As much as they seem to annoy me year after year, I do get a real kick out of album of the year lists and discourse. There is absolutely zero way to quantifiably do a list of this nature in a way where everyone reading is going to be happy, and yet every year we all look at these lists and get pissed like we have been personally victimized by an album we liked getting ranked too low. I do it too, don’t worry! It is half the reason we made a website, to do our own damn lists. Not that we’re taking ourselves seriously here either. It’d be laughable for me to believe that the vast majority of the people who happen to read this list will ever even read this pre-list blurb because I mean who needs the blurb! We all know what we’re here for: to get pissed that our favorite album wasn’t ranked number one. I am sorry to anyone who gets pissed, I encourage you to make your own list and please DM us so I can see what a real 2022 album ranking would look like.
That being said, if you do really pour over this list you’ll come to realize that it, well, is not exactly as advertised. For starters, man did I phone in a lot of these write ups. Grandma Sophia did legit every one of these blurbs herself so apologies for ones that are quite short. If you really want me to re-do one please reach out and we’ll see if we can’t come to a compromise. Also, due to our very complex internal algorithm and definitely not due to editorial choice there are a whole lot of ties! We have close to 30 albums in our top 20 and wow would you look at that just about everything else tied for twenty-one! (twenyonetwenyone) Because of all those crazy random ties the albums when tied are listed in reverse alphabetical order by artist name. We like to start with the best album of the year rather than the worst because who wants to do all that scrolling, let’s be real we all know where we’re starting these from. That being said there may have been one straggler who got on the list at 100 who just got ooooone less vote than all those other albums that are tied for eleven but who knows idk guess you’re gonna have to read to find out!
2022 was an absolutely incredible year for new releases, even as the music industry seemed to be rotting from the inside in every other possible respect. I had an amazing time going to gigs, interviewing musicians, and listening to new records throughout the year and want to give a sincere thanks to everyone we list below for putting out something that made the life of someone associated with GSC better. Life can kick ass and suck ass and it is made infinitely better in the good times and bad by the musicians listed below. I also hope that this list shines a light on lesser heard releases from last year. You can go literally anywhere on the internet and be told to listen to Kendrick and Wet Leg, hopefully even the biggest music fans find something they haven’t heard before here. I am also particularly proud of being so laissez-faire about the list to the point where if you love a smaller artist (or are a smaller artist) and want to see their album on our list and are willing to write the blurb, I will legitimately throw them on the end of the list and rank them #21. If it’d really make your day to be ranked 21 on our list, I will gladly make that happen. No skin off my back really, I will probably add a couple albums I forgot post-haste anyway so really no biggie. I’ll also be keeping the annual tradition of giving merch to the first person who screenshots this offer and DMs it to any GSC social media account, and if you are reading this it means it has yet to be claimed so get to DM’n, this year you’ll be getting a custom made GSC work-shirt. I pray that God blesses the lives of every single reader of, contributor to, and artist covered by Grandma Sophia’s Cookies this year, especially you the person reading this 🙂
Now for the list
1. Diaspora Problems – SOUL GLO
On “Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?)” vocalist Pierce Jordan of Philly’s finest hardcore band Soul Glo took a nice healthy bong rip and proceeded to ask “I might get high too much, but do I give a fuck? Who gon beat my ass?” and in my estimation nobody on earth did. No album better spoke too the anger or sounded like the chaos of our bizarre present moment in American history. i saw them play much of this record with Armand Hammer at the First Unitarian Church in Philly and I felt God’s presence in that mosh pit. My buddy Luke who was at that show too says that “Thumbsucker” is the hit from this record and that track and its sneaky horns section does kick some major ass. Just a fucking phenomenal record from a phenomenal band who you should do everything in your power to see live.
2. Aetheopis – Billy Woods
For the 2023rd year in a row Billy Woods is in the conversation for rapper of the year. In a career full of highwater marks Aetheopis somehow felt like a career defining work, bringing elements of every different subsection of the underground Billy has touched in his storied career. The El P and Breeze Brewin “Heavy Water” was a highlight, as was the Boldy James and Gabe ‘Nandez assisted “Sauvauge” but I’ll be thinking about that piano loop from “Haarlem” forever, and how the only two men on earth who could even attempt to rap over it, let alone body it like they did, are Fatboi Sharif and Billy.
3. Air Guitar – Sobs
Singapore’s Sobs absolutely blew me away with Air Guitar. “Air Guitar” into “Dealbreaker” is one of the strongest one two punches from a debut band in sometime, just two bubbly catchy as hell indie pop riffs, “Dealbreaker” even really soaking it in with that massive riff to close out the song. Feels like the kinda band that will soon enough be ten times bigger than they are right now.
4. Archive Material – Silverbacks
An album that came out in January that I have spun so many times that it feels like its been with me for ages now. In a year of phenomenal post punk albums this one may be the very best, not a skip on the record. It hooks you out the gate with the titula song whose jovial chorus and angular guitars set the mood just right. No song better represented the hopelessness of wasting the prime of your life in a meaningless job than “Job Worth Something” and its catchy as hell to boot. You’ll be hooked all the way through to album closer “I’m Wild” a song held together by bassist / occasional vocalist Emma Hanlon breezy dreamy tender singing, really feels like a sleeper hit in every sense of the phrase. I think this is a band that’ll break through in a big way soon enough.
5. Jazz Codes – Moor Mother
Jazzy beats, freeflowing poetic raps and occasional singing, and a bevy of collaborators who can keep the same rhythm is a recipe for one hell of an album from Moor Mother. On “RAP JASM” the LA by way of Philly musician brings AKAI SOLO and justmadnice into her universe, AKAI giving his usual trenchant insights and justmadenice providing some soft soulful background singing. On “Blues Away” Moor Mother starts by asking how she’s supposed to play the blues when she feels so good, before mournfully asking who took the blues away from her? Fatboi Sharif wails in the background supporting Moor Mother’s case in a way truly only he could. The whole album has a dreamlike feel, a series of mirages we were lucky to witness.
6. 2 Alivë – Yeat
Would have been better if he added “Rich Minion” for the deluxe, but this still feels like it’ll be an album people point to when they think of what music sounded like in this era of rap. Dare I call it a classic already, I mean I have not been able to stop listening to “Poppin” since I first heard it and I can’t see that stopping any time soon.
6. Wagenmuzik – Dirty Bird
It was a big year for garage music and Dirty Bird and his Elida cohort were without a doubt leaders of the pack. No record had us over at GSC dancing more than Wagenmuzik. “The Question” deservedly made our best songs of the year list, but this record is hits top to bottom, “Effect” hitting as hard as “Astral”.
7. Where The Heart Is – Sweet Pill
Lemme tell you, you think “Where the Heart Is” is a ripper in those lil Air Pods of yours, you gotta hear what this shit sounds like live. A fucking gargantuan debut from this Philly math rock infused emo outfit who are clearly about to become tentpoles of their scene. I have had “Cut” in rotation since I first heard it and you honestly should too.
7. The Electric Trooth – Queen Moo
While Queen Moo deserves to be 100-200 times bigger than they are given the quality of their music, that doesn’t stop the group from having as much fun as humanly possible. They made the lit up cow-print clad lightning bolt that graces the album cover and have been lugging it to shows to let people know exactly the kind of rocking and rolling they are about to experience. Like the best Queen Moo records this is a meandering, jazzy record that sees songs roller coaster through massive soaring highs and quiet tender lows. “Dreams Shared” is Queen Moo at their absolute best, and feels like a quazi thesis statement for a group of friends whose greatest dream is to play music together.
