There was a ton of music released in 2022. Whether you had to dive deep and find it on SoundCloud or it was trending on streaming services, there was something for everyone. With all the varying ways music is considered and now discovered, many albums released go under the radar. That’s not to say if the project goes under the radar, it’s received poorly; its quality can rival the most critically acclaimed bodies of work. Throughout the year, HipHopDX reviews a handful of projects in the mainstream and underground, but it’s impossible to cover everything. As an end-of-the-year roundup, we’ve placed our great minds together to craft a list of the best tapes that never received a review. It’s an opportunity to highlight the most esoteric, bold, and ambitious drops from last year.

Metro-Boomin – Heroes & Villains

Metro Boomin’s universe feels like a Marvel film; it’s explosive with the biggest names coming together for something that feels vast in scope. That’s the allure of Metro’s projects—the radiant sense of community between the gods of music that binds the collaborations together. Following 2018’s NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES, Metro calls back his friends once more in: Future, 21 Savage, Young Thug, Don Toliver, Travis Scott, The Weeknd, Young Nudy, and A$AP Rocky. Throughout its 48 minute run time, It’s a cinematic experience that enchants and mesmerizes.

SleazyWorld Go – Where the Shooters Be

When SleazyWorld Go raps about death, his calm demeanor never wavers. The Kansas City rapper made waves last year for his viral single, “Sleazy Flow,” supported by a remix from ATL superstar Lil Baby. On Sleazy’s debut, Where the Shooters Be, he paints vivid images of his harrowing daily realities while maneuvering through the streets. His music videos speak volumes; he’s most comfortable holding his semiautomatic weapon against the side of his face, smiling ear to ear.

Babyface Ray – FACE/MOB

The art of album-making has diminished to quick singles and projects that fade away into the woodwork after a week. Detroit rapper Babyface Ray broke that mold in 2022 by releasing two albums: FACE and MOB that displayed superior staying power thanks to Ray’s cool demeanor and knack for coloring outside the lines. Coming off the heels of his XXL Freshman induction, Ray capitalized on the momentum in January on FACE, splitting a healthy dose of Detroit-style raps with the likes of Veeze and Icewear Vezzo along with career milestones like “Dancing with the Devil” with Pusha T. MOB continued his streak, enlisting the likes of Lil Durk and Future for some of Ray’s most sinister works.

Ab-Soul – Herbert

It’s been six years since Ab-Soul’s last project, Do What Thou Wilt. A lot can change for man in that time, but at times, with change comes struggle. Herbert is the result of an individual looking to find inner peace, escaping the desire to give in to suicidal thoughts, and emerge reformed, ready for the next chapter. For his fans, it’s a bittersweet yet satisfying return for one of TDE’s greatest acts.

Yung Kayo – DFTK

Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red has had music in a chokehold since its release in 2020, inspiring a new wave of rage artists like Yeat, Summrs, and KanKan. YSL’s Yung Kayo is a particular case; his debut album DFTK isn’t filled with serrated rage beats; it’s packed with heavy industrial moments akin to a European nightclub. The DC native has some of the most invigorating music of the year with songs like “YEET” and “hear you” blowing out the subwoofers.

3AG Pilot & Popstar Benny – F*CK REHAB!

Atlanta is an ever-changing melting pot for rap music, leading the charge in trends for the last decade. ATL producer Popstar Benny has paid attention to current trends and the past, taking notes from old ATL street tapes, video game soundbytes, and pluggnb. F*ck Rehab is a collaboration project between Benny and rapper 3AG Pilot, who effortlessly molds himself to Benny’s fluorescent framework. On “Adventure Time with Finn and Jake” featuring Tony Shhnow, Benny provides production created from the labs in Area 51, with fiery verses from both Tony and Pilot.

Westside Boogie – More Black Superheroes

Compton’s Westside Boogie raps feel like extensions of his heart; soulful confessions webbed together. More Black Superheroes finds Boogie on the mic three years after his Shady Records debut, Everything For Sale, realizing the potential that made Slim Shady interested in the first place. Boogie flexes his pen on songs like “CANT EVEN LIE” and “LOLSMH II,” where he zones in on his thoughts and feelings about the confounding state of people and environments he frequents.

Young Slo-Be – Southeast

The West Coast has lost too many legends in the making. From Sacramento’s Bris to LA’s Drakeo the Ruler last year, the amount of tragedies have become grimly incalculable. And sadly, Young Slo-Be meteoric rise was cut short last year far too soon. On his last album while alive, the brilliant, Southeast, the Stockton MC takes soulful production and delivers sinister threats and whispers to his enemies. Slo-be is militant, always “ready for combat,” and quick to draw his gun if necessary. The lawlessness radiates out of his music, clutching for survival on every note. On the opener, “Hoodstar,” he raps, “Bitch, we used to hit licks, I couldn’t afford no Benz/Now I’m bendin’ blocks through the hood, they tryna shake my hand.” Slo-be elevated his status in the hood, almost getting to see the other side.

