I LOVED Hip Hop this year just like I do every year but this year really aided in not only keeping myself alive but also learning to enjoy the responsibility as well. Thank you to every artist who made this list. You’ve assisted in the betterment of my mind, body, soul in a significant way that will never be forgotten.
This last year was really my first year mourning the loss of my mother. Naturally, it was filled with a lot of lows, some vibrant highs and a search for grounding and community. As a reflection of that a lot of my favorite music that resonated with me this year dealt with grief, death, depression and how to heal and maneuver in some manner. Even if it was a slight verse, ran it up then I did it twice / depression almost killed me, I used to wish I had a different life / turned the Bonneville to a Benz / was stripper turned rapper before it ever was a trend. That shit meant a lot… to bring in the depression and the way it can alter your mind but how one persevered to not only change but save their life. Around my birthday which is also around the time of my mother’s birthday — Elcamino released, Let There Be Light which said it all within the title. Let There Be Light in a time where emotions and reality seem/feel very murky. It was no different for Mac J’s True Story, which I wrote about to quite an extent. The way that different modes of knowing situations mixed with grief can cause some confusing yet enlightening things. To finish up the year, Jameel Na’im X really provided words that helped guide me furthermore with his release, HE DIED TRYING. An LP dedicated to his father who recently passed.
I wanted to write and write a lot about all the great music I’ve heard. The LPs that stood out, the EPs still gettin’ play. The videos that made me question aesthetic and how it affects artist craft and output in various ways. The new artists that lead me to new artists that lead me to my favorite songs of the year. There’s just a lot I wanted to write about. Some projects I enjoy and I'm able to write from the soul while others trigger the mind, both or somewhere between 'n beyond. The form/craft and language used differs. There are clearly patterns and similarities... all that to say how a project is written about doesn't necessarily denote it's value, purpose or reception. All these words are out of the love of Hip Hip and reveling in what it provides in the present tense. Also, shoutout the 6 other writers who contributed their words and love for Hip Hop / Rap to CROWNTHEM this last year. You all have pushed me to become a better editor, writer, designer, curator and supporter. Evolution and expansion are our friends this year.
Without further ado.
HE DIED TRYING by Jameel Na'im X
My undisputed Hip Hop / Rap AOTY of 2022, HE DIED TRYING. And previously to this release my undisputed favorite was Caravaggio Is Alive by JNX as well. There is no artist in the Hip Hop / Rap realm that I’ve heard that has quite the distinct artistry as JNX. The levels and depths of reflection, intuitive and intentional lyrics that often serve as manifestations and alternative ways of thinking coupled with soulful-meditative-trap production (while at the mosque) is out of this world. Truly where Hip Hop and Rap fuse. No bar is unused, double and triple entendres everywhere and an unequivocal love for his own craft. So much heart, soul, experience and wit. I can say a lot more and eventually will but in the meantime do yourself a favor and spin it.
Notable Tracks: HIGHER, SAME TIME, I REMEMBER, ARTICLE 15, MI RUM IZ RED & OPEN. SHUT.
City: New Orleans, LA
Released: December 28, 2022
True Story by Mac J
Although Sacramento’s Mac J is speaking about his personal experiences throughout True Story, the album still served as a not so subtle universal reminder of the several deaths that continue to escalate among young artists within the Hip Hop realm. If you personally have grieved anyone or anything then you’re aware of the array of emotions and thoughts that can become plaguing or catalyzing. True Story represents what it means to express those grievances and more closely how to mourn those losses when they are your blood and/or chosen family.
Read full length review here.
Notable Tracks: Inside, Angels, Gawd Did & Mirror Match
City: Sacramento, CA
Released: September 16, 2022
The Complex by Asun Eastwood x Wavy Da Ghawd
Top 10 album and lyricist from the year. I had heard Asun on a few features before and I enjoyed it but I hadn’t visited a project of his until this one. The cover art with Asun sitting holding Black Brothers, Inc.: The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia's Black Mafia by Sean Patrick Griffin while Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates on the table I felt was profound. Here we are in an era where a lot of material things such as whips, chains, drugs and ass are highly promoted... in the same moment here is an artist promoting literacy and knowledge which becomes quite apparent through his intentional lyrics and bar set-ups (not to say Eastwood is without braggadocio raps or sex inspired lyrics -- it's just done with a little more experience and taste.)
Notable Tracks: Bicycle Spokes, WHERE’S DA MAYO?!, Duel Chip Phones & EVOLVIN’
City: Toronto, Canada
Released: April 22, 2022
Breakfast In Hradec by CRIMEAPPLE x DJ Skizz
Very special LP. There’s something about the way CRIMEAPPLE holds his art… from how he delivers his verses, keeps most of his releases on his site or in physical form and just kind of pops out when necessary. There’s an allure that is created when an artist is able to maintain gratitude for his supporters and fans while also remaining somewhat private and unaffected by social media and critics. My first listen of CRIMEAPPLE was his project, Sancocho (2021) and instantly I was hooked. Then earlier in 2022 he released, Jaguar on Palisade 2 and I began to foster a deeper appreciation for his art. But of the other 2-3 releases from 2022 this one took the trophy. CRIMEAPPLE’s artistry is an acquired taste for a certain kind of Hip Hop connoisseur.
Notable Tracks: In Flight, The Count of Monte Cristo, Rezamos & La Lluvia
City/Region: New Jersey / Colombia
Released: June 29, 2022
Let There Be Light by Elcamino
“Tell me somethin’ I don’t know / I got pain that I can’t show and I got pain that I won’t show / it’s a difference, just listen.”