8. Leave the Light On – Pillow Queens
Pillow Queens set the world on fire with their debut album, with the massive and soaring “Liffey” maybe the best song ever written about the River that runs through Dublin, making waves across the world. On their follow up Pillow Queens showed off even more of their range and proved that they’d be sticking around for a good while. They make “Be By Your Side” sound effortless, the kind of song you feel like you’ve had with you your whole life the first time you hear it. “Hears and Minds” sounds like a Bruce Springsteen song from The River sessions reimagined. Sarah Corcoran and Pamela Connoley share singing duties and both have some of the most memorable performances of the year on this record, just fantastic stuff.
9. Get in Loser, We’re Going to Eternal Damnation – Forests
When founding guitarist Adam Jared Lee left Forests, many were worried that would be the end for the band. With Get in Loser, We’re Going to Eternal Damnation Forests showed they still can mix their irreverent sense of humor with massive hooks and mathy guitar flashes. “Jazz Ruined My Life” was already one of my favorite Forests songs when I first heard it, before I realized they were interpolating a hilarious moped TikTok on the backhalf of the track. Really though Forests get the party going fast and furious with “Fool of Hell” and don’t let down for a second the whole way through.
9. The Long Way, The Slow Way – Camp Trash
After a decade of being friends and writing songs together over the phone, Bryan Gorman and Keegan Bradford decided it was high time they got to recording the tracks they’d been playing in basements across Florida, just to have a copy for themselves and for the friends they’ve been playing for. They shopped their demo out to labels on a whim and would you look at that a few hundred thousand Spotify streams and a few country-wide tours later and Camp Trash really is a real band. Camp Trash really did take The Long Way, The Slow Way to get to their debut record and I am sure they’d have it no other way. This album absolutely lived up to the high expectations that Downtiming EP left people with. “Weird Florida” is their best weird state song since “Weird Carolina” leaving me excited for more weird states to come. “Lake Erie Boys” and “Pursuit” will be on playlists of mine for ages to come as well. It mighta taken them a little while to get here, but with this record Camp Trash proved they aren’t going anywhere soon.
10. Frank – Fly Anakin
Frank, the long anticipated solo debut from Richmond rapper Fly Anakin was delayed due to the pandemic, and yet it hit just as hard in 2022. “Sean Price” has long been a staple of Anakin’s live act and it sounds even better in the album context. The Madlib produced “No Dough” is another high point on the album as Fly shows he is more than worthy to rapping over beats from the absolute best.
10. Beware The Monkey – MIKE
Once a year we are lucky enough that prolific Brooklyn by way of the Bronx rapper MIKE lets us into his world for an album. He has become arguably the most consistent rapper alive in that time, dropping album after album of thought provoking bars over his own ecclectic production, only inspiring a wave of imitators in his wake. His latest release has some of his strongest songs to date, most notable the Sister Nancy assisted “Stop Worry!” MIKE and Sister Nancy did a concer together a few months ago before the track was even announced where I was so confused by the line up, or how they’d even met, but seeing their chemistry then and hearing their chemistry on “Stop Worry!” made it all make sense. On this tape in particular MIKE explores the complexity of his emotions, how there is sadness in joy and vice versa.
10. 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy – Chow Lee & Cash Cobain
Never has being so inconsolably horny sounded so revolutionary. “JHoliday” 1&2 have been the club hits you’ll hear out over the city but there isn’t a bad track on this one, “Jenni” in particular is hitting for me right now. That being said do not play this near any children, people you think of as “adult figures” or within 5 miles of a church, this one is horny horny.
10. Spirit Roaming – AKAI SOLO
AKAI SOLO (don’t forget the all caps when you spell the man’s name) got some long overdue plaudits with Spirit Roaming which somehow was his first Pitchfork reviewed record. AKAI continues to be equal measures soul searching and existential, with his freeflowing rhymes over absolutely gorgeous production. While AKAI often pairs with one producer for a full tape Spirit Roaming is better served thematically and sonically by its varied procers. Wifigawd shows his chops as a producer with the jazzy touches on “For a Few” though my favorite song has to be the Roper Williams and Driveby produced “DRIFTMAN”.
11. Pool Kids – Pool Kids
A whole lotta people’s emo album of the year and yet another stellar emo release coming out of Florida. People had been ferverently waiting for their follow up to the massive Songs to Practice Safe Sex To and Pool Kids absolutely did not dissapoint with their self titled. Some real kickass drumming on this one to boot I gotta say.
12. God’s Country – Chat Pile
If you like the kind of bands that put Grimace smoking a bong on their primary merch shirt because their album closer is called “grimace_smoking_weed.jpg” you will love Chat Pile’s God’s County. Its every bit as chaotic as the mess of wires on the cover might lead you to believe.
13. Super Champon – Otoboke Beaver
An album as hilarious and charming as it is ferocious. Otoboke Beaver feel like a J Pop group whose singular influence was The Ramones (Obviously there are a lot of genres they play with on this record but roll w me here) “YAKITORI” will have you chanting about chicken on a stick in unison with the group in just a few listens. One of the absolute most fun records to come out this year, though they have absolutely no issues talking shit to men who deserve it throughout the record as well.
13. Little Green House – Anxious
Anxious made a name for themselves on their debut record by finding a way to talk about the heavily tread topic of trying to find a way in the world as a young adult in a way that felt fresh, with some heavy and yet still catchy as hell tracks. Check out album highlight “Call From You” and enjoy the ride from there.
14. On the Run From Area 51, Pt 1 & 2 – RxkNephew
RXKNephew continued to assert himself as a one of the most unique and strange voices in the underground this year with 5+ stellar tapes and a consistent stream of loose tracks otherwise. On The Run From Area 51 Pt 1& 2 were two particularly fun tapes that showed off exactly how otherworldly Neph is on the mic.
14. Dope Deals & Record Sales PT 1 & 2 – RXPapi
Despite legal troubles that had him in and out of jail throughout the year, RXPapi was ascendant this year, thanks to a singular style that captivated the internet rap underground and caught many an ear. Him and Neph have a singular style, combining their surrealist, vivid, and often hilarious lyrics in a way that feels somewhere between Max B and Lil B. Nothing better than Papi committing to a line for several bars and beating the punchlines to death, as he does with THE TRUTH IS on “Super Silky Smooth”.
15. Nothings Ever Fine – Oceanator
Elise Okusami is back with more heaters on Nothings Ever Fine. “Stuck” starts slight before quickly hitting you with a ton of bricks in the form of a wave of guitars. “Bad Brain Daze” feels somewhere between Liz Phair and Jeff Rosenstock in the best way, with a hell of a horn section to boot.
15. The Parts I Dread – Pictoria Vark
Victoria Park’s extensive work throughout the music industry taught her a thing or two about how to make a track sound good. Park said that songs like “Wyoming” have as many as a hundred layered tracks within them, and that attention to detail really shines through. The album sounds as polished and meticulously put together as any record that came out this year. My favorite song “Out” is not only a showstopper but feels like a revelation. The track opens with a slow drawl that feels fit to soundtrack a duel outside a saloon as Park quietly but firmly asserts that “I wanted out,” eventually building to a gargantuan close. A great place to begin from a singer/songwriter who we hope to hear more from soon.
15. Love Me Forever – Pinkshift
It is so wild and so cool how massive Pinkshift blew up in the past two years, a band who deserves all the success and accolates they’re getting. It makes sense that they sight No Doubt as a big influence because Ashrita Kumar feels like if Gwen was fronting a punk band instead of a ska outfit. A phenomenal record that lives up to the high expectations they set with their debut EP.
16. Woeful Studies // Languish Arts – Ka
Brownsville, Brooklyns Poet Laureat blessed us with not one but two school themed projects this year. He speaks starkly about the poverty in his Brownsville and the empyness it can create, in oneself and in the community. These are albums of continuing to overcome grief so you can help those around you do the same.