NoCap – Mr. Crawford

NoCap is no stranger to putting pain into his music. The Alabama MC sings about drug dependency to deal with the anguish life can bestow on individuals, looking into the cup of codeine for an escape. On “FTW,” a harrowing track off his new album, Mr. Crawford. He sings, “fuck the world because I don’t belong,” the depression weighing heavy in his chest as he belts melodies. Mr. Crawford, NoCap’s debut album, formally introduces listeners to the artist and his hurt-ridden world in a heartwrenching, but beautiful exploration into a traumatized psyche.

Rome Streetz – Kiss the Ring

Griselda established itself as a powerhouse in the last couple of years. Headed by the mastermind Westside Gunn, Griselda has taken the heyday of the 90s and fueled the NYC underground with coke-dusted raps and manipulated soulful loops. Rome Streetz is the newest signee to the Griselda collective, releasing his debut album, Kiss the Ring, earlier this year. Kiss the Ring packs raw storytelling and wall-rattling production that can only be handled by Rome’s street wit and charisma on the mic. It may be the decorated MC’s best yet.

TiaCorine – I Can’t Wait

TiaCorine went viral at the beginning of 2022 for the snippet of her Kenny Beats-produced track, “Chaka Khan.” The song would eventually end up on her long-awaited debut project, I Can’t Wait. The allure of I Can’t Wait is Tia’s range of versatility on the album. She goes from the rage forward, and Unotheactivist assisted “Beamie,” to the groovy “Chaka Khan,” to her Honorable C-note produced hit “FreakyT.” The NC-based rapper is one of the most gifted female artists to emerge in 2022, with a promising 2023 on the horizon.

Little Simz – NO THANK YOU

Little Simz has taken the world by storm as one of the most talented artists of this generation, being awarded the 2021 mercury award for Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. On her new album, NO THANK YOU, Simz leans into her abilities more and stresses her rhyming skills. Samples scatter throughout the project as she tackles the strifes that weigh on her mind, body, and soul.

Peezy – Only Built 4 Diamond Links

Peezy’s raps feel realer than dried blood on concrete. The Detroit MC has made a name in his city for his mellowed delivery over real topics that would send chills down a casual listener’s bones. Only Built 4 Diamond Links is Peezy’s first project since his stint in prison for racketeering charges, and it’s arguably his best work to date. The breezy production contains trickles of G-funk, making this Detroit rap album sound straight from the Bay Area.

Van Buren Records – DSM

Van Buren Records reignites the feeling of vintage groups in rap music. Taking the embers that lit up the Wu-Tang Clan, mixed with the rebellious teenage angst of Pro Era, you get the collective from Brockton, Massachusetts. DSM is their second release following 2021’s Bad for Press, doubling down on their immense talent and what also seems like an endless pool of emcees.

Jay Worthy/Harry Fraud – You Take the Credit, We Take the Check

Jay Worthy wears the streets on his sleeve. On his latest collaboration with Harry Fraud, You Take the Credit, We’ll Take the Check, Fraud taps into 70’s synths, funk and disco grooves to lament Worthy’s raps revolving around his experiences in the devil’s playground of money, women, and street dealings. Worthy keeps a calm composure when he raps; maintaining a cool that’s breezy and effortless in his delivery.

Symba – Results Take Time

The Bay-Area produces MCs born from gunfire and strife in the street; elite lyricists that bleed pain out the ink of their pens. On Symba’s Results Take Time, The Bay-Area born, LA-based rapper shows the results of his patience, reveling in his realness over fortune and fame. Hosted by DJ Drama, throughout the 16 tracks, Symba’s hunger shines through alongside his monstrous charisma.

Written By Anthony Malone

Honorable Mentions

  • EST Gee – I Never Felt Nun
  • Cormega – The Realness II
  • Marlowe 3 – Marlowe 3
  • $ilkMoney – I Don’t Give a F*ck About This Rap Shit, Imma Just Drop Until I Don’t Feel Like It
  • Stormzy – This is What I Mean
  • Wiki/subjxct 5 – Cold Cuts
  • Drego & Beno – Sorry We Was Trapping
  • Surf Gang – AT LEAST WE TRIED
  • Lancey Foux – LIFE IN HELL
  • Destroy Lonely – No Stylist
  • Fatboi Sharif – Preaching in Havana
  • YoungBoy Never Broke Again – 3800 Degrees
  • Armani Caesar – The Liz 2
  • Joony – Pretty in black
  • Asian Doll – Let’s Do A Drill