It's biblical that there will be trials along your journey and highlighted in your testimony. We didn't sign up for it but it's what we have. The cards we've been dealt. So, how do you persevere? What do your prayers look like? Do you believe in prayer, meditation, incantations?
So much I want to say about Let There Be Light but it was a project that settled some things with my Soul. This last year I had been grieving my mother and had all these feelings and thoughts that felt like no one else knew or felt too. Until this album… the way in which Elcamino expresses his grief, the feelings and thoughts that he goes thru with it honestly made me feel less alone. Besides the connection to grief and learning to allow the light in again it was beautiful to hear Elcamino sing more in this project. I look forward to the RnB project especially if it’s in the vein of what he did on this one. Glad to have had some of my internal workings assuaged by Let There Be Light.
Notable Tracks: Deep, Who I Am & Angels
City: Buffalo, NY Released: May 13, 2022
The Four Nights Game 2 by ANKHLEJOHN
In all honesty I could’ve written about all of his releases from 2020 to the most recent. ANKHLEJOHN knows when to boast, when to teach, when to express experience and thought. The braggadocio doesn’t turn you away but pulls you in with a distinct texture and unorthodox flow. Authentic, original or at least influenced and shaped by the right kind. The Four Knights Game 2 is a follow-up to his project, The Four Knights Game. The project hosts features from Virginia artists Fly Anakin and Monday Night. Obviously, the title pays homage/nods/pulls out similes and metaphors of the game of chess. He’s able to do that by setting up the albums as almost an auditory exemplification of how to “kill the king” in whatever manner you take that. To be calculated is beneficial and necessary but sometimes risk can’t be calculated and just has to be executed. Some of the context of the project is given through clips from Fresh (1994) featuring Samuel L. Jackson woven in between, at the beginning and end of tracks. Sonically, The Four Knights Game 2 is a balance of real grimey, creepin’ production that has moments of Soul - the Soul is always trying to shine through. “Doing it Wrong,” is one of the most soulful tracks as far as production and lyrics. He touches on Section 8, gentrification and the importance of the native people of D.C.
Notable Tracks: Four Blocks Away, Doing It Wrong, Common Courtesy & Real Consequences
City: Washington D.C. Released: June 25, 2022
Read The Room by Jayson Cash
One of the best albums to come out of LA in quite some time. You have the lyricism with important content, production that will have you movin’ and undeniable melodies throughout. I’m sure this is a project I’ll still be spinning into next year and the year after. Read The Room hosted guest appearances from Dom Kennedy, Blxst, Symba, Kalan.FrFr and a few others. Cash also released a freestyle every Friday to help put him on the radar and still has them rollin’ out. Get familiar, in time you’ll see he’s truly one of the major faces when addressing the present and future of LA Hip Hop / Rap. For those who mix fun and gratitude with their perseverance. Notable tracks: Stay True, Might, Him & Same
City: Carson, CA Released: May 27, 2022
DIVINE TIMING (DELUXE) by Kamaiyah
Who else is in this lane? Who else doin’ what she do at the quality she do it at? Besides Suga-T what woman Hip Hop / Rap artists from The Bay Area (Oakland more specifically) who have genuinely created their own sound? And continues to evolve it. This was an exciting release that still gets plenty of play, especially when it’s whippin’ n dippin’, gettin’ ready for a function. Indeed, DIVINE TIMING (DELUXE), in terms of release, in terms of how the project flows, the features align. The original hit how it was supposed to then the deluxe came out swingin’ even more. Definitely in line with the timelessness of A Good Night in the Ghetto, Oakland Nights & No Explanations. DaBoii and Cash Kidd are prime collaborators for her.
Notable Tracks: Oakland Steppin In Detroit, F.W.I., Play Too Much & ITS ON THE FLO
City: Oakland, CA
Released: May 27, 2022 & Deluxe: August 5, 2022
The Highest Flyest Fly On The Wall by Pat Ron
The Highest Flyest Fly on the Wall in itself is an observation of Self through the happenings and non-happenings of Pat Ron’s environment(s) and “peers.” He gives his assessment of what could be perceived as competition, family, friends, etc - it’s an assessment of the "other" which has almost in a way shaped and defined what Pat Ron is not.
A succinct project from start to finish; the themes and lyrics align with the album art presented. There’s a personifying of a colloquial saying. 19 minutes of expressing the complexity of the simplicity.
When we talk about the well known saying, “fly on the wall,” it’s about an observation of environment(s) without necessarily being seen. An unnoticed observer with minimum interference in the situation or environment but that’s not to say without influence of said environment(s). The Highest Flyest Fly on the Wall is not only an observation and commentary about the fickleness of human behavior - whether it be conditional love, envy, hate or rare support. Many will love you when you’re achieving/creating/accomplishing things that may be perceived as “beneficial” for them to whatever extent. But is it the same love and support shown when you’re not at one of your pinnacle(s)? Can you even expect that from anyone but yourself tho.
Notable Tracks: Never Another This Fly, Centerfold & Logo Ralph City: Dallas, TX
Released: June 3, 2022
E Pluribus Unum by UFO Fev
“I ain’t have nothin’ growing up; everything was a double team, break thru the defense, get the bucket - AND 1.”
Harlem artist UFO Fev presents a representation of what it means to be influenced by where you come from but still remain original, authentic and 1 of 1 in his album, E Pluribus Unum. The album is solely produced by DJ J Hart and hosts features from Ace Arty and Jose Santiago. E Pluribus Unum begins with a clip of an interview where Mike Powers asking about a phone call UFO Fev received from Diddy and what that means to Fev coming from where he comes from.
