On the eve of its 50th birthday, Hip Hop music is solidified as the driving force for global culture and commerce. However, like the embattled Gen-Xer it is, in 2022 the genre has endured growing pains, loss, reinvention and offspring who are eager to forge their own path and define what it is for themselves.
This year saw the return of the triumvirate of Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T to lay claim to Hip Hop’s crown. Once heralded as new blood, they each have evolved into elder statesmen in the game, reasserting their dominance on the charts in-between PTA meetings. But a fresh injection of new faces like GloRilla, Ice Spice and Yeat, to name a few, has reaffirmed that the youth will always be the driving beat of Hip Hop. Not to be outdone, veterans like Nas, DJ Premier and Gangsta Boo reminded us that the OGs still have something to contribute.
Ever on the hunt for what is real, Hip Hop’s entrepreneurs ventured into the NFT market and planted their flags in the metaverse, reminding the short-sighted that it was tinkering with the science behind the sound that moved the culture forward in its infancy.
At HipHopDX, we want to take a moment to not just give artists their flowers in our annual DX Awards, we want to keep watering that talent getting it out of the mud, so Hip Hop can keep dominating for another 50 years.
– Jerry Barrow, HipHopDX Head Of Content
Every year, HipHopDX staff joins in our Hip Hop Awards discussions, debates and sometimes heated arguments to come up with a list for our Year End Awards. Our winners will be announced throughout the week commencing December 19, 2022.
THIS YEAR’S Hip hop AWARDs WINNER SCHEDULE
HIP HOP ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
As 2022 comes to a close, it’s clear that rap music was back outside this year. With pandemic-era restrictions beginning to wane, this year’s rookie class seemed to have spent their time in isolation crafting music meant for crowded venues. Whether those venues were hazy smoke-filled living rooms with close friends or unruly bars and dance floors, 2022’s brightest young rappers brought raw energy back to maskless functions.
The 2022 Hip Hop Rookie of the year award goes to…
Born from the embers of Three 6 Mafia and Gangsta Boo’s southern raunch, GloRilla’s rise from buzzing Memphis talent to national superstar is one of this year’s greatest underdog stories. “F.N.F’s” stomping delivery and snappy hook saturated both TikTok and summer get-togethers, catapulting the 22-year-old to global stages such as Rolling Loud Miami and UK’s Wireless Festival. A groundbreaking deal with Yo Gotti’s CMG soon followed, and a venomous guest verse from Cardi B on “Tomorrow 2” shot GloRilla into the stratosphere. As she closes out 2022 with a Grammy nomination and national tour on the horizon, GloRilla already seems to be an unstoppable force. GloRilla’s trajectory is through the roof and her first year in the mainstream was historical, making her a clear pick for DX’s Rookie of the Year.
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
Ice Spice’s rousing internet anthems made camaraderie a focal point of rap once again, while Yeat’s energized raging cut loose thousands of suppressed teens pent up from two years indoors. Meanwhile, MAVI’s insulated musings made for stimulating conversations, while Doechii’s genre-bending experimentation moved rap’s needle forward.
With the hype behind each of these rappers already at a fever pitch, they are poised to take 2023 by storm, so get used to hearing their music at the function.
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these artists for Hip Hop Rookie of the Year.
BIGGEST COMEBACK OF 2022
A number of veteran rappers also re-established themselves in 2022, feeding their fanbases with long-awaited releases and, in some cases, treating them to a few surprises. For all the debates about the “relevancy” of Hip Hop’s OGs that raged this year, these Comeback of the Year nominees dispelled the theory that rap is strictly a young man’s sport.
The Best Comeback of 2022 award goes to…
Having watched the trap sub-genre he helped popularize in the mid ‘00s continue to grow and dominate, Jeezy proved this year that he’s still one of the best artisans of the artform. Reuniting with Gangsta Grillz general DJ Drama, who helmed his classic mixtape run early in his career, the Snowman shook off the complacency that plagued his last few projects and returned to form on his strictly-for-the-streets Snofall project. That sense of nostalgia mixed with renewed hunger also carried over into Jeezy’s B-Sides concerts in Atlanta and Detroit, where he treated day one fans to deep cuts from his mixtape catalog. Outside of the studio, the CTE boss welcomed his first child with his wife, Jeannie Mai Jenkins, and continued to grow his real estate empire, which includes “half of Atlanta.” While he may have never fully left, this year was a return to form musically for Jeezy making him the winner of DX’s 2022 Comeback of the Year.
