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The Top 10 Best Albums of 2022

Joshua Linnehan

With Spotify once again releasing their Spotify Wrapped for everyone to see and share with others on social media, I thought it would be the perfect time to go over my personal favorite albums of 2022. Even though there’s still a full month of new music coming out in December, I feel like there’s been so much amazing music that is already out, and it would be very difficult for this list to change by the end of the year. I tried venturing into different genres and newer artists more than ever this year, so I feel this list may have some albums that people haven’t heard of. However, my music taste is still primarily rap/hip-hop, with a bit of R&B mixed in it, so expect those types of albums on this list. This is just my personal opinion of course, but if you haven’t listened to the albums mentioned, I highly recommend checking them out, especially if you are a rap/hip-hop fan. With that being said, let’s get to the list:

Honorable Mentions:

There were just too many amazing albums that I listened to this year, so I had to mention a few that didn’t quite make the list.

King’s Disease III- Nas

It’s crazy to think that 28 years after dropping his classic album Illmatic, Hip-Hop legend Nas is still going strong with the final installment of the King’s Disease trilogy with KDIII. The chemistry between Nas and producer Hit-Boy is just impeccable. Nas’ ridiculous flow and bars, along with the amazing instrumentals makes the record a very smooth listen. What’s even more impressive is this album has no features as well, which is Nas’ first solo record since The Lost Tapes in 2002. 

Best Songs: Reminisce, 30, Once a Man, Twice a Child

Heroes & Villains- Metro Boomin

Metro Boomin once again proves why he will go down as one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time, as he dropped his 2nd studio album, Heroes & Villains. Metro was able to bring some of the best trap artists in the game right now, including Travis Scott, Future, Don Toliver, and 21 Savage to put together a really solid record, take notes DJ Khaled. Also the marketing for this album was incredible, from the short film Metro released on YouTube, to the comic books that announced each featured artist. This album felt cinematic, with Morgan Freeman’s outros, the Homelander sample in the opening, and song transitions that pulls you into the world Metro created.

Best Songs: Creepin’, Metro Spider, Around Me

You Can’t Kill Me- 070 Shake

If you are a big fan of spacey and psychedelic type of production, then this album is perfect for you. 070 Shakes’ You Can’t Kill Me is easily one of the best sounding albums of the year. The vibe of this record can truly take you to another world, and it’s just extremely unique and creative. 070 Shake does a great job with her performance as well, but these songs are not made for the lyrical content or delivering a certain message, but you will totally feel like you’re floating. 

Best Songs: Skin and Bones, Cocoon, Blue Velvet

10: learn 2 swim- redveil

Redveil is a underground rapper from Maryland, who produced, wrote, and of course performed this entire record independently at just the age of 17. This is simply one of the most impressive albums I’ve listened to all year, because redveil is so young, yet his skill level is already better than most rappers in the game today. My favorite aspect was definitely the production, with a jazzy and soulful sound to it. In terms of redveil’s performance, I really enjoyed his theme of “swimming”, and how it’s made to represent growth and continuing to improve his craft. Redveil definitely has one of the brightest futures in the rap game, and he deserves more recognition of this record.

Best Songs: shoulder, new info, morphine (da ways)

9: Vinyl Days- Logic

Admittedly, for an artist with a very polarizing catalog like Logic, I had my doubts about this record when I saw it was going to be 30 tracks long. However, there were just 22 tracks as there were eight skits, and the songs are short and sweet, as only seven of them were over 3+ minutes. This album had possibly my favorite first listen because it was just so fast paced and entertaining, and it’s one of my most replayed albums this year. The boom bap production from Logic and 6ix was fantastic the whole way, and it was just nice to hear Logic rapping with hunger, as he expressed on this record many times that he was uninspired to make music the past few years. Not only did Logic deliver, but every feature fit perfectly on this record.

Best Songs: Orville, Clouds, Breath Control

8: Cheat Codes- Black Thought, Danger Mouse

Legendary rapper Black Thought and producer Danger Mouse collabed to make one of the best hip-hop records of the year. Black Thought isn’t known in the mainstream, but he’s been one of the best lyricists in the game since his days with The Roots, back in the 90s. This rapper and producer duo was honestly a match made in heaven as Danger Mouse’s gritty instrumentals along with Thought’s bars, double entendres, flows, and rhyme schemes makes for so many amazing tracks. The features on this album were flawless as well with names like MF Doom, Joey Bada$$, Conway The Machine, Run The Jewels, A$AP Rocky, and many others. This record would be higher but its replay value isn’t as high as the albums above it. 

Best Songs: Belize, Strangers, Aquamarine

7: Her Loss- Drake, 21 Savage

Drake and 21 Savage’s surprise announcement for a collab album quickly became my most anticipated record for the rest of the year. I’m happy to say they didn’t disappoint with this one, and even though Drake’s past few records haven’t been that good, I believe Her Loss is his best album since Views, back in 2016. This album seemed like more of a Drake featuring 21 Savage album rather than a collab, but every time 21 hopped on the track, he elevated it. As for Drake, he thankfully gave way more effort on this record than his previous two, and he proves he’s still one of the best rappers today. This album is just so fun, it has a ton of replay value, it has crazy beat switches, catchy hooks, amazing production, and many other aspects that makes it a great record.

