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Best Rap Albums of 2023…So Far | Top Rap Albums of the Year

2023 has started with a bang. We’ve already had great releases from Black Thought, Killer Mike, Skyzoo, Boldy James and more. And the year has been continuing to rev up with choice projects from Veeze, Babyface Ray, Talib Kweli and Madlib, and more. HipHopDX will continue narrowing down the endless amount of music released during the course of this year to the essentials, providing readers with a list of the must-listen projects.

Struggling to find a list of the Hip Hop Albums that have been shifting the culture? Take a look at our lists for Rap and R&B to get a complete survey of the projects that are dictating the conversation around Hip Hop culture.

Need some new songs to throw in the rotation but Spotify and user-created playlists are way too long? We kept it simple and added only the best of the best songs from each month to make sure you get the songs you need without a hassle. Peep the lists below.

Looking for some up-and-coming rappers and underground gems? We’ve done the work for you and highlighted the short EPs, mixtapes and projects to check out if you’re tired of the mainstream album cycle.

Editor’s note: Albums from this list were released between January 1, 2023 – August 30, 2023.

Rocket Power – Quavo

With the arrival of Rocket Power, Quavo channels the pain of losing his nephew and creative partner in crime, Takeoff, into a solid return. Unsurprisingly, the album is at its best when Quavo uses the tragedy of his nephew’s death to reflect on his own life, where he’s been, and where he still aims to go. It’s tricky to measure an album by this rubric, but it’s not a coincidence that Quavo sounds the most engaged when he’s grappling with the tragedy that has altered his life forever. Quavo turns in a record that seemed impossible to make under the circumstances. He honors the life of Takeoff while looking for a way forward. It’s a position you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy, yet Quavo handles it with grace. Even when Quavo allows himself moments to shine—an occasional bar to reflect on all the wins he’s had—the reality of his fallen brother in arms is never far from his mind.

Sundial – NoName

Noname blends Chicago’s deep-rooted history of poetry and soul-embalmed rap with the polyrhythms of traditionally African instrumentation n her brilliant new album Sundial. The catalyst to this is present here in Saba, Ben Nartey and AJ Halls’ collaboration in the production, bouncing rimshots on every off-beat, keeping pace with Noname’s slick boom-bap. In its introductory skit, “toxic” showcases a feminine-masculine mismatch in the understanding of love. The speaker emphasizes that love is commitment, and Noname expresses that same frustration with “toxic” love from people whose company she wouldn’t even prefer to her own. The yearning is paradoxical and so are Noname’s lovers, having babies with other women even though they had never shown maturity since the beginning. With the album, Noname flaunts a lyrical and spiritual masterclass, while also embracing her vulnerability and silencing anyone who doubted her.

The Patience – Mick Jenkins

On The Patience, Jenkins’ familiar laidback cool is replaced with an anxious, angry bite. Jenkins is pissed – at the industry, fugazis (“Pasta”), money-grubbing peers (“Guapanese”), and his lack of recognition. A feeling of frustrated stasis is palpable throughout Jenkins’ excellent new album, which he mostly recorded while waiting out his CMG contract. His expression on the cover says it all: these songs were crafted during a period of deep frustration, when waiting began to feel like prison, when all he wanted was full control over his artistry. This project is a career reset – years of being a mainstay in underground circles and garnering acclaim from critics has still left Jenkins feeling overlooked. He’s ready to take his craft to a higher level. The Patience is a rewarding opening chapter, a satisfying burst of fresh air after a period of holding his breath. What comes next for Jenkins is unknown – but hopefully fans won’t have to wait too long to find out. He closes the album with a promise: “I’m just now stepping into what I feel like is full agency over my creativity, my artistry, my business, and even myself as a man.” And with this new album, he makes great strides to return