E L U C I D, R.A.P. Ferreira, AKAI SOLO, Fly Anakin, Namir Blade and more lead Mixtape Monday’s best rap albums of 2022 year in review.
The 2022 year-end retrospective features 30 of the best projects to make the cut this year. Selected from a cache of amazing efforts, this retrospective showcases the singularity and experimentation that drove artistic growth across music last year, but particularly in hip-hop.
Rap had a banner year. Don’t let anyone tell you different. So much so, that everyone I wanted to include is not listed here. Join me in revisiting standouts from E L U C I D, R.A.P. Ferreira, AKAI SOLO, Fly Anakin, Namir Blade and more.
E L U C I D – I Told Bessie
E L U C I D’s 2022 solo flight I Told Bessie is an ode to his paternal grandmother and the city of New York that revisits his origins through a seamless collection of pristine beats and rhymes anchored by his singular personality.
R.A.P. Ferreira – 5 to the Eye with Stars
R.A.P. Ferreira is in rare form on 5 to the Eye with Stars, which encapsulates his growth as a lyricist and expands upon the signature aesthetic established on Purple Moonlight Pages.
AKAI SOLO – Spirit Roaming
AKAI SOLO delivers one of his best performances to date on the full circle release Spirit Roaming with help from featured collaborator Armand Hammer and production from Theravada, Preservation, Roper Williams, August Fanon and more.
Fly Anakin – Frank
Fly Anakin’s highly-anticipated debut studio album Frank has found him levitating above the underground on a project that formally establishes him as a pillar of the new guard with production from Madlib, Foisey, Like (of Pac Div) and more.
Namir Blade – Metropolis
Taking cues from Fritz Lang, Namir Blade followed Aphelion’s Traveling Circus with an Afrofuturist exploration of his artistic sensibilities titled Metropolis. His collaborators include Jordan Webb and Gee Slab.
Quelle Chris – DEATHFAME
Quelle Chris dropped DEATHFAME to instant critical and cult acclaim in 2022, crystallizing his growth as a wordsmith and producer while addressing the unfortunate phenomenon of tragic deaths in rap.
Rome Streetz – Kiss The Ring
One year removed from the Ransom-assisted Coup De Grace, Rome Streetz burned down the set on Kiss The Ring with a collection of tracks by Conductor Williams that instantly raised the bar for hard nosed, street talking New York rap.
Mickey Diamond x Big Ghost Ltd. – Gucci Ghost
Detroit spitter Mickey Diamond dropped a number of standouts in 2022, including the first of the cinematic two-volume series Gucci Ghost produced entirely by Big Ghost Ltd with features from Pro Dillinger and Snotty.
Domo Genesis – Intros, Outros & Interludes
Following the one-two punch of Red Corolla and Facade Records, Domo Genesis connected with Evidence to deliver one of the highlights of the year with the release of Intros, Outros & Interludes.
open mike eagle – a tape called component system…
open mike eagle followed anime, trauma and divorce with the acclaimed 2022 album a tape called component system with the auto reverse, which trades in candor and comedy over solid beats.
Nicholas Craven x Boldy James – Fair Exchange No Robbery
Nicholas Craven & Boldy James are in tiptop shape across the mildly autobiographical, tough talking collaborative album Fair Exchange No Robbery featuring Gue Wop.
Fatboi Sharif x noface – Preaching In Havana
Fatboi Sharif and noface are not afraid to venture far afield of the usual on Preaching In Havana featuring phiik and Lungs. Leaning into effects, the pair deliver a left-of-center gem for fans of the experimental.
ShrapKnel – Metal Lung
Curly Castro and PremRock represented Philly’s Wrecking Crew as ShrapKnel on their 2022 psych-rap opus Metal Lung featuring Fakts One, Rob Sonic, Ethel Cee and more.
Joshua Virtue – RAMA
Chicago’s own Joshua Virtue followed Moon. and Ideogram 1/4 with a bold exploration of the self dubbed RAMA. The release of his third album elevates social commentary in rap to high art.