16. Wick the Wizard – Shawny Binladen
Shawn Wick is going from “your favorite rappers favorite rapper” to one of the absolute most consistent in the underground today. After reinvigorating the drill scene by briniging the sample wave back he’s littered his tapes with new flows for these rappers to borrow too. “Pretendo” and “Grinchset Shyt” stand with the absolute best of his discography, while his other tapes from this year were also stellar, Wick the Wizard kicked it up a notch.
16. Grinchin’ Since a Baby – Big Yaya & Big GLTAOW
Shawny Bin Laden put YTB on the map but Big Yaya and GLTAOW show there is plenty of talent and sonic versatility within its greater ranks. GLTAOW has the fury that his name suggests while Yaya slyly delivers some of the funniest and my favorite bars of the year. Highlights include the A Lau produced and Shawny assisted “I.D.T.Y.K.”
16. Continuous Improvement – DJ Lucas & Papo2oo4
Two of the most fun upstarts in the rap underground come together for a tape that shows off the best of both their talents. Between this and his tape with Wiki Subjxt5 had one of the strongest years of any producer out. The song “Continuous Improvement” where Papo compares him and Lucas to Jim Jones and Max B is a definite highlight.
16. Preaching in Havana – Fatboi Sharif & NOFACE
Fatboi Sharif loves pairing together with one producer to create a wholly unique soundscape for every tape he puts out. He joined forces with RRR’s NoFace who makes you feel like you’re hearing a faint radio broadcast from a sinister distant planet. Fatboi brings Lungs into his universe for album highlight “John Hinkley”.
16. Reflections // Plug Motivation // Kill Streak 2 – Tony Shhnow
Tony Shhnow felt like he majorly leveled up this year, thanks in great part to a series of phenomenal tapes. Kill Streak 2 might be our favorite of the three, but hearing him and OJ da Juiceman rap together on “Nothing 2 My Name” off Reflections was probably our favorite track off any tape. Regardless there isn’t a skip to be found anywhere near any of these three.
16. Soda Club (Deluxe) – YL
Last year’s Soda Club was among YL’s best, where he showed how he was the only rapper who could rap with the underground and on drill beats. The Deluxe takes the promise of the initial tape and puts it on steroids, with several of the best tracks of YL’s career. “Choose You” is the hit but real YL heads will be bumping “Shaft”.
17. Get Fucked – The Chats
Easily my favorite album cover this year, no close second place. No song better encapsulated the every day struggle the common man has with inflation than “The Price of Smokes” did. A record full of Aussie rippers that’ll make you also want to be able to honestly say “I’ve Been Drunk in Every Pub in Brisbane”.
18. Skinty Fia – Fontains D.C.
The members of Fontains DC might have left Dublin to live in London but Dublin hasn’t left them. Skinty Fia, an album named for an Irish slur that translates to “damnation of the deer”, is about being somewhere that is equal parts familiar and totally foreign. The album opens with a droning bassline as the group chants with funeral dirge tenor “In ár gCroíthe go deo” which roughly translates to “in our hearts forever” a phrase that was the center of a controversy when in 2020 the family of a deceased Irish woman who lived in Coventry, UK tried to have it transcribed on her tombstone, only for the Church of England to demand it include an English translation. Its no surprise that these Irish writers took inspiration from James Joyce on album highlight “Bloomsday” a love letter to Dublin, a city they’ve left in the rearview for now. Skinty Fia is a record of the band realizing and celebrating that no matter where they live, no matter how many times they go on Jimmy Fallon or get nominated for Grammys, they’re still just a coupla lads from Dublin.
17. Songs I Mailed to Myself – Injury Tape
Injury Tape is made up of members of some of the most well established Japanese emo bands, including Anorak! and as a sketch pad, so it shouldn’t have been a suprise when this album absolutely blew me away. Extremely techincal guitar work in a way that never gets in the way of the raw emotion on display. The quiet fury of “Fuck Off” leads into its absolutely gargantuan chorus. I hope these guys contine to find time for this kickass project.
18. Exile on Main Street – The Tisburys
I am a sucker for albums who steal their names from more famous albums, especially when they’re doing it as a homage to an entirely different band who also loved stealing album titles from more famous albums. I am also a sucker for catchy hooks and a good horn section, the later of which Exile on Main Street provides sparingly, though it provides the former in spades. It starts with the crackle of the radio before the self-refrential ripper “Tisburys (On Main Street)” and the whole album feels like the kinda thing you would have heard on the radio in the 90s. I could see my Dad having a copy of this album in his car when I was growing up, I might have to head down to Main Street Records and pick him up a CD to see if The Tisbury’s indeed are up his alley.
18. Boat Songs – MJ Lenderman
MJ couldn’t sound less like his main job band Wednesday on this record, but you won’t hear me complaining. I feel like people are really hyping up the fact that he talks about sports and sneakers a lot on this record and yea I gotta say going from flu game Jordan talk to “I love drinkin too” for the chorus on “Hangover Game” is indeed a ripping good time. A great record to play for that asshole in your life who says they don’t make rock & roll like they used to.
18. MTV – Mo Troper
What a strange and beauitful record this is. Mo Troper’s fifth record (hence the V in MTV) sees him almost chiptuning his voice as he writes some of the catchiest and most compelling poper pop tracks of the year. If these songs came out in the 70s “I Fall Into Her Arms” would have been the song your parents played at their wedding.
19. Visions of Dear Perfection – Alice Dreamt
Visions of Dear Perfection is the final record from Detroit dream-pop luminary Alice Dreamt. While we are extremely sad to see this incredible project come to an end, Visions is one hell of a capstone, with “L’Inevitable” and “Closer to the Light” counting among the best songs in Alice Dreamt’s discography. Here’s to hoping Tim Jones finds another outlet for their incredible talents.
20. Crash – Charli XCX
After a half decade of being the queen of hyperpop it feels like Charli finally got the respect she so deserved with Crash, which ironically feels the most major label of all her recent output. You’ll hear me going “oooOOOooooOOo” from “Good Ones” through my senility.
21. アイランド (Island) – 明日の叙景 [Asunojokei]
Its like a death metal album that was made for an anime, brutal but with nice touches. If you like album opener “Heavenward” keep listening because the party is just getting started.
21. a.k.a YAYA – 야야 킴 [YAYA Kim]
YAYA Kim brings you into a universe of her own creation with her third record, a burlesque club with some circus level theatrics to keep you entertained. Both forward thinking while feeling like a throwback. Album opener “Anger is my Power” both is a tone setter and a major highlight.
21. YOD Wave // Yodney Dangerfield – Your Old Droog
Droog has been on a next level tear this year, solidifying his place among the strongest rappers in the underground today. “50K or Brunch” from Yodney Dangerfield feels like a thesis statement. These were also just our two favorites of the six stellar records Droog put out in the insanely busy 2022 he had. The man went on a Lil Wayne in ’08 mixtape run last year and not nearly enough people are talking about it.
21, American Heartbreak – Zach Bryan
Zach Bryan will be singlehandedly taking on TicketMaster next year in support of one of the year’s suprise smashes with American Heartbreak. He is the new school pushing country back to its blue collar roots.
21. 3800 Degrees – YoungBoy Never Broke Again
YoungBoy is quickly becoming one of the most prolific rappers of his generation, releasing tape after tape of hitters regardless of his incarceration status. 3800 Degrees feels like one that’ll stand with the best of his catalogue for years to come.
21. The Hills Have Eyes – YL & Eyedress
Two unlikely collaborators bring great energy to this collab tape. Eyedress kills the beats with funky samples and YL brings his patented shit talk and rhymes. “Old Navy” with its Jason Alexander sample is a highlight.