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these artists for Hip Hop Comeback of the Year.
BEST RAP & HIP HOP MUSIC VIDEO OF 2022
It’s been more than 40 years since video killed the radio star, but nothing has come close to killing music videos yet — not even YouTube algorithms or MTV’s pivot to Ridiculousness. Creative music videos are not only a good marketing tool in 2022 but they add new dimensions to songs and paint visual pictures to the bars. This year, some of the best Hip Hop music videos were both cinematic and innovative.
The Best Rap/Hip Hop Music Video of 2022 award goes to…
THE HEART PART. 5 – KENDRICK LAMAR
DIRECTED BY: DAVE FREE & KENDRICK LAMAR
In the age of misinformation, Kendrick Lamar uses deepfakes to ask, urgently and directly, what makes a person good. This question is at the core of Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, where Kendrick teams up with accused rapist Kodak Black and pop-psychologist Eckhart Tolle to explore transphobia, vaccine skepticism, and Kendrick’s own infidelity and traumas.
Ahead of that album, the video for “The Heart Part 5” explores the question more explicitly, with Kendrick literally transforming into OJ Simpson, Will Smith, Kobe Bryant, Jussie Smollett and the now-truly-canceled Kanye West. He forces the viewer to consider the heritage of Black celebrity, its risks and travails, the pressure and scrutiny. Who does the media focus on, and when, and why, and to what end? Kendrick doesn’t offer any clear cut conclusions, even when he channels the spirit of Nipsey Hussle to console the late rapper’s family and friends. Life is too messy to pretend he has all the answers. The video’s impact and creativity earned it DX’s Music Video of the Year award.
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
2022 was filled with beautiful videos, from TM88 & Pi’erre Bourne’s laidback “Pop Out” to GloRilla’s starmaking breakout “F.N.F. ” And while major stars like Beyonce, The Weeknd and Drake put out glossy big budget videos, less widely known artists were equally busy creating striking imagery, from A$AP Ant’s psychedelic-tinged video for “The God Hour” with A$AP Rocky to alté scene wunderkind Cruel Santino’s neon Y2K-inflected “HEATING ROCKS.”
When it comes to music videos, the truly great stand out not only for their striking visuals, but their storytelling, and what those stories say about us. Kendrick Lamar, whose “We Cry Together” video is up for an Oscar, notched two placements on our list. Elsewhere, an animated video that took more than a year to make and a tale of childhood innocence. These are HipHopDX’s Best Music Videos of 2022.
- Cash In Cash Out – Pharrell, Tyler, The Creator & 21 Savage
- D.M.B – A$AP Rocky
- Money – J.I.D
- The Heart Part 5 – Kendrick Lamar
- We Cry Together – Kendrick Lamar
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these videos for Music Video of the Year.
BEST PRODUCED HIP HOP SONG OF 2022
A great Hip Hop song doesn’t come from lyrics alone. Yes, they’re important — it’s a foundational part of the music — but great raps fade from memory without the right beat. It’s not just a timekeeping device, it’s a central part of the mechanism. The right producer can help a rapper find their voice or send them in unexpected directions. A sample takes on a life of its own, adding complexity and new meaning to a musical tradition. After all, it’s the drums that encourage the head nod. When every element comes together, the result is greater than the sum of its parts. And 2022 was an exceptional year for Hip Hop music thanks in large part to the producers that understood this dynamic.
