From Kanye’s controversy crusade, to the infamous “slap” at the Oscars, 2022 was packed with excitement surrounding hip hop. Hip hop was set ablaze with new albums from artists from California to The United Kingdom. With the many hours of “fire” music that hip hop artists released this year, there were best rap albums that stood out from the rest.
The 10 Best Rap Albums 2022
1. Kendrick Lamar, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers
I mean, are we even surprised? For the better part of a decade, Kendrick has managed to gracefully walk the fine line of nuance and quality. Many artists fall victim to one of two common fates.
Many listeners either end up saying “this new album sucks, go back to your old sound” or “this new album is the same sound, why don’t you try something new.” Lamar has drastically switched between lovely sounds like the C4 mixtape, section 80, good kid m.A.A.d. City, To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN, and now this masterpiece.
This album featured pieces that way too many can relate to like “Father Time” ft. Sampha and “We Cry Together” ft Taylour Paige; with “Father Time” having some of the best rap lyrics of any song this year — or this decade for that matter.
Yet another creative perspective on the harsh reality of way too many black American homes. Even with another large hiatus between album releases, Kendrick never fails to prove his ability to adapt to the times effortlessly. Not only was Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers the best rap album of 2022, in time it will be reflected upon as one of the best rap albums of all time.
2. Yeat, 2 Alivë
Hear me out.
Since 2019, Yeat has dropped a plentiful 5 albums and 3 EPs, including 2 albums and a deluxe package this year alone. He keeps his fans well fed with a plethora of music, all of which has been well above average so far.
His other 2022 album, Lyfe, featured 12 songs, good beats and good vibes that you can bump in the car and during the “pre game.” 2 Alive presents almost 30 tracks of lit, feel good music that will do just that, get you lit and make you feel good. With 2 similarly “hype” sounding albums and 3 songs featuring Lil Uzi this year alone, Yeat has definitely discovered his formula; and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Speaking of featuring Lil Uzi, “Big Tonka ft. Lil Uzi” is easily one of the best rap songs of 2022. You can play “Big Tonka ft. Lil Uzi” and turn the volume up if you ever want an energy boost. Contrary to popular belief, Yeat is THE white boy in hip hop right now.
3. Pusha T, It’s Almost Dry
Once again, King Push gives us an ample amount of drug dealing bars and metaphors. His ability to captivate an audience with very little effects on his voice, no ad libs, and rarely any melodies is nothing short of impressive. Very few rappers can have the same style album after album without it sounding tired or redundant.
He and Jay-Z are masters of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” with both rappers boasting fruitful careers despite never really changing their style or approach. With features from artists like Kanye West, Pharrell, Lil Uzi Vert, Don Toliver, Kid Kudi, and the aforementioned Jay-Z, the guest stars definitely added variety and melodies to act as a catalyst to the original sound that Pusha brings to the table.
4. Future, I Never Liked You
More toxicity from the king himself, more songs that make you bob your head, more features from heavy hitters like Kanye, Young Thug, and Gunna, and Drake. Definitely not Future’s best album, but a solid album nonetheless. Future knows what beats to pick, he knows to continue to feature Drake, and he knows how to use his Unique voice to his advantage. Future knows his formula, and this album followed that formula pretty well. Another solid album with more toxic lines from the toxic rapper that the ladies apparently can’t get enough of.
5. Bob Vylan, Bob Vylan Presents The Price Of Life
With such an over-saturation of UK drill music, it is always refreshing hearing a project from Great Britain that is, well, anything other than UK drill music. The rock, metal, punk, and afro/Caribbean influences in this album is a sound I didn’t know I would enjoy until I heard it. The album featured many songs that bop, multiple tempo changes within tracks, and what sounds like a switch between actual instruments and synthetic beats.
More positive vibes than the status quo that is usually promoted in hip hop. This track list is not going to get most parties jumping per say, but that doesn’t negate the overall quality in the music. The beat choices alone appeal to a large variety of listeners across multiple genres.
6. Denzel Curry, Melt My Eyes See Your Future
This was an interestingly chill approach by the Florida based rapper. Seems like yesterday we were all being yelled at while listening to his largely popular breakout song Ultimate. Curry has since proved that a loud, DMX style approach is not all he has in his arsenal. Melt My Eyes See Your Future displayed many songs that lay more on the relaxed side, with mellow beats and Jazz influence.
Definitely sounds like Curry is maturing as an artist, exercising his versatility and making music for the soul and not just for clout. For the K.Dot fans out there, this album is Denzel Curry’s equivalent to To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar.
7. Drake and 21 Savage, Her Loss
So… Here’s the thing about this album.
In chronological order, this album was released a few months after Drake’s solo album Honestly Nevermind, an album that received many negative reviews from fans. The last song featured fellow rapper 21 Savage, and left many wishing that the whole album was just a handful of songs like this. About half a year later the fans got what they wanted as Her Loss was released. The overall quality of the music was okay, I guess.
Once again there was nothing really new or groundbreaking that Drake recorded, he just coasted… and never really put his foot on the gas. 21 Savage delivered his exact same style that many love, but that didn’t shine too much since his lyrics made up less than 30% of this “joint album.”
8. Conway the Machine, God Don’t Make Mistakes
More “OG rap” for the nostalgic fans.
More of yet another Black American telling his perspective of what it was like for him to grow up in hard times. There were good features from artists like T.I. and Lil Wayne; but my favorite part was the very unexpected, silky smooth verse from Jill Scott on the song “Chanel Pearls.”
Her verse brought the good energy of an old school Black woman, she displayed her strength without yelling, and showcased her compassion without having to say it. The album overall was not too exciting acoustically, but the message, stories, etc. could be heard loud and clear.
9. Nas, King’s Disease III
Once again, no ad libs, no auto tune, no melodic rap, just Nasir.
Anyone that likes Nas, this album should leave you very satisfied. This is another example of an artist applying the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” formula. This probably isn’t the album you would want to play at a party or in a car with your friends, but if you want to listen to more truth that rhymes, this album will quench that thirst.
This album is good for what it is, and makes no attempt to be what it isn’t. No attempt of nuance, no attempt to age with the current times and styles of hip hop, just bars coupled with Nas’ signature flow and story telling.
10. Lil Durk, 7220
There are quite a few rappers whose albums are so predictable I can pretty much recite the songs before I even hear them; and Lil Durk is one of them. No matter how many times Durk shuffles the deck, his hand is somehow always the same. There’s always some mixture of those trap beats as well as those inspirational, piano lead type beats.
Most of Durk’s subject matter is: I’ve been real since day one, other people are fake, I started from the bottom, it hurts that i lost my loved ones, I kill other people’s loved ones, and so on. Now that being said, acoustically the music did not sound bad at all, which is also predictable because Durk is a solid artist.
Definitely looking forward to hearing more music from all of these artists
What missing albums do you think should have made this list? What albums do you think shouldn’t be on this list at all? Give us your predictions for what artists will make this list next year.