21. Cruel Country – Wilco
In their most yee-haw effort since the 90s Wilco shows they absolutely still got it. “Falling Apart” is the album highlight for me.
21. Cold Cuts – Wiki & Subjxct 5
Wiki always cooks up something special when he has the chance to work with one producer for a whole tape and Cold Cuts is no different, as Wiki sounds like he’s shit talking outside the deli over Subjxct 5’s heavy hitting beats. Highlights include the DJ Lucas assisted “Silent Meeting” where Wik and Lucas bounce off each other like a caucasian Run DMC.
21. And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow – Weyes Blood
Lush orchestral arrangements? Songs about love and heartbreak that make your soul ache? Yea this is list of the year bait if I’ve ever seen it. Weyes Blood’s fifth record shows she is one of the most consistent musicians out, while still finding ways to keep audiences guiessing.
21. Bavy – Wavy Bagels
Queens’ Wavy Bagels has been behind the boards on many of the best NYC rap albums as of late, and with Bavy he shows he has the vocal chops on the same level as many of the rappers and singers he works with. Jazzy, lively production paired with his light singing touch makes for a killer combination.
21. Ramona Park Broke My Heart – Vince Staples
Hilarious how Vince Staples is in so many commercials, idk if anyone at his stature has got more bags than he has. Ramona Park Broke My Heart feels like him coming to more comfortable terms with his bag chasing, as the Mustard assisted “MAGIC” feels like it was wrote for a commerical. Catchy as hell tracks from one of the funniest rappers working.
21. Ali – Vieux Farka Touré & Khruangbin
I am admittedly always shocked at how much bigger Khruangbin is than I ever woulda guessed. People love to play their music and then fumble to figure out exactly how to say the name of the artist they just queued, and Ali not only gives them plenty of heat to play but another name to mispronounce in Vieux Farka Touré.
21. My Own 2 Hands – Theravada
Love when a rapper produces their own shit and is so good at both you are left wondering which they did better. The tape is littered with crazy barbs and shows a deep knowledge of rap history. “Information (Final Jeopardy)” is my favorite at the moment.
21. The Hum Goes On Forever – The Wonder Years
Bravo to The Wonder Years for being the only band to wear the Pop Punk badge with a little pride. They were rewarded with one of their most critically well recieved records to date, with massive tracks that not only show the band still has it, but that stand with the best in their catalogue.
21. Dawn FM – The Weeknd
The rare true crowd and critic pleaser, every smart critic in January was going “Don’t sleep on the Weeknd come AOTY season just because this album came out in January!” and guess what! We didn’t. If you didn’t listen to this one already idk what you are waiting for.
21. Heavy Like A Headache – The Ninth Wave
A hell of a breakup record for this Glasgow band. We’ll be sad to see them go but we’re glad for the synth pop bangers they left us with.
21. Reeling – The Mysterines
Finally another bloody good band from Liverpool! Lia Metcalfe is one hell of a vocalist, sounds so beautiful and so badass on these tracks. Give “Hung Up” a stream and go from there.
21. (decrescendo) Final Chapter – The Gerogerigegege
If you like ambient music, parks, cicadas, and some harsh harsh noise, you’ll love this follow up to 2020’s (decrescendo). A fantastic record that lives up to the spirit of Juntaro Yamanouchi.
21. Before Shit Got Weird – The Cool Kids
Chicago’s finest are back with a 21 song record that is also the first of a trilogy of albums. They bring plenty of old friends along for the ride from Key! To Pac Div to Chance the Rapper, but the tape feels fresh rather than a retread.
21. Celebrity Therapist – The Callous Daoboys
What a year for Dak Prescott, finally making the leap. Ha! Just kidding. This album jumps all over the place without ever feeling all over the place. Would be a great soundtrack in a gym or a mosh pit. Some real ass kickers in this one.
21. Expert in a Dying Field – The Beths
While I was dissapointed to learn that only one of the three members of The Beths is in fact a Beth, it didn’t stop me from enjoying their stellar third record. “Expert in a Dying Field” is so fun and catchy and breezy it feels tailor made for a v cute rom com director to use as the spunky love interest of a classics professor teaches him to live a little. Don’t let this one pass you by.
21. A hAon – Telefís
You’re saying that you didn’t expect Cathal Coughlan to pair up with Snow Patrol and U2 producer Jacknife Lee on an albums worth of off kilter pop hits with lyrics that sound inspired by an acid trip? Well what did you expect then?
21. Honeybee Table at the Butterfly Feast – Teen Suicide
This was technically the first Teen Suicide album since 2016’s It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot, and Sam Rey and his team showed they still have plenty more of off kilter indie hits up their sleeve. Its meandering, glitchy, warm, fuzzy, and a whole lotta fun.
21. SOS – SZA
SZA reminded everyone last year that the best things in life come from New Jersey. The South Orange crooner dropped her long anticipated album just before the year ended and it still feels like one of the most critically acclaimed album of the year. “Kill Bill” is fun, gonna call a spade a spade tho everyone loves Phoebe but her verse on “Ghost in the Machine” is basura.
21. Falllen Raven – Summrs
Mom can we get some Yeat? No you have Yeat at home. The Yeat at home: Summrs. Not the best pluggnb but solid and shows why the genre has taken off like wildfire recently. Worth listening to a few times in case you end up in a particularly trendy conversation.
21. Natural Brown Prom Queen – Sudan Archives
On her second record, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Brittney Parks continues to bring an ecclectic R&B infused pop music with a bevy of world influences to the universe. Give “Selfish Soul” a listen and if it isn’t for you… idk, this whole list might not be for you then.
21. Gemini Rights – Steve Lacy
Idk that I’ve heard any other song on this album but “Bad Habit” was such a yuuuge hit it made me believe in the radio again. Good for Steve, seems like the first genuine normal success story we’ve had in ages.
21. Lucifer On The Sofa – Spoon
One of the most consistent bands recording did exactly what you’d expect them to do and put out a solid indie rock album with 2-3 songs that will make your Spotify Wrapped and no filler in between. Idk how they keep churning these out.
21. Feel It All Around – Soul Blind
Dark and aggressive shoegaze coming right outta Hudson Valley. Will Yip knocked it outta the park production wise on this one, “System (Failing)” is so nice and clean.
21. Sometimes, Forever – Soccer Mommy
I like to imagine Bernie Sanders out there somewhere listening to that funky lick and Sophia Alison’s toasty vocals on “Shotgun” while writing an email to her telling her how much he likes the record and how he “Feel(s) It All The Time” himself (I don’t think Bernie texts ppl regularly outside of like family but I’d imagine the email has the warmth and personal touch of a text message). Anyway great record.
21. Luv 4 Rent – Smino
The St. Louis singer/rapper/weirdo really came into his own on this third record. Sonically brings a gospel edge to hip hop in the best way. Listen to “No Ls” as you go about collecting dubs today.
21. Wegahta Tapes Vol. 1 – Sideshow
Despite what his moniker might lead you to believe Sideshow shines in the spotlight on this record. He shows a great deal of range, going up to a chiptune for hit “Sneaky Steps” tho he continues to show he can rap with the best of them as he does on “775 ChEBI”.
21. Trouble the Water – Show Me the Body
I saw “Show Me The Body” play with Chesea rapper YL at Baby’s All Right this year and during “Loose Talk” a kid who looked like he was doing a Kurt Cobain cosplay did a backflip off the disco ball right into the mosh pit. This whole album makes you feel like that.
21. Trifecta 1 & 2 – Shitty Boyz
Even as Babytron comes into his own in the national spotlight he hasn’t forgotten his roots. TR DEE and StanWill showed that while they might not have exactly the star potential that BabyTron does they have bars for days.
