around. The lyricism, from Planet Asia and the four featured artists, is fire from start to finish. Sardines is a must-listen for anyone seeking authentic and mature Hip Hop at its finest.

Release date: September 8, 2023.

SKECH185 & Jeff Markey - He Left Nothing For The Swim Back

We love forward-thinking artists who dare to color outside the lines, making music different from what most others are coming up with. He Left Nothing For The Swim Back is such an envelope-pushing piece of music exactly to our liking. It is a collaborative album from rapper SKECH185 and producer Jeff Markey, and it is released on the Backwoodz Studioz – the indie label that has been at the forefront of progressive left-field Hip Hop for two decades now, in many ways taking up the mantle left by Def Jux. billy woods and Armand Hammer are Backwoodz Studioz’s flagship acts of course, but mostly everything that comes out of Backwoodz is excellent. He Left Nothing For The Swim Back is no exception. Jeff Markey’s instrumentals are chaotic and intense and slightly unsettling, perfect companions for SKECH185’s wild and haunting vocals. A bunch of strong features provides the icing on the cake, most notably from Backwoodz VIPs PremRock and billy woods. He Left Nothing For The Swim Back is not an album for the mainstream crowd, but it sure is one for listeners who dig other experimental Hip Hop projects that emerged out of the Backwoodz Studioz recently, or from labels like Def Jux and Anticon further in the past.

Release date: February 3, 2023.

Oddisee - To What End

Talented producer/emcee Oddisee has long established his name based on the strength of his previous works. Collaborations such as In The Ruff (with YU and Uptown XO, as Diamond District, 2009), Tangible Dream (2013), and The Good Fight (2015) stand out as our favorite Oddisee projects in an impressive catalog of albums, EPs, and mixtapes. To What End is an exceptional album too, showcasing Oddisee’s rare combination of skill both on the microphone and behind the boards, a quality that sets him apart from many other Hip Hop artists. On To What End, Oddisee’s genre-crossing musicality and his ability to craft captivating melodic hooks are fully displayed, complemented by his introspective and thought-provoking lyrics. The album is a compelling and artistically grand offering, representing the finest essence of Hip Hop soul.

Release date: January 20, 2023.

Rome Streetz & Big Ghost Ltd - Wasn't Built In A Day

Wasn’t Built In A Day is a collaboration between Rome Streetz and producer Big Ghost Ltd, a 12-track offering with guest appearances by Griselda emcee Conway The Machine, Wu-Tang Clan legend Method Man, Plex Diamonds, Lukey Cage, Swab, and Chyna Streetz. The elusive Big Ghost Ltd’s work in recent years is nothing short of impressive, and with this album, he adds another jewel to his crown. Wasn’t Built In A Day is one the best Big Ghost-produced albums to date – Van Ghost (2018) with ANKHLEJOHN remains our absolute favorite, but this project comes close enough. All ingredients to elevate an album to that next level are here: the basement boom-bap beats are top-notch, Rome Streetz is one of the best emcees of his generation, and the guests deliver the goods too (that Method Man verse is FIRE). There is lots of music constantly dropping in the grimy street rap subgenre, but this is the benchmark against which similar albums will be held in 2023.

Release date: February 27, 2023.

Skyzoo & The Other Guys - The Mind Of A Saint

Skyzoo’s eleventh studio album The Mind Of A Saint – produced entirely by The Other Guys – delves into the innermost thoughts of one Franklin Saint, the lead character in the hit FX show, Snowfall, which follows the early stages of the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles in the early 1980s.

After his 2006 debut Cloud 9: The 3 Day High (a collaborative album with North Carolina producer 9th Wonder), Skyzoo went on to build one of the most consistent discographies in the game. The Salvation (2009), Live From The Tape Deck (with Illmind, 2011), A Dream Deferred (2012), Barrel Brothers (with Torae, 2014), Music For My Friends (2015), The Easy Truth (with Apollo Brown, 2016), In Celebration Of Us (2018), and Retropolitian (with Pete Rock, 2019) and All The Brilliant Things (2021) all are great Hip Hop albums, and The Mind Of A Saint is the next jewel in Skyzoo’s crown.

Intimate knowledge of the Snowfall show, or of the situation in 1980s Los Angeles, is not necessary to enjoy The Mind Of A Saint – the elegant jazz- and soul-flavored boom-bap production make for an enjoyable listening experience regardless of familiarity with the source material that served as inspiration for the album. That said, Skyzoo’s writing masterfully captures Franklin Saint’s experiences and thoughts about the world he lives in – Skyzoo makes the concept work. His pen game and his flows are as strong as ever, and the layered narrative captivates from start to finish. The Mind Of A Saint is another Skyzoo winner.

Release date: January 13, 2023.

El Michels Affair & Black Thought - Glorious Game

This collaboration between El Michels Affair, a New York-based funk and soul band, and Black Thought, the legendary emcee and frontman of The Roots, is a match made in heaven. Their collaborative album Glorious Game is a masterpiece of modern jazzy soul, with tight grooves and expert musicianship from start to finish, all topped off with Black Thought’s smooth and effortless flows. It’s not as good as Cheat Codes, Black Thought’s collaboration with producer Danger Mouse (which was our 2022 AOTY), but Glorious Game still is a great follow-up for Black Thought.

Glorious Game is a classy and stylish little album that showcases the talents of both El Michels Affair and Black Thought. The production is top-notch, with each instrument and element given room to breathe, and Thought’s lyrics are thought-provoking, impactful, and as always flawlessly delivered. Black Thought’s enduring lyrical prowess, dynamic flow, and ability to touch on a wide range of themes and topics have solidified his place as one of the greatest rappers of all time. Glorious Game is a must-listen for fans of soul, jazz, and Hip Hop, or just good music in general.

Release date: April 14, 2023.

AJ Suede & Televangel - Parthian Shots

Parthian Shots is AJ Suede and Televangel’s second collaborative album, following last year’s Metatron’s Cube. Metatron’s Cube ended up in the top 40 of our best of 2022 list, and Parthian Shots is just as good as its predecessor. Televangel can always be relied upon to deliver a robust set of immaculately produced moody instrumentals – on this album a little less edgy than on Metatron’s Cube, but once again a perfect fit for AJ Suede’s smooth stream-of-consciousness flows. Parthian Shots has appearances from Onry Ozzborn, Rich Jones, Old Grape God, Milc, Nacho Picasso, Mr. Muthaf*ckin Exquire (“PBS Kids” is one of the album’s highlights), and Bruiser Wolf to help round out what is an abstract Hip Hop tour-de-force and another AJ Suede must-listen.

Release date: March 3, 2023.

Stik Figa & The Expert - Ritual

“Producer The Expert fuses elements from jazz and 60s-era psychedelic music on Ritual, which sets the backdrop for emcee Stik Figa at his most honest and personal. People who have heard psychedelic Hip Hop opus The Overview Effect by The Expert together with emcee Jermiside, already know they’re in for a trip. A glimpse at the tracklist also sets the tone for what to expect with guest spots by Blu, Solemn Brigham (of Marlowe), Defcee, Sleep Sinatra, and Tanya Morgan. But the true beauty of this record lies in the contrast: the way jazz influences collide with psychedelic production pushes both the Dublin, Ireland-based producer and the Topeka, Kansas native into new Hip Hop territory.

Stik Figa has a great ear for beats—he’s got a back catalog of thirteen years deep to show it. His releases include early work with Oddisee, the collaborative album The City Under The City with L’Orange, last year’s Valley of Dry Bones with Conductor Williams, and releases on Mello Music Group with production work by Apollo Brown, Black Milk, and Exile, among others.

Now, with The Expert, he finds himself in a sonic pastiche of psychedelic effects, banging drums, clear touches of jazz, and deep basslines. The Expert freely bends what he digs up from his crates: layers upon layers of Mellotron chords, vibraphone melodies, guitar stabs, and swirling strings tumble over each other. All for hard-hitting beats that defy the golden-era boom-bap rulebook. Case in point: when was the last time you heard a solo piano piece between tracks with reversed drum samples and 808 kick drums? Irish pianist Daniel Luke delivers just that on “Rob Peter, Pay Pallbearer.”

Stik Figa moves with ease from dead honest observations to showing lyrical dexterity and skill, to expressing inner struggles. Ritual is without a doubt his most personal body of work to date. It’s just as he raps on “Uknowhut?” featuring Blu: “Self-fulfillment remains the greatest metric of wealth.” Besides Stik Figa openly sharing his inner musings on the album towards that goal, the same goes for The Expert: he shares his own deepening and further self-cultivation—a head-nodding, mind-blowing continuation of his psychedelic-tinged beat-making antics.”

The Overview Effect was one of the best Hip Hop albums of 2022Ritual is among 2023’s best. At 35 minutes the album is on the short side, but that’s a minor complaint. Ritual is a tasteful and stylish piece of Hip Hop, an album you can’t afford to miss out on.

Release date: June 16, 2023.

Fatboi Sharif & Steel Tipped Dove - Decay

Backwoodz Studioz has been at the forefront of experimental, left-field Hip Hop since the 2010s, with the elusive billy woods as the figurehead. This collaboration between Fatboi Sharif and Steel Tipped Dove is another Backwoodz hit, the third released in 2023, after billy woods and Kenny Segal’s Maps and SKECH185 and Jeff Markey’s He Left Nothing For The Swim Back.