Read full length review here.
Notable Tracks: El Sapo, Money & In The Rain City: Harlem, NY Released: February 18, 2022
In Loving Memory by donSMITH
Content, lyrics and message wise the EP is somewhat similar to a testimony or sermon as donSMITH explores various topics that essentially point towards gratitude for the path ordained for you. It’s an EP that asks you to hone in on the beauty of you and your life; where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, where you’ll go and what you’ll do. Are you grateful for it? For the flaws, the stumbles, the losses, lessons, moments of uncertainty that kept you guessin’, riddled with anxiety and indigestion? Are you grateful for it? Could you be who you are without it? Read full length review here. Notable Tracks: To Be Grateful (Long Live,) Long Time Coming & Still DON City: Harlem, NY / East Coast
Released: March 18, 2022
Company by Lord Juco
Toronto artist Lord Juco and Finn team up for their EP, Company. I've been personally tuned into Juco's work since his 2020 release, HHSS, which caught my attention of the strength of sounding like nothing I was listening to at the time. Additionally, when I saw the cover art to this EP that pays homage to Kathy Bates character “Annie Wilkes” from 1990 film, Misery adapted from Stephen King’s novel, Misery I was ready to journey into Juco's artistry again.
The EP hosts the proper company of: HWY 308, Asun Eastwood, Eddie Caine, UFO Fev, Ashton Francis & Hus KingPin - some of the finest MCs of the cross-regional Hip Hop scene. With that said, this is an EP for those who truly enjoy witty, thoughtful, knowledgeable and comedic lyrics. Bar set ups that sometimes take a minute to catch up in hindsight. Lord Juco is an artist who doesn’t necessarily need features but these features made for an even more exciting EP. The cratt of an EP was lowkey mastered with Company.
Notable Tracks: Poignant, Palazzo & Split Screen
City: Toronto, Canada / North Released: June 3, 2022
On Dogz by BoriRock x Michaelangelo
You feel me? Some people they put it on their dead homies but where we’re from we say, “on dead dogz!”
On Dogz by BoriRock and Michaelangelo begins as an ode to those of past, present and future. The timeless energies that harness vessels down here on Earth. Expressions of what the term, "on dogz" means to them and theirs'. BoriRock also touches on who he is, where he comes from the changes, the growth and the static.
Everyday that I do shit, I surprise myself / and I used to move bricks, you surprised I dealt. I enjoy how the music makes me feel. It acknowledges the climb to becoming and the stableness in whatever avenues you request. It feels luxurious but not necessarily off of tangible assets (although a lot of the drive is coming from there,) it’s off of knowing that you did what you did to do what you do. The stories that come along the way of the larger narrative. The lessons, learnings and confidence builds like muscle when you conquer and learn to work with the deficits. This was a treat of an album. You’ll hear obvious influences but he somewhat does it better. Thru this album alone I was opened up to a whole new world of artists; Dun Dealy, TOP HOOTER (featured on the album,) but those acts lead me to FUNERAL Ant Bell, Shaykh Hanif and Cam Bells. I’m in disbelief that a project like this would go so under the radar. Anyways, they’ll catch on to this one for sure. Or his more recent project, HOOT WAVE.
Notable Tracks: Self Sacrifice, Everything Must Go, Cerberus & Unfamiliar Feelings
City: Dorchester, MA / DMV Released: October 25, 2022
Can’t Tame Us by DaBoii
If we’re talking about outstanding years DaBoii needs to be in the convo since he came into the Rap realm with SOBxRBE. Every year, you hear the evolution with playful flows and inventive wordplay (inherited when one the biggest acts out your city is E-40,) content/subjects and as well as visually thru music videos. Since 2020, DaBoii has found exponential growth, every release is a level up. Following this project he also released, Onna Gang in December which gave way for my vulnerable raps that matched chosen samples.
Notable Tracks: KickDoe, Cole Bennet & No You Not
Released: May 13, 2022
City: Vallejo, CA
See You, When I C U by CHUNG
"This come from the left breast and from the Soul."
Phenomenal entry to an artist. I wouldn't be surprised if she had some poetry published in French somewhere. Ain’t no gimmick, no trends, not motivated by the hype or limelight. See You, When I C U is genuinely a compilation of expressions to exude her connection to Spirit. Oftentimes this was a project I’d have on repeat while biking through South Memphis. Very peaceful production and a classy poetic disposition. I could tune-in to what she was saying while also having catalyzing thoughts of leveling up and future endeavors. CHUNG is a poet that can motivate through her stories and worldviews created thru personal experiences.
Notable Tracks: More Plays, Touch Money, Bigger Fish 2 Fry & You See Us
City: Montreal, Canada Released: September 19, 2022
NO AWARDS FOR THE REAL by AJ Snow x Jansport J
Both AJ Snow and Jansport J have been on my radar for some time. Jansport J a bit longer as he’s been on the scene for quite some time and worked with some pretty large names in Hip Hop / Rap. So, when I saw this project was going to be released I was thrilled. It was really done well – this is lowkey a dream match up. Jansport J with stellar production (that can stand alone,) but AJ steps in and paints the canvas with some of his best lyrical imagery. You feel on the climb and see the pinnacles and checkpoints. It feels luxurious, worked for and exciting. New heights. Keep an eye out for their follow-up.
My innerview with AJ from earlier this year you can find here.
