Top 25 Albums of 2022

Here’s the list of my favorite 25 albums from last year. I apologize for how long it took me to get this list out. I just needed to catch up on a lot of releases before I made it so that I didn’t miss anything. With that said, I wasn’t able to listen to every single project that I wanted to, so it’s possible that this list will become outdated over time. I think it’s pretty set in stone for the time being though. This should go without saying, but these are not the only albums that were released in 2022 that are worth hearing. These are just my favorites. Also, just because an album is lower on this list than another one doesn’t mean it’s any less valid or worthy of listeners. Hopefully you knew that already though. Let me know what you think of these albums, and put your own list in the comment section below. By the way, if an entry is written in red—or blue if you’re on mobile—then you can click on it to go to that album’s review. Alright, let’s get into it…

25. “Arachnid” by aloeight

Out of all the albums I heard this year that were helmed by producers and contained features from other artists, this was my favorite. I think the most well known artist who makes albums like these is DJ Khaled—even though he’s not really a producer—which is kind of ironic since he’s one of the worst at it, but I digress. There are a gang of incredibly talented lyricists featured on this album, and the production itself is really detailed and entertaining. A lot of times producers who put together albums like this end up having mediocre or just straight up wack beats, and it seems like the artists that are featured kind of half-ass their performances as well, but that couldn’t be further from the case with this album. This project has features from Crooked I, Locksmith, Vega7 the Ronin, Mickey Factz, Pro Dillinger, Planet Asia, King Los, Elzhi, Kool Keith, Ransom, and more. It’s fire. Check it out.

24. “Heresy” by Stik Figa & August Fanon

August Fanon has become one of my favorite producers of all time over the past few years, and I think this is his best produced album of 2022. Stik Figa has just been improving as a rapper over the years too. I think the shit he’s putting out now is miles ahead of what he was doing when he was with Mello Music Group. Not that I didn’t like his work under that label; I just think he’s even better these days. Even if you’ve never listened to his music before, I think this would be a pretty good entry point because there’s not a single mediocre moment. It’s got features from several talented artists including Anwar HighSign, Iceberg Theory, Sleep Sinatra, Vic Spencer, Denmark Vessey, and more. Don’t let the fact that this album isn’t on DSPs prevent you from checking it out because you’ll be fucking up big time if you decide to sleep on this record. The production is fire, and Stik Figa killed it. The album’s exceptional.

23. “Gutta Glory” by Pro Zay & Ed Glorious

This is another one of the best produced albums of 2022 to me. Ed Glorious is in my top 5 current underground producers, and it’s because of projects like this. Pro Zay is a bit of an acquired taste due to his unique voice; it’s something you’re either gonna hate or love. Obviously I love it since the album’s on this list. I think it works really well with his hard lyricism. Pro Zay is the “Gutta” to Ed’s “Glory.” The dude is super aggressive in his music, which I find really entertaining. Like I said in my review, I wouldn’t have ever expected him to have an album fully produced by Ed Glorious, but it works incredibly well. The features from guys like Teller Bank$ & Blass 89 are phenomenal too. Check this shit out and let me know what you think. It’s dope as hell to me.

22. “God Don’t Make Mistakes” by Conway the Machine

This is one of several albums on this list that I regret not reviewing. Conway the Machine has become one of my favorite rappers of all time over the past few years, and it’s because he consistently puts out quality projects like this. The dude is a beast on the mic, and his albums always feel way more polished than those of Benny the Butcher & Westside Gunn in my opinion. This project is beautifully produced, and there’s not a single wack verse on here. I mean, I personally didn’t really care for Jill Scott’s rapping, but I wouldn’t say she was flat out bad. She just didn’t really add much to the song for me honestly. That’s my least favorite moment on the album, but everything else about this project is fire. Conway himself is the best thing about this album to me. The dude massacres every single verse. He also gets incredibly personal on this album, which I really appreciate. A few weeks ago I listed my favorite guest verses of 2022, but I forgot to include Lil Wayne’s verse on Tear Gas. He fucking killed that shit. The track with Benny & Westside was amazing too. I love this thing; it was the best Griselda release of the year in my opinion, and I can’t wait to see what Conway does next.