Over the past few years, the New Jersey rapper Fatboi Sharif has made a name for himself with a vivid, disorienting, utterly unique sound. On his new album Decay, he joins forces with Steel Tipped Dove, a veteran New York producer known for his work with Armanda Hammer and R.A.P. Ferreira, among others. The haunting soundscapes Steel Tipped Dove produced for Decay are among the best he ever did, providing the perfect backdrops for Fatboi Sharif’s unsettling vocal performances.

Fatboi Sharif’s abstract mutterings will take some deciphering, but the feeling of disquiet that permeates the album is awesome. His mordant lyrics are delivered in a stretched-out, theatrical mutter that favors eerie, experimental, minor-key productions. Sharif is playful and charismatic, but he’s also driven to make music that makes you feel weird.

The left-field Decay offers a delicious slice of psychedelic horrorcore, surreal but thoroughly captivating. There are no guest-rappers on the album; the whole record is nothing but Fatboi Sharif rapping in jagged, unpredictable cadences over Steel Tipped Dove’s flickering, evocative tracks. This is one of many excellent projects Steel Tipped Dove’s name is attached to this year, and it elevates Fatboi Sharif to the next level.

Release date: July 21, 2023.

Neak - Die Wurzel

“Everything can be traced back to its roots. Sometimes, those roots are ignored, overlooked, unattended to, and uncared for. At the heart of American culture, the roots of African-American became nurtured through the historical beauty and ugliness of American society, and those cataclysmic experiences still resonate within our culture, mindset, and way of life. Die Wurzel explores black life post-1619 to the present day. It is designed to make you pause, think, and reflect on the black experience in America with a level of compassion and sensitivity that has made way for perceived cultural black norms deriving from African-American trials and tribulations. Jammed with black musical roots: gospel, soul, jazz, funk, and rap, Die Wurzel is an intellectual, witty, and soul-driven musical journey that will hold a dear place in the heart of black urban society.”

Chicago-based multi-talent Neak is an artist who has been on our radar for a while now – his Kwesbaar album was one of our favorite releases of 2019, and in recent years he’s been involved in plenty more quality projects besides that one too. Die Wurzel is his most ambitious and arguably his most important record yet, packed with thoughtful lyrics, complemented by lush musical backdrops mostly produced by Neak himself (with additional production by regular collaborator Rashid Hadee). Sequencing, interludes, transitions – everything is done to perfection here, this record is a keeper without a doubt. Fans of mature, intelligent Hip Hop, and those who like music from artists like Common, Odissee, and even Kendrick Lamar, definitely have to check out Die Wurzel.

Release date: February 27, 2023.

JustVibez & Negro Justice - Art Of The Craft

Based out of Nashville, Negro Justice is a skilled emcee who teamed up with producer JustVibez – also from Nashville – to create a collaborative project titled Art Of The Craft. JustVibez produced the entirety of tracks on Art Of The Craft, bringing a cohesive vibe to the album that draws inspiration from artists such as Outkast and UGK, without sounding derivative in any way. His beats are laid-back yet edgy, perfectly complementing Negro Justice’s versatile flow. With his Southern drawl, Negro Justice’s warm voice adds a soulful touch to the album as it takes the listener on a poignant and compelling musical journey, tackling personal and socio-political issues with equal ease. Art Of The Craft is a GREAT Hip Hop album, one that deserves your attention.

Release date: April 7, 2023.

Kool Keith & Real Bad Man - Serpent

Kool Keith & Real Bad Man - Serpent | Review

Kool Keith has been an enigma ever since he appeared on the Hip Hop scene as part of the Ultramagnetic MCs crew more than 35 years ago, debuting in 1988 with the innovative classic Critical Beatdown. Always out of the mainstream spotlight, his signature style is a stream-of-consciousness lyrical flow with complex vocals usually peppered with bizarre, disjointed, even delusional or disassociated themes, concepts, and references – skills that earn him a perennial nod from the underground Hip Hop community. Quality control has never been his main concern, but among his almost endless stream of albums, EPs, bootlegs, mixtapes, and collaborations there are enough classics to consider Kool Keith a bonafide Hip Hop icon, one who gives meaning to the word longevity.

Serpent is one of the better Kool Keith albums in recent years – arguably his best since the underappreciated Feature Magnetic (2016). Kool Keith has always needed a producer he could vibe with to bring out the best in him, and as the likes of Ced Gee, Dan The Automator, and Kutmaster Kurt did for him in the past, Real Bad Man hits the right notes with his production on Serpent. Real Bad Man’s profile is rising since his recent work for the likes of Pink Siifu and especially Boldy James, and the sinister beats he crafted for Kool Keith here once more prove he is a producer to watch. So – the instrumentals are dope throughout and Kool Keith sounds inspired and is clearly having fun – plus there are features from Atmosphere’s Slug, Ice-T (with appearances on two tracks, but not with an actual verse), ZelooperZ, Cool Calm Pete, and Edan to add some extra spice to an album that comfortably fits in the top quarter of Kool Keith’s vast catalog.

Release date: March 24, 2023.

Four Elements & Beyond - Clock The Chemistry

Four Elements & Beyond is a crew from New York, and their Clock The Chemistry is one of the best 90s-centric Hip Hop albums of the year. Warm boom-bap soundscapes crafted by producer Freak Tha Monsta serve as banging backdrops for entertaining bars and dope flows from rappers Miggs Son Daddy and WRD Life. Shy The BeatYoda’s scratched-in samples here and there give the album more of that 90s feel, and at 45 minutes the album has a normal runtime too. This is how throwback Hip Hop should be done.

Release date: February 5, 2023.

Recognize Ali - Back To Mecca II

After having a quiet 2022 elite underground emcee Recognize Ali returns in 2023 with Back To Mecca II – a sequel to his 90s-inspired Back To Mecca (2017) with producer Giallo Point. Recognize Ali is taking the listeners back to like 1993 on this album, once again with production from Giallo Point, with additional beats provided by Anu EL, Sibbs Roc, and Hobgoblin. Back To Mecca II offers some of the hardest beats and overall raw gutter production you will hear this year. Recognize Ali is a lyrical emcee who’s got bars for days, and his raspy flow is made for the rough and rugged beats he gets to work with here. Recognize Ali has released plenty of dope projects in recent years, and Back To Mecca II is one of his best yet.

Release date: March 24, 2023. 

Danger Mouse & Jemini - Born Again

Producer Danger Mouse and Brooklyn emcee Jemini first joined forces in 2003 for the often overlooked but excellent Ghetto Pop Life. After being shelved since 2004, the sophomre album we never knew we missed has finally arrived.

Danger Mouse, who played a pivotal role in 2022’s best Hip Hop album with Cheat Codes, his collaboration with Black Thought, brings his signature production prowess to the table. Born Again bursts to life with “All I,” immediately reminding us of the magic these two can conjure together. Danger Mouse’s psychedelic underground beats set the stage for Jemini’s charismatic storytelling and vulnerability.

Born Again is a sonic journey that blends body-moving rhythms, crate-digger samples, and old-school soul. Danger Mouse’s sophisticated musicianship, with its layers and intricacies, keeps the listener engaged. It’s a rare gem that’s both an instant banger and a piece of art to dissect. Jemini’s lyrical prowess is evident, especially on tracks like “Dear Poppa,” where he navigates complex feelings about his father. But he can also bring the classic Hip Hop swagger, as showcased on the gritty and funky “Knuckle Sandwich II.”

With a compact ten-track lineup, “Born Again” doesn’t overstay its welcome. Tracks like “Locked Up” and “Brooklyn Basquiat” capture Jemini’s blend of pain and playfulness, offering a balanced listening experience. Born Again is a top-notch collaboration that was delayed since 2004 but now finally sees the light of day. Do we have a long-lost classic here? It sure feels like it.

Release date: August 25, 2023.

Nas - Magic 3

Nas and Hit-Boy’s sixth collab, Magic 3, marks a solid finale to their journey that kicked off in 2021. It’s a noteworthy entry in their collaborative journey, clocking in at 45 minutes, making it a proper full-length. A fitting wrap to an impressive run.

Now, we’ve voiced some reservations in the past about Hit-Boy’s overly polished beats, but on Magic 3, the production feels more on point especially when compared to the first two King’s Disease albums for instance. Nas, as usual, brings the lyrical heat and, considering this release celebrates his 50th birthday, he proves he’s still reigning in the Hip Hop realm.

Magic 3 boasts plenty of standout tracks, notably “Sitting With My Thoughts,” characterized by its captivating melody and personal lyrics. Other tracks like “Jodeci Member”, “I Love This Feeling”, “Based On True Events”, “Based on True Events Pt. 2”, “Speechless Pt. 2”, and “Japanese Soul Bar” also showcase Nas’s lyrical power.

Despite our reservations about the production styles Hit-Boy employs, it’s safe to say Nas and Hit-Boy consistently deliver as a duo, and Magic 3 keeps their collaborative magic alive. King’s Disease 3 is the best project they did together, but this album stands as a commendable addition to their joint efforts, reaffirming Nas’s enduring talent. Props to the Hip Hop OG for continuing to hold it down in the 2020s.

