Check Part One here.
Napoleon Da Legend & Giallo Point – “Buckets” (NapoleonDaLegend.BandCamp.Com) – There may be an ocean and thousands of miles separating this US / UK partnership, but the latest outing from Napoleon Da Legend and Giallo Point flowed so seamlessly you would have been forgiven for thinking they were sat next to each other in a studio throughout the entire recording process. Confident, street-savvy verses were paired here with tight, polished production.
Triple Darkness – “KURAYAMI” (TripleDarkness.BandCamp) – Coming through like an army of battle-ready Hip-Hop warriors swinging heavy lyrical swords, the UK’s mighty Triple Darkness collective dropped their first group album since 2015, with members such as Solar Black, Ray Vendetta and Cyrus Malachi spitting evocative, powerful rhymes over thunderous beats from Soss, Tony Mahoney and DJ Drinks. This album was proof that TD remain one of the most talented and formidable crew’s in the rap game.
DIE-REK – “Year Of Redemption” (Illect.BandCamp.Com) – Drawing inspiration from both his spiritual beliefs and personal experiences, this second album from Canada’s DIE-REK was an impressive collection of life-affirming rhymes and standout, self-produced tracks. Music designed to invigorate your mind, body and soul.
Tom Caruana – “Strange Planet” (TeaSeaRecords.BandCamp.Com) – UK producer Tom Caruana voyaged back-to-the-future on this sci-fi-influenced concept album, with intergalactic rhyme explorers such as Mr. Lif, Jehst and Prince Po defying gravity as they floated over the unique beats on offer here with their lyrical phasers set to stun. Lift off!
ActProof – “Between Us And The World – Ep 1: Amped Up” (ActProofOfficial.Com) – Ten years after the release of their well-received “Black Boy Radio” album, North Carolina’s Sundown and Enigma made a welcome return from their musical hiatus with a three-part EP series, with this first instalment featuring the pair trading conversational rhymes over drum-heavy, neck-snapping production from long-time collaborator AMP.
Prox Centauri – “Emergence” (ProxCentauri.BandCamp.Com) – Flint, Michigan’s Prox Centauri has quickly become one of my favourite artists of recent times, with this release placing tracks that dropped throughout 2022 (featuring Skyzoo, Planet Asia and KXNG Crooked) alongside a handful of new cuts, all of which effectively showcased the Midwest-based microphone master’s intricate wordplay and self-assured flow.
Backwood Sweetie & Furious Stylez – “Sweetie Got Stylez” (BackwoodSweetie.BandCamp.Com) – Following-up 2021’s brilliant “Christina Shauntay” album, Maryland’s Backwood Sweetie teamed-up with talented Chicago-raised producer Furious Stylez for a seven-track dose of passionate Hip-Hop rooted in empowerment and integrity. Possessing the type of delivery that demands attention, this EP further highlighted Sweetie as being a gifted artist with much to offer the rap world (also, a special mention has to go to featured emcee K!ng jvmes for dropping one of the hardest-hitting verses of the year on “Long Story Short”).
J Rawls – “#jazzhop” (PolarEntLLC.BandCamp.Com) – The Ohio producer exceeded his own high standards with this album, a warm, welcoming collection of expertly-crafted instrumentals which, as the man himself said, were “reminiscent of the J Rawls sound from the late 90s and early 2000s”. A perfect sonic snapshot of the Midwest maestro’s well-rounded musical abilities.
I Self Devine – “That Which Is Hidden” (ImprovisedWeaponry.BandCamp.Com) – The veteran Minneapolis artist pondered questions around religion, spirituality and life on this concept album produced by The Original Copy. As we all find ourselves attempting to navigate the maze of today’s increasingly unsettled times, I Self Devine sought to encourage listeners to walk towards a path of enlightenment that would ultimately allow us to transcend the constraints of the matrix we find ourselves surrounded by.
Westside Gunn – “10” (GriseldaxFR.Com) – Love him or hate him one thing was for certain, Buffalo’s king of curation Westside Gunn wasn’t about to allow anyone to prevent him from continuing to supply the culture with his distinctive brand of art in 2022. Although “10” featured a long list of carefully chosen guests such as Black Star, Busta Rhymes and Ghostface, it was Gunn’s inimitable vocal delivery and vivid street commentary that remained the main attraction here. The FlyGod continued to soar above the clouds.
