In the dynamic realm of Hip-Hop, 2022 proved to be a year of unexpected twists and exciting transformations. Iconic megastars like Drake, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar made their mark with eagerly anticipated albums, though some fell short of the colossal expectations. Kanye West’s case was particularly striking, as the luminary veered into controversy and questionable choices, all while his music underwent a perplexing shift.
Yet, the essence of rap lies in its ceaseless motion, and 2022 vividly showcased the genre’s enduring wellspring of talent. A fresh generation of artists, including JID, Smino, and Mavi, soared to new heights in their careers, delivering some of the year’s most captivating releases.
Beyond the mainstream spotlight, underground stalwarts like Roc Marciano and billy woods continued to foster their expansive creative visions, fortifying rap’s independent spirit in the age of social media. Women in hip-hop, such as Megan Thee Stallion, Little Simz, Flo Milli, and Latto, continued their crusade to redefine gender dynamics within the genre. Meanwhile, global superstars like Stormzy and Central Cee made strides in gaining recognition stateside.
Amidst these shifting dynamics, certain constants remained. Nas, who has been remarkably prolific in recent years, and the consistently diligent lyricist Pusha T stood out as rap’s elder statesmen, delivering some of their most stellar work in 2022.
Yet, this merely scratches the surface of the Hip-Hop world’s vibrant tapestry in 2022.
6 Rap Albums of 2022
In the ever-evolving urban soundscape, these developments underscore the genre’s resilience, demonstrating its ability to adapt, innovate, and surprise. With a mix of established icons, rising talents, and underground visionaries, the future of hip-hop promises to be as unpredictable and exciting as ever.
Rap Album of 2022 #1: Drake and 21 Savage ‘Her Loss’
Drake has always been known for his collaborations with emerging artists, but his latest move took it to another level as he transformed his long-standing chemistry with 21 Savage into a remarkable full-length album. The Canadian superstar himself has confirmed that “Her Loss” serves as the final piece of a trilogy that began with last year’s “Certified Lover Boy” and continued with the upbeat “Honestly, Nevermind.” When you read the titles together as “I’m a certified lover boy honestly, nevermind her loss,” you begin to grasp the genius behind this ambitious project that spans three albums.
On “Her Loss,” Drake and 21 Savage position themselves for greatness as they effortlessly exchange verses and melodies over flawless instrumentals. It’s safe to say that the bars from this album will continue to find their way into Instagram captions well into the new year. The combination of their talent and chemistry has resulted in a project that’s not only conceptually brilliant but also musically satisfying, solidifying Drake’s status as a master collaborator and innovator in the hip-hop world.
Rap Album of 2022 #2: IDK ‘Simple‘
Rapper IDK and the highly sought-after electronic producer Kaytranada embarked on their collaboration for IDK’s EP, “Simple.,” two years before its anticipated spring release. IDK himself couldn’t have predicted the seismic impact of Black pop music on the dance floor in the year it dropped. Still, he had a personal mission in mind – to juxtapose the poignant narratives of his upbringing near a Washington, D.C. project with production that compelled listeners to move their bodies rather than just engage their minds.
When “Simple.” was unleashed, IDK expressed his desire to craft an album where people could “dance to real shit.” The EP weaves a vibrant tapestry of sound, with lively and urgent piano loops in tracks like “Dog Food” and more subdued ones in “The Code.” Through these beats, IDK delves into the gritty pursuit of power and the constant evasion of law enforcement. He’s not alone on this journey, as featured guests Denzel Curry and Mike Dimes join forces to add even more depth and texture to the EP.
“Simple.” doesn’t shy away from addressing themes of violence and disadvantage head-on, setting it apart from other releases like “Honestly, Nevermind” and “Renaissance.” In doing so, it offers a balanced and thought-provoking addition to the year’s dance music landscape, proving that IDK and Kaytranada are a formidable duo in pushing boundaries and delivering impactful storytelling through their music.
Rap Albums of 2022 #3: Rome Streetz ‘Kiss the Ring’
Rome Streetz, hailing from the gritty streets of New York, officially joined the Griselda family, it marked a well-deserved milestone in his career—a chance to expose his undeniable talent to a broader audience alongside hip-hop’s most renowned stable of raw lyricists. Fans of authentic rap were eagerly awaiting how the Midas Touch of Westside Gunn’s executive production would elevate the Rome Streetz experience, and they were far from disappointed when “Kiss the Ring” dropped.
Over a solid 16-pack of beats curated by Conductor Williams, Rome confidently stakes his claim as one of the world’s finest lyricists. Even if you might argue otherwise, it’s impossible to disregard the compelling case he presents. Right from the album’s intro, “Big Steppa,” Rome asserts his dominance and maintains a masterful level of craftsmanship throughout the entire project.