21. The Real Sexual Jeremy – Sexual Jeremy
Sexual Jeremy is in a long line of bands from Denton, TX who have rediculous names, herky jerky rhythms that somehow still make you wanna dance, and recording styles that make you feel like you’re in the room with them laying down the track. If you enjoy the seven minute rollercoaster of personal album highlight “Came” then give nine minute ripper “The Quick Trip” a listen too.
21. Squeeze – Sasami
Pitchfork described this album as somehwere between Korn and Sheryl Crowe but I can confirm Sasami Ashworth is a lot closer to Crowe than Korn. Honestly if you hear any Korn in ripper “Call Me Home” please lmk bc I am just not seeing it.
21. Few Good Things – Saba
Carefree easy breezy rap music from this Chicago rapper who really has carved out a nice little lane for himself. Even on the heaviest track the G Herbo assisted “Survivors Guilt” there is a comfortable bouce to it.
21. mutatis mutandis – S!LENCE & Wavy Bagels
East Grip general S!LENCE drops steady fire over Wavy Bagel’s jazzy production all throughout mutatis mutandis. Wavy Bagels gives tracks like “Clean Slates” such a great bouce that S!LENCE goes to town on. Loved hearing PHIIK bring his rapid fire rhymes to the party on “pistol pete” too.
21. Motomami – Rosalía
Rosalía felt like she was everywhere in 2022. The trendiest stores were playing “LA FAMA” as you got changed and the trendiest DJs were working “BIZCOCHITO” into their sets. Great album that’ll stand as a totem pole of 2022.
21. Kiss the Ring – Rome Streetz
Queens’ Rome Streetz had a jampacked 2021, dropping stellar collab albums with DJ Muggs, Ankhlejohn, Ransom, and Futurewave. It all lead to his stellar 2022 Griselda debut Kiss The Ring where he takes his NYC swagger and pairs it perfectly with Griselda’s patented grimey production. “Big Steppa” is the hit but we loved hearing Stove God Cooks and Benny the Butcher pull up for “Blow 4 Blow”
21. Endless Rooms – Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever
Whenever I hear of a great new band from Australia there is always some quirk with them that makes them feel like they’re from another planet. Something about Rolling Blackouts Costal Fever all rotating singer songwriter duties to write these fun, jangly pop rock hits that sound like they have such a singular sound, idk. Like people are just too self aware or insane to do something like this in the United States. Don’t know exactly how to put why “The Way It Shatters” and “My Echo” have kept me dancing all year but I am glad I have this band in my life.
21. The Elephant Man’s Bones – Roc Marciano & The Alchemist
NY’s Roc Marciano and LA’s the Alchemist have each really blazed their own trails to becoming the respected rap elder statesman they are today. Both have been putting in stellar work for several decades and yet seem to be as relevant now as they ever have been. The Elephant Man’s Bones sees the two at the peak of their powers without the sense that either had to even break a sweat to make shit this good.
21. I Survived, It’s Over – Rich Ruth
Jazzy, jammy experimental and meandering instrumental tracks. Great to smoke a j to as you read a book and get lost in the ebbs and flows.
21. Can We Wait? – Rejection Pact
Politically charged and pissed off hardcore from Boise, Idaho. Mosh ready to say the least. Been spinning “Hallow Ethos” a whole lot lately.
21. S/T – Regulate
New York straight edge hardcore music at its best. It is definitely a step forward from their 2018 record In The Promise of Another Tomorrow but a step in the right direction.
21. learn 2 swim – redveil
redviel at just eighteen has released three phenomenal self-produced albums. With learn 2 swim he shows that he has star making potential, all while keeping his Prince George County, Maryland roots close. Soulful while sounding so youthful and fresh, a real triumph.
21. Aggressive City – Raw Brigade
Straight-edge harcore from Bogata, Colombia that packs a metric shitton of aggression into its fifteen minute run time. More punk than metal, all kick ass.
21. HYPNOS – Ravyn Lenae
While this is technically the debut record from Chicago’s R&B rising star Ravyn Lenae, she’s been making music and a name for herself for close to a decade now. This album is the culmination of all the work she’s put in carving out an ecclectic neo-soul universe all for herself.
21. 5 to the Eye With Stars – R.A.P. Ferreira
Milo reinvented themselves back in 2020 as R.A.P. Ferreira under which name they’ve continued to pepper the internet with hilarious shit talk over jazzy boom-bap. “ours” is definitely my favorite at the moment.
21. My Shadow – Quinton Brock
Quinton is able to blur genre lines in a way only Bartees Strange is even trying to these days. He can more than sing his way though a song, with his sultry voice carrying “Touch” and he’s just as strong crooning and rapping with Pink Siifu on “Lowkey”. Really inventive stuff from someone I am excited to get weirder and weirder.
21. DEATHFAME – Quelle Chris
While Quelle is more deadpan and monotone than he ofen can be, he still sneaks in plenty of jokes through his punchlines on this record. Another phenomenal effort from one of Detroit’s greatest weirdos.
21. Only Built for Infinity Links – Quavo & Takeoff
It is so sad that this is the last effort Takeoff will have been able to leave on this earth. A phenomenal effort that was still marked by Offsets lack of presence. “HOTEL LOBBY” is the obvious hit, carried by Takeoff’s fantastic chorus.
21. All in a Dream – Praise
A band made up of some phenomenal musicians from across the Baltimore hardcore scene. Rocking melodic hardcore, great running music imo. “Peace of Mine” is my favorite at the moment.
21. CHAINLINK – PHIIK
PHIIK seems to be in a constant battle with himself to both have the tighest and most densely packed rhymes humanly possible. Rapid fire raps over Duro’s expertly sorted samples and lofi production. Loved hearing Lungs and PHIIK see who could have the higher words per minute count on “POULTRY HEIST”.
21. Ugly Season – Perfume Genius
Even in his flop era PG is not flopping! More phenomenal and esoteric experimental pop music from the man who is literally addicted to getting Pitchfork Best New Music.
21. Timbuktu – Oumou Sangaré
The Songbird of Wassoulou shows yet again why she is one of Mali’s greatest living musicians on Timbuktu. She covers hard hitting topics with upbeat tunes, her voice shines especially when interplayed with the all female chorus. “Samara” a song about jealousy, is among my favorite tracks this year.
21. Bean – Nolanberollin
Nolanberollin brings his deep baritone to airy, glitchy production to great success on Bean. Lethargic music but not in a bad way.
21. Consume/Deny/Repent – No/Mas
DC’s most gutteral are back for more brutality. Still riff heavy and catchy as hell.
21. Self-Titled – No Pressure
Perfect for everyone who secretely loves The Story So Far but is too scared to actually admit it, has more of a Blink streak to it too in a good way. If you like “Lock It Up” keep listening till you don’t.
21. PAINLESS – Nilüfer Yanya
If you like high quality singer songwriters wtih ümlauts in your name I’d be damn shocked if you hadn’t heard Nilüfer. She’s got a voice with a lot of character, not a lotta people could carry these tracks like she does.
21. Skullface Bonehead – Na-Kel Smith
They say don’t just a book by its cover but man both a sick title and cover on this bad boy. This record fits a whole lot into its fourteen minutes, from the chipmunk vocals and frantic pace of “HARVARD GRAD” to the jazzy production and deep autotuned Barry White style vocals on “THE PROBLEM”.
21. MUNA – Muna
Muna left the major label system to be the scrappy indie pop band they always had been and dropped their best record to date. “Silk Chiffon” w Phoebe Bridgers sets the tone high and it doesn’t let down from there.