The Best Beat of 2022 award goes to…
JOHNNY P’S CADDY – BENNY THE BUTCHER F. J. COLE
PRODUCED BY ALCHEMIST
The Alchemist’s genius isn’t found in his ear for samples or dexterity with chopping drum breaks. He’s brilliant at both, without question, but it’s his ability to figure out how to fit into — and expand — a rapper’s world that sets him apart. In a 2021 interview with Complex, Al explained that he starts collaborative projects by getting to know who he’s working with. “If you’re … really in tune with yourself, … you’re making music that is representative of you as a person.” He doesn’t simply make beats for someone to rap on, he looks for insights into their character that dictate the kinds of sounds they need. “Johnny P’s Caddy,” demonstrates that concept to a tee.
Al loops up a sample from a doo wop band, increasing the pitch and setting it far enough back in the mix to obscure the words they’re singing. The drums are dry and open, creating a loose pocket for Benny and J. Cole to kick around in, but the key is the sample’s melody. When paired with Benny’s contemplative verse, it sounds a little melancholic, giving weight to his rags-to-riches bars. Cole, who’s led a much different life than Benny, raps boastfully about his lyrical abilities. The floating voices behind him feel triumphant. Because Al understands who he’s working with so well, he can hear the subtleties of a loop that can change mood depending on context. Alchemist is more than a producer, he’s a world builder, and “Johnny P’s Caddy” proves it.
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
None of the best beats of the year sound anything alike. The psychedelic Atlanta thump of “Hotel Lobby” got functions across the country poppin off. Whether it was the trunk rattling urgency of Pusha T’s “Let The Smokers Shine The Coupe,” or the busy and lush workings of Nas & Hit-Boy on “Legit,” the variety of sound is a testament to the breadth of beats Hip Hop encompasses. It’s a living artform, full of innovative voices searching for new modes of expression.
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these producers for Hip Hop Beat of the Year.
BEST RAP & HIP HOP PRODUCERS OF 2022
2022 was a big year for music, from big newcomers to seasoned veterans. With so many dope producers producing equally excellent albums and records, the voting was tighter than ever. From full-length releases and underground gems to bubbling, inescapable singles, 2022’s Hip Hop Producers of the year kept us on our toes.
The best Hip Hop Producer award goes to…
HipHopDX Producer of the year for 2020, Hit-Boy has yet to show noticeable wear and tear, spending another revolution around the sun with his foot firmly planted on the gas. What continues to make the California native so potent is his ability to bridge generations. His year saw him producing full-length projects for Pacman Da Gunman (Bulletproof Soul) and Dreezy (HITGIRL), not to mention contributions to The Game’s Drillmatic – Heart vs. Mind, work and with Dom Kennedy—among other credits.
Most notably, he bookended the year producing for one of the greatest lyricists of all time, Nas; first with the surprise 2021 Christmas drop, Magic, and recently, the universally hailed fireball that is KDIII. That, of course, is just one bag, as EA also tapped him to curate the music for Madden 2023. Earning a Grammy nomination for his work on Beyonce’s Renaissance, his stranglehold on the decade doesn’t seem to be slowing up heading into the New Year.
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
This year, we see primarily familiar names floating amongst the creme of the crop, like 2021’s Producer Of The Year Alchemist as well as past nominees Harry Fraud and Metro Boomin’. ATL Jacob created his lane with production on some of the biggest songs of the year including Future & Drake’s “WAIT FOR U.” Each producer has reached new heights in their careers and brought something unique to the musical landscape this year.
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these producers for Hip Hop Producer of the Year.
LEVEL-UP OF THE YEAR 2022
With so many legacy artists still putting out projects and controlling the attention of their core fanbase that they’ve had for years, it can be hard for newer artists to make that jump to the next level. Although there are so many new technological opportunities for these newer artists to breakthrough, it can feel impossible to move from a Rap Caviar playlist placement or another rappers’ co-sign all the way up to a headlining tour across the country.
2022 was a unique year as it saw the world return to a live music-friendly environment, something that was put on pause for most of the last two years. Alongside concerts returning, in-person rap practices that can help springboard an artists’ brand like radio freestyles, interviews, and award show moments all came back in full force. Those eager to level up took every chance they could to highlight their perfected craft and proved why they deserve to be mentioned among today’s modern greats.
