Top Ten Albums of 2022

Top Ten Albums of 2022

2022 was a massive year for music and includes a long list of mega-star artists that dropped albums, including Drake (2x), the Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, and many other global icons. This year as a listener, I listened to more music than ever before and discovered a lot of great new artists while also staying close to my heart; (rap and R&B). This list consists of my favorite and most listened to projects of the year. Being able to go back and reflect on this year of music was a great experience for me and it brought me back to some great projects that I had forgotten about. In my opinion, this was probably the best year for music of the 2020s so far, so I was very excited to make this list. 


Honorable Mention: Her Loss – Drake & 21 Savage

Her Loss by Drake and 21 Savage is the album that people have wanted Drake to drop since Views came out in 2016. The album encapsulates lots of great production from Metro Boomin, CuBeatz, and even Lil Yachty, the executive producer of the album. It is a great mix of darker trap songs, R&B style tracks, and also some great individual rapping performances from Drake on “Middle of the Ocean ” and from 21 on “3AM on Glenwood”. It also has a great feature from Travis Scott on “P**** & Millions” as well. This is an honorable mention instead of being on the top ten because I feel like there are a few tracks that somewhat bring this album down in rating, such as“Hours in Silence”, in addition to Heroes and Villains and SOS pushing it out of my top 10 after they were released. 


10. Kiss the Ring – Rome Streetz

Kiss the Ring by Rome Streetz is definitely one of the grimiest rap records of the year. The Griselda Records rapper had a big breakout in 2022 with this album and this is actually the first album I’ve heard from him. The project very much follows the formula of a classic Griselda album; lots of colorful jazz samples, intense lyrics, paired with a heavy New York accent. Some of the features include Griselda members Westside Gunn, Conway, and Benny the Butcher; as well as Boldy James and Armani Caesar. One thing I love about this album is that the production is a little off kilter, but Rome uses that to his advantage and essentially proves that he can rap over anything. Overall, Rome creates a great pure, grimy rap album that makes for a very enjoyable listening experience. 


9. SOS – SZA

Much like the later mentioned Kendrick Lamar, it took SZA 5 years to drop a new project, and she certainly did not disappoint. Similar to her previous album CTRL,  the album does not have a traditional format, as she jumps between some R&B style songs and some rap centric songs. The album has a very bright feeling to it, but focuses on some very dark topics mostly relating to desire. The only features on this album are Travis Scott, Don Toliver, and Phoebe Bridgers, but Travis Scott also provides some other ad-libs on separate tracks. The album very much lived up to the hype, however it is only at 9 because it is a little bloated with the number of tracks. 


8. Luv 4 Rent – Smino

Overall, Luv 4 Rent by Smino is one of the liveliest and coziest albums of the year. The album focuses on reminiscing about finding love and having messed up in the past. It also serves as a love letter to his hometown of St. Louis and his predecessors in music. The album includes features from J. Cole, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lucky Daye, who all manage to add something positive to this album in their own unique way. His smooth cadence is very interesting and really sets himself apart from many other artists in the genre. The album features lots of catchy hooks and quick punchlines, and keeps your head bopping throughout the album. It has been a few years since Smino has dropped a full solo project, and I think he really came back in style with this record. 


7. Heroes & Villains – Metro Boomin

It has been 4 years since super producer Metro Boomin had dropped a full-length album and like many other producers recently, most notably DJ Khaled, he includes massive feature names and theatrical production has been dropping left and right. The album is split into two parts, with one being the heroes side and the other being the villains side. Some of the “hero” artists include the Weeknd, Don Toliver, Future, and A$AP Rocky, while some of the “villain” artists include 21 Savage, Young Nudy, Travis Scott, and Young Thug. The production is very nocturnal, dark, and in some points a bit hypnotic, which is very common to see on any Metro Boomin beat. His use of the piano on this project is unmatched on tracks like “Metro Spider” and “Umbrella” and really adds a menacing feel to the album. Overall, Heroes and Villains is very enjoyable and kept me entertained from start to finish.  