Release date: September 14, 2023.

Chino XL & Stu Bangas - God's Carpenter

God’s Carpenter is a collaborative album by iconic lyricist Chino XL and producer Stu Bangas that delivers banging boom-bap beats and complex rhyme flows. Chino XL’s lyricism is intellectual, vivid, and intricate, while Stu Bangas’ production is polished yet hard-hitting. The two Hip Hop heavyweights work brilliantly together, with Chino’s big bars needing the robust underscore of Stu Bangas.

God’s Carpenter is a super bar-heavy offering, with Chino crafting incredibly complex and intricate wordplay and delivering it in his unique and iconic way. The dark boom-bap production that Stu Bangas has perfected perfectly complements Chino’s unstoppable flows. The album takes listeners on a journey through Chino XL’s mind, tackling issues from politics to personal demons. The opening track “God’s Carpenter” sets the tone for the album, with Chino XL’s verbose bars needing the robust underscore of Stu Bangas’ production. Other standout tracks include “AMBImonsterous,” “Murder Rhyme Kill,” and “Scribbled Sorcery.”

Chino XL’s lyricism has always been next level, but his first four albums were let down in places by subpar beats. Teaming up with Stu Bangas was a masterstroke, making God’s Carpenter probably Chino XL’s best album beats-wise. God’s Carpenter is a must-listen for any fan of underground Hip Hop, especially for fans of Chino XL who have been waiting eleven years for a new project from the lyrical powerhouse.

Release date: July 7, 2023.

Day Tripper - What A Time To Be DEAD

Day Tripper is an artist from Atlanta, active as a solo artist and as half of the alt-Hip Hop duo The Difference Machine. The Difference Machine released a strong project – Unmasking The Spirit Fakers – last year, one of the best left-field Hip Hop albums of 2022, and part of our best-of-the-year list too. What A Time To Be DEAD is a Day Tripper solo project, and it’s just as good as last year’s The Difference Machine album. It’s not as dense and hard-edged as Unmasking The Spirit Fakers, but the album’s psychedelic instrumentals are equally engaging. Day Tripper’s bars and flows are great too, his stream-of-consciousness rhymes perfectly gel with the appealing musical backdrops. What A Time To Be DEAD is a layered piece of music, an album that gets better with each and every listen.

Release date: January 11, 2023.

Madlib, Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs - Champagne For Breakfast

Queens-based rapper Meyhem Lauren keeps his momentum going with Champagne For Breakfast, arguably his best work to date – improving even on Black Vladimir, which was one of the best underground Hip Hop releases of 2022. Black Vladimir was a great project largely thanks to the menacing production by Daringer, Daringer’s beats proved to be a perfect fit for Meyhem Lauren’s booming baritone and his gritty street raps.

For Champagne For Breakfast Meyhem Lauren reconnected with DJ Muggs – they previously collaborated on the dope Gems From The Equinox (2017)and brought in Madlib to share production duties with Muggs. Like having Daringer on the boards for Black Vladimir, bringing in Muggs and Madlib to take care of the production for Champagne For Breakfast proved to be another Meyhem Lauren masterstroke – elite producers like these simply add value to any project they put their stamp on. On Champagne For Breakfast it’s Muggs signature ominous soundscapes that are on the musical forefront, but there’s enough of Madlib’s touch to add some unique kind of twists to the hard and dark beats. Nothing innovative about this album, but its straightforwardness is a strength really – the beats are dope as f, and Meyhem Lauren comes with some great bars and flows all the way through. Champagne For Breakfast is one of the best underground releases of 2023.

Release date: April 7, 2023.

Jay Royale - Criminal Discourse

Baltimore-based artist Jay Royale takes listeners on a captivating journey with his latest album, Criminal Discourse. This third installment in an impressive trilogy (following 2018’s The Ivory Stoop and 2020’s The Baltimore Housing Project) showcases Jay’s growth as an artist while delving into the evolution of street communication. From the payphone era to wiretaps and everything in between, Jay explores the significance of the trap phone in this gritty and immersive release.

Drawing inspiration from his hometown, and also from its critically acclaimed series “The Wire,” Jay Royale expertly weaves a narrative that pays homage to the communication methods employed by the streets. Criminal Discourse features a talented lineup of collaborators, including AZ Havoc of Mobb Deep, Kool G Rap, Styles P from The Lox, Saigon, and Willie the Kid, each adding their own unique perspective to the project.

The album effortlessly captures the essence of 1990s Hip Hop, evoking a nostalgic ambiance with its atmospheric beats and sharp cuts & scratches. Jay Royale’s lyrics, reminiscent of the mafioso rap style popularized by icons like Nas, AZ, Raekwon, and Kool G Rap, further enhance the album’s authenticity and provide a refreshing throwback to classic Hip Hop.

Clocking in at just the right length with its 45 minutes, Criminal Discourse immerses listeners in Jay Royale’s storytelling abilities and masterful wordplay. The production complements Jay’s artistic vision and unwavering dedication to his craft. The album transcends its subject matter, appealing to fans of the genre’s golden era as well as those seeking a fresh perspective within the contemporary Hip Hop landscape.

With its captivating narrative, top-notch collaborations, and a clear nod to 1990s Hip Hop, Criminal Discourse undoubtedly deserves a spot among the year’s top releases.

Release date: June 18, 2023.

Big O - In The Company Of Others

Big O is an American producer, recording engineer, and DJ who has been crafting his musical journey since the tender age of 13. Currently residing in London, he continues to evolve his career, consistently pushing the boundaries of his craft. Big O has been on our radar for some time, and his 2021 collaboration with rapper P-Rawb on The Complexity secured a well-deserved spot on our list of the best Hip Hop albums of that year.

With In The Company Of Others, Big O presents a conceptual album divided into three distinct acts, weaving a captivating narrative about the power of influence. Arguably his magnum opus to date, this collaborative tour-de-force features a slew of talented artists, including Fashawn, Danker Harv, L.O.U., P-Rawb, Loki Loko, and many more, all contributing their vocal talents to sixteen tracks that are built on Big O’s elegant instrumental arrangements.

Across the album, Big O adeptly fuses flowing rhythms, tempo variations, and evocative melodies, transcending the confines of musical categories and delivering an exemplary showcase of modern Hip Hop artistry. In The Company Of Others is a culmination of Big O’s creative journey, providing a nearly impeccable record you will not regret adding to your library.

Release date: September 1, 2023.

Boldy James & RichGains - Indiana Jones

Boldy James is one of the most prolific, and one of the most consistent artists in the game, his recent run of releases is awe-inspiring. His ‘lazy’ flow is an acquired taste and not for everybody, but his deadly bars always are cinematic and powerful – at this point, Boldy James has to be considered one of the elites in the coke rap subgenre.  Of James’s prodigious output in recent years, The Price Of Tea In China (with The Alchemist, 2020), Manger On McNichols (with Sterling Toles, 2020), and Bo Jackson (with The Alchemist, 2021) are the best albums, in our opinion. Killing Nothing (a collaboration with producer Real Bad Man) was his best project released in 2022, and James’s consistent streak continues with Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones is produced entirely by RichGains, and his elegant instrumentals nicely match James’s ice-cold flows. Unlike many of his colleagues, Boldy James has an ear for beats and the ability to find producers with whose work his style of rapping comes out best. Even if Indiana Jones is not quite as good as Boldy James’s best three albums, it is a fine addition to his discog.

Release date: January 20, 2023.

Killer Mike - MICHAEL

Killer Mike - Michael | Review

Killer Mike’s long-awaited return to the solo scene comes in the form of MICHAEL, a record that solidifies his status as a Hip Hop heavyweight. After an 11-year hiatus, the Atlanta native unveils a musical autobiography that is both touchingly introspective and unapologetically raw.

MICHAEL serves as a testament to Killer Mike’s unwavering dedication to his craft. This album is not about chasing chart-topping hits or conforming to the trends of the industry. Instead, it is a bold step back from the spotlight, allowing Killer Mike to bare his soul and share his truth. The album cover alone, featuring a nine-year-old Killer Mike adorned with a halo and devil horns, captures the dichotomy within—an artist who navigates the light and darkness, exploring the complexities of his identity.

Departing from the well-trodden politically fueled path of his collaborative work with El-P as Run the Jewels, Michael dives deep into Killer Mike’s roots, paying homage to the vibrant Southern rap scene that shaped him. The influence of gospel, blues, and the spirit of Atlanta reverberates throughout the album, creating a sonic tapestry that is both familiar and refreshing, paying homage to the evocative sounds of ’90s Hip Hop and the transformative soul of the ’70s that shaped its foundations.

MICHAEL transcends mere nostalgia though. It provides a vantage point that only Killer Mike’s present existence can offer, channeling his lived experiences, social consciousness, and unfiltered authenticity. The album boldly merges nostalgia with innovation, capturing the essence of contemporary Atlanta sound with its infectious beats and diverse production, leaning towards the soulful side while seamlessly incorporating elements of boom-bap, trap, and soul. The careful orchestration of choirs, pianos, and organs adds a layer of richness to the album, while Killer Mike’s commanding presence on the mic ensures that every word hits with impact.