The Level-Up award goes to…
JID has been a top tier lyricist since he first made his mainstream debut but his is career trajectory continues to crescendo. Although JID’s album The Forever Story came after almost four years, the wait was worth it for fans. The album was released in August and peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 chart with standout singles like “Dance Now” and “Surround Sound” with 21 Savage. While each songs stands up on its own, the album’s conceptual nature and storytelling sets it apart from many other projects this year. The Forever Story provides insight into JID’s journey and showcases his perspective on the world. Not only was the music top tier but the following visuals helped tell the story in a beautiful way. Elevation is a word that properly describes JID’s year in 2022 and it doesn’t seem like anything is slowing down from here. JID also received a nomination for HipHopDX’s Best Rapper of 2022
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
Before 2022, the following nominees had a solid buzz and a decent fanbase but were only on the precipice of rap stardom. In some cases, their rap game pedigree might have started hot and cooled off over the last few years. Either way, the likes of Babyface Ray, Joey Bada$$, Smino and Symba all showed up and showed out this year, proving they are here to stay for the long haul.
- Babyface Ray
- Joey Bada$$
BEST R&B ARTIST OF 2022
Those who keep trying to posit the idea that R&B is dead have missed out on one of the most promising years for the genre. From traditional, alternative, contemporary, soul, and several other sub-genres, the versatility of R&B has been on full display in 2022.
Without further ado, HipHopDX’s pick for the Best R&B Singers Of 2022 is…
One of the emerging voices of alternative R&B, has built a large following with soulful vocals, smooth delivery, and honest lyrics. At 27 years old, the Maryland native is representative of a new crop of R&B artists who are melding the rich tradition of soul music with the undeniable influence of the sonics of modern Hip Hop. On Wasteland, his second LP, he offers lush harmonies over orchestral production that compliments his tonality as a singer. The project centers on the various complications that come with relationships and how fatherhood is a game changer. With another strong album under his belt along with a slew of guest features, 2022 was a breakout year for Brent Faiyaz.
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
Whether it’s veteran artists or up-and-coming singer/songwriters who have recently emerged on the music scene, R&B is alive and doing quite well. The year 2022 has been a continuation of the expansion of R&B and we love to see it.
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these artists for R&B Singer of the Year.
BEST R&B SONG OF 2022
2022 in R&B offered a year of old favorites coming back into the fold and plenty of new stars primed to carry the torch into 2023. All this, plus notable contributions from veterans such as Drake and rising talents like Omar Apollo made for a great year in R&B.
The Best R&B SONG of 2022 goes to…
STEVE LACY – “BAD HABIT”
Steve Lacy hasn’t missed a beat since he debuted as a teenager with R&B collective The Internet in 2015. Since then, he’s cut a cool path from Grammy-nominated prodigy to a 24-year-old solo artist with collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator and Solange under his belt. Still, all of that seems dwarfed by the viral smash hit “Bad Habit,” a dreamy, sing-able indie pop anthem about a longing infatuation — fantasized or realized (which Lacy leaves ambiguous). The undeniable standout from sophomore LP Gemini Rights features all the angst, sarcasm and disarmingly charming honesty we’ve come to expect from the now industry veteran. Some of Lacy’s new fans might’ve entered his realm through the wistful “I wish I knew you wanted me” hook, but those who stuck it out would find an endlessly replayable track infused with his trademark earthy percussion, crunchy riffs and vocal dexterity. — Nina Hernandez
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
Brent Faiyaz proved himself to be the next main draw, delivering several smash hits off his No. 1 album Wasteland. Burna Boy continued to take the world by storm with his mix of Afrobeats, Hip Hop and R&B. And, of course, we got two songs of the summer with Steve Lacy’s ode to what could have been, “Bad Habit,” and Beyoncé’s proclamation to quit your job, “Break My Soul.”
All this, plus notable contributions from veterans such as Drake and rising talents like Omar Apollo made for a great year in R&B, where the genre had crossovers with hyperpop, pop and Afrobeats. Without further ado, here are the nominees for the HipHopDX R&B Song Of The Year.
