Like I mentioned in my posts about my favorite songs from 2022, 2020, and 2021 set a high bar when it came to the quality of new music coming out. In both years, the quarantine and pandemic we went through got the creative juices flowing for so many artists, and we got such cool and interesting music to come out of this event. Fortunately, though, these creative juices didn’t completely subside in 2022, and we still had a lot of great music come out last year. As far as albums go, I’d say the highs outweighed the highs from the last two years, but the overall quality of albums that came out was a bit down. In other words, in regards to this list, the best albums on this list are as good or better as anything they came out in the last two years, but this list as a whole is a bit more inconsistent than the last two years’ lists were. There were still a lot of very good to great records that came out last year, though, and I’d like to make sure that fact is known. Before I get into the main list, here are a few honorable mentions I’d like to mention. Future I Never Liked You, Rina Sawayama’s Sawayama Charli XCX’s Crash, and Burna Boy’s Love, Damini all barely missed out on making the list. With that being said, here are my favorite records from 2022. These albums are not necessarily in perfect order from least great to greatest, but I will say that generally, the albums get better the further you go down the list. Please let me know if you agree with my picks in the comments below, and comment on what albums you think I missed.
THE HAPPY STAR – LEXIE LIU
As I mentioned when I wrote about her single ‘FORTUNA’ in my Best Songs list, I discovered this album due to ‘FORTUNA’ popping up as an advertisement for me on YouTube. I’m really glad that happened because Lexie Liu is a rising star that people need to pay attention to. The Happy Star is wide-ranging in many ways. Lexie sings in English, Mandarin, and Spanish on this record, helping her appeal to a wide range of fans. It is a Darkwave Synth-Pop album that incorporates 2000s Dance Rock, Y2K Pop, EDM, AfroPop, and Reggaeton. Because of this, The Happy Star has a way to appeal to so many different kinds of music listeners. With The Happy Star, Lexie Liu shows that she is one of the most exciting young Pop stars in music right now, and I hope this record helps more and more people realize that.
HARRY’S HOUSE – HARRY STYLES
At this point, I feel like we pretty much know what we can expect from new Harry Styles music. He is not very innovative or adventurous regarding his sound; he knows what he is good at and sticks to it. This is completely okay with me, though, because even if he doesn’t reinvent the wheel, his music is still high quality. Similar to his past two records, Harry Styles’ Harry’s House takes 70s Funk and Pop-Rock sounds and makes them more modern and accessible to young music fans. For the most part, this album is upbeat and light, and sweet( there are a couple of slower, more emotional tracks); it is fun to dance to and palatable for music listeners of all ages. One thing I would like to highlight about this record is Harry’s vocal range. He pushes himself vocally more than ever, and it works out so well. Harry’s House shows why Harry Styles is one of the biggest Pop artists in the world; he knows how to appeal to the masses.
HEROES & VILLAINS – METRO BOOMIN
There are few people more well-known for making Trap music than Metro Boomin. He is as important as any rapper is to the genre; his elite production has defined and reinvented the sub-genre so many times over the years. If it wasn’t for Metro Boomin, most of the biggest Trap rappers(Future, Young Thug, Migos, etc.) would never have gotten nearly as successful as they have become. Metro Boomin dropped his second “solo” studio, HEROES & VILLAINS, late in 2022. This record was as star-studded as one could have hoped, as so many of Trap and R&B’s biggest stars contributed to this project. My favorite thing about this record is how the tempo is constantly changing. There are multiple songs on the record that speed up and slow down, and this keeps the listeners on their toes. The elements of Dance music that are sprinkled into this record; it is something we would not expect to hear from Metro Boomin, and it spices up the album in a cool way. HEROES & VILLAINS is the latest example of why Metro Boomin is one of the most important producers in the music industry today.
FEW GOOD THINGS – SABA
Saba is an artist that I have never gotten into before this year, even though I probably should have. It makes sense that I would enjoy his music; a lot of the artists he is associated with or frequently collaborates with, like Chance the Rapper, 6lack, and NoName, are artists that I have enjoyed a lot in the past(Chance and NoName) or currently enjoy(6lack). He has always stated he is heavily inspired by Bone Thugs n Harmony and Kanye West, and this is very easy to hear on A Few Good Things This album is so diverse in its sound. It is easy to hear that it is very inspired by the late 90s and early 2000s Hip Hop his idols made, and he takes these sounds and makes them fresh and modern. Woven into these classic Hip Hop sounds are underground Trap and Psychedelic Trap sounds which give them new life. Saba’s variety of deliveries and flows he incorporates on this record go with the instrumentals he picked perfectly. A Few Good Things shows that Saba is one of the more interesting rising rappers in the game right now, as he brings something to the table that no one in the current Hip Hop landscape is bringing.