21. I’m Mad Hol’ On – Monday Night
Soul beats and Richmond rappers talking shit, what else does a man need? Monday Night is relentless with his releases, already dropping a solid collab album with 3wayslim early into 2023, and he kept his production high on I’m Mad Hol’ On. Play “Kurt Warner” for a hater who doesn’t believe you too have a Super Bowl up your sleeve.
21. New Lords – Mindforce
After two decades of grinding in the hardcore scene Jay Peta has not only had music help him get his life together but he’s been able to become a cult figure in his Hudson Valley scene. New Lords is thrashy and violent and catchy as hell.
21. Heroes & Villains – Metro Boomin
Metro Boomin is a generational talent. HEROES AND VILLIANS is yet another notch on his belt of stellar projects with some of raps strongest. If you haven’t somehow heard this whole album already go spin “Umbrella” with my favorite cousins 21 Savage and Young Nudy.
21. Traumazine – Megan Thee Stallion
Megan had a hell of a year. Happy she won her court case and happy Tory Lanez is out of her life and everyone elses. This album was solid and I am excited to hear what a clear head will do for her music.
21. Carry Me Home – Mavis Staples & Levon Helm
So glad that these two friends were able to come together for this fantastic record before Helm passed. Fans of both will be happy to have this record for years to come.
21. Year of the OX – Matt Ox
I don’t think its all that bad that Matt Ox is flying under the radar these days. The Philadelphia rapper game into mainstream attention at like 11 years old when he got blessed with OogieMane beats and showed he was more than capable of ripping them to shreds. His voice is changing as you can hear on the tape and he is still going hard. I have no doubt he’ll have a second wind, and he’s still killing it in between. Go run up “Heart Attack” with Lancey Foux if you don’t believe me.
21. Pripyat – Marina Herlop
Marina Herlop is someone who takes using her voice as an instrument extremely seriously. The Catalan singer/songwriter/producer warbles and plays with her voice to its logical extreme. “shaolin mantis” sounds like if PC Music remixed the White Lotus theme song.
21. In These Times – Makaya McCraven
Jazzy orchestral music as dreamy as it comes. There is a reason this tape has got the hype it has and that is because it is indeed phenomenal.
21. Dollar Menu 4 – Mach-Hommy & Tha God Fahim
Last year Mach-Hommy cemented himself as one of the best rappers working right now. 2023 he showed that isn’t going to change a single thing about the way he operates, as he dropped two more fantastic tapes with his brother in arms Tha God Fahim. While we perfered Dollar Menu 4 to Duck Czn: Tiger Style they’re definitely both worth your time.
21. Flawless Like Me – Lucki
Its almost weird to me how Lucki isn’t a touch bigger. Like yes, just about every track on this record has close to a million streams but idk for someone who has been as influential as Lucki has been I’d expect a little more fanfare. Run up “KAPITOL DENIM” with Future and see if you agree.
21. The Black Möbius // Dis Tew Much – Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon & Sadhugold // Twit One
Charlotte, NC’s finest kept his hot streak going with two phenomenal collaborative tapes where he paired up with one producer for a tape’s worth of shit-talk. Run up “Yeshua” and “Three Weeks Later” as soon as you get the opportunity.
21. No Thank You – Little Simz
That bassline on “Gorilla” ! And those rhymes! I was hooked from the start. The rest of the long anticipated record from this Bri’ish rapper doesn’t dissapoint.
21. Shape Up – Leikeli47
How does wearing a mask and being mysterious always make for a more interesting personality than showing your face? Brooklyn’s Leikeli47 continues to be a singular force in the rap game, sneaking into house and R&B when she can find time.
21. Breaking The Thermometer – Layla McCalla
Haitian-American singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla used the Creole music of her roots to write about the painfilled history of Radio Haiti with her album and theatrical piece Breaking the Thermometer. The album is mostly sung in Creole with a few English songs like “You Don’t Know Me”, her rendition of Caetano Veloso’s Brazilian song of exile. She pours into the history of the radio station, which was one of the few to broadcast in Creole rather than French. It was vocally opposed to the corruption and brutality of the regime at the time and whose founder was murdered in 2000.
21. I Love You Jennifer B – Jockstrap
Great record but how are you supposed to tell people you like this group? Like any conversation about Jockstrap starts with a paragraph of caveats. No! They are a music project to be taken seriously! The duo went to some hoity toity fancy shmancy British arts school and just named themselves that to be subversive! A rose by any other name smells just as sweet but idk if roses were called jockstrap flowers maybe Shakespeare would have felt differently. Again, a good record if you like this kinda stuff.
21. Bothered / Unbothered – JER
If the skavalution is real, JER is without a doubt its Napoelon Bonepart figure. Their band We Are the Union is one of the genre’s true shining stars and he takes all the great energy and puts an even more personal spin on it with this release. Even if you are “BOTHERED” when you spin the albums killer opener you’ll be “UNBOTHERED” by the time the tape ends.
21. Raja’s Sun – iblss
iblss has long been one of GSC’s favorite producers, and on Raja’s Sun he displays the full range of his production talents. The album is dedicated to his dog Raja and it has all the warmth that I imagine Raja brings to iblss’ life. Highlights include “Celery Stalk” which features a stand out verse from Brooklyn by the way of the Bay rapper Nappy Nina.
21. LIFE ON EARTH – Hurray for the Riff Raff
JODY HiGHROLLER did it again! Just kidding, Alynda Segarra seems to have a good sense of humor throughout her work so hopefully she wouldn’t mind somone making one of those jokes for the millionth time. She described the genre for this record as Nature Punk and I know exactly what she means. I’d love to mosh in a flower bed to “RHODODENDRON” some time soon.
21. Versions Of Modern Performance – Horsegirl
Talkie indie rock from a Chicago band that sounds like it coulda came out closer to when the bandmembers were born. Very calm very cool.
21. Comradely Objects – Horse Lords
Hell of a cover on this one, love that green. The one Baltimore now German based band got even deeper in their funky art rock bag with this one, some real ecclectic jams.
21. Midnight Rocker – Horace Andy
Jamaican singer Horace Andy has been lending his haunting and smoky voice to our ears since the sixties, and he sounds as fresh on Midnight Rocker as he ever has. Give “Today is Right Here” a spin and enjoy.
21. From, Hook – Hook
Hook may be the only rapper I can think of who had their SEO destroyed by a Robin Williams movie but she didn’t let that stop her from putting out another off kilter forward thinking rap record.
21. Our Hope – Hitsujibungaku
Such peaceful perfect dreampop. I took an amazing walk through the park listening to this album at the end of the spring and every time I listen I am transported right to that park. Every record from Hitsujibungaku just gets better and better.
21. BADモード – Hikaru Utada
It is interesting that on her first album where she dabbles in English Hikaru Utada decided to split her album name into an English word (Bad) and a Japanese word (モード or Mode). It feels like a star turn for Utada, you’ll be hearing “Somewhere Near Marsaille” in the trendier stores you shop in this year.
21. Tresor – Gwenno
Without a doubt the best indie pop record to come out entirely in the Cornish language.
21. No Good At Goodbyes – Gridiron
Rap influenced hardcore by a white dude that somehow shreds. If you like the titular opener keep listening.
21. Janky Star – Grace Ives
Grace Ives is the rare NYC born and bred girl cool enough to get a Perfectly Imperfect interview who is actually not only producing art but great music at that. An album full of synth pop hits perfect for the pregame before your dinner at Lucien or drinks at Clando.
21. Anyways, Life’s Great… – GloRilla
From YouTube to Grammy nominated in a matter of months, GloRilla is one of rap’s greatest success stories this year. For anyone who thought “F.N.F” was a flash in the pan, “Tomorrow 2” shows Glo has an ethos and a voice that’ll have her sticking around for a good while. The Cardi B co-sign doesn’t hurt either.From YouTube to Grammy nominated in a matter of months, GloRilla is one of rap’s greatest success stories this year. For anyone who thought “F.N.F” was a flash in the pan, “Tomorrow 2” shows Glo has an ethos and a voice that’ll have her sticking around for a good while. The Cardi B co-sign doesn’t hurt either.