- All Mine – Brent Faiyaz
- Bad Habit – Steve Lacy
- Break My Soul – Beyoncé
- Evergreen – Omar Apollo
- Last Last – Burna Boy
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these artists for R&B Song of the Year.
BEST R&B ALBUM OF 2022
Although 2022 was by no means a smooth year globally, there was no shortage of soothing new R&B albums to provide listeners with some healing. Some new stars made their mark, while a number of prominent artists in the genre dropped new projects for the first time in years.
Beyond our top five nominees, there were so many great new R&B albums released this year that everyone on this list deserves your ears, but there can only be one winner.
The Best R&B Album of 2022 Awards goes to…
BEYONCÉ – RENAISSANCE
Since her debut in 1997, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter has become the standard for this generation. She checks all the boxes: a powerhouse voice, a slew of hit songs and an unmatched ability to put on a show. Now, the world’s greatest living entertainer is back evoking the likes of Chaka Khan as she ascends to a Queen of the dance floor. In the past, she’s flirted with the idea of making dance music — “Schoolin Life” and “Blow” were fun flings — but on Renaissance, she’s fully committed to the genres of ballroom and house and with help from some Black queer icons. Renaissance is a clear call to return to the place where nothing matters: the dance floor. Beyoncé possesses a ferocity that can’t be touched nor mimicked, and that self-confidence oozes from the album. Renaissance is a gallant body of work from an artist that has proved time and time again that she will take the risk no matter the results. Far from simply being a collection of good songs, Bey’s seventh studio outing is a colorful, euphoric and glittery celebration of what has passed and what is still to come. — Precious Fondren
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
The Weeknd started out the year by providing his most upbeat project to date, Dawn FM, while Steve Lacy had a breakthrough project with Gemini Rights, solidifying his status as one of the most innovative artists in the space.
Elsewhere, Brent Faiyaz dropped his long-awaited sophomore album and didn’t disappoint; Ari Lennox returned after more than three years with a magnificent project.
- Age Sex Location – Ari Lennox
- Dawn FM – The Weeknd
- Gemini Rights – Steve Lacy
- Renaissance – Beyoncé
- Wasteland – Brent Faiyaz
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these artists for R&B Album of the Year.
BEST RAP VERSE OF 2022
The first full year of the world being back outside without quarantine restrictions proved to be a fruitful time for Hip Hop. Artists were bursting out the gate and gunning for that top spot with all the music they’ve given fans over the last 12 months.
There has always been a debate in Hip Hop regarding the lack of lyricism in this melodic-friendly music landscape, but this group proved the spirit of barring up is alive and well in 2022.
The Award for BEST RAP VERSE OF 2022 goes to…
“God Did” – JAY-Z
The promotional rollout for the single “God Did” saw DJ Khaled claim JAY-Z had the verse of the decade on the record. Many were interested, while others felt Khaled was being his usual outrageous self. But when the song dropped alongside the album of the same name, the world stopped and tuned in. JAY-Z knew he had an audience that wanted to hear what he had to say, and fans left with more than they expected. The verse is four breaktaking minutes of the Brooklyn rap legend detailing his journey as a hustler to becoming one of the greatest and most successful rappers of all time. ”I left the dope game with my record clean, huh / I turned the cocaína into champagne, huh / I cleaned up la madrina with the same soap, huh / Me and Loro talk ’bout how we slang dope, huh.” It was so incredible that MSNBC’s Ari Melber dissected it on his show The Beat, where he highlighted JAY-Z’s amazing ability to tear down the country’s justice system while also showing off that he and his team are still doing activities that were once deemed illegal. “I’m now careful with the sentences, them only jail bars I like / I never wanted to be the state custodian / The laws are draconian / For those married to the life, it’s holy matrimony and / Somehow, I’ll out-fox every box they’ll try to throw me in.” Another haymaker from Hov. – Mark Elibert
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
There were quality albums, hit singles, innovative music videos and more. But one of Hip Hop’s core elements was well-represented by some of the game’s most recognizable names. With the culture — and the world — back outside, these rappers showed out and displayed the lyrical daggers they’ve been sharpening. Cardi B turned back the clock to remind fans the bars were still intact while J. Cole and Drake showed why they’re the best of their generation at what they do. On the other hand, Lil Wayne held his own on a song that featured a show stopping JAY-Z verse that redefined what it meant to rap at an elite level way past an artist’s prime.