Notable Tracks: '83 EL CAMINO, HOW I MAKE IT HERE? & NO AWARDS FOR THE REAL
City: Springfield, IL/Dallas, TX
Released: June 21, 2022
Let’s Do A Drill by Asian Doll
This project had me on edge the whole time wondering what would come next song2song. I didn’t see this coming and I’m not sure too many did. I think we anticipated Asian Doll doing a couple drill singles, featuring some drill artists or vice versa. But nah, this is 20 songs / 50 minutes fusion of where Southern rap meets N.Y. drill. Vast majority of the production is drill heavy except “Down South” featuring Tay Money also produced by Hit Kidd (which should be all over the radio waves, but isn't.) Asian Doll is one of the best rappers coming out of Texas and South in general. Many think she’s new to this but previous to Let’s Do A Drill she has put out 10 other albums/mixtapes. Some of my personal favorites being: Doll SZN, So Icy Princess, UNFUCCWITABLE. Very fun times in Hip Hop / Rap right now as we see more and more women create and execute their lanes.
Notable Tracks: No Exposing, Nunnadet Shit, Wait, 41 Shots, Down South & Viral
City: Dallas, TX
Released: July 22, 2022
The Untold, Vol.1 by FrankieOG x NugLife
Not sure how I came across FrankieOG but when the project found me it brought me to a better place. FrankieOG brings humble raps that also demand and know what one deserves in this life. The Untold, Vol.1 is rare in the sense that it’s one of the projects of the year that lead me to one of the “best new artists” releases. NugLife also provides some great production for FrankieOG to express himself. The underground on the West Coast is just as vibrant, deep and offering of variety as the usual regions we look towards for underground and independent work.
Notable Tracks: RISK IT ALL, IN MY SOUL I TRUST (INTERLUDE), FREE MY MIND & ALL IN
City: Inland Empire, CA
Released: April 8, 2022
The Tragedy of a Clown by Ramirez
A fusion of horrorcore, g-funk/phonk and gangsta rap from The Bay Area, Florida and Memphis -- 90’s era capsuled into contemporary rap (2022). Not exactly a "recycled" sound like what we hear more prominently in mainstream rap... Ramirez keeps his sound personalized enough while paying homage to the likes of Andre Nickatina, Cypress Hill, Three 6 Mafia and more. Maybe more specified The Tragedy of a Clown is direct homage to Tears of a Clown by The Bay Area pioneer Andre Nickatina. Deep bass, melody, honest themes with complementary verses from Pouya, Shakewell, Fat Nick & Mikey The Magician. There's a retro aspect to the project that feels like something you should only be able to find in a tape deck.
Notable Tracks: Intro, Bacon, Eggs and Grits, The Root of Demise & Shameless Gorillas
City: San Francisco, CA
Released: September 16, 2022
Sky Traffic by Hydeparkfb x Python P x Dough Networkz
What is sky traffic? Frequent flyer? Too many wires? Putting up several planes in order to clear one's brain? Regardless, a great project that definitely deserves more ears. Also, I need to mention the work of Dough Networkz and how many artists and connections he makes almost every release day and outside the release day. That “Dough Networkz Presents” definitely keeps me checkin’ out those specific projects because a good majority of the time it’s quality work from artists that not many are too familiar with but have an undeniable value.
One of my favorite introductions to a new artist from the year.
Notable Tracks: Sky Traffic, Futon Music & Egg Shells
Released: April 12, 2022 City: Los Angeles, CA
El Perro 2 by Rucci
If there’s an artist that can get me to dance... Rucci is definitely 1 of those 1s. A lot of the production is high-energy inducing. Any of these tracks you can play at a house party, club, whip… whatever you desire. Not just turn up songs though either. There’s quite a bit of introspective lyrics and vulnerability. Additionally, he released a documentary with the same title alongside the album. It's apparent Rucci is carving his own lane while also paying homage to many of the L.A. greats that came before him. An artist growing in prominence on the West Coast.
Notable Tracks: House Party, BDG, Till The Day I Die, Pt. 2, What If? & Geek’d Up
Released: May 27, 2022 Region/City: Inglewood, CA / West Coast
The Liz 2 by Armani Caesar
hella cheese, a lot of bitches hate but it’s jealousy / separate breed, could give a fuck about celebrity / pretty, private and paid, the coolest niggas sweating me, tuh! / I got more wood stocked than the 70s
She makes Griselda actually make sense for a rap collective/group/label. I always questioned why they would name their collective after a woman who was a boss and catalyst that also bore the name for a majority male collective. I don’t think we’ve heard a woman artist quite like Armani Caesar — while we hear the obvious influences (mostly Nicki Minaj) but Armani has expounded on the lavish/luxurious gutta flow that we initially loved Nicki for before her pop escapades.
Armani Caesar lets it be known that shit gotta be more than pussy raps and what she delivers is some of the sexiest yet player lyrics to come out this year. The Liz 2 seems like the ideal craftsmanship from a woman artist in the Rap realm. It’s balanced; hard raps, reflective raps, pussy raps (in good taste,) retro production that allows you to think and look back at who else has done it like this? It’s still different than Foxy, Kim, Lyte, Nicki, Latifa, Mia X, Missy, Shante… you know, this is voice or voices of the past that have huddled behind Armani Caesar to elevate her craft and artistry to what it is. Voices who were left out at inception and thereafter.