21. Angel in Realtime – Gang of Youths
Don’t you miss when rock and roll ROCKED?? Gang of Youths are one of the few groups left making tried and true stadium-ass stadium rock, making the massive highs of “the angel of 8th ave” and “the man himself” hit all that much harder.
21. $oul $old $eparately – Freddie Gibbs
Even as he becomes an actor and is now in the Grammy nomination sphere, Freddie Gibbs stays true to his Gary, Indiana roots. “Dart Hearted” is the hit but I loved hearing Freddie and Raekwon come together on “Feel No Pain”.
21. fawn – foxtails
Screamo with a female singer that finds a way to tastefully work in a violin or two. If a better scramz album came out this year I haven’t heard it.
21. Florist – Florist
A bunch of talented musicians who like to make something between folk and ambient music went to Hudson Valley, chilled out, and got to recording. Birds chirp, leaves rustle, the faintest sound makes the strongest difference. Emily Sprague helmed one of this years most resonant records with Florist’s self titled.
21. You Still Here, Ho? – Flo Milli
You Still Here, Ho? is a hilarious name for a sophomore album from a rapper that many incorrectly predicted would be a flash in a pan. “Concieted” showed she’ll be on radio airwaves for years to come, even making Babyface Ray sound like Pitbull on “Hottie”.
21. We’re Not Here to Be Loved – Fleshwater
A vien.fm sideproject that turned out to be just as strong as anything in the band’s discography (and in our humble opinion, is even better than the record they put out this year). Start with “Kiss the Ladder” and don’t stop there.
21. Chloë And The Next 20th Century – Father John Misty
After ages of looking inward for his stories Father John Misty crafted a series of vingiettes about Holywood for his phenomenal 5th album. “Goodbye Mr Blue” is among the most tender and best songs in Josh Tillman’s discography.
21. Young Hot Ebony 2 – Father
It is a very different rap landscape in 2022 than when Father dropped Young Hot Ebony back in 2014. While Awful records didn’t blow up quite the way that “Look At Wrist” did you can still feel reverberations of Awful’s influence all over the rap landscape, and Father and his team have carved out a comfortable niche for themselves in the Atlanta underground. The only returning feature from YHE1 is Archibald Slim who shows up along side Zach Fox on album highlight “Let’s Kick His Ass” a track that shows that Father still has plenty of fire hooks and rediculous bars in his arsenal.
21. Preacher’s Daughter – Ethel Cain
If its on Obama’s list you probably shoulda heard of this one by now. “American Teenager” is a good ole fashioned CVS banger.
21. Last Ones Left – EST Gee & 42 Dugg
2022 was the year Detroit formally cemented its place in the modern rap landscape, so it made sense for two of the scene’s shining stars to come together for a collab tape. “Thump Shit” is the hit but there are no misses.
21. Unpleasant Living – End It
Baltimore hardcore at its absolute finest. Intensely personal and political lyrics, and massive mosh pit summoning hooks and riffs. Shotgun a Natty Bo and give “New Wage Slavery” a run.
21. I Told Bessie – ELUCID
ELUCID used his solo project away from the Armand Hammer banner both to commemerate his fallen grandmother and asert himself as a rapper. If you like “Spelling” you’ll love the whole tape.
21. Goodness to Honest – Elephant Jake
A band I absolutely positively need to see live because I know these songs are slappers in person. After some strong EPs these Albany emo upstarts more than delivered on the full length. You’ll be locked in right from the first song “Locked In” but real heads know that “Couldn’t Be” is the jam.
21. My Checkered Future – Eichlers
Very bubbly, very fun. High quality hyperpop with a DIY aesthetic and sensibiliity. If you like “Things U C In Me” you’ll prolly like the whole tape.
21. Sick! – Earl Sweatshirt
The torchbarer for underground rap right now put out his third or fourth strongest release which is still leagues better than the countless rappers imitating him. Most importantly he sounds a little more relaxed and at peace than he has. Highlights include the Armand Hammer assited “Tabula Rasa” and “Lye”.
21. CRUNKSTAR – Duke Deuce
Duke Deuce has proved not just to be lasting but a tastemaker in Memphis, one of the strongest bubbling scenes in rap right now. My favorite Glorilla collab song in 2022? “Just Say That”.
21. Hygiene – Drug Church
Melodic hardcore from Albany with massive hooks? Sign me right up. Come join the Drug Church clergy and have “A Million Miles of Fun” with us.
21. Bewitched! – DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ
Basically elevated vaporwave good enough to throw in most DJ sets without a second thought. Really really really fun music.
21. NO STYLIST – Destroy Lonley
Playboi Carti for people who already worship Playboi Carti and need to find the right downstream fella to invest in. He is the strongest of his Opium peers by a long shot in our estimation.
21. Vitamins and Apprehension // Nebulous You – Della Zyr
South Korean dream poppers Della Zyr started and ended the year with two equally phenomenal records, with some of the catchiest and most ethereal sounding music of 2022. “Following Her to No Particular Sunrise” from the former and “Constellation’s Song” from the later should be on more best songs of the year lists TBH.
21. The Requiem – Deadbody
Death metal supergroup that actually delivered on the sum of their parts. “Without Honor” will get many a mosh pit moving, suprised this one isn’t a bigger deal if anything.
21. OUTOFBODY – Dazy
Dazy came onto the scene in a massive way in 2022. Their collab w Militarie Gun “Pressure Cooker” is in the conversation for song of the year, and OUTOFBODY showed they have a sound all their own to boot. “Split” and “Rollercoaster Ride” are favorites, hell of a cover on this one too.
21. Jaguar on Palisade 2 – Crimeapple
The Jersey juggernaut sounds as good as he ever has on this record. Crime peppers the jazzy soul samples with his relentless rhymes over eleven tracks, its a time tested recipe for success.
21. God Don’t Make Mistakes – Conway the Machine
God Don’t Make Mistakes though Conway the Machine does from time to time. He left Griselda earlier this year over contract disputes, but that didn’t stop his consistent phenomenal output, as this album feels like it is maybe the most personal of his career to date.
21. Onwards! – Contour
South Carolina singer Contour impressed us with last year’s Love Suite EP, and Onwards! is even stronger, as his soft voice pairs so well with the lush instrumentation. The tempo shifting “Hearing Voices” and Semiratruth assisted “Repossess” are particular highlights.
21. Man Plays the Horn – Cities Aviv
Very glad to have Memphis rapper Cities Aviv back releasing regularly again. He dropped two great projects in 2022, Man Plays the Horn in particular was as strong as anything he’s put out since Digital Lows, “Ways of the World” being a particular highlight.
21. Growthfully Developed – Chris Crack
Chris Crack is as prolific and consistent as they come, dropping two solid projects in 2022. Growthfully Developed sits among the strongest in his catalogue, with the right mix of hilarious lines over soul samples, both retro and fresh feeling.
21. 4NEM – Chief Keef
At only 27 Chief Keef has inspired several generations of rappers. His major label debut Finally Rich celebrated its 10 year anniversary to much appluase as the songs sound as good now as they did then. 4NEM was on our list last year because again we are attentive with waiting till the end of the year to make our list, but Keef is worth celebrating once again. He did the work in 2021 to soundtrack AAU basketball highlight tapes everywhere in 2022.