- “Churchill Downs” – Drake
- “God Did” – JAY-Z
- “God Did” – Lil Wayne
- “Johnny P’s Caddy” – J. Cole
- “Shake It” – Cardi B
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these songs for Rap Verse of the Year.
BEST RAPPERS OF 2022
A title such as Rapper of the Year holds prestige, a trophy of excellence that precedes others. In this landscape, being Rapper of the Year means your body of work can connect and communicate with fans worldwide and inspire your peers and young artists on the come up. The music is consistent, layered, yet digestible: at times can be complex but relatable.
The Award for BEST RAPPER OF 2022 goes to…
When Kendrick Lamar announced he was working on his new album via his mysterious pgLang website, nothing but the second coming of Jesus Christ could elicit such a worldwide reaction. For the last decade, the Compton-bred artist had reached the highest echelon of rap supremacy. He’s revered as one of the greatest to ever hold a mic, and he didn’t disappoint with his latest album Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. His long-awaited return project following 2017’s DAMN, Kendrick takes his usual sociopolitical gaze and turns the mirror onto himself. Mr. Morale operates as a session of grief, self-acceptance, and accountability. Narrated by his wife, Whitney, and featuring strong cameos from Kodak Black and Baby Keem, Kendrick uses the 18 tracks to address normalized toxicity (“We Cry Together”), transphobia in the culture (“Auntie Diaries”), and closure on hidden traumas (“Mother I Sober”). The polarizing album was one of the few full lengths that maintained its perch in the culture throughout the year, showing Kendrick hasn’t lost the attention of the masses. – Anthony Malone
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
Pusha T also made a splash, proving his coke-filled lexicon has reached a new level. JID came out of hiding as well, delivering great features and a much beloved album as he made the jump to rap superstar. NBA YoungBoy took advantage of finally being a free man by dropping a bevy of quality projects and features that harkened back to the output of prime Gucci Mane, whereas J. Cole made his presence felt through features and collab albums so good that he didn’t even need to drop a solo record. All these rappers barred up and proved themselves as the best doing it, but only one can wear the crown.
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these artists for Rapper of the Year.
BEST COLLABORATION OF 2022
2022 was a year that saw great turmoil in our contemporary society by all accounts. Apparently, COVID-19 is here to stay, global inflation is out of control and all too many of our favorite young rap regulars died violently. However, there would be no shadows if there was no light. And the light that Hip Hop granted us in these tumultuous times was significant.
The award for BEST COLLABORATION OF 2022 goes to…
“Tomorrow 2” – GloRilla F. Cardi B
On “Tomorrow 2,” GloRilla calls upon her new BFF Cardi B to cut up over the production of Macaroni Toni. As is the case for many of the most prominent rap singles of 2022, “Tomorrow 2” is powered by an uptempo drill beat that forces both Cardi B and GloRilla to speed up their respective cadence, which both do flawlessly. GloRilla’s signature vocal qualities blend excellently with those of Cardi B. Both Gloria Woods and Belcalis Almánzar relentlessly tag team the track into submission with tales of aggression and braggadocio toward rivals and naysayers. There may not have been a more perfectly paired Hip Hop duo this year. – Ricardo Hazell
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
Artists collaborations were both artistically classic and contemporarily relevant, with both new and old school favorites recording some very good music. From drill inspired beats that push the rhythmic pace forward, to tracks that provide the surfboards upon which they dip and slip from one rhyme to the next, the ardent and intrepid listener can enjoy Hip Hop that is creatively unique in some instances, while being contemporary and familiar in others.