Agallah Don Bishop – “The Year Of The Tiger” (Agallah.BandCamp.Com) – Brooklyn’s Agallah has had a storied career both behind the mic and behind the boards. Since the 90s the NY-raised artist’s name has continuously rung bells within Hip-Hop circles and deservedly so. But not content with resting on past glories, the Don Bishop’s work rate in recent years has continuously proven his ability to compete in today’s underground scene whilst he’s dropped some of his best work. “The Year Of The Tiger” was a testament to Agallah’s staying power, combining moments of raw honesty and reflection with sheer confidence and boldness.
Sean Boog – “Between Midnights” (SeanBoog.BandCamp.Com) – The talented Sean Boog dropped the third release in his “Midnight” series, which was another brilliant EP from the North Carolina emcee that was full of down-to-earth, contemplative rhymes laced with sharp wit, backed by masterful production from Chris Charles.
T-Nyce & Jorai – “Supreme Talk” (JoraiMusic.BandCamp.Com) – South Carolina-based duo T-Nyce and Jorai delivered personal, heartfelt rhymes on this collaborative album, with production from Sypooda, Juno, Happy Walters and more matching the mood of the pair’s verses. Fully aware of the influence Hip-Hop can have on its audience, this Southern partnership clearly wanted this album to have a positive impact on those who heard it thanks to their honest approach to the music.
Sol Messiah – “GOD CMPLX” (SolMessiah.BandCamp.Com) – Having initially caught the attention of many thanks to his work with the great Sa-Roc (who was featured heavily here), eyes and ears were on Atlanta producer Sol Messiah when this album was announced. Thankfully it lived up to expectations, with the likes of Murs, TriState and Che Noir spitting over SM’s diverse and unpredictable soundscapes.
Daniel Son – “The Bush Doctor” (FXCKRXP.Com) – It’s a real talent to be able to make rhymes that have clearly been crafted with attention and precision sound completely effortless. This is something that Canada’s Daniel Son has been doing since the early days of his musical journey and that he continued to do with charismatic flair throughout this release for Germany’s FXCK RXP label. Cinematic verses detailing capers and escapades created vivid images in the listener’s mind, with sonic contributions from the likes of Futurewave, Finn and Giallo Point adding to the feeling of dramatic tension running throughout the album.
Chill Rob G – “Empires Crumble” (ChillRobG.BandCamp.Com) – As a member of New Jersey’s legendary Flavor Unit, Chill Rob G secured his place in Hip-Hop’s history books with his involvement in a handful of late-80s / early-90s classics. Over three decades later, this C-Doc-helmed album found the veteran emcee proving that ain’t a damn thing changed but the year, coming correct with elder statesman rhymes over lively, energetic beats which nodded respectfully towards the golden-age.
Storm Watkins – “Blue” (StormWatkins.BandCamp.Com) – Dedicated to the memory of his father who sadly passed away in 2022, Baltimore’s Storm Watkins channeled his feelings into this very personal instrumental project with powerful and poignant results. Emotionally-charged beats that made speakers pop at the same time as they tugged on heartstrings.
Sadat X – “Science Of Life” (Soulspazm.BandCamp.Com) – One of the most recognisable voices in rap, Brand Nubian’s Sadat X continued to add-on to his legacy with this aptly-titled album, which found the Now Rule emcee dropping grown man jewels laced with Five Percent lessons accompanied by underground favourites such as Crimeapple, Roc Marciano and Planet Asia.
Stan Ipcus – “Foliage” (StanIpcus.BandCamp) – If you were looking for an emcee with genuine character and personality in 2022, then NY’s Stan Ipcus deserved your attention. Possessing an easygoing, laidback flow and a natural lyrical wit, Big Ip showcased his notable rhyming talents on this seven-track selection of both previously-released and brand new cuts, with production from Jason Griff, Disco Vietnam and Max Bent.
Enrichment – “It’s A New Day” (Enrichment.BandCamp.Com) – Having worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Lloyd Banks and Benny The Butcher, New Jersey artist Enrichment offered thoughtful, contemplative rhymes here with smooth-yet-sturdy self-produced beats which perfectly matched his confident, conversational flow.
Check Part Three here.