MIKE – Beware Of The Monkey
Following weight of the world and DISCO, MIKE delivered the dj blackpower-produced album Beware Of The Monkey inspired by the Chinese zodiac and driven by the dusty analog rhythms at the core of his sound.
Elzhi x Georgia Anne Muldrow – Zhigeist
Elzhi and Georgia Anne Muldrow connected to deliver the twelve-headed, psych-funk masterpiece dubbed Zhigeist, which finds them on a mystic journey through sound and space driven by an amalgam of their otherworldly talents.
billy woods – Aethiopes
billy woods is more lyrically and musically adventurous than ever on the sonic journey Aethiopes produced entirely by Preservation. Together they explore the dark underbelly of recorded history, collective memory and sound.
Lukah – Raw Extractions
Lukah followed the 2021 release of When The Black Hand Touches You and Why Look Up… with the Raw Extractions album, which combines his unapologetically southern sensibilities with surefire bars.
Ghais Guevara – There Will Be No Super-Slave
Demonstrating the power of street knowledge, Ghais Guevara drops There Will Be No Super-Slave — a personal album that connects the dots between racial violence and identity to illustrate the lived experience of blackness.
Stik Figa x August Fanon – Heresy
Stik Figa and August Fanon connected to deliver Heresy featuring Sleep Sinatra, Denmark Vessey, Vic Spencer and more. A top to bottom listen, the release is one of Stik Figa’s best performances to date.
Teller Bank$ – The I & I
Teller Bank$ followed 2021’s The Part & Parcel with the release of The I & I produced by Ed Glorious. Driven by soulful boom-bap production, the album is punctuated by crisp lyricism.
VRITRA – SNAKES
VRITRA delivers a stellar performance that combines futurist notions and quirky sonic cues with conversational observation on SNAKES co-produced by Leon Sylvers IV and Ivan Williams.
amani x robalu – i’ll be right black!
Billed as “two afronauts” crossing the great divide, amani & robalu’s dense industrial album i’ll be right black! finds them peppering the cosmos with deep rhythm and equally profound raps.
billy woods x Messiah Musik – Church
billy woods & Messiah Musik connected to deliver Church featuring AKAI SOLO, Fielded, E L U C I D and Fat Ray. The project finds woods wading into the chaos of suffering and marginalization to unearth a gem.
Sleep Sinatra x Ohbliv – Shadow Self
Sleep Sinatra and Ohbliv delivered the Shadow Self album featuring Obijuan, Flannel Lewis and J.U.S. and more. The project is a benchmark for Sleep that crystallizes his maturation as an underground king and musical polymath.
Marlowe – Marlowe 3
L’Orange and Solemn Brigham returned with the highly-anticipated album Marlowe 3 featuring Blu, Joell Ortiz, Deniro Farrar and Romesh Raganathan. The project plays like a speeding bullet as producer and rapper execute in lockstep.
QThree – u be ight
Prolific Philadelphia rapper/producer QThree delivered a living document of perseverance in action dubbed u be ight. The project features Matt Ford, Evidence, Cloud Atrium, Navy Blue and more.
Malachi. Whitman – Happy Place
Enigmatic Michigan spitter Malachi. Whitman drops biting statements and vivid imagery across his debut album Happy Place produced entirely by KILLVONGARD. Reporting from the outskirts of civilization, Whitman delivered a gem.
Wrecking Crew – Sedale Threat
One year after the release of Steel’s Kitchen, Philly rap collective Wrecking Crew reconvened to deliver Sedale Threat. A nod to the baller of the same name, the album is a clinic in the proper execution and expansion of the time-honored posse cut.
Raw Poetic x Damu The Fudgemunk – Space Beyond The Solar System
Raw Poetic and Damu The Fudgemunk followed Laminated Skies with Space Beyond The Solar System –– an analog sampler driven masterpiece that showcases the vibrant DNA of classic hip-hop at a high level.
Karas Lamb writes and digs for tunes you haven’t heard yet. She wants to listen to your music. Follow her on Twitter @karaslamb.