While MICHAEL may not match the same level of overall quality or the rage and intensity found in Killer Mike’s previous solo masterpiece, R.A.P. Music (2012), it remains a powerful testament to his artistry. His rhymes are as sharp as ever, delivering thought-provoking and personal narratives that resonate deeply. The album’s many features are well-placed, effectively blending into the fabric of the project and adding depth to the overall experience, even if the album could have done with a few fewer guests – Young Thug we could have done without for instance. Others shine –  Andre 3000 has the most memorable appearance, of course.

Overall, MICHAEL is a testament to Killer Mike’s artistic growth and unwavering authenticity. Whether you’re a fan of the Run the Jewels albums or Killer Mike’s previous solo projects, this album is sure to captivate you. It is a triumphantly reflective and gospel-infused victory lap, that solidifies Killer Mike’s place among the Hip Hop greats, reminding us once again why he is one of the best in the game. The album’s profound themes, captivating lyricism, and engaging production make it a standout release of 2023.

Release date: June 16, 2023. 

Talib Kweli & Madlib - Liberation 2

Liberation 2 is the sequel – ten years in the making – to Talib Kweli and Madlib 2006’s Liberation album, sporting a 15-song tracklist and a bunch of guest appearances – from Talib Kweli’s children Diani and Amani, and from artists like Q-Tip, Roc Marciano, Westside Gunn, Pink Siifu, Roy Ayers, and the late Mac Miller (among many others). Liberation 2 was exclusively released on the Luminary Podcasts platform, suffering from the same terrible roll-out strategy that severely killed hype, attention, and potential exposure for last year’s Black Star album. Too bad, because Liberation 2 is a dope project – more fleshed-out and better-rounded than the first Liberation album.

The Biz Markie homage “One For Biz” (with Q-Tip and Wildchild) is an easy favorite, “Ad Vice” (with Diani & Pink Siifu), “Marathon Thru Babylon” (with Meshell Ndegeocello), “Something Special” (with Roy Ayers), and “Best Year Ever” are other standouts. Close to 50 minutes of music, stacked with intelligent, empowering, and entertaining bars complemented by lush Madlib production – Liberation 2 is a great record by two industry icons and a host of interesting guests, a project that deserves more spotlight than it will probably get.

Release date: March 6, 2023.

Spectacular Diagnostics - RAW LESSONS

Chicago-based producer Spectacular Diagnostics’ RAW LESSONS is his best work yet. His elegant boom-bap beats have a throwback vibe here and there, but Spectacular Diagnostics adds layered sound elements that give his music a definite own unique feel. To add rhymes to his captivating instrumentals he recruited 18 vocalists –  from Wrecking Crew and Backwoodz affiliates Curly Castro and PremRock to the distinct signatures of Fatboi Sharif and Bruiser Wolf to UK representation with features by SonnyJim, King Kashmere, CLBRKS, Lee Scott, Bisk, and others. We are fans – RAW LESSONS is one of the best producer’s albums you will hear this year.

Release date: March 24, 2023.

King Kashmere & Alecs Delarge - The Album To End All Alien Abductions

The Album To End All Alien Abductions is an epic space age boom bap odyssey that unites UK stalwart King Kashmere and producer/rapper Alecs DeLarge for a dope hour-long 24-track ride. After the intro, the album opener “Angel Strike” sets the tone for a triumphant journey, with King Kashmere declaring his return with confidence and skill. Kash’s lyrics are rooted in sci-fi and comic lore, but he also offers a rare glimpse into his personal life on tracks like “Old Earth” and “House of Cards.” Alecs’ production is experimental, rooted in 90’s sensibilities but also fresh and evolving. He even steps from behind the boards to join Kashmere on mic duties, showcasing their dynamic chemistry on tracks like “Most Blunted.” With a feature list spanning both sides of the Atlantic, The Album To End All Alien Abductions proves that the UK has a firm seat at the table in the international Hip Hop community.

Release date: June 20, 2023.

Logic - College Park

Retirement served Logic well. Before he dropped his supposed retirement album No Pressure in 2020, he had a few clunkers on his name (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2019) was particularly terrible), but with No Pressure – which was a pretty good album – it looked like he went out on a high note. Logic quit retirement almost immediately though, returning with Vinyl Days in 2022 – his first post-retirement studio album which turned out to be a winner, his best project yet, and a top-15 album of 2022. The album served 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. Because of its 90s-centric vibe, we prefer Vinyl Days to the more modern sounds of College Park, but Logic’s 2023 album is a good record in its own right.

Just like Vinyl DaysCollege Park is a monster of an album – just under 70 minutes in length. The concept of College Park has Logic going back to 2011, putting himself in the shoes of his younger self in a day of his life at the start of his career. “Lightsabers”, “Redpill VII”, “Clone Wars III”, “Gaithersburg Freestyle”, “Paradise II”, “Village Slum”, “Self Medication”, “Come On Down”, “Shimmy” – plenty of dope songs on College Park, with engaging production, great content, and entertaining performances from Logic and guests such as RZA, Redman, Joey Bada$$, and Bun B (among others).

We need to talk about the skits on this album though. The skits are here to help the transition from track to track and to cement the thematic cohesiveness of the album. But putting skits this long at the end of songs instead of making them their own tracks is a terrible choice. Listening to a skit is funny once or twice, maybe. But they get annoying quickly on repeated listens, especially when they are as long as some are on this album. Who wants to hear endless skits on their playlists? The long and short of it is that while the skits help establish the album’s concept and theme, they hurt its listenability and replayability – without the skits the album would have ended up higher on our best-of-the-year list. The skit issue aside: College Park is another strong Logic project that brings excitement toward Logic’s independent work in the future.

Release date: February 24, 2023. 

Kid Abstrakt & Leo Low Pass - Still Dreaming

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Kid Abstrakt is a dope emcee who skillfully embodies the jazzy rap sound of the 90s, proudly carrying the torch of legendary acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and The Pharcyde, drawing inspiration from their legacy to craft his compelling music.

Kid Abstrakt initially made waves as a member of the local trio Revolutionary Rhythm before venturing into his solo career. In 2017, he released his debut album, Daydreaming, produced by The Deli from Austin, Texas. With a steadily growing fanbase, Kid Abstrakt expanded his horizons by collaborating with acclaimed producers and bands such as Cap Kendricks from Germany, Emapea from Poland, and Jazzbois from Hungary, solidifying his presence in the international music scene.

For Still Dreaming, Kid Abstrakt joined forces with Amsterdam-based producer Leo Low Pass. Leo’s distinctive style, characterized by jazzy boom-bap and lo-fi beats, is the perfect canvas for Kid Abstrakt’s uplifting and skillful rhymes. He passionately and humbly raps not only about his passion for jazzy Hip Hop but also about his life, family, and the contemporary world we inhabit. The album features guest artists such as Vsteeze, Tab One, Kamau, Awon, Rain Bisou, and Hvmble, adding additional layers of creativity and diversity to the project.

In essence, Kid Abstrakt is a testament to the enduring influence of the 90s rap sound. With Still Dreaming, he pays homage to the past in a great way and breathes new life into the genre, creating a refreshing and enjoyable feel-good experience for listeners. Kid Abstrakt’s music transcends eras, capturing the essence of nostalgia while remaining relevant in the contemporary music landscape.

Release date: May 5, 2023.

Nas - Magic 2

Nas’ Magic 2 is a testament to his longevity in the rap game, showcasing his ability to deliver quality music even late into his career. The album marks the fifth collaboration with producer Hit-Boy in the 2020s, following Magic and the King’s Disease series, and their partnership remains successful.

While we sometimes feel Hit-Boy’s beats are too polished and clean, the production on Magic 2 is pretty dope, with Hit-Boy displaying his range as a producer. The beats vary from banging to laidback, with Nas seamlessly adapting his flow to each track. Although the album may be considered too short to be a full-length release at just over 30 minutes, it still presents a cohesive project that flows well from start to finish.

Opening with an intriguing intro track, Magic 2 captivates listeners from the start. “Abracadabra” stands out with its powerful bass, while “Black Magic” maintains a similar production style but with a more subtle bass that complements the sample. Throughout the album, Nas’ lyricism remains sharp and witty, showcasing classic boasting on standout tracks like “What This All Really Means”, “Bokeem Woodbine”, “Slow It Down”, “Earvin Magic Johnson”, and “Pistols On Your Album Cover”.

While Magic 2 may not have exceeded the expectations set by King’s Disease 3, it still solidifies Nas’ position in the Hip Hop scene even more. Despite its brevity (we didn’t include the first Magic in our Best Of 2021 list because it runs for less than 30 minutes and therefore is an EP in our book), the album impresses with its dope tracks and Nas’ excellent delivery and flow. The few features on the album are OK too, and the chemistry between Nas and Hit-Boy continues to reach new heights.

Overall, Magic 2 is another great addition to Nas’ catalog, showcasing the enduring power of his partnership with Hit-Boy. The strong production and Nas’ impeccable delivery make Magic 2 another solid project in his illustrious career.

Release date: July 21, 2023.