What I enjoy about this LP is the fact that the tracks with features or served as singles or video premieres don’t hold the only value or allure within the project. Most of the time the features and said singles outshine the LP as a whole but not in this situation. THE LIZ 2 only gets better as the LP plays, although she could’ve for sure extended the length of some of the songs.
Notable Tracks: Diana, Hunnit Dolla Hiccup, Survival Of The Littest & Ice Age City: Buffalo, NY
Released: October 21, 2022
I Don’t Give a Fuck About This Rap Shit, Imma Just Drop Until I Don’t Feel Like It Anymore by $ilkmoney
I enjoy when $ilkmoney releases because he’s constantly taking risks with his music. He speaks from his gut ‘n heart and it’s clear by not only the topics he touches on but very much on how he approaches the topics and gives you the the less traveled thought patterns. He speaks in a tone that communicates possible impeding doom. A doom that comes from what the various sytems, energies and powers have done to “black” folk as a whole — across lands, languages and lineages. There’s also this mythical/ethereal type energy/aura of the music he delivers. A Divine poetic. An artist who isn't afraid of being disliked for speaking their truths and observations while not catering to any crowd or audience.
“Emmm, Nigga you Is Tasty >:)” is a hell of a track. The texture, the in your face energy and delivery that speaks about how society is just eating black folk; making “nigga soup,.” There’s many historical aspects of this (e.g. The Delectable Negro by Vincent Woodard) but also it’s metaphorical in the art/labor realm for black people (using “black” as an umbrella term for the various ethnicities that have been categorized as “black” instead of their true indigenous heritage from whatever region and continent they come from.) There’s the literal, figurative and metaphorical all fused together to deliver unfavorable truths and depths some don’t want to explore, don’t know how to explore or didn’t know there was more the explore.
Unfiltered creative honesty and warnings (in a way.) The albums teleport you to another galaxy where this type of thought provoking conversations/lyrics are valued and taken seriously.
Notable Tracks: Jodi Don’t Love Me No Mo :-(, Emmm, Nigga You Is Tasty >:), Eddie Murphy Golden Child Hat & One Glazed and One With the Jelly Filled Nucleus
City: Richmond, VA / DMV
Released: November 15, 2022
AZTECAZ by Maze Overlay
How often do we hear about the landscape, the stories and the energies in Arizona thru a Hip Hop / Rap artform? One of my favorite introductions to a new artist from 2022. The name Maze Overlay in itself is thought provoking and when you hit play on the project the ethereal and eerie become more apparent. An ancestral channel in a sense; paying homage to the land and energies that created it, destroyed it and brought it back again. Hip Hop / Rap when done in a certain manner brings ancient knowledge forward and that's what Maze Overlay does with the SW region. We're used to hearing stories from the East and North and West but the Southwest has it's own stories to express.
Another aspect about the project I enjoyed was the classic rock influence with vocals, timing of lyrics and production. The heavy guitar produced track, "Recon" sounds so natural for his flow and style. I could hear/see him with a live band at Red Rocks or The Gorge. As more and more music comes out of Arizona he is definitely an artist worth keeping up with. With a connectoin to Toronto as as well as The Umbrella, Maze Overlay hosts a range of features (including but not limited to): Asun Eastwood, Daniel Son, Falcon Outlaw, Estee Nack & more.
Notable Tracks: 100 Years, Reservoir Dogs & Death Valley
City: Phoenix, AZ Released: September 12, 2022
M.O.T.H.E.R. by Killah Priest
Always feels like a blessing whenever Killah Priest decides to release a project. His Hip Hop style is somewhat unorthodox yet pioneering and important. He takes you on journeys thru time; touching on the past and how it connects to the future and where we’re at presently. If there is a present? It’s all just a space-time continuum. Killah Priest is magnificent at tellin’ the stories of the stars and the significance of them here on Earth too. I appreciate an artist that I can learn from – whether that be about myself, history, the future or how to express one’s feelings of grief and love.
Notable Tracks: M.O.T.H.E.R., August & Balances
City: Brooklyn, NY
Released: September 22, 2022
Something for the Sunrise by Seafood Sam
A follow up to his 2021 release, Something for the Sunset he delivers a project in similar fashion; real fly suave music. Something for the Sunrise is also something for them kickbacks, BBQs, flowin’ thru the city or beach on some chill sunshine shit. Makes you appreciative of the warmth that was and goes and comes again. Fun, relaxed and luxurious production. One of Long Beach's finest.
Notable Tracks: Dayton 88, Norf Face 2 & Roscoe’s After Church
City: Long Beach, CA
Released: April 10, 2022
Self 7xve 2 by 7xvethegenius
She sits you down with her lyrical abilities. Poetry and wordplay used to express manifestations of being. The goals, the lows, the carving of her own lane. This project felt like a sampler of what’s truly to come. I think we’ve only seen a small portion of the artistic abilities of 7xvethegenius. There’s a complexity to it that still has yet to be expressed. 7xve has been talking about a new project coming soon so if you aren't familiar give this one a spin too.
Notable Tracks: Always Thank God, Fluidity & Forecast
Released: April 22, 2022 City: Buffalo, NY
WHYSOSIRIUS? by Ron Obasi
WHYSOSIRIUS? Is a personal testament for every test that was sent to Ron Obasi. The mixtape reverberates as a compilation of epiphanies and manifestations expressed through a philosophical poetry with a free jazz frequency. Although his sentiments and expressions derived from present-day experiences and reflections it’s fair to say that those same expressions and sentiments have been endured as rights to ancient traditions.