21. “Conversations with a Willow Tree” by calm.

calm.’s Things I Learned While Dying in Denver project was in my top 5 albums of 2018, so I was really looking forward to this follow up, and it thankfully didn’t disappoint at all. I think AwareNess’ production is fantastic, and Time’s poetic lyricism had me hooked throughout the runtime of this album. It was released on the very first day of 2022, and it’s impressive that not a lot of albums surpassed it as the year progressed. In the past I feel like Time’s flow has been an acquired taste, but I think it’s a lot more accessible on this album in particular. The features from guys like Myka 9 and Che Noir are really goddamn good too. If you’re into political Hip Hop, this is a must-listen album for 2022. I think this shit is mad underrated honestly. Check it out and let me know what you think.

20. “Murder Castle” by IAMGAWD & The Black Depths

This shit is fire. If you’re not into rappers rapping about how dope they are then I guess you might not like this, but I personally really enjoy that kinda thing when it’s this well done. IAMGAWD is a fucking beast on the microphone. The Black Depths is too, and he’s also really ill with the production here. This is one of the most fun-to-listen-to albums I heard in 2022. There’s not a single unimpressive verse on this project, and it’s a goldmine for standout lines. Here’s my favorite couplet from IAMGAWD…

IAMGAWD, rap niggas cry and sob in they dialogue
While I evolve into the best by and large without trying hard

His flow and rhymes are just effortlessly smooth. The dude’s stats are maxed out. He’s one of the most talented MCs coming out of Chicago right now in my opinion, and I cannot wait to see how he follows this one up. If you’re into really lyrical, aggressive, battle-type rappers, you do not wanna sleep on this. I saw IAMGAWD rap for Kid Vishis on Royce da 5’9″‘s IG live one day, and he’s one of the few rappers that didn’t embarrass himself on that platform. That is exactly the type of audience he deserves in my opinion. If you’re into Royce, I promise you that you will like this album. Check it out.

19. “Metal Lung” by ShrapKnel

This is another album that I seriously regret not covering. I was a big fan of ShrapKnel’s debut project, Cobalt, back in 2019. I didn’t think their self titled album from the following year was quite as good, but it was still enjoyable overall. I ended up preferring the remixed version of that album, Flechette. However, this album right here is easily their best work as a duo in my opinion. The production on this thing is absolutely amazing, and Curly Castro & PremRock flow over it beautifully. If you’re into abstract Hip Hop, this is another must-listen album for 2022 in my opinion. I knew I was gonna love this thing as soon as I heard that beat from Child Actor on the opening track. The features from guys like billy woods and Rob Sonic are great too. This is easily one of the best produced albums I’ve heard from its year. I feel like the more familiar I become with PremRock & Curly Castro, the more I fall in love with their work. Not only is the actual music fire, but the album cover and title are really awesome to me too. This album is dope as hell. Don’t sleep on it.

18. “Second Hand Accounts” by Bloodmoney Perez & Messiah Musik

This is another must-hear project for abstract Hip hop fans in my opinion. I’m lovin’ this shit like McDonalds. It was my favorite album from January, and it still holds up as one of the best of the year. The production from Messiah Musik—and the one beat from Iceberg Theory—is fire, and I was hooked by Bloodmoney’s thoughtful, abstract, poetic lyricism. The features from guys like SolarFive & Defcee are fire too. In fact, Defcee spits one of my favorite verses of the year on this album. Don’t sleep on this shit. It’s an exceptional album, and I feel like it’s not getting enough praise.

17. “Spirit Box” by Sleep Sinatra & 8-bza

Sleep Sinatra is one of my favorite active underground artists. He dropped like five projects in 2022, and they’re all worth listening to, but this one is definitely my favorite. I’d heard a couple beats from 8-bza here and there in the past, but I consider this my introduction to his work as an artist, and I was frankly blown away by his production here. I absolutely adore how rough, rugged, and raw these beats sound, and Sleep Sinatra fits over them like a glove. He was experimenting with flows that I’d never heard from him before too. The features are all great as well. This was also my introduction to 8-bza’s rap persona, OchoPhono, and the dude is also a really talented MC, so that’s pretty cool. Just like with Heresy, this project is exclusive to Bandcamp, but don’t let that prevent you from hearing it because you’ll be missing out on one of the best albums of the year. It’s fire.

