The Best Hip-Hop Albums Of 2023 #hiphop

uproxx December 06, 2023 hip-hop 37
The Best Hip-Hop Albums Of 2023 #hiphop

Getty Image/Merle Cooper Doja Cat, Killer Mike, Travis Scott, and more made some of the best hip-hop albums of 2023.

Hip-hop in 2023 was largely a game of hard left turns and stylistic leaps of faith. From Doja Cat’s bridge-burning fourth album to Lil Uzi Vert’s wildly experimental , hip-hop artists went out of their way to subvert expectations and push the boundaries of the genre — and their fans. Don’t get it twisted, though; none of this was provocation for provocation’s sake. Instead, it was these artists’ way of paying homage to hip-hop’s roots in its 50th year — the true foundation of sonic experimentation and musical play, not just mean-mugging and tough-guy posturing. So, no, our list this year (which includes a few projects released after last year’s cutoff) doesn’t feature too much gangsta rap or elitist encyclopedia rap. But we feel that it captures the true breadth of hip-hop’s contemporary landscape, from rappers who sound more like rockers to the most popular radio mainstays and the future stars bubbling just under the radar. Here are the best hip-hop albums of 2023. Aminé and Kaytranada – The term “ ” gets tossed around quite a lot lately, but this joint effort from the Portland rapper and Canadian dance producer earns it with 11 breezy-yet-diverse approaches to the seasonal sound and its related topics. From the glitzy, mellow “ ” to the funk-tinged Pharrell feature “ ,” the lively spirit of the warmest months of the year comes through in ways both unexpected and comfortingly familiar. – Blxst & Bino Rideaux – and Bino Rideaux stumbled upon their secret sauce with “Savage” from in 2019, and , , is the LA rappers’ most complementary offering yet. “Shaq and Kobe, it’s only right if we three-peat,” Blxst poses in “Road Runnin.” Blxst and Bino trade alley-oops, lyrically and thematically. The provocatively lustful “ ” is balanced out by the romantic, slow jam-adjacent “Get Away,” and the groovy “Baccseat” brings the opposing emotions under one roof. The empathic dunk is “Blueprint,” where Blxst and Bino cleverly flex “boss sh*t.” No lies were told. – Chika – have been heartbreaking to witness. Instead of retiring from rap, with the guidance of , her album, reveals the kinks in her armor. Through the project, listeners learn that Chika is a mystery that even she herself is still figuring out. The unabashed biblical references sprinkled on stress that both Chika’s bars and professional footsteps have been ordered by a higher calling. is Chika emerging from the belly of the beast, ready to stake her claim in the rap scene. – Doja Cat – While have proven polarizing over the past few months, her ability to make hits is undeniable. On , Doja prioritized lyrics and her hip-hop craft overall, showcasing her abilities on the confident and assured “Go Off” and the horrorcore-influenced “Demons.” Though she’s previously denounced her past pop hits, old habits die hard, notably with the infectious “Paint The Town Red.” – El Michels Affair & Black Thought – Listen, you can go ahead and call me a stodgy old crank for continuing to value technically superior exercises in formalism in 2023. That’s fine. Black Thought remains the (read: THEE) in hip-hop to this day and it’s worth honoring that — especially when he possesses the awareness to pair his prodigious talents with production worthy of the finest funk-soul excursions into ’70s Classicism this side of Adrian Younge’s soundtrack. – Gunna – If I told you a year ago that , after the success of chart-topping success , would be releasing a “comeback” album in 2023, you’d probably call me crazy. However, that was the case for the Atlanta rapper this year. Gunna was one of many indicted in the ongoing YSL RICO, and his image with the public took a turn for the worse when he accepted a plea deal for a release 10 months after his imprisonment. Gunna was called everything from a snitch to a traitor, and while the facts proved otherwise, his fourth album also proved that he wouldn’t let them hinder his career. So with it, Gunna delivered one that silenced his critics, set forth a summer hit with “F*kumean,” and etched itself into the conversation for album of the year. – J Hus – When most folks think of UK rap (at least here in the US), they primarily think of grime or drill, two categories that are great representations of culture in the island nation. However, that’s also a woefully incomplete and reductive understanding. Fortunately, more people are bound to get hip to J Hus’ unique fusion of Afropop and dancehall sensibilities with hip-hop swagger and flows, thanks in large part to the Drake co-sign he receives on “ .” But there’s also the cheeky takedown of phony tough guys on “ ,” the sly come-ons of “Nice Body” with Jorja Smith, and the overall counter geographical tropical vibe to recommend . – Jack Harlow – Jack Harlow about his last album, , and responded in kind with a of tracks that saw the Louisville rapper revert to the hungry, intensely-focused artist he was as he freestyled and battle-rapped his way to the top. The highlights: “They Don’t Love It,” “Gang Gang Gang, Read more

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