21. HH5 – CEO Trayle
The Bronx born, Alabama and Atlana raised rapper CEO Trayle came on a lot of people’s radar when Gunna remixed his hit “Ok Cool” which seemed to almost spurt a subgenre of rap in its own right. However with the Pitchfork BNM certified HH5, Trayle shows he is an artist who’ll be with us for a while. “Unusual” is the hit, but Trayle is at his most creative and interesting on “Alter Ego 2” where he continues to explore his 2013 shooting with the help of his rap alter ego C4.
21. Pompeii – Cate Le Bon
Every three years Cate Le Bon blesses us with more of her art-pop smashes, and despite its apocolyptic title Pompeii is among the most fun and freewheeling of Cate’s career. “Moderation” is a certified NPR slapper.
21. New Preoccupations – CaraCara
I don’t get why CaraCara aren’t bigger to be honest. From Philly, writing catchy as hell emo-adjacent jams, killer massive vocals, Will Yip production. Everyone will catch on eventually, but give “Colorgut” a listen now so you can tell everyone you knew them when.
21. U Wasn’t There – Cam’ron & A-Trak
Another album people who double parked outside my apartment uptown could not get enough of. Him and A Track both have the other sounding younger and younger with every track. Throw on “All I Really Wanted’ close your eyes and tell me it doesn’t feel like 2004 again.
21. Svengali – Cakes Da Killa
NJ’s Cakes Da Killa is among the most underrated figures in the modern hip hop landscape, who packs his tapes full of tracks where he sounds like he’d be just as happy shaking his ass as he would be beat someones ass. Svengali is full of more subdued club bangers that still have Cakes patented wit and charm.
21. Long Live DJ Shay – Black Soprano Family
Benny the Butcher brought together all of Griselda’s finest for a tape to commemerate the label’s fallen legendary producer. The DJ Premier produced “Times is Rough” is as good as it gets.
21. Hellfire – Black Midi
I took my brother who’d never heard of them to see Black Midi and the group blew the socks off the place in such a strong way that I’ve never looked like a better older brother. Hellfire is as firey, fun, and freewheeling as the album name may lead you to believe.
21. Ants from Up There – Black Country, New Road
Honestly, if we’re calling a spade a spade. I think that “The Place Where He Inserted The Blade” is an all time slapper, but that this record is kinda cheeks otherwise. Worth inclusion on the list for that track alone though, may this band rest in peace.
21. Church – Billy Woods x Messiah Music
Billy kept his career defining year going with his Messiah Music collaboration Church, which is strong even if it doesn’t hit the highs that Aetheopis does. The AKAI SOLO and FIELDED assisted “Classical Music” is a definite highlight.
21. Metal Gear Solid – Big Kahuna OG & Graymatter
Richmond the past few years has become one of the sneakily strongest regions in rap, thanks to stalwarts like Big Kahuna OG putting out stellar tape after stellar tape. The Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon assisted “LOVE & TENSION” is a definite favorite.
21. Weather Alive – Beth Orton
Beth Orton has been singing and songwriting for decades now. Weather Alive was her first record in six years and was undoubtedly a career highmark for her critically. Pitchfork, who gave Daybreaker a 4.8 in 2002 gave this an 8.7 BNM this year.
21. I’m Scared Thats All There Is – Ben Quad
Ben Quad lived up to the hype they built with a stream of stellar Splits and EPs with one of the year’s strongest emo releases. Go listen to “Blood for the Blood God” if you are looking to get familiar with these rockers from Oklahoma.
21. Scorpion Eyes – Band Gand Lonnie Bands
Band Gang Lonnie Bands had a tough year with two of his best friends passing away. He channeled all that sadness and paranoia into Scorpion Eyes, easily his most introspective record where he openly pours into his deepest fears and insecurities. The never ending death in rap this year only made a record like this sound all that more essential, Band Gang Lonnie Bands deserves a better world than the one he so beautifuly raps about.
21. Un Verano Sin Ti – Bad Bunny
Earlier this year there was a week where a dude was playing this album double parked outside my apartment every day where he refused to turn off his text notifications and I STILL never got even close to tired of this record. A high water mark from a talent we’re frankly lucky to have.
21. His Happiness Shall Come First Even Though We Are Suffering – Backxwash
HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING concludes a trilogy of riproaringly intense rap albums from Backxwash, which sees the rapper at their most malevolent.
21. Bin Reaper 3: Old Testament // Megatron – BabyTron
BabyTron made a massive leap this year, thanks in part to his Cole Bennet directed video for “Emporer of the World” where he showed his versatility rapping over 20 of raps most famous beats. He continued to show that versatility on his two excelent solo tapes from this year, chocked full of lines about NBA players and scamming that made him fans coast to coast.
21. FACE – BabyFace Ray
With FACE BabyFace Ray showed the country that Detroit rap is more than a regional curiosity but arguably the defining sound of the genre right now. “6 Mile Show” with Icewear Vezzo is an obvious highlight, though I loved nothing more than hearing Young Lean croon on “Overtime”.
21. The Liz 2 – Armani Caesar
Armani Caesar is quietly among the most consistent in Griselda’s catalogue with The Liz 2, her second album named for the great Liz Taylor who dons the cover with a third eye. Its fun when Westside Gunn shows up on “Paula Dean” where Caesar absolutely holds her own, but the album highlight has to be Kodak Black assisted “Diana”.
21. age/sex/location – Ari Lenox
It is shocking that a record this sexy was released by Dreamville Records. While her velvetty voice would sound great in J Cole’s chuch choir, Ari’s unrelenting pursuit of pleasure would not pass his bible study reading.
21. Found Lonely in Las Vegas – Ankhlejohn
DC’s Ankhlejohn is as consistent as they come in the underground rap scene. After a series of great tapes working with one producer, he brought in a handful of friends for Found Lonley in Las Vegas, including Prime Manifez who handles the vast majority of the beats, RRR’s Zoomo, and August Fannon, who produced album highlight “Cartier Visions” Ft Tony Shhnow.
21. Big Time – Angel Olsen
If you are reading this list you probably didn’t need us to remind you that Angel Olsen put out yet another kickass record this year, but we are more than happy to remind you of exactly that. Go run “All the Good Times” right now if you somehow haven’t already.
21. Blue Rev – Alvvays
The Toronot power-pop bands third album is the catchiest, most massive sounding, and most critically acclaimed of their career, seeming to land at like #3 on just about every list this year except ours.
21. God Save the Animals – Alex G
The rare rock and roll record that seemed to break through to the mainstream, the Italian Stallion of Philadelphia Alex Giannascoli put together arguably the best record of his career with God Saved the Animals. Expect to hear a lot of covers of “Runner” from that guy your friend is dating who is kinda in a band for years to come. Also, most importantly, God heard this record and is gonna save the animals!! yaaaay <3
21. Warm Chris – Aldous Harding
For Warm Chris, the Aotearoa New Zealand musician reunited with producer John Parish for one of the most fun records of her career. Light indie pop that still somehow feels fresh. “Fever” and “Lawn” are my faves.
21. Grim Wisdom – Age of Apocalpyse
If you like your guitars heavy but your vocals a lil croony, I have a record with your name on it. If you like ripping album opener “Valley of the Mystic” keep listening.
21. Go Home – 95 Bulls
95Bulls came together because everyone in the group happened to be around and looking for something to do, and Go Home is as frantic and fun as the spontanious house parties that this album was built to soundtrack.
100. Dragon New Warm Mountian I Believe in You – Big Thief
Look…. i know what you are probably thinking but NO this isn’t some sort of political or religious thing putting them ranked last on this list because at the end of the day us at GSC did enjoy this album enough to have it ranked on our best albums of the year list, like it could be the poor album ranked 101 who just didn’t make the cut, but it made the cut! Just was one vote shy of tying for 21st too, what’re the odds I tell ya.