16. “Woeful Studies” by Ka

This is yet another album that I kinda regret not reviewing. Ka is one of my favorite artists of all time. I think he’s a brilliant producer, and an even better writer. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he’s one of the best poets whose work I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The dude’s writing is just absolutely beautiful. He kind of spits with a marginally more aggressive flow on this album than he usually does, which I think was pretty fucking cool to hear. If you’re a fan of Ka I probably don’t need to convince you to listen to this because he seems to have a pretty diehard fanbase, and understandably so. I mean, to be fair it did take me a few months to finally get around to listening to it, but it’s not like I never intended on doing so. Ka’s production here is perfect for him, and the couple of beats that Animoss provided are really good as well. I have zero complaints with this project. It’s amazing lyricism over some really cool, lowkey production. I live for this shit.

15. “For All Debts Public & Private” by Defcee & BoatHouse

Defcee is another one of my favorite MCs in the underground right now, and he sounds amazing over BoatHouse’s polished beats here. It’s great rapping over great production. If you’re a fan of Defcee I can’t see you not loving this album. I actually think it’s the best album I’ve heard from Defcee. I also should shoutout the IMPORT Edition of this album, which has some fire remixes and additional songs that weren’t on the original version. This album also has some great features from artists like Armand Hammer and SolarFive. It introduced me to a couple artists that I was previously unfamiliar with as well, so that’s much appreciated. Stop sleeping on Defcee if you’re not familiar with his work. I promise you will not be disappointed.

14. “The Overview Effect” by Jermiside & The Expert

This is another one of the most slept on albums of the year in my opinion. Jermiside is one of my favorite MCs from the Lessondary crew, and it’s just because of this album. I really love the psychedelic Rock samples that The Expert flipped on this project, and Jermiside sounds fantastic over them. He’s a really technically skilled MC, so having him spit over these awesome instrumentals is like a match made in heaven. This project made The Expert one of my favorite producers in the current underground scene. This is one of the best produced albums I heard all year. I also really appreciate the political subject matter of this album. I always love well done political Hip Hop, and it doesn’t get much better than this. Don’t sleep on this shit. It’s dope as hell.

13. “Fangs” by Grand Mantis

I literally just posted my review for this album yesterday; I’m really glad I covered this project because I almost didn’t even listen to it. It’s fucking fire though. Grand Mantis is a group containing rapper/producer Yikes the Zero, rapper Osevere, guitarist Thaddeus Cole-Pepper, and DJ Skipmode, and they formed like Voltron to give us one of the best underground abstract Hip Hop albums of the year. Yikes’ production along with Cole-Pepper’s guitar playing gives this album a really cool sonic atmosphere, and the lyricism is top notch. Yikes & Osevere are two very technically skilled MCs, which I really appreciate. There’s not a single track on this album that I don’t think is dope. Do not sleep on this album. It’s kinda flying under the radar for a lot of people, and it deserves way more attention. It’s boiling hot fire.

12. “Soiled” by Torito & Small Professor

Torito is a super technically skilled MC who I’ve been following since 2020. His Meat Circus album made it onto my top 25 albums of 2020 list, so I was pretty excited to see how he would follow it up, and thankfully he ended up surpassing it with this project. A lot of it has to do with Small Professor’s production; I think this is a much more cohesive effort since it was all produced by one person. There’s a very cartoonish, whimsical nature to a lot of the beats on this album, which I think works perfectly with Torito’s style. As I said in the review, he’s got a very monotone vocal delivery, which may be kind of off-putting to certain listeners, but personally I think it works really well with his lyrical approach. I think Torito is one of the best lyricists in the underground right now, and he’s super slept on. Check this shit out if you actually care about lyricism and artists saying unique things. This album is sizzling hot fire.

11. “ManDaMyth” by ManDaMyth

This album really came out of nowhere for me. In 2022 I discovered a lot of really cool debut albums from super talented underground MCs such as KILLVONGARD, Malachi. Whitman, and miles cooke, and this album kinda falls into that same category. ManDaMyth is an incredibly talented lyricist, and the production from SINAI on this album is really fucking awesome. The features are all excellent as well. This was a really pleasant surprise for me because it seemingly came outta nowhere, but it’s top tier quality. It’s another must-listen abstract Hip Hop release from 2022. Check this shit out. It’s burning hot fire.