RED + WHITE – LIL UZI VERT
Lil Uzi Vert has been on a hell of a run over the last couple of years. After taking a brief break in between their 2017 record Luv Is Rage 2 and their 2020 record The Eternal Take he has gone into rapid-fire mode. Lil Uzi Vert has released a ton of music in the last couple of years, from a variety of excellent singles to a collaborative record with Future to his 2022 mixtape RED + WHITE. This mixtape is meant to be a preview/buffer to their 2023 record THE PINK TAPE. Considering how good RED + WHITE is, which was supposedly comprised of throwaway tracks from THE PINK TAPE, I am so excited to hear that record. RED + WHITE is Lil Uzi Vert in his most fun and free state. This project is so high energy and full of life, and it makes me want to party whenever I listen to it. This project is full of melodic Emo-Trap bangers that are like a soundtrack for a college rager. These are not the most sophisticated or original-sounding songs he has made, but they are great for what they are. RED + WHITE is the latest example of why Lil Uzi Vert is one of the premier Hip Hop artists in the game today.
age/sex/location – ARI LENNOX
Ari Lennox is an artist that has been on the verge of a breakthrough for quite a while now. She has hovered on the outskirts of the underground and mainstream Hip Hop/R&B world for a while now; she has had many songs that have gone viral in the underground Hip Hop world, and she is someone that music bloggers and online publications have loved for several years. In 2022, she took a major step towards breaking into the mainstream with her album age/sex/location. It is easy to notice how inspired this album is by 90s Neo-R&B artists like Erykah Badu and Aaliyah. The record has an underlying tone that is a call back to the music of that time. Ari Lennox makes these sounds more fresh and modern, though, making them palatable for young music listeners. The thing that stands out the most about this record is Ari Lennox’s vocals. Her range on this record is astounding, and she enhances so many of the tracks just because she is a great singer. Ari Lennox is an R&B artist that deserves even more hype than she is already getting, as age/sex/location was one of the smoothest R&B records of the year.
GHETTO GODS – EARTHGANG
Earthgang is an artist I have enjoyed for years who I felt has always deserved more credit and popularity than they have received. Even though they have been around for a while now, they have never been able to break into the mainstream. Something about their sound has just not resonated with mainstream Hip Hop fans the way it probably should have. Even though they can’t seem to become mainstream, they still have a massive following and are stapes in the underground Trap music world. Their 2022 album GHETTO GODS does not exactly reinvent the world in regards to what they are known for; instead, it expands upon what they were already so good at. This is a vibrant and colorful Trap record that incorporates elements of Jazz, Reggae, Rock, and R&B seamlessly. Both members of Earthgang have unbelievable chemistry with each other and all of their features, making every song on the record so fulfilling and immersive. If you are a fan of melodic and bright Trap music that makes you want to smile when you hear it, please check out Earthgang’s GHETTO GODS.
I DIDN’T MEAN TO HAUNT YOU – QUADECA
I am not going to lie, I never expected to review this record. Before listening to it, all I knew about Quadeca was that he is a Youtuber that became a rapper. I had heard mixed reviews about the music he had released in the past, and I was not super motivated to listen to his new album when it came out. The record got rave reviews from so many online music reviewers that I like, though, that I had to check it out for myself; I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You was getting so much hype from people that I respect that there was no way I could ignore it. I am really glad I ended up listening to this record, as I do not think I have heard anything like it. This album is so visceral and ethereal; it has an intense and riveting concept that draws the listener in, and it is sonically so captivating and deep. Quadeca shows how talented he is as a producer and a lyricist on this record; he has such uncommon ideas for his music and there is no one like him. I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You proves that Quadeca is a Hip Hop artist that people need to know. I can not wait to see what Quadeca does next.
BORN PINK – BLACKPINK
After a two-year hiatus for KPop’s biggest female music act where two of their members came out with solo music and one of them starred in a super popular K-Drama show, BlackPink came back in full force in 2022. In September, the group released their second studio album, BORN PINK, to critical and commercial acclaim. BlackPink does not reinvent the wheel with this record; in fact, compared to a lot of their previous music, the songs on this album are a bit tamer. They do explore sounds that they have not gone with in the past, though. There are elements of Emo-Trap, Electro-Pop, and traditional Pop-Trap on this record, which stray away from the usual EDM Heavy Trap sound they had previously been known for. The best thing about this BORN PINK is the performances by the members of BlackPink. At different points on the record, all members of BlackPink shine and show off how vocally talented they are. With BORN PINK, BlackPink showed everyone why they are one of the biggest Pop acts on the planet today.