B. Cool-Aid - Leather Blvd

Leather Blvd is the third project by B. Cool-Aid, the duo of rapper Pink Siifu and producer Ahwlee, following BRWN (2017) and Syrup (2019). For Leather Blvd, Pink Siifu and Ahwlee took clear inspiration from jazz and classic neo-soul, musical influences that serve as the foundation for what is a hazy, almost meditative, listening experience that is consistent from beginning to end – and not a second too long even if the album has a runtime of over an hour. Pink Siifu’s raspy and sometimes quasi-whispered delivery works smoothly with the warm and immersive production, and guests like Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets, Liv.E, Jimetta Rose, Quelle Chris, Big Rube, and Denmark Vessey (among many others) appear to add vocal variation to the songs. Some of the tracks on Leather Blvd exceed the 5-minute mark (“We Good At Leather Tht Leather This” is the longest track at 9 minutes) – so this album might provide somewhat of a challenge for the short attention span people who have gotten used to the 25-minute projects we see so many of these days. We love the stretched-out feel of Leather Blvd though, Ahwlee’s perfectly produced soundscapes simply couldn’t be rushed and thankfully they aren’t. GUMBO’! (2021) was the last Pink Siifu winner, Leather Blvd is even better.

Release date: March 31, 2023.

Arrested Development - On The Cutting Room Floor

So normally we do not include mixtapes that are composed of leftovers from recording sessions for other albums, but for this Arrested Development project, we have to make an exception. On The Cutting Room Floor contains ten tracks (actually nine and an interlude) recorded in the last ten years that were left off albums Arrested Development dropped in that time period. The fact that the songs on On The Cutting Room Floor didn’t make the cut is a testament to the quality of Arrested Development’s latest releases – it’s not for nothing Don’t Fight Your Demons and For The FKN Love rank high on our best-of-the-year lists of 2020 and 2021.

There are plenty of albums that get released where it would have been better if they had ended up on the cutting room floor, but in this case, it clearly is the other way around – we can be thankful to Speech and company they decided not to keep the songs on this tape from the public. All songs on On The Cutting Room Floor are terrific pieces of music, and there’s a cohesiveness to the project that belies the origin of them – no way these tracks feel like leftovers from different albums. Sequencing is done to perfection to achieve this cohesiveness, and to top it off the cover artwork is exquisite – this has to be one of the most beautiful album covers of the year. This may be a collection of leftover songs, but make no mistake: On The Cutting Room Floor is way too good to be ignored – check it out.

Release date: March 17, 2023.


Los Angeles native rapper ICECOLDBISHOP’s highly anticipated debut album GENERATIONAL CURSE delivers on every front. Epic Records stated upon the record’s release: “GENERATIONAL CURSE rails against the rigged system with unfiltered storytelling and some of the most undeniable and unbreakable rhymes you’ll hear all year.” Enough truth to this statement – The South Central-born ICECOLDBISHOP comes off like this generation’s Kendrick Lamar, with poignant and meaningful content from top to bottom. The concept behind the album is extremely well executed – on GENERATIONAL CURSE ICECOLDBISHOP addresses systemic trauma and modern society’s obsession with guns and violence, going into a lot of detail on how his generation is pretty much f***ed from the start at every level.

Production-wise, the 13-track record mixes and matches sounds of different eras and areas of Hip Hop to great effect – blending Southern Hip Hop and trap vibes with 90s-centric West Coast G-funk. An experimental edge to a lot of the instrumentals gives GENERATIONAL CURSE a definite own sound, which is added to by the idiosyncratic way ICECOLDBISHOP modulates the pitch of his voice and the way he switches up flows. GENERATIONAL CURSE is a special album, reminiscent in more than one way of Kendrick Lamar’s GKMC breakout album – it will be interesting to see where ICECOLDBISHOP goes from here.

Release date: March 24, 2023.

Navy Blue & Budgie - Ways Of Knowing

Ways Of Knowing is Navy Blue’s major label debut and his best project to date. Budgie’s soulful production is simply gorgeous, a perfect fit for Navy Blue – whose continuing growth as an artist and a human being are evident through his relatable content here. The introspection we know from his previous works remains, but his outlook is somewhat sunnier and more mature. Ways Of Knowing is a beautiful piece of music, with no weak spots at all. A couple of highlights though – most notably the superb “Windows To The Soul” (with an awesome feature from Kelly Moonstone).

Release date: March 24, 2023.

Shaheed & DJ Supreme - The Art of Throwing Darts

Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Shaheed and DJ Supreme are rewriting the Southern Hip Hop playbook with their unapologetic dedication to boom-bap tradition. These two are far from your typical Dirty South artists, and their track record speaks volumes. With two LPs under their belt, Health Wealth & Knowledge of Self and Scholar Warrior (The Remix Album), they’ve garnered critical acclaim, showcasing Shaheed’s razor-sharp lyricism and DJ Supreme’s soul-infused production.

In an era where Hip Hop has evolved into a global phenomenon, sometimes we need a reminder of its authentic roots, and that’s where Shaheed and DJ Supreme step in. These two Hip Hop sages are the keepers of the culture’s precious simplicity, reminding us that to tell your story, all you need are your rhymes and a rhythm to ride. They’ve been holding it down for years, gracing stages with heavyweights like Scarface, Jurassic 5, and The Jungle Brothers, among others.

The Art of Throwing Darts is a testament to Shaheed’s lyrical finesse and DJ Supreme’s soulful beats, with guest appearances from Hip Hop heavyweights like Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na and Akil the MC, Percee P, and Slug from Atmosphere. If you’re hungry for that classic Hip Hop vibe with a fresh twist, The Art of Throwing Darts is your fix.

Release date: September 1, 2023.

Vega7 The Ronin & Superior - Sleep Is The Cousin

Superior is a producer of Spanish descent and based in Germany, and his work on the boards for Sleep Is The Cousin is outstanding. Vega7 The Ronin bars are entertaining and his flows are dope, but is the production that makes this project a must-listen. Lots of similar albums out these days in this underground section of Hip Hop, Sleep Is The Cousin is one of the best of the year of its kind.

Release date: July 7, 2023.

Rasheed Chappell & The Arcitype - Sugar Bills

New Jersey’s veteran emcee Rasheed Chappell teamed up with producer The Arcitype for Sugar Bills, a dope project that is a must-listen for anyone interested in traditional Hip Hop. The album’s lead single “1520” is its centerpiece, a dope nod to the very cradle of Hip Hop, 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. The track’s laced with a gritty, old-school vibe, complete with a smooth piano loop and a drumline that hooks you from the jump. Rasheed Chappell is on point with his clever wordplay and tight rhyme schemes, on “1520”, and on the rest of the 44-minute tracklist too.

Ever since his excellent debut LP Future Before Nostalgia (2011), Rasheed Chappell has consistently proved himself a great emcee who is in tune with golden-age aesthetics, without being stuck in the past. The Arcitype’s beats on Sugar Bills do the job, and artists like Rome Streetz, 38 Spesh, Jasmine Lopez, Neenah, STL GLD, Noel Pancho, and Lisa Bello help to round out what is one of Rasheed Chappell’s best works yet.

Release date: September 15, 2023.

Kool Keith - Black Elvis 2

Kool Keith Announces Black Elvis 2

Kool Keith’s Black Elvis 2 is a dope follow-up to its iconic predecessor. Black Elvis/Lost in Space (1999) has held a special place in the hearts of a lot of Kool Keith fans, despite our feeling that it is not his absolute best work. That said: nearly 25 years after the first Black Elvis, the release of Black Elvis 2 presents us with another intriguing chapter in Kool Keith’s discography.

Kool Keith has always thrived when working closely with a singular producer, as seen in his collaborations with Dan The Automator on Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996) and Kutmaster Kurt on Sex Style (1997) and First Come First Served (1999) – three records that rank among his finest work. These partnerships provided a grounding influence that enhanced Kool Keith’s artistic vision. While Black Elvis 2 explores various themes and lacks a single guiding hand in production, it manages to maintain a commendable level of cohesion, with only one track, “Feeling Me,” falling short of expectations.

Co-produced by Keith himself and featuring collaborations with L’Orange, Marc Live, and others, the album maintains his Black Elvis sci-fi themes while simultaneously exploring typical Kool Keith topics such as fashion, sex, and his dissatisfaction with Hip Hop and the music industry. Tracks like “First Copy” and the album’s absolute standout track “Space Mountain” showcase Kool Keith’s unique sound and dissociative trippy lyrics. Also worth mentioning is the satirical brilliance of “Kindergarten Adults” which exposes the stagnant mindset of rap traditionalists trapped in a bygone era (ouch), while “Without My Culture” turns the tables on the rampant commercialization plaguing the genre.

With its intergalactic trash talk and seamless transitions, Black Elvis 2 stands as one of Keith’s best recent works – though not quite as good as Serpent, his collaborative album with producer Real Bad Man, that dropped earlier in 2023.

Release date: June 16, 2023.

Klassy - Good Seeds

Klassy is an emcee (and tattoo artist) from Echo Park, Los Angeles. Good Seeds is her debut full-length album, produced by veteran producer and Beatrock backbone Fatgums. He crafted a dope set of soulful boom-bap beats for Klassy and her guests to rhyme over, stylish instrumentals showing an appreciation for classic Hip Hop with scratched-in vocal snippets taken from classic joints from artists such as Common, Mobb Deep, MC Lyte, and Lauryn Hill. Klassy delivers confident verses while revealing her vulnerabilities as a young Filipino mother, all of it with a beautiful voice and a great melodic flow. Other Beatrock artists show up for mostly strong guest spots, most notably on the dope posse cut “Greatest Song Ever”. Good Seeds is a great album that is not to be missed.