6. Gemini Rights – Steve Lacy

Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy is one of the most popular albums of 2022, and rightfully so. The album tells a great story about Lacy breaking up with a boyfriend and follows his emotional reactions throughout the breakup process; mostly the emotions of relief, regret, and resentment. Steve Lacy has a very creative style of music, combining the genres of funk, rock, and R&B to create a very ethereal feeling throughout his music. This album is a bit different from Lacy’s normal style because it is the first album he actually produced in a studio, rather than by himself with his phone and laptop. This was the perfect summertime album and its big hit, “Bad Habit,” was definitely one of the top songs of this year. 


5. Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar

It had been 1,855 days in between Kendrick Lamar’s release of DAMN. and Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. This was absolutely the most anticipated album of the year, and Kendrick did not disappoint. The projects focuses on a wide array of topics including fame, materialism, therapy, and the cycle of grief. The album has a wide variety of features including Kodak Black, Summer Walker, Baby Keem, and Ghostface Killa who all have great performances. It is also divided into two parts: Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers. The production is very different on each track, which I think keeps the album fresh. MMTBS also has a wide variety of producers as well, including Baby Keem, The Alchemist, and even Pharell Williams. Overall, Kendrick created one of the most introspective and thought provoking records of the year, that was definitely worth the 5-year wait.


4. It’s Almost Dry – Pusha T

It’s Almost Dry by Pusha T is easily one of the best true rap albums of the entire 2020’s. Push is an absolute veteran in the rap game and did not disappoint with his return after a four year absence. Half of the album is produced by Pharell Williams, and has a much more futuristic feel to it, while the other half is produced by Kanye West and features lots of beats with old jazz and soul samples, which Pusha fits on amazingly. The album features some other great artists on it including Lil Uzi Vert, Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, and Don Toliver. I think this album, even though it doesn’t necessarily follow a theme, is one of the best rapping performances of the decade so far. Push has a tendency to rap about some dark topics and make some pretty menacing music, and that is why he is one of my favorite rappers out currently. 


3. Caprisongs – FKA twigs

Caprisongs is a very adventurous and fun mixtape where FKA twigs rediscovers her origins in island, popular British, and metal pop music, creating one of the best records of the year. Twigs has some of her catchiest songs ever on this with tracks like “papi bones” and “meta angel,” which gets the chorus stuck in your head after the first or second listen. The production is very bright and melancholic on most tracks which keeps the project going on a high note. Some of the features include The Weeknd, Jorja Smith, and Daniel Caesar who all add great singing performances to their respective songs. It was a great personal journey for her that was well translated into musical form. Such a great record. 


2. Melt My Eyez, See Your Future – Denzel Curry

Denzel Curry is an absolute juggernaut when it comes to making great albums, and this might just be his best work. It is a very different style for Denzel; his albums tend to be much more aggressive, while this exchanges those feelings for more introspective lyrics. He gives the listener a look into his past trauma and his main focus is himself, rather than any sort of alter-ego. The sound is very clean and warm, with many of the beats being low-tempo, which is a big change from Denzel’s previous products. The features are just as great with some guest appearances from JID, T-Pain, slowthai, Rico Nasty and others. This album also has my favorite song of the year, “Walkin,” which helps boost this to number two. 


1. The Forever Story – JID

After four long years, it had felt like The Forever Story had taken forever to drop, but JID finally released his magnum opus and has landed as the best album of 2022. The album focuses on the stories of people living and growing up around him in Atlanta and also his experiences as a black man in America, with the unlikeliness of him making it in rap. It is probably the best storytelling album of the year, with tracks like “Crack Sandwich” and “2007” being great examples of that. JID is one of the most interesting rappers out currently with his vocal inflections reminiscent of Andre 3000; his storytelling ability and flow being similar to Kendrick Lamar; and rhyming unlike anyone I’ve ever heard. It is a combination that meshes so well together, especially on tracks like “Dance Now” and “Surround Sound”. The album also has some great features from 21 Savage, Lil Wayne, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), EarthGang, and others as well. JID’s wittiness and use of alliteration sprinkled throughout the album really adds a lot of charisma  that can only be competed with by a select few. Overall, this album is a perfect storm of every element and is definitely deserving of the number one spot on this list.