The interview below is an inner view of Ron Obasi’s craft, artistic process and paradigms that aided in the creation of his latest work, WHYSOSIRIUS? As the conversation has many thoughtful, knowledgeable and fun moments the overall theme seems to rely heavily upon elevation and alignment. To take heed of your mission at hand and the energy and guidance the Universe grants you each day. To be grateful for your cards and the gifts bestowed in them.
This one is for the spiritually minded and guided.
Notable Tracks: SOSUPREME, OHHOWLOVELY, HOMESICK & HYPERBOLIC TIME CHAMBER
City: Nashville, TN
Released: July 12, 2022
Caught In The Webb by Westside Webb
A really great concept album and intro to an artist. Could be seen as “breakout” project as Westside Webb has caught more notoriety since the release. The concept that was apparent to me was that Caught In The Webb represents the intricate ties of the artist's life and business. Additionally, he speaks on making a lot of money online and with crypto so it’s also a nod towards the internet, the web in context of Westside Webb. A real cool, West Coast project. Has features from the OG Polyester The Saint, as well as Landstrip Chip and the L.A. RnB sensation Blxst. Really from the underground and independent realm of the Southern California Hip Hop / Rap scene.Tuh.
Notable Tracks: Progress, Fake Hustle, Can’t Relate & Stayed Down Region: Long Beach, CA
Released: February 28, 2022
FREAKJET by Vel Nine x Zoomo
When I speak about the large underground and independent Hip Hop / Rap communities out West it would be a disservice without mentioning Vel Nine (formerly Vel The Wonder.) Although Vel has been in the mix since the early 2010’s I didn’t become familiar with her artistry until her 2019 release, La Sena Ave and then lead to 2020’s Trophy Wife – both completely different projects in the best ways. Her most recent, FREAKJET, is nothing short of quality; enticing flows and undeniable production by Zoomo. She also enlists YL, Starker and Koncept Jack$on as a couple features on the project. I look forward to the day when her artistry is circulated more among Hip Hop communities.
Notable Tracks: Backboard, Winning Team & Sylvia Gang
City: Baldwin Park, CA
Released: September 6, 2022
The Precedent by Chayna Ashley x IM’PERITIV
RARE – flow, content, persona, production (IM’PERETIV.) There’s a lineage here that’s being paid homage to but still making it her own. This kind of project gets me excited to see the heights one might flow. There’s a depth in the place where she pulls her lyrics from. Another one of my favorite intros to a new artist (for me.) I listened off the strength of knowing IM’PERETIV’s production but besides that she hosts a few artists who are known for their lyricism, such as: Mickey Factz, Daylyt, Dutch Brown and more. Keep an ear out for her – real fierce and fun Hip Hop.
Notable Tracks: Gold Blooded, Sippin’, Champagne Dreams & Re-Run
City: Harlem/Bronx, NY
Released: August 12, 2022
Less Than Three by Kr3wcial
New Orleans artist Kr3wcial delivered his EP, Less Than Three. The EP hosts features from BLU, Mick Jenkins, Pell and Kalipop while also enlisting production from Ghazi Gamali, friendkerrek, Cronos and Kr3wcial himself. Throughout the EP, Kr3wcial fuses Hip Hop, neo-RnB with a hint of Pop to create a smooth “collection of reflections” of experiences with love, <3, Less Than Three. The intro track, “Jewelry” begins with a very calming energy that has Kr3wcial reflecting on the appearance and feeling a lover gave him.
Read a full length review here.
Notable Tracks: Jewelry, Ego Trippic & Who Do You Call?
City: New Orleans, LA
Released: February 11, 2022
Playing With Fire by Shootergang Kony
Kept up with Kony since the release of 6:12 in 2018. Following that, Red Paint Reverend had a hold on me for quite some time. He had a few projects between that and 2021 release Starshooter which set a cool tone for the most recent, Playing With Fire. It's very apparent he's grown a lot lyrically and overall musically. It's a beautiful thing seeing young artists grow and become more.
Previous reviewed by Flynt Nixon here.
Notable Tracks: Free Smoke 2, Knock Knock, Write My Wrongs & Preaching
City: Sacramento, CA
Released: August 24, 2022
$hook by Tre’ Amani
I went to the Big K.R.I.T. show in Memphis and Tre’ Amani was one of his openers with Dj Trilla Kay. His energy, production, confidence and sound kinda had me from the first song. I went home to look up his music after the concert and found that he had just dropped this project. It was amazing to recognize some of the songs from his performance on the project. Follow-up album later in the year, INCREMENTUM is a sonic treat too.
Notable Tracks: lo$t kid., seeing ghost$ & $hook
City: Columbia, MD Released: June 3, 2022
For the Views by Starz Coleman
A breakout project from 2022… this is 1 of them. Not sure how I came across this project (may have been a Flee Lord suggestion via his Instagram story,) but this was really a refreshing project. A new voice with different syntax and tone that allowed familiar stories to be told anew. You know, he has a somewhat goofy persona that may have one anticipate just as goofy lyrics… and while it’s true in a sense it’s also not the type of goofy that could be dismissed. Whether it’s absurd wordplay or a distinctive yet distracting delivery there’s importance in what he’s sayin’ and doin’. One to keep an eye on for 2023 for sure.
Alex interviewed him about his artistry and project here & Monk also reviewed The L Ride.