Release date: May 1, 2023.

SkyBlew & Scottie Royal - A Soulful Taste of Jazz: The Royal Blew Experience

Chapel Hill emcee SkyBlew and Charlotte-based producer Scottie Royal are regular collaborators, and their 2023 album, A Soulful Taste of Jazz, is their best work yet. Royal’s jazzy production is a perfect match for SkyBlew’s soulful vocals, and the two create a sound that is both nostalgic and fresh.

Royal’s beats are a mix of 90s-flavored East Coast jazz rap in the vein of ATCQ and Digable Planets and the laid-back soulful sounds of J Dilla. SkyBlew’s flows are effortless and his lyrics are full of colorful imagery and optimism. The result is a feel-good album that is both beautiful and moving, and that sounds better each time you listen to it.

Release date: July 21, 2023.

Alaska & Steel Tipped Dove - The Structural Dynamics Of Flow

Atom Family alumni Alaska’s The Structural Dynamics Of Flow marks one of his most accessible works yet. The album features a diverse range of tracks, each carefully crafted by producer Steel Tipped Dove, who is on a hot streak in 2023. Fresh from his Backwoodz Studioz debut with Call Me When You’re Outside, Steel Tipped Dove delivers a jazzy and hazy production on The Structural Dynamics Of Flow. The beats effortlessly transition between ambient loops and classic boom-bap, perfect backdrops for Alaska’s bars. His lyrical content covers a variety of topics, ranging from current trends to more obscure themes, all filtered through his unique perspective and delivered with sharp precision. Overall, The Structural Dynamics Of Flow is a great album that will especially appeal to fans of Hip Hop with a slight left-field touch.

Release date: April 7, 2023.

Estee Nack - Nacksaw Jim Duggan

Following his collaborative project BRAP (Born Rewards & Penalties) with V Don in March 2023, Estee Nack delivered his Griselda debut album titled Nacksaw Jim Duggan in May 2023. The album draws its name from the renowned professional wrestler, Hacksaw Jim Duggan.

With Nacksaw Jim Duggan Tragic Allies rapper Estee Nack dropped what probably is the most divisive project out of the Griselda camp this year, this is a hate-it or-love-it kind of album. The album possesses a unique disjointed quality that only a rapper like Estee Nack can make seem ordinary. Take the opening track, “NACKMANCOLETRANE,” for example. It skillfully blends a raw saxophone snippet mid-melody with occasional brash honks, resulting in a repetitive yet mesmerizing effect. Nacksaw Jim Duggan can be classified as left-field occasionally, benefiting from the masterful production of the Griselda crew that combines the familiar Griselda boom-bap grime with unsettling experimentation that gives this project its unique vibe.

Contrary to expectations of a typical Griselda release, Nacksaw Jim Duggan aligns more closely with Estee Nack’s previous works, albeit enhanced by marvelous Griselda-style production. While the album’s production becomes somewhat repetitive as it progresses, Nack’s captivating lyricism and impeccable chemistry with the beats, along with his clever use of adlibs, prevent monotony from overshadowing each track. All in all, we really like Nacksaw Jim Duggan, and think it’s one of the better releases out of the Griselda camp this year, it’s probably not for everybody though.

Release date: May 19, 2023.

Declaime & Theory Hazit - Rocketman

Declaime, also known as Dudley Perkins, is a rapper, singer, and producer from Oxnard, California. Theory Hazit is a rapper and producer from Winchester, Kentucky. Both are known for operating in Hip Hop’s left field, so these two seem like an ideal match for a collaborative album. Rocketman delivers on its promise: Declaime’s slightly off-the-wall rhyming style synergizes perfectly with Theory Hazit’s quirky beats. It’s not for everybody, but adventurous Hip Hop listeners who are willing to give Rocketman the time and attention it deserves will find plenty to enjoy.

Release date: September 1, 2023.

Chucky Smash - The Taking Of Pelham 123

The Taking Of Pelham 123 is the solo debut from Chucky Smash, who is part (with Molecules and Ceelow) of the famed Bronx-based crew The Legion. Maybe you know The Legion from the solid Three The Bronx Way (2019), or even from their low-profile but strong 1994 debut album, Theme + Echo = Krill. That album (partly produced by Showbiz and Black Sheep) received mixed reviews upon its release, maybe because critics didn’t appreciate or understand what The Legion was trying to do: bring back that Golden Age feel that they felt was already over and done with by 1994. Almost 30 years after that slept-on debut record, Chucky Smash still is on the same mission. The Legion partner Molecules produced the album (with Key Figures), Droopy Dog, Marvelous Supreme, Lucky Fishburne, Milano Constantine, Dres (Black Sheep), and The Legion appear as guests, DJ Eclipse, Venom, and Tha4orce provide sharp cuts & scratches. Beats, flows, scratches, everything breathes Golden Age – The Taking Of Pelham 123 is a dope throwback LP that will appeal to traditional boom-bap enthusiasts especially.

Release date: March 13, 2023.

Ja'king The Divine - Parables Of The Sower

Brooklyn artist Ja’king The Divine is one of the most exciting talents to emerge on the Hip Hop scene in recent years. Parables Of The Sower is his 5th album, a dope follow-up to the awesome 手​术​: BLACK SUN TZU (2022). Production on Parables Of The Sower is creative, with pristine sampling and unique musical twists, and lyrically Ja’king The Divine is dope as f – he has an expressive flow and comes with strong content too.

Boom-bap-inspired lyrical jazz rap, with engaging, slightly left-field production – Parables Of The Sower is a great album. When will Ja’king The Divine be properly discovered by wider Hip Hop audiences? Maybe Parables Of The Sower will do it for him, it’s certainly time for this artist to get his props.

Release date: January 28, 2023.

sleepingdogs - i'm fakin' my own death just to get some rest

sleepingdogs is a duo consisting of Philadelphia-based rapper Andrew and Rhode Island emcee Jesse The Tree. The self-produced i’m fakin’ my own death just to get some rest is a great piece of blue-collar Hip Hop, offering 45 minutes of melodic soundscapes and relatable bars – not the same as but certainly reminiscent of the music of every-man Hip Hop icons Atmosphere. Jesse The Tree’s Pigeon Man ended up in our top 30 of 2022, this engaging sleepingdogs album hits the spot too. Listen to i’m fakin’ my own death just to get some rest here.

Release date: March 14, 2023.

Knowledge The Pirate - 5 Lbs Of Pressure

Roc Marciano-affiliate Knowledge The Pirate’s 5 Lbs of Pressure is his best work yet. In a crowded field, Knowledge The Pirate continues with the same gameplan he used to craft his latest albums, based on Roc Marciano’s brand of stripped-down neoclassicism (the Hip Hop subgenre Roc Marci started with the classic Marcberg in 2010). The cinematic 5 Lbs of Pressure is entirely produced by E.L.E.M.N.T. (with one track produced by Animoss), and the soundscapes – spare percussion and concise loops sprinkled with subtle horn samples and piano instrumentals – on this 45-minute record are butter-smooth, perfect for Knowledge The Pirate’s street rhymes and laidback flows. Roc Marciano appears on one of the album’s standouts “Corsairs”, but there are no weak spots to speak of here: 5 Lbs Of Pressure‘s strength is its consistency, and no skips are required while listening to this excellent Knowledge The Pirate album.

Release date: March 17, 2023.

Moka Only - In And Of Itself

Moka Only is a multi-talented artist based in Vancouver, British Columbia. With a nearly three-decades-long career, he has left an indelible mark on the Canadian music scene. Initially part of the renowned rap group Swollen Members for five years, Moka Only embarked on a primarily solo journey from 2005 onwards, releasing over 50 (!) solo projects and collaborating with an array of notable artists, including J Dilla, MF Doom, Kool Keith, and Del The Funky Homosapien, among others.

Moka Only’s music is a delightful fusion of Hip Hop with genres such as jazz and soul. Renowned for his smooth and laid-back flow, he always comes with witty and introspective lyrics that usually touch upon love, relationships, and personal growth themes. In And Of Itself showcases Moka Only’s signature style and musicianship. The seventeen-track project, entirely self-produced, seamlessly combines his smooth flows with dusty beats, which will captivate listeners from start to finish.

Release date: May 19, 2023.

Mike Flips, Nord1kone & Seize - Life Cycles

Producers Mike Flips and Seize join forces to create a nostalgic soundscape of classic boom-bap beats, setting the stage for the nimble lyricism of Outsiders Syndicate emcee Nord1kone. In Life Cycles, we’re taken on a journey through time and introspection, with lyrical prowess that bridges the gap between the past and the future.

This album is an entertaining sonic experience that pays homage to the roots of Hip Hop while gazing forward to new horizons. The inclusion of guest appearances by El Da Sensei from the legendary Artifacts and the talented Outsiders Syndicate emcee The I.M.F. adds a bit more depth and dimension to the project.