WASTELAND – BRENT FAIYAZ
Similar to Ari Lennox, Brent Faiyaz is an artist that has teetered on the edge of underground and mainstream for quite a few years. If you are a big Hip Hop head, I would imagine you have known and appreciated Brent Faiyaz for a while; if you aren’t, due to this album’s popularity, 2022 may be the first time you ventured into listening to Brent Faiyaz’s music.WASTELAND is a very cool concept album that describes the lead character’s descent into turmoil. This album is very deliberate and detailed; I will say, if you are not a fan of skits, this album may not be for you because it has quite a few. The sonic quality of this album is awesome and Brent Faiyaz’s vocals are great, but my favorite thing about WASTELAND is the way it tells its story. On WASTELAND, Brent Faiyaz proves why he is one of the most interesting artists in R&B right now, as he is sonically and conceptually so different from everyone else currently doing it.
UN VERANO SIN TI – BAD BUNNY
If you know me well personally, it is pretty likely you know how much I enjoy Bad Bunny’s music. I am constantly playing his stuff, and I am constantly trying to get everyone else to listen to him. Bad Bunny has been able to take traditional Reggaeton, Latin Pop, and Latin Hip Hop sounds and make them palatable to non-Spanish speakers; his music is so easy to enjoy even if you do not understand what he is saying. Un Verano Sin Ti was advertised as a playlist for the summer and as a buffer while Bad Bunny works on his next major record. Even though this is supposedly a collection of songs he had made for fun with no intention of putting them in an album, it is still one of the best music projects of 2022. This album isn’t as cohesive as some of his other projects, but the quality is still there. The record is full of fun hits that are perfect for the summer. There are high-energy bops for the club as well as relaxing songs that are perfect for kickbacks. Un Verano Sin Ti has a song that is perfect for any summer situation. With this project, Bad Bunny proves once more why he is the world’s premier Spanish language artist right now.
MELT MY EYEZ SEE YOUR FUTURE – DENZEL CURRY
Denzel Curry is an artist that deserves much more hype than he gets. For several years, he has been one of the most consistently great artists making Hip Hop music, having released multiple great albums that are unlike anything being made by anyone else. It seems like with each record, he can reinvent himself and show off a different side to his artistry that fans did not know about to that point. Melt My Eyes See Your Future is a psychedelic Trap album that stands out in such a big way. This record is so diverse and vibrant and colorful and grand; it keeps you on your toes, as you do not know what you are going to get from song to song. Denzel has a lot of great features on this record, and it feels like he adapts super well to each of these features. He is so good at changing his sound slightly to welcome another artist, while still staying true to what makes him so great. With Melt My Eyes See Your Future, Denzel Curry shows why he is one of the most fascinating artists making Hip Hop in this era of the genre.
BEATOPIA – BEABADOOBEE
Similar to Bad Bunny, Beabadoobee is an international artist that has become one of my personal favorites over the last few years. As soon I heard her music, I was immediately hooked. I have always loved 90s Alternative music, and her sound was like a modern version of some of the best 90s Alternative and Slacker Rock that I love. With her latest album, BEATOPIA, Beabadoobee takes these themes she is known for and expands upon them. This record is a bit more eclectic than some of her previous work. In addition to the 90s Alternative themes she is known for, she explores retro versions of Folk, Country Rock, Bossa Nova, and Pop Rock. Through all of these different music concepts and themes, Beabadoobee explores on BEATOPIA, one thing reigns true; she has this uncanny ability to write beautiful and sweet love songs that will make anyone feel good. Beabadoobee is one of the most exciting and important young Alternative/Indie musicians in making music today, and BEATOPIA is one of the coolest Indie albums of the year. I
RENAISSANCE – BEYONCÈ
After taking a long break from making new music, Beyoncè finally came back in 2022. It is hard to believe that it had been 6 years since Beyoncè released a record when she finally released RENAISSANCE. She is so relevant and popular that she can refrain from dropping new music for 6 years and still be one of the most popular and relevant artists in the industry. There is no way that anyone expected what we got from Beyoncè on RENAISSANCE. She has been so good at reinventing her sound over the years, and she never made as big a change to her sound as she did in 2022. This is a straight-up Electronic music album inspired by the House music and Hi-NRG music of the late 1990s and early 2000s. There are elements of modern Trap and R&B on the record, but it is mainly Electronic Dance music. This album was meant for the clubs and the runways; RENAISSANCE is like the theme album of a night out on the town and an epic fashion show at the same time. With RENAISSANCE, Beyoncè shows she can still push the boundaries and think outside the box this late in her career while still delivering such high quality.