- “Churchill Downs” – Jack Harlow F. Drake
- “Jimmy Cooks” – Drake F. 21 Savage
- “Johnny P’s Caddy” – Benny The Butcher F. J. Cole
- “Science Class” – Westside Gunn, Busta Rhymes, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah & Stove God Cooks
- Tomorrow 2″ – GloRilla F. Cardi B
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these songs for Hip Hop Collaboration of the Year.
BEST HIP HOP ALBUMS OF 2022
When it comes to our Hip Hop album of the year nominations, certain albums pushed the conversation forward and some were sonically close to flawless. As the eclectic 2022 comes to a close, here are the albums that didn’t leave our rotation this year.
The award for Best Hip Hop Album of 2022 goes to…
MR. MORALE & THE BIG STEPPERS – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar opens Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers with a brutal confession. “I’ve been going through somethin’,” he mutters on “United in Grief,” the staccato piano chords soundtracking a descent into madness. It’s a simple phrase, curt and concise, that begins to cut through all the intrigue surrounding his artistic disappearance. On Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, Kendrick explains what that “somethin’” was. For 75 minutes on this double-sided album, he parses through every issue that’s plagued his mind during his break from the spotlight. He’s placed under the microscope, using enthralling funk, jazz and soul compositions to fuel the uncomfortable, introspective ramblings that have been churning for half a decade. In doing so, he combines grand moments of musical execution with intense vulnerability, pulling off one of the greatest feats in his career yet. – Matthew Ritchie
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
2022 was a year full of returns from some of rap’s heavyweights including new albums from Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, Pusha T, Black Thought and Joey Badass. There were also plenty of rap legends proving they are still more than relevant in the space like Nas and Jeezy, despite some comments to suggest otherwise. The new wave of rap released some quality music from the likes of Destroy Lonely, Yeat and SoFayGo.
- Cheat Codes – Black Thought & Danger Mouse
- It’s Almost Dry – Pusha T
- King’s Disease 3 – Nas & Hit-Boy
- Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar
- Soul Sold Seperately – Freddie Gibbs
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these albums for Hip Hop Album of the Year.
BEST HIP HOP SONG OF 2022
The world continues to shift at a rapid pace with so many major global events happening that it’s hard to know exactly how to think about time. The only thing that’s been consistent throughout the past few years has been the good music dropping that we’re able to use as timestamps.
The award for Best Hip Hop Song of 2022 goes to…
“God Did” – JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend, DJ Khaled
“Where we at Gu?” Jay-Z asks his trusted engineer Young Guru before going off for four minutes in a much-discussed all-time Hov verse. For Hov, he channeled an energy in a familiar studio space that had Guru witnessing talent on another level, recording his verse in one take. The centerpiece of the conversation is DJ Khaled, who is in competition with himself by going bigger and more over-the-top than his last anthem. Khaled calls in favors from frequent collaborators Rick Ross and Lil Wayne who stick the landing on the religious overtones that’s both confessional and grateful that God blessed them. When Ross and Hov link up, you get grand songs like “FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt” and “The Devil Is a Lie.” With Wayne, Hov has “Mr. Carter,” a classic from Tha Carter III. When Ross, Hov, and Wayne come together like a three-headed monster, they are greatness personified: barring up and making it look easy. – Eric Diep
ABOUT THE OTHER NOMINEES
2022 is almost done and there has been no shortage of dope rap songs. Fans have received music from up-and-coming staples of rap to bona fide legends. This year fans were blessed with unlikely collaborations from Cardi B, Kanye West and Lil Durk, a surprise drop from Lil Uzi Vert, the return of Joey Bada$$ and the unstoppable force that is Glorilla.
- “Count Me Out” – Kendrick Lamar
- “FNF” – Glorilla
- “God Did” – JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend, DJ Khaled
- “Hotel Lobby” – Quavo & Takeoff
- “Jimmy Cooks” – Drake & 21 Savage
Dive deeper into why our team nominated these songs for Hip Hop Song of the Year.
