10 of the Most Underrated Hip Hop Albums of 2022, Pt. 2
Updated: Nov 25, 2022
2022 has been an incredible year for hip hop, but in that huge variety of rap albums to listen to, so many fall under the radar and become unnoticed by the greater hip hop community. In this list, I'll go through ten more rap albums which are underrated by hip hop fans, in no particular order. Each one is a major highlight of the year, and if you haven't heard them, you're missing out on some of the best rap music of 2022.
1. Unruly - Black Graffiti
Unruly burst onto the scene earlier this year, and Black Graffiti is his phenomenal debut. Unruly has such an energetic and fierce delivery to every verse, giving each bar so much more power. He's a great writer, and with Black Graffiti, he's struck the perfect balance between making a song that's thought-provoking but still hard-hitting and catchy. The production is intricate, with so many layers to each instrumental, making every track feel so much more detailed and complete. For this to be Unruly's debut, his future as a rapper is very promising.
2. Ghais Guevara - There Will Be No Super-Slave
The sound of this album is difficult to articulate. The production is explosive, with heavy bass, crashing drums and a wall of warped samples across its fifteen tracks. It's an eclectic record tackling a range of different sounds, with no two songs sharing similarities outside of Ghais's engaging presence. While the production would be overwhelming for some, Ghais adopts that same manic energy, matching each beat perfectly with his wild and fiery style of rapping. There is no rap album in 2022 that sounds quite like this one, and for that, it should be on everyone's list to check out.
3. S.I.N. & B.Positiv - Nightlife 4 (Thinking) Introverts
This is an interesting album which tackles ideas I seldom see discussed in rap music. The album is themed around introversion, and the ups and downs of living such a reserved life. S.I.N. (short for Survival In Negativity) is a great rapper, able to articulate his thoughts in such a profound and poignant way. Moreover, he's an excellent storyteller, with the track "Rewteen" in particular showing off his lyrical skill. His delivery is mellow and cold, matching the subdued instrumentals which complement the themes of the album. With a runtime of under twenty minutes, it's a quick but powerful album that everyone has the time to check out.
4. Rigz & DJ Muggs - Gold
DJ Muggs has been producing music since the '80s, and with Gold, he continues to prove his longevity. His production on this album is dark and sinister, with a grimy edge to it not unlike the rustic sound that members of Griselda have embraced the past few years. Rigz is an amazing rapper whose vicious delivery is complemented by the moody beats of this record. The two work together perfectly, making for one of the most consistent and cohesive albums of the year. For fans of Griselda and other rappers in that realm, I highly recommend Gold.
5. MANSDEM & J4K - Hitmans
Hitmans is the latest collaboration between rapper MANSDEM and producer J4K. The two have amazing chemistry, with MANSDEM's more suave delivery working well over the punchy production. The beats on this album sound luxurious, complementing the unabashed confidence in MANSDEM's rapping which makes his performance so engaging. A number of other rappers feature as well, with excellent verses from Unruly, Mourning Run, and Norm Regular.
6. Ka - Woeful Studies & Languish Arts
The inclusion of two Ka projects makes this list into eleven albums instead of ten, but to discuss one without the other would be to neglect some of Ka's sharpest work since 2016. Woeful Studies and Languish Arts were released on the same day, and feature similar artwork, but each record is strong on its own, even if listening back-to-back makes for a more complete experience. For those who are unfamiliar with Ka, he's often regarded in ...
... the underground scene as one of the greatest lyricists in hip hop, and these albums are further evidence of that. While Ka may not have the most explosive delivery of the most dynamic flow, his slow and articulate style of rapping allows the listener to hear every word and appreciate the density of his rhymes and the complexity of his wordplay. He performs over an array of serene instrumentals, some taking jazz influence and others classical. The production is often drumless, so tracks may not pack a punch, but they build such a vivid atmosphere unlike any other hip hop. The music is beautiful and the writing is genius.
7. Blank Thought & Zim - Movies at Midnight
Movies at Midnight is the collaboration between producer Blank Thought and rapper Zim. The production tackles a range of different styles, from the trap influence on opener "I-91" to the triumphant jazz rap of "73 Dinner Date" or the bare minimalism of "Sky High Drift". For an eight track album, it's so eclectic, proving the versatility of Zim as he adapts to the tone and energy of each song. A handful of features add even more to the album, with Unruly and Backwood Brad being a few notable examples.
8. KnowItAll & Skip the Kid - Music Saved Me 2
Music Saved Me 2 is the sequel to an EP by Skip and KnowItAll. Since then, they've each sharpened their sounds, making the sequel an improvement in every regard. KnowItAll is one of my favourite rappers in the underground, captivating the listener immediately with his booming voice and charming lyrics. Skip is an excellent producer, bringing out the best in KnowItAll. The production is serene at points and chilling at others, with a balance of dark and bright sounds across the album, just as its artwork conveys.
9. Filip Neuf - Riviera Arkestra
Filip Neuf is a producer I've been following for a while, and Riviera Arkestra displays so much improvement in his sound from his beginnings. It's a jazz rap album with a strong emphasis on the producer. While there are amazing tracks where rappers like Unruly and Patty Honcho flow over the elegant and bright production, they are sandwiched between passages of instrumental where Filip truly shines. The album has a clear Italian influence, embodying that warm and triumphant atmosphere of an adventure across the Italian Riviera. Countless samples are chopped up and meshed into a beautiful sea of rich, vibrant sounds.
10. Cities Aviv - Man Plays the Horn
Many have cited this record as boundary-pushing, and for good reason. Man Plays the Horn embraces the compressed and dirty sound of abstract hip hop that rappers like MIKE and Earl Sweatshirt have embraced over the past few years. Cities Aviv puts his own twist on it, and the result is one of the grandest albums this year. The album is twenty-six tracks and over 80 minutes long, but don't let its length put you off. The quickfire brevity of each song keeps the album engaging at all times, with passages of instrumental laced between songs where Cities Aviv delivers some of the best rapping of the year. While abstract hip hop can be hit or miss for me depending on the artist, and although I was sceptical going into this record because of its length, it exceeded all expectations, and has made more one of my most memorable listening experiences this year.