10. “Cheat Codes” by Black Thought & Danger Mouse

Once again, here’s an album that I really regret not reviewing. If you’re a Hip Hop fan, you don’t need me to tell you how good this album is. It’s one of the most talked about records of 2022, and for good reason. Black Thought is an absolute monster on the microphone, and Danger Mouse provides some really superb instrumentals for him to slaughter. The features for the most part are all really great too. I didn’t even mind Russ on here. Russ’ verse on Ab-Soul’s latest album sucked ass, but he’s not particularly bad on this project in my opinion. I mean, don’t get me wrong; he easily had the wackest verse on the album, but that’s not saying much because every other verse is really goddamn good. Nobody should be surprised to see this album on this list. In fact, it’d be insane for it to not be on this list. Black Thought is one of my favorite rappers of all time, and it’s because of performances like this. This album is scalding hot fire.

9. “Bring Me Back When the World Is Cured” by Sadistik & Kno

Sadistik is another one of my favorite writers ever, and Kno is one of my favorite producers of all time, so you already know I was incredibly excited for this album, and it thankfully didn’t disappoint at all. Sadistik’s writing is as beautiful as it’s ever been, and same goes for Kno’s production. This is easily one of the best produced albums of the year. Sadistik’s flow and vocal delivery sound perfect over these beats, and the vocal samples that Kno flipped for the hooks are awesome. This is one of my favorite projects that either of them have ever been involved in. If you’re a fan of either of them and you somehow haven’t listened to this project then you’re seriously fucking up. This shit is superb.

8. “Languish Arts” by Ka

Shoutout to Ka for having two albums in this list. The reason I like this album more is just that I think the production is slightly more enjoyable. The writing is just as good on Woeful Studies, but I just prefer this set of songs. Pretty much everything I said about Woeful Studies applies to this album though. Oh, one thing I almost forgot to mention is how much I love the titles of these albums. The play on “language arts” and “social studies” is really cool. I love when artists have creative titles like that. The next album on this list has a good one too. Another one that comes to mind is billy woods’ Dour Candy. Anyway, this album is fire, and just further evidence that Ka is one of the greatest poets of all time. I think it’s a top five Ka album honestly. Don’t sleep on it.

7. “VEGA Genesis” by VEGA.

This album kinda sticks out from this list like a sore thumb just because it’s a Trap album. It’s fucking amazing though. This is my favorite Trap album of all time. I never expected to like an album like this so much, but this shit is fucking fire. It was my most played album of 2022 by a mile. There’s really nothing that I don’t love about this project. The lyrics are hilariously ignorant, the beats bang hard as fuck, and the vocal melodies are catchy as hell. I even dug the features on this project. I checked out that Lil Xelly guy’s album, and it’s pretty solid as well, so shoutout to him. I tried looking for Don Pablo’s music, but there are 18 other artists with that same exact name on Apple Music, so I kinda gave up on that search. Anyway, if you’re into artists like Yeat or Playboi Carti then you need to check this album out. It’s so fucking good. I fucking love it.

6. “Return Fire” by TreaZon & Oh Genius

This album is another acquired taste that my readers may or may not enjoy, but personally I think it’s pretty incredible. TreaZon is an incredibly gifted MC with a great voice that I think is super underrated. His last album was amazing too, but this one might be even better. The production is kind of dramatic-sounding, particularly on the intro, but it’s really well-crafted. TreaZon’s flow is absolute flames, and the beats sound like they were crafted by a full fucking orchestra. TreaZon spits with a lot of heart and sounds hungrier than a lot of the other MCs on this list to be honest. I love how aggressively he raps. This is another one of the most underrated albums of the year in my opinion. Stop sleeping on this dude. He’s talented as fuck, and this album is amazing.

5. “Aethiopes” by billy woods

This is another one of the more talked about albums of 2022, and for good reason. This shit is amazing. Preservation’s production is absolutely stunning, and billy woods is billy woods. That’s the one critique I’ve seen of this album—that woods’ schtick has become somewhat predictable. I’m not really sure how I feel about that. I mean, I can’t say that this album didn’t sound how I expected it to, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion. When it’s this well done I don’t care that you’re not throwing any curveballs at me. There are so many amazing features on this project too. Boldy James & Despot absolutely slaughtered their verses. This is a top 3 billy woods album for me, which is saying a lot because the dude’s got a bulletproof discography. Even the second album that he dropped this year, Church, was great. This one definitely feels more special though. I think it’s an incredible listen. If you’re into abstract Hip Hop and you somehow haven’t heard this album yet, you are seriously fucking up. It’s soaking wet fire.