Life Cycles is a testament to the enduring power of classic boom-bap, skillfully revitalized by Mike Flips and Seize and elevated by Nord1kone’s lyrical finesse. If you’re a fan of Hip Hop that pays homage to its heritage, this album deserves a spot in your rotation. It’s a bridge between the golden era and the ever-evolving future of the genre, and it’s definitely worth a listen.

Release date: September 8, 2023.

DJ Muggs - Soul Assassins 3: Death Valley

DJ Muggs’ Soul Assassins 3: Death Valley marks a highly anticipated chapter in the series, a long-awaited release after 23 years since the second volume. This installment follows in the footsteps of the classic Soul Assassins album from 1997, a notable benchmark for producer-led projects.

Uniting a diverse array of MCs from all eras, DJ Muggs showcases his signature style by offering them his meticulously crafted sonic canvases. The album features an impressive lineup including Slick Rick, B-Real, MC Ren, Ice Cube, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Scarface, Devin the Dude, CeeLo Green, Evidence, Boldy James,  Westside Gunn, Roc Marciano, Rome Streetz, Meyhem Lauren, and Freddie Gibbs. These voices seamlessly blend with Muggs’ instrumentals, forming cohesive and engaging soundscapes.

DJ Muggs’ instrumental work remains as commendable as ever, setting the tone with atmospheric and fitting backdrops that allow the emcees to thrive. While the album might not boast immediate standout tracks that embed themselves firmly in memory, it does offer a consistent level of quality throughout – with “Metropolis” (with Method Man and Slick Rick) and “Dump On Em” (with B-Real, MC Ren, and Ice Cube) as easy favorites for the 90s-crowd, even if it’s evident Muggs’ production style is especially suited for the voices and flows of the likes of Roc Marci, Boldy James, and Rome Streetz.

Soul Assassins 3: Death Valley carries an undeniably strong appeal. While it doesn’t aim for groundbreaking uniqueness, it certainly stands out as a notable producer album this year. DJ Muggs strikes a balance between his skillful craftsmanship and collaborative energy, resulting in a release that contributes meaningfully to this year in Hip Hop.

Release date: August 25, 2023.

Chika - Samson: The Album

Chika’s full-length debut album, Samson: The Album, is a confirmation of her talent, which was already well-established by a series of EPs. The album opens with an impressive intro from Lin-Manuel Miranda, a significant nod for Chika, considering her background as a former child of the theater. Throughout the album, Chika fearlessly bares her soul, delivering reflective and unguarded moments that create an emotional narrative.

A dope feature from Freddie Gibbs and contributions from legendary artists Snoop Dogg and Stevie Wonder adds further weight to the album. These features not only elevate the project but also help draw intriguing parallels between Chika and the biblical character after whom the album is named. While Chika’s singing voice is strong and polished, her hoarse rap flow adds a unique edge to her music. The mainstream-friendly sounds of Samson: The Album do not compromise her authenticity, as there permeates a distinctive Hip Hop flavor that will resonate well with listeners who usually stay well away from whatever the mainstream has to offer and who prefer a more grounded Hip Hop sound.

At 54 minutes in duration, Samson: The Album stands as a fully realized piece of music. Chika’s ability to blend raw emotion with mainstream appeal makes this debut a compelling and captivating listen, one that deserved more promotion and hype to help fulfill its potential.

Release date: July 28, 2023.

Rigz - Heal In

Rochester emcee Rigz (from Da Cloth) adds another dope project to his catalog with Heal In. Rigz’s solo debut Substance Abuse (2020) and his 2021 sophomore solo album Wake Ups were pretty good, and 2022’s Gold was even better – thanks to DJ Muggs’ elite production which turned out to be perfectly suited for Rigz’s smooth flows and Griselda-style street raps. Heal In is a strong follow-up to Gold, a 43-minute presentation of top-tier underground Hip Hop, with Rigz’s most personal bars to date. Production is less distinctive than Muggs’s on Gold, but the slick instrumentals on Heal In go well with Rigz’s rhymes and those of guests like Rob Gates, Bishop the Great, Shonyae, M.A.V., Asun Eastwood, Jai Black, and Mooch. Nice cover art too – Heal In is a well-realized project in all regards.

Release date: March 17, 2023.

YUNGMORPHEUS - From Whence It Came

From Whence It Came‘s smooth production is perfectly complemented by Los Angeles rapper YUNGMORPHEUS’s low-key delivery and voice. Bag Talk (2019, with Pink Siifu), States Of Precarity (2021), Thumbing Thru Foliage (2021, with ewonee),  and Affable With Pointed Teeth (2021, with Eyedress) were our favorite YUNGMORPHEUS projects prior to this release – From Whence It Came‘ is on par or even better than his earlier works. The lo-fi, chill aesthetic that is a hallmark of his sound is not for everybody, but it comes off beautifully on From Whence It Came, which is another YUNGMORPHEUS winner as far as we are concerned.

Release date: April 28, 2023.

Atmosphere - So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously

Atmosphere, the revered duo from Minneapolis, has been releasing music for over two decades with a prolific output that includes more than two dozen studio albums, EPs, and collaborative projects. Throughout their career, they have built a legacy of honesty, humility, and vulnerability, constantly pushing themselves to evolve while staying true to their roots. Slug, the emcee, is a masterful storyteller, crafting compelling narratives that pay homage to his influences while leaving his own mark on the genre. Ant, the producer, draws inspiration from a variety of genres including soul, funk, rock, reggae, and the pioneering work of Hip Hop DJs and producers, creating his own unique soundscapes that pulse with life, love, stress, and setbacks. At their core, Atmosphere has been a musical shepherd, leading listeners on a journey through life with each new album.

So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously is their 13th full-length studio album and one of their better recent releases. The album presents a daunting exploration of paranoia, which can be connected to the prevailing sense of unease in society due to the pandemic and civil unrest. It’s a big album at over an hour, but it never overstays its welcome. Ant’s music and Slug’s bars manage to captivate throughout and despite its heavier underlying themes, there’s levity and positivity too – perhaps best exemplified by the album’s opening and closing tracks: “Okay” and “Alright (Okay Reprise)”, bookending So Many Other Realities Exist Simultaneously with the message that everything will eventually work out in the end.

Release date: May 5, 2023.

Raw Poetic & Damu The Fudgemunk - Away Back In

Away Back In is a remarkable and celestial blend of Hip Hop, jazz, and garage rock by rapper Jason Moore, known as Raw Poetic. The album is produced by Damu the Fudgemunk and features the guitar work of P-Fritz. The album opens with the lead single, “Ease Side,” which reignites and revitalizes the jazz elements of Moore’s recent work. P-Fritz’s smooth guitar riffs and bass lines lay the foundation for Moore to dissect the emotions of a carefree relationship.

Moore and P-Fritz’s artistic symbiosis is evident throughout Away Back In. Moore’s ability to melodically narrate everyday experiences in the intricate tapestry of modern existence harmonizes uniquely with P-Fritz’s consistent capacity to craft musical panoramas that complement these narratives.

The lyrics seamlessly oscillate between sung and spoken, taking listeners on a dark and melodious journey. In “Bird’s Eye,” an exploration of tumultuous moments in the twilight of time, the guitars cascade into overdrive, fashioning an eerie resonance. Meanwhile, “Sometime After Midnight” probes the essence of racism in the American context.

Despite the thematic complexity, threads of hope persist, evident in tracks like the spirited “The Dank-ish,” and the eponymous piece “A Way Back In,” a song commemorating the extensive history and camaraderie shared by Moore and P-Fritz. The album’s closure, “Human Kindness,” orchestrates an unlikely fusion of folk-style guitar and Hip Hop, presenting the listener with a remarkably optimistic perspective on human nature.

Away Back In is an engaging and soul-infused opus unlike anything else you will hear this year. It is an imperative auditory experience for enthusiasts of innovative Hip Hop and jazz aficionados.

Release date: August 25, 2023.

Black Milk - Everybody Good?

Black Milk’s 2023 album, Everybody Good? features an eclectic mix of soulful, pop-oriented, and hard-hitting boom-bap beats, combined with introspective lyrics and smooth flow. This is Black Milk’s eighth full-length album, showing his consistency as a producer, rapper, and songwriter.

The music on Everybody Good? was produced, arranged, and mixed pre-COVID and the beats are gorgeous and meticulously crafted. Black Milk plays it rather safe though, going for a mix of the sound he’s done before. The production on Everybody Good? is a highlight even so, with Black Milk displaying his range as a producer. The beats vary from soulful to hard-hitting, with Black Milk seamlessly adapting his flow to each track. The concepts here are personal and introspective, with the production being a melting pot of past sounds from the live instrumentation that Album of the Year (2010) began displaying to the jazz elements of his previous full-length Fever (2018) and even the futuristic electronics of Tronic (2008).

While the album may lack huge standouts, it is still a really solid effort overall. Black Milk sounds as good as ever on the mic, and some of his catchiest hooks are here as well. The song with Phonte, “Feelings Don’t Feel,” is easily the best track here, a great track. Everybody Good? is arguably one of the best-produced albums of the year, showcasing Black Milk’s growth and polish as an artist. While it may be a bit too eclectic and pop-oriented for some tastes, it is still a worthy addition to his catalog in which No Poison No Paradise (2013) and If There’s a Hell Below (2014) remain the absolute standouts.

Release date: July 19, 2023.