BEST HIP HOP TV SHOW OF 2022
There may not be more than a handful of television series specifically about the lives of rappers, but Hip Hop has inspired some of the best mainstream TV over the last few years. With streaming services taking over in place of traditional cable, more stories are being told to a wider audience than ever, and Hip Hop’s inspiration can be felt at every corner. From 50 Cent to Donald Glover, more moguls are being given creative control to work on the pieces that sit close to their hearts, and the result is some of the best TV out right now.
The award for Best Hip Hop TV Show of 2022 goes to…
Donald Glover’s career arc is nothing short of marvelous. To see where he came from and soak in where he’s at will inspire anyone in the creative field. But some of his best work has been done with the cast and crew of Atlanta. While the third season received some heavy criticism, it seems like fans were fully back on board for the show’s final episodes. The dreaminess clashing with spirts of hard hitting reality made Atlanta feel like a visual rollercoaster. The highs were extremely rewarding and the drops had fans expecting the unexpected. But what tied the series together was the finale. In an Inception like fashion, the ending will have fans of the show rewatching and theorizing about its meaning for years to come. Whatever Glover decides to do next will more than likely be incredible, but Atlanta will always go down in the books as something special. If you need another opinion, just ask Tyler, the Creator. – Jeremy Hecht
- Power Book III: Raising Kanan
- Rap Shit
- The Murder Inc Story
BEST HIP HOP MOVIE OF 2022
Fans have long been attached to the stories told through the art of rap. From Nas to Immortal Technique, some of the most cinematic moments in music have come through rap verses. Styles P even recently spoke about how inspired he was to make a movie from this Biggie song. But with more streaming services and appetite for content than ever, fans are finally getting to see some of rap’s greatest stories being told through documentary-style pieces. It seems like the trend will only continue and with the amount of intriguing storylines in Hip Hop, the movie ideas are endless.
The award for Best Hip Hop Movie of 2022 goes to…
JEEN-YUHS: A KANYE WEST TRILOGY
DIRECTED BY: COODIE & CHIKE
Kanye West is perhaps the most intriguing, complex and entertaining individual in the world all at the same time. But of all the words used to describe Ye over the year, the one many fans have simultaneously agreed upon is “genius.” In this brilliantly executed documentary, fans got to see inside the creative process and mind of one of Hip Hop’s most successful individuals. Seeing scenes like Kanye rapping to his late mother Donda and hearing validation from Pharrell in the studio were moving enough to bring chills to even the biggest Kanye detractor. The process of becoming great is documented from years of trying to prove himself to finding success as an artist and moving past the producer title. jeen-yuhs is a once in a lifetime look at a once in a lifetime artist. Although his recent antics and comments have been more than disappointing to even some of Kanye’s closest collaborators, nothing can take away his musical accomplishments or cultural impact, and nothing can taint the greatness of Coodie & Chike’s documentary. – Jeremy Hecht
- jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy
- On The Come Up
- Supreme Team
- Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby
History of the HipHopDX Awards
HipHopDX is not new to this, we’ve been making our best of year picks for more than 15 years! For everyone who wants the full historical record of all of DX’s picks over the years, check out all of our past awards.
- 2021 HipHopDX Awards
- 2020 HipHopDX Awards
- 2019 HipHopDX Awards
- 2018 HipHopDX Awards
- 2017 HipHopDX Awards
- 2016 HipHopDX Awards
- 2015 HipHopDX Awards
- 2014 HipHopDX Awards
- 2013 HipHopDX Awards
- 2012 HipHopDX Awards
- 2011 HipHopDX Awards
- 2010 HipHopDX Awards
Artwork & Graphic Design by JR Martinez
Contributors: Andy Bustard, Anthony Malone, Ben Brutocao, David Aaron Brake, Dash Lewis, Devon Jefferson, Eric Diep, Jeremy Hecht, Jerry Barrow, Josh Svetz, Kyle Eustice, Lauren Floyd, Mackenzie Cummings-Grady, Mark Elibert, Matthew Ritchie, Nina Hernandez, Precious Fondren, Rashad Grove, Rebecca Barglowski, Ricardo Hazell, Riley Wallace, Scotty Glaysher, Tai Saint-Louis, Vivian Medithi