Best Songs: Spin About U, Rich Flex, Middle of the Ocean

6: 2000- Joey Bada$$

It was nearly impossible for Joey Bada$$ to meet the expectations this album had, as it’s a sequel to arguably one of the best mixtapes of all time in 1999. But Joey delivered yet another amazing record here, as the Chris Brown track is the only one I disliked out of the 15 tracklist. Joey delivers amazing performances on basically every track here, with phenomenal rhyme schemes, bars, and flows, and it works perfectly with the chill and laid back production. Some of the subject matter in these tracks were very touching as well, as Joey talks about his success and reminisces about the past, such as the passing of his partner in crime, Captain Steez. 2000 was definitely worth the five year wait, and it’s been in rotation since its release.

Best Songs: Survivor’s Guilt, Show Me, Zipcodes

5. Melt My Eyes, See Your Future- Denzel Curry

Denzel Curry is easily one of the most underrated artists in the rap game today, and even though he doesn’t get mainstream attention, he’s been one of the best MCs over the past six years. With MMESYF, Denzel takes a huge step forward with his maturity as an artist, as this project has more of a smooth and futuristic production, unlike the high octane, moshpit level bangers that he’s remembered for. Curry has always been a great songwriter, but for a whole project this is definitely his best to date. Denzel’s main message of self-growth, progressing forward, and redefining himself was executed beautifully. Of course the talent is still there as well, with catchy hooks, smooth flows, and crazy bars throughout the whole tracklist. Overall, this is an extremely cohesive album with no skips, and delivered a great message.

Best Songs: Walkin, X-Wing, Ain’t No Way

4. Wasteland- Brent Faiyaz

Finally, the first R&B album to make the list is from my personal favorite R&B artist in Brent Faiyaz. Wasteland lived up to my very high expectations, and has been heavy in my rotation since it was released. Of course my favorite part of this record was the incredible vocals from Brent, he continues to stand out when it comes to vocal range and his endless amount of catchy hooks. This record still has Brent’s main theme of toxicity in relationships, but throughout the album we see Brent change as he displays some vulnerability and his ego is broken. This transition is depicted through the incredible skits on this album. On first listen, I didn’t expect to be mesmerized by the story of Chris and his girlfriend, but they were so world-like that it felt like I was watching a movie. With the amazing skits and music to pair, Wasteland is one of the best album experiences of the year.

Best Songs: Dead Man Walking, Price of Fame, Rolling Stone

3. Dawn FM- The Weeknd

The Weeknd delivers yet another incredible record to his catology with Dawn FM. This is another amazing album to listen to from start to finish, as the radio station concept, narrated by Jim Carrey, was very well-executed, and was honestly pretty unsettling but it was designed to do just that. Also the transitions from song to song were flawless, I love when albums are able to pull that off. As for the actual music, it’s no surprise that The Weeknd has fantastic vocals and catchy hooks throughout the whole project, and I really like the futuristic production that feels bouncy and upbeat, but once you listen to Abel’s lyrics, you realize that they are very deep and vulnerable. This is also another album that feels very complete and cohesive with no filler in its tracklist of 16.

Best Songs: Less Than Zero, Is It Someone Else?, Gasoline

2: Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers- Kendrick Lamar

After a draw-out five year wait for a new Kendrick Lamar record, we finally got his 5th studio album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. This is certainly my most anticipated record of the year like many others, but I’d say it lived up to the hype. King Kendrick continues to stay on top of the rap game, and delivers his most personal and emotional album to date. Sonically, this record is very unique and kind of feels like a play in ways, which can mislead the people who expected an album full of bangers and crazy rapping like before. However, this album is purely focused on Kendrick expressing his struggles, emotions, and breakthroughs over the past five years. I love the concept of the two-sided album, with the first side describing a stubborn Kendrick who is not willing to work on his problems and go to therapy, while the second side describes Kendrick being self-aware and learning to accept his issues and grow from them. While the production is different, there are still plenty of amazing sounding tracks on here, along with some amazing story-telling tracks that we expect from Kendrick. The reason why this isn’t album of the year is because it doesn’t have that much replay value for me. 

Best Songs: Father Time, N95, Mirror

1: The Forever Story- JID

Atlanta rapper and Dreamville member, JID, dropped the best album of 2022 with The Forever Story. JID is another artist that deserves so much more credit for his music like Denzel Curry. His talent is undeniable, and he officially asserted himself as one of the best MCs in hip-hop with this record. This album truly has everything you could possibly want.  JID has an incredible performance on every single track, which included crazy bars, insane rhyme schemes, effortless flow switches, great storytelling, and even an incredible singing performance on a few of these tracks. The production was fantastic and unpredictable, there were so many beat switches throughout the whole record, and JID of course bodied every single one. There is maybe one song that I would skip on this record, but half of the songs are 10/10 for me, and of course the album has been heavy in my rotation. JID honestly outdid himself on this one, people who listen to his music know he has the talent, and he just put it all together to make this incredible body of work. If you haven’t heard of JID, or you haven’t checked this album out yet, please do yourself a favor and listen to it, especially if you are a hip-hop fan. In five years time, this album will be viewed as a classic.

Best Songs: Raydar, Surround Sound, Kody Blu 31