IT’S ALMOST DRY – PUSHA T
If Denzel Curry is one of the most underrated rappers to come out of the 2010s, Pusha T is one of the most underrated rappers to come out of the 2000s. Ever since Pusha T started his career in the group Clipse, he has been consistently great. He has never put out a mediocre or even decent record; everything he has released has been excellent. Pusha T has it all when it comes to his rapping style; his swagger, diversity of flows, and lyricism are all elite and among the best in the game. In 2022, he released his 4th solo studio album It’s Almost Dry. This record is produced by two of the best producers in the history of Hip Hop who are both known for their distinctive styles; Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. This point is very cool because Pharrell was instrumental in developing the first half of Pusha T’s career, and Kanye was important for the second half of his career. It is interesting and cool how Pharrell adapts to each of their production styles from song to song; it shows how diverse he can be when he wants to be. With It’s Almost Dry, Pusha T reminds the world why he is so revered in the rap game.
DAWN FM – THE WEEKND
The Weeknd has been on an unbelievable run over the last several years. He has elevated his status from a premier Pop star to one of the best of all time. His success has been massive, and his music has been so riveting and innovative. Time and time again throughout his career, The Weeknd has reinvented his sound and changed the sound of music overall. It seems like whenever he tries something new, the rest of the industry follows him. His 2022 album, Dawn FM, is meant to be the second album of a trilogy, with the critically acclaimed After Hours being the first of the trilogy and with the final segment of the trilogy hopefully coming out late this year or early next year. Compared to After Hours, Dawn FM is a lot weirder and less grand, and a bit more sporadic. This record is literally meant to be a car ride through Purgatory(because the character in the first album of the trilogy was supposed to have died); the album plays out like listening to a radio station, complete with Jim Carrey acting as the radio station’s DJ. In between songs, Jim Carrey delivers vague subliminal messages about going to Heaven or Hell while announcing the transitions between songs. Sonically, this album is a bit all over the place, but it shows off The Weeknd’s huge range. Dawn FM has something for all Synth-Pop music fans, as there are many different kinds of Synth-Pop on the record. The Weeknd’s Dawn FM is the latest example of why The Weeknd is the top Pop artist in the world today, as it seems like there is nothing he can not do and he is always able to innovate and set the bar.
MR. MORALE & THE BIG STEPPERS – KENDRICK LAMAR
You would be hard-pressed to find a Hip Hop fan(or at least a modern one) that does not put Kendrick Lamar in their Top 5. He has proven time and time again throughout his career that he is on the cutting edge of everything important in Hip Hop. From lyricism to flow to sonic style, Kendrick Lamar has always been a step above pretty much every single one of his peers. After a four-year break, Kendrick Lamar returned with a bang in 2022 with his album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. This is Kendrick Lamar’s deepest and most personal album of his career. He delves deeply into his mental health and overall mental makeup, while also addressing the many problems and struggles he sees for African American youth. This is not Kendrick’s most sonically diverse record; in fact, it feels like his most minimalist album. That is okay, though, because he helps the listener focus on what he is saying, which is the most important part anyway. Kendrick Lamar is one of the best rappers in the history of music and Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers is the latest example of why this is factual.
MOTOMAMI – ROSALÌA
Similar to Bad Bunny, Rosalìa has taken the Spanish-speaking world by storm since bursting onto the scene about five years ago. She originally was known for taking traditional Spanish styles of music like Flamenco and fusing them with modern Pop, but she has since expanded her sound and dove into different types of Latin music. Her 2022 album, MOTOMAMI, takes Latin Pop, Reggaeton, Hip Hop, and other traditional Latin styles of music and makes them fresh and futuristic sounding. My favorite points on this album are when she takes styles of music like Bachata and Salsa and fuses them with modern Synth-Pop. MOTOMAMI is Rosalìa’s most lyrically personal album of her career. Instead of it being a concept album like her debut record was, Rosalìa instead goes into who she is as a woman and why she feels the way she does. This helps listeners connect with her more, and makes her seem more real to her fans. MOTOMAMI is easily one of the best albums of 2022, and it cements Rosalìa as one of the best and most important artists making music today.
THE FOREVER STORY – JID
JID is an artist that many Hip Hop heads have thought has been on the brink of taking over the game for a while now. For many years, he has been regarded as one of the most talented rappers in the game. He literally has everything needed to be a great rapper; he has an endless number of excellent flows he uses, he has so many kinds of vocal styles he can use, and his lyricism is as sophisticated and interesting as any of the top lyricists in Hip Hop. His 2022 album, The Forever Story, was among the most anticipated Hip hop records in recent memory; everyone wanted to see if he was going to take that next step. JID completely took that next step with this album and delivered it in the best way. Everything about this album is awesome. It’s so lyrically sophisticated and diverse and it is so sonically diverse; there is nothing about The Forever Story I would want to improve. The Forever Story is the best album of 2022, and I even think it is the best album of the last few years. With The Forever Story, JID cemented himself at the top of the game and proved why he is the best young rapper in Hip Hop right now.
Earthgang is very underrated!