Notable Tracks: For The Views, Mashed Potatoes, Jook Time & El Jefe
City: Plainfield, NJ
Released: July 10, 2022
Born Again by Young Jr
Young Jr has a similar allure to me as Boosie — the tone, texture, can RAP but lowkey runs circles on niggas with hooks ‘n melodies. An exciting artist for me because melody is so important to me if you’re not lyrically in the realm of enlightening me intellectually. I think we’ll see him collabing with more artists outside The Bay, L.A. and West Coast at large. Unique artist who had me hooked from his 2021 release, Last Of Our Breed. It’s just different, you feel the authenticity… somewhat like when you hear Chippass; they’re just different and rare.
Notable Tracks: Woodgrain, Factually Spoken & Bird Walk
City: Oakland, CA
Released: June 3, 2022
Welcome to Loveland by Nick Grant
The point where funk, Hip Hop and early Valentine’s Day vibes collide. As far as projects I personally listened to there weren't many at all that were on this sonically or lyrically. Big K.R.I.T. 's Digital Roses Don’t Die is the closest thing to it and that came out almost 6 months after. It’s a fun project and it was refreshing that it came out a month before V-Day because it’s not riding the hype but also the lyrical play is somewhat anti-love in a sense too.
Notable Tracks: Azzfunkdeeziak, Cupid Is A woman, Brutal Honesty & Gangsta Lean
City: Walterboro, SC
Released: January 14, 2022
Church by billy woods
Initially, I was hesitant to dive into billy woods music just because of all the attention and hype he was already receiving by many Hip Hop heads. In order to do what I do and follow the mission I’ve been given I had to listen, regardless of the hype. Church is very much one of my favorite releases by the artist. It plays like folklore at moments, it’s poetry and vulnerability, mere honesty. He leaves you with things to ponder and experiences or stories that may also be in your personal alignment.
Notable Tracks: Fuchsia & Green, Frankie, Pollo Rico & All Jokes Aside
City: Washington, D.C.
Released: September 30, 2022
Color Therapy by Kay Anthony
I didn't even know a project was droppin' when I was becoming privy to Kay Anthony's videos he was puttin' up. They were all titled, Color Therapy with the coordinating episode number and the specific color tied to it. That intrigued me alone — approaching a Hip Hop project from the lens of color therapy. Eventually, when I did listen it played as a therapy session that wove in and out of expression through rhythmic lyrics and melody. Cool concept and great execution of it.
Previously reviewed by Sai here.
Notable Tracks: Bless Me, WTF & Love Yourself
City: Brooklyn, NY Released: May 13, 2022
Forever Da Gang by Su’Lan
Hopping on the scene in 2019 with their full-length project Tia & Tamera, 2020’s Baby Glock Gang, 2021’s Free Su’Lan and most recently, Forever Da Gang. From the first release it was evident that Su’Lan was here to make their presence known. They’ve claimed their lane and continue to evolve it. While Lan delivers these hard-ass flows with feminine touch that outshines many of her male counterparts. Su catches you with a softer and slightly more sultry cadence that commands in a different manner (but she still has verses that bring a rumble to her tone.) This won’t be the last time I write about this duo. Decentralized flows with knockin' production.
Notable Tracks: Believe Me, Spin Off & This 'n That
City: Oakland, CA / West Coast
Released: September 16, 2022
Talk To Him Nicely by Coach Tev
A project for the fly and suave. That’s exactly how Coach Tev delivers… real precise with his diction, playful syntax and a laid back demeanor. An artist in a league of his own. Be sure to check out his videos as well as they’re done by him and do bring more color, context and livelihood to the songs and project(s) at large. One of the nicest out of the Dallas Hip Hop / Rap scene.
Notable Tracks: Egyptian Rugs, Elderberry & Nice Talk
Released: March 27, 2022 City: Dallas, TX
$oul $old $eperately by Freddie Gibbs
One of the few “mainstream” projects from the year that kept my attention all the way through. Also, didn’t feel like it had forced features or seeking hype. Really just honest raps, luxurious lifestyle and amazing production. Mainstream LP but played like an intermediary of the underground and mainstream. A lot of shit, it broke my heart, but fixed my vision. Might be one of the most connecting/human lines of the year. I know many felt that. Came from the underground and still in relation with it.
Notable Tracks: Rabbit Vision, PYS, Grandma’s Stove & CIA
City: Gary, IN Released: September 30, 2022
Apt. 505 by Coast Contra
Came out of nowhere and reinvigorated some energy derived from what is heard/seen as traditional Hip Hop. You can break it down and explain it but when you watch 'n listen it's apparent. It will be interesting to see how they move forward off of the foundation they are establishing. Will it sound similar or be fused in other ways?
Notable Tracks: Get The Worm, Pimpin’ Benjamin & Legacy
City: Los Angeles / Colombia / Philidelphia
Released: March 24, 2022
Raptor by Rosewood Swing x Reallyraw
I've never heard a sound like this coming out of the 'Sip. As much critique we have about the social media era we also reap a lot of benefits. The connection and web of hearing artists from places you couldn't have imagined unless you were to be there in the flesh. It allows us to be less nieve and ignorant when used and fostered in such manner. This is a real smooth, playa, cruisin' in a pretty whip — chillin', but gettin' to it. Beautiful production and lyrics that lead into the lifestyle and ambitions of Rosewood Swing.
Notable Tracks: Northside Knights, Flights To Miami & Snowfall
City: Jackson, MS
Released: May 20, 2022
Hour Glass EP by Chyna Streetz
Bad Influenyce. Not even certain how I came across Chyna’s music but it’s been a blessing since I found it. Of course I enjoy all the music coming out of the East Coast and NY in particular but I enjoy it more when I hear women holding it down too. Hour Glass EP was a reminder and catalyst for me to do more on my part as a woman to support and listen to more women within the scenes that are popping off. The EP felt like an appetizer of sorts… I’m sure there’s more in the works. I know y’all will eventually catch up to this brigade of women artists releasing authentic Hip Hop / Rap projects and when you do – don’t leave Chyna Streetz out of the conversations.