Whether the production leans toward the idyllic, as heard in tracks like “In Too Deep” or “Armed & Dangerous,” takes a sinister turn like in “Tyson Beckford,” or ventures into the brilliantly perplexing, as in “Ugly Balenciagas,” Rome effortlessly finds his rhythm and executes flawlessly. He skillfully weaves boasts, intricate wordplay, and poignant memories into his lyrical package, launching them at the listener from all angles.
Rome Streetz’s mission is clear—he aims to revive and modernize the classic ’90s New York hip-hop vibe, and on “Kiss the Ring,” he makes it look effortless. His ability to effortlessly meld traditional elements with his own unique style sets him apart as a true torchbearer of the genre, leaving listeners eagerly anticipating his next move in the ever-evolving landscape of hip-hop.
Rap Albums of 2022 #4: Flo Milli ‘You Still Here, Ho?’
When an album kicks off with a spoken-word introduction from the endlessly entertaining 2000s reality star Tiffany “New York” Pollard, you already sense you’re in for a wild ride. That captivating intro sets the stage for the remarkable solo debut of Mobile, Alabama’s very own Flo Milli—an audacious onslaught of razor-sharp lyrics that leave everyone else feeling broke and bewildered, all delivered with a confidence level that can only be described as “Very Real Housewife.”
Flo Milli’s lyrical prowess knows no bounds; she’s armed with an arsenal of insults that seem to flow endlessly. Yet, she doesn’t stop at just the bars—her infectious hooks on standout tracks like “Bed Time,” “PBC,” “No Face,” and “Conceited” will have you hitting the repeat button.
For those who caught wind of her unexpected hit “Beef FloMix” in 2019 and immediately recognized her superstar potential, “You Still Here, Ho?” is the fulfillment of that promise. Flo Milli’s debut album is a declaration that she’s here to stay and dominate the scene with her unapologetic attitude and undeniable talent.
Rap Album #5: Billy Woods ‘Aethiopes’
Rapper billy woods, stylized as billy woods, possesses a unique ability to craft intricate missives that feel like you’re observing a medium receiving transmissions from a distant dimension. In his 2022 release, “Aethiopes,” a title drawn from the Homeric description of Black Africans, he embarks on his own epic Odyssey, connecting narrative threads with moments in history and philosophy. His delivery carries a profound resonance, akin to the subtle yet powerful force of tidal waves, and he’s aided by the eclectic and expansive sample selection curated by producer Preservation, a seasoned veteran with a past that includes serving as Yasiin Bey’s tour DJ.
Take, for instance, the track “Christine,” where Preservation’s tactile construction of the sound landscape evokes a lush cinematic atmosphere. The vinyl crackle that accompanies the slinking, dramatic guitar sample sets the stage for woods to enter the scene like an outlaw on the run. His verses, filled with vivid imagery that hits you like a rush of memories, demonstrate his comfort navigating the unfathomable depths of the unknown.
In “Aethiopes,” billy woods and Preservation embark on a journey that is both intellectually stimulating and artistically compelling. It’s an album that invites listeners to dive into its intricacies, exploring the uncharted territories of history, philosophy, and the human experience, all guided by woods’ evocative storytelling and Preservation’s masterful sonic landscapes.
Rap Album #6: Elucid ‘I Told Bessie’
ELUCID, styled in all caps, fearlessly defies convention and prompts us to question who established our sonic standards in the first place on his album “I Told Bessie.” This highly skilled artist from Backwoodz Studios takes a deep dive into his narrative across 14 tracks, sharing his story through thought-provoking couplets and mantras.
The ELUCID experience often feels like a sonic tempest, where concise six-word stories and profound concepts whirl around incisive couplets, such as “I’ve already closed the book of whatever/All the stories they tell us,” and the chorus of “Impasse,” where he muses, “Going through it, maybe’s like a threat/Might be, then it ain’t, if I hold my breath.” Throughout the album, listeners are compelled to delve deeper into their own psyche and question the reasons behind the conclusions we draw.
ELUCID’s lyrical prowess unfolds over a soundscape that feels caustically atmospheric and perfectly fitting. From the warped breakbeats of “Ghoulie” and “Old Magic” to the ominous tones of “Nostrand” and “Split Tongue,” the production serves as a fitting backdrop to his poetic musings.
“I Told Bessie” isn’t concerned with being easily digestible; rather, it excels in stimulating thought and challenging the status quo. ELUCID’s work is a testament to the power of music to provoke contemplation and push boundaries, inviting listeners to explore the complexities of their own perceptions and beliefs.