4. “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” by Kendrick Lamar

This is probably the most popular album on this list despite being really polarizing with backpackers. Personally, I don’t get the hate. This is my second favorite Kendrick Lamar album. I saw some people complaining that it’s too commercial-sounding, but that really confused me because the only album Kendrick’s ever made that doesn’t sound commercial to me is To Pimp a Butterfly. I will say that my opinions of certain tracks have changed slightly over time, but my overall thoughts on the album are the same. I no longer ever really care to listen to We Cry Together. That song is just okay to me. The beat is a bit too repetitive, and I find the featured artist’s voice pretty annoying. Honestly, the second disc is way better than the first one. In fact, if the whole album was just disc 2 then it’d probably be my favorite album of the year. Mother I Sober was my favorite song of 2022. I wasn’t disappointed even a little bit with this album. I think this shit is amazing.

3. “DRILL MUSIC IN ZION” by Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco is my favorite rapper of all time despite having a somewhat inconsistent discography. This latest album silenced the haters though. I don’t think it’s as sonically ambitious as Lupe’s four other amazing albums, but it’s almost just as consistent in my opinion. The lyricism is absolutely stellar. I love the rhymes and flows from Lupe, and the production from Soundtrakk is top notch as well. As a Lupe stan, this album made me incredibly happy. Okay, I take that back; I’m not a stan. I don’t stan any artists. I hate stans. I really love Lupe’s music though, so I was super excited about this album. I think it’s amazing.

2. “King’s Disease III” by Nas

This was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year for me. I knew I would enjoy this album, but I didn’t think it would be as amazing as it is. This is my second favorite Nas album behind Illmatic. I think Hit-Boy’s production is absolutely spectacular, and Nas sounds super comfortable over these beats. I love how Nas silenced his haters who claim that he picks bad beats with this album. Legit has one of my favorite instrumentals of the year. This is my favorite line on the album…

First time you heard Nas you prolly heard someone say that I pick bad beats, but I pick bad freaks
Narratives they runnin' with, the classics they comin' with ain't fuckin' with what I recorded last week

That’s such a slick line, man. He fucking killed this album. Nas is one of my favorite rappers of all time, but I never expected to have his album this high on my year end list. This is my second most played album of 2022. It makes me super happy. This shit is incredible.

1. “The I & I” by Teller Bank$ & Ed Glorious

This album is fucking incredible. There’s nothing about it that I don’t love. The production from Ed Glorious is sensational, fantastic, amazing, brilliant, etc. Whatever positive word you can think of applies to the beats here. Teller Bank$ is operating in peak condition on this project too. Every single verse is fucking stellar. People have got to stop sleeping on this guy, man. I’m not just saying Hip Hop fans need to stop sleeping on him. I’m talking about music fans in general. The dude makes pretty accessible music, so it doesn’t make sense to me how slept on he is. He doesn’t make music that’s gonna “scare the hoes.” Any time a random ass person in real life asks me for an artist recommendation I tell them about this album. If there’s not at least one song on this album that you like, then you have wack taste. I’m sorry to say that. I usually don’t say shit like that, but it’s just true. This shit is undeniably good to me. I think it’s incredible. I had a feeling that this would end up being my album of the year when I first heard it, and I was waiting to see if anybody would be able to dethrone these guys. Nobody could do it. I love this shit. I think it’s dope as fuck.

Thank you guys for another amazing year. Sometimes it blows my mind that anybody cares enough to read what I think about music. I’d still be doing this even if nobody read my shit just because it’s one of the few things that brings me joy, so to know that there are people out there that actually value what I have to say makes me pretty happy. I apologize for the long stretch of inactivity when I was in school at the end of the year. I have to prioritize classes over blogging, but once I graduate I’ll be looking for a job as a full-time writer, so you won’t have to worry about shit like that. Anyway, thanks for rocking with me in 2022, and here’s to an even better year in 2023.

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