Notable Tracks: Ghetto Diva, Hourglass & Mirrors
City: Brooklyn, NY
Released: May 3, 2022
Pretty In Black by Joony
There's a cool versatility in the area/realm of music he's creating... I'm not sure I have the technical or perfect words for it but the whole tape doesn't sound the same although there is a similarity of Joony showing off his vocal abilities, melodies with some sprinkles of rap. A fusion of alt-hiphop, alt-rnb, pop, punk and dance. It's a fun combination. I imagine Joony attracting more and more notoriety in the next couple years.
Notable Tracks: MISERY, DRUGS AND FASHION & HIGHS LOWS
City: Silver Spring, MD
Released: May 27, 2022
BASELINE CAVI by TRIZZ x MIKE SUMMERS
Honest tales of vices and homies being caught up in the mix. Delivery wise it feels like Trizz is on the edge you hear the slur in his words and the honesty in the lyrics. The fusion where things are awry but you also are able to remain focused and driven by the chaos. Without the chaos how could one be honest and vulnerable enough? Relatable?
Notable Tracks: the inLAnd, BLESS THE DEAD & HAD TO DO IT MYSELF City: Inland Empire, CA / West Coast
Released: September 16, 2022
Perfect Timing by Killa Fonte
One of the newer acts reinvigorating Philthy Rich’s F.O.D. label. Street raps with a purpose. All in 1 year Killa Fonte released 2 individual projects, helped his team release projects, featured on various songs and also A&R’d No Man Left Behind that hosts a conglomerate of artists… a collective compilation in a way. Future is looking bright for Killa.
Flynt Nixon also reviewed Frank Motion here.
Notable Tracks: Out The trap, Money Motivated & Nothing On Me
City: Oakland, CA
Released: May 20, 2022
Bush Doctor by Daniel Son
At first… I thought about 2 Chainz and his mixtape, Daniel Son: Necklace Don and I was like is bruh from Atlanta? Then, I hit play. [mind explosion emoji.] He got me off the hook of the first track, we’re the hustlers that make moves to feed the children. Instantly, I thought of how I could get my homies and little cousins back home that love to hunt, fish and be on the land to listen. Superb artistry, especially if you're fond of how "traditional" Hip Hop is being evolved and expounded upon.
Notable Tracks: Rag Top Porsches, Eighty Nine & Sugar Cubes City: Toronto, Canada Released: May 1, 2022
The Muddprint 4 by MuddyManTony
Probably the #1 artist I’m grateful for coming across this year. The album if I could define it as anything it would be folk Hip Hop and not like Iron & Wine type folk but the folk that was originally used for the indigenous. MuddyManTony is great at playing with his vocal abilities and creating authentic art in relation to him, where he comes from and who is along with him.
Notable Tracks: Muddy Tribe, Stomp, Kno it ain’t right, Share transgressions & Sucio
City: Dallas, TX / South
Released: June 1, 2022
Results Take Time by Symba
Growthfully Developed by Chris Crack
DETOUR by Malik Elijah ‘94 by OQ
Sweetie Got Stylez by Backwood Sweetie x Furious Stylez
The Blue Hour by Rexx Life Raj
Street Art Vol 1: (st) Art by Dntwatchtv
Stima by Rick Hyde
Scot-Free by Bellez The Most High EP by $hun Gawd
Coordinates by Brookfield Duece
Until We Meet Again by Qualls
God’s Favorite by Deezy Da Duce
Give Thanks by Six Sev
I Got Indian In My Family by Flagboy Giz
Carravaggio Is Alive by Jameel Na’im X
Scarred For Life by Monroe Flow Pastor Ralfy 2 by Ralfy The Plug
Before The Winner Comes The Fall by Grunge Gallardo
CHOSEN FAMILY by Negro Justice
Jaguar on Palisade 2 by CRIMEAPPLE
I TOLD BESSIE by E L U C I D left4dead2 by bbymutha
HOL’ UP I’M MAD by Monday Night
Iroquois Pliskin by Jae Skeese Goldie Summer, Vol. 2 by Goldie Rebel
Worldy Ways by Archibald Slim
PERFECT 7 BY MESSIAH!
Freelance: Charlie by Ben Reilly
Windbreaker XL by Milc x Andy Savoie
Wolves Don’t Eat with Shepherd’s by Knowledge The Pirate x Big Ghost Ltd.
Chaos Is My Ladder by Ransom x VDON
Metropolis by Namir Blade
5 To The Eye With Stars by R.A.P. Ferreira A Tower & Thereafter by Chucky Blk
Motivational Purpose by Philthy Rich
There’s Glory In the Fire, Vol. 1 by FUNERAL Ant Bell
IN US WE TRUST Side A by Polyester The Saint
Jp5000 by Junglepussy
Never Question God by Young Roddy
The Prodigal Child by Kaya Strykes
Diggin’ in the Tuff Kong Crates by Buckwild
Skanless Levels 3 by 2 Eleven x T.F
Heightened Senses by Jay Nice x Machacha
Back 2 Ba$ics by Payroll Giovanni
Tango by G Perico
From The Can by Sheff G
Young Hot Ebony 2 by Father
This Must Be The Place by Apollo Brown