Reuben Vincent - Love Is War

Love Is War is Charlotte, NC artist Reuben Vincent’s much-anticipated debut studio album on 9th Wonder’s Jamla label (under exclusive license to Roc Nation Records), with appearances and production from 9th Wonder, Young Guru, The Soul Council, Rapsody, Reason, Domani, and Stacey Barthe. Reuben Vincent is one of those natural talents, at 20 years old he already has everything needed to be a Hip Hop star – his flow, cadence, and pen game are top-notch, and he has that hard-to-define star power. On Love Is War he bears his soul and shows remarkable insight for one so young, reflecting on the lives of young Black men in today’s world – serious subject matter blended seamlessly with lighter-themed wordplay that proves he a dope emcee as well as an intelligent songwriter. Love Is War is musically rich (you can depend on the sounds to be stylish and soulful when 9th Wonder and company are involved), the content is meaningful, and the performances of Reuben Vincent and the featured artists are strong. Love Is War is a great album, and Reuben Vincent is an artist to keep an eye on.

Release date: January 27, 2023.  

Jae Skeese - Abolished Uncertainties

Abolished Uncertainties is Buffalo emcee Jae Skeese’s anticipated sophomore full-length, Drumwork debut, and best work to date. Griselda-style beats and flows, from Jae Skeese and guests like Freeway and Drumwork-founder Conway the Machine (among others), make for a strong album – just missing that special extra something that would set it apart from all the other quality underground Hip Hop releases out at the same time. That said: Jae Skeese is a dope emcee with the personality to carry an album and the introspective nature of his bars throughout Abolished Uncertainties gives the album a thematic cohesiveness absent in a lot of the competition’s more straight-forward street-talk content. So don’t sleep on Abolished Uncertainties – it is a top underground release for 2023 without a doubt.

Release date: March 24, 2023.

Honorable Mentions

Full honorable mentions list here.

Best Hip Hop EPs Of 2023 ‎

  • 38 Spesh & Conway the Machine – Speshal Machinery
  • Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist – Voir Dire
  • Open Mike Eagle – Another Triumph of Ghetto Engineering
  • Jus-P & Body Bag Ben – Fortune Favors the Bold
  • Jack Jetson & Illinformed – CAMOGODSKIN
  • Halfcut & Reks – Survival Mode
  • Ransom & Nicholas Craven – Deleted Scenes 2
  • Crimeapple & Clovis Ochin – Cacio & Pepe
  • Nicholas Craven, Raz Fresco & Estee Nack – Gia… A La Carte
  • Al.Divino – Sheet Music Vol. 1000
  • Valee & Harry Fraud – Virtuoso
  • Pro Dillinger & Wino Willy – Dirty Work
  • Rim Da Villain – Rimbrandt: Oil Based
  • Def Soulja & Sebb Bash – Moonlight Marauder
  • AJ Suede – Ark Flashington
  • Sankofa – Iron Kofa Sharp
  • The Alchemist – Flying High
  • Curren$y & Harry Fraud – Vices
  • Napoleon Da Legend & J Scienide – Goat vs Sheep
  • RJ Payne & Cartune Beatz – Jigsaw EP
  • Nino Man – Incognino
  • Hus Kingpin & SmooVth – Paid in Full
  • Boldy James & ChanHays – Prisoner of Circumstance
  • Factor Chandelier – Moving Like a Planet
  • McKinley Dixon – Beloved! Paradise? Jazz!?
  • Dazzie Dee – West Coast Boom Slap
  • K.Burns & DirtyDiggs – Baggery
  • Wais P & Dame Grease – Pimp Grease
  • Cydney Poitier & Beatenaunt – Uptown Saturday Night
  • DJ MROK – Don’t Fk Wit Da Baldeez
  • Del the Funky Homosapien – Diamond Dawg EP
  • Vince Staples & The Alchemist – Untitled EP
  • Killer Mike – Motherless EP
  • Chuck Strangers (Pro Era) – The Boys & Girls EP
  • A Plus Tha Kid & DirtyDiggs – Goat Milk
  • Nowaah the Flood & Machacha – Ground Provision
  • Eff Yoo & Level 13 – Blocktoberfest
  • Solomon Childs & Darkim Be Allah – Child Famous
  • Tha God Fahim & Mike Shabb – Dump Gawd: Rhyme Pays
  • Tha God Fahim & Sadhugold – Dump Gawd: Tha Knocking of Loose
  • Tha God Fahim – Dump Gawd Reloaded
  • Obijuan & HooksArthur – Wavonomixx
  • DirtyDiggs & Planet Asia – The Experience
  • Redveil – playing w/ fire
  • Nym Lo & Statik Selektah – From The Horse’s Mouth
  • Chuck D – We Wreck Stadiums
  • BlackLiq & Mopes – Choice Is a Chance
  • Tha God Fahim & Oh No the Disrupt – Berserko
  • Royce Da 5’9″ – The Heaven Experience
  • Ill Bill – Billmatic
  • 38 Spesh – Gunsmoke
  • Cortez & Crisis – Filthy Karma
  • Ty Farris & Machacha – Malice At The Palace
  • Hus Kingpin – The Tricky Tape
  • Obijuan & Wino Willy – Mangrove Maze
  • Chubs & Body Bag Ben – Burly Baby
  • Murs & Wiardon – Speak N Spell
  • Conway the Machine & Jae Skeese – Pain Provided Profit
  • Al.Divino & BoriRock – MGNTK
  • Supastition – Every Last Word
  • Grieves & Mouse Powell – WHY NOT?
  • Supreme Cerebral & Vinyl Villain – The Emperor’s Deity
  • G4 Jag & GiveEmSoul – Soul In The Sky
  • Nerves Baddington – No Survivors
  • Vic Spencer & 38 Spesh – Greenthumbs Meets Trigger Fingers
  • Tha God Fahim – Iron Bull
  • Pro Dillinger & Machacha – Dirt Don’t Hurt
  • Atmosphere – Okay EP
  • DJ Moya – Hikikomori
  • Taelor Gray – Thou Shall Not Covet
  • Hus Kingpin – A Poem In Ten Books
  • Casket D. & Statik Selektah – Calculated
  • Murs & El Lif Beatz – Take It Easy My Brother Murs
  • Crimeapple – El Cantante
  • Stove God Cook$ & Roc Marciano – If These Kitchen Walls Could Talk
  • Tha God Fahim & Camoflauge Monk – Dark Shogunn Assassin
  • Bobby J From Rockaway & Nef – Radio Days
  • Tha God Fahim & NicoJP – Chess Moves
  • Kota the Friend – Lyrics to Go Vol. 4
  • Fashawn & Marc Spano – FAX
  • AJ Suede – Indica Music
  • Murs & GLDNEYE – Guide To World’s Greatest Cities
  • High John – High Jazz Reworks

Best Instrumental Hip Hop Albums Of 2023

  • 9th Wonder – Zion IX
  • Kid Koala – Creatures Of The Late Afternoon

Best Hip Hop Compilation Albums Of 2023

  • Mello Music Group – Omakase
  • Brotha Lynch Hung – Choice Kuttz: Da Best of Brotha Lynch Hung
  • Dollar Bill Y’All: Spring Records and the First Decade of Hip Hop

Best Hip Hop Adjacent Albums Of 2023

  • Temps – Party Gator Purgatory

The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2022

Click here or on the image for the full list.

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12 responses to “The Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2023”

  1. Jelle Ris says:

    7th of january, 3 albums, 3 ep’s, let it grow, let it grow, let it grow!!

  2. Dan says:

    Thought Provokah – I Let My Tape Rock Til My Tape Pop is a very nice album, highly recommend!

  3. Goonerboyee says:

    When is EPMD due?

  4. Jay says:

    No way Fine Dining is higher than God don’t f with you. God don’t must be on top 10 and Fine Dining shouldn’t be even on the list it’s wack

  5. Gerge says:

    I wouldn’t worry. Neither will be on the final end of year list.

  6. WJ says:

    An indispensable ongoing list for great Hip Hop. Thanks for all your hard work. Don’t sleep on Cavalier & Quelle Chris’s “Death Tape 1: Black Cottonwood” – by far the strongest Hip Hop EP this year, as well as Brainorchestra’s “It Means a Lot” in your album list – which is IMO better than many on your list. Keep rockin’ it!

  7. Dan says:

    Wouldn’t surprise me if Scaring the Hoes is still #1 come the end of the year. Just an astonishing album.

  8. Dea Phiri says:

    Scaring the Hoes is a special special album.

  9. Mike G says:

    I started a playlist of new Hip Hop using this list as a guide. Enjoy

  10. Musa says:

    King Kashmere & Alecs Delarge – The Album to end all Alien Abductions should be added to the list. It got me excited, it is a little bit long but tops some of the albums already on the list.

  11. Mike G says:

    I realize art is art. But can someone please explain Steel Tip Dove? They have 3 projects in the top 60 as of today. I make weird beats too but I don’t get it. Not trying to hate.

  12. Graham says:

    one album that should be near the top of any Best of 23 list needs to be Vega 7 the Ronin and Superior – Sleep is the Cousin, absolutely mesmerising album.

    Also, Tree & Vic Spencer – Nothing is Something should at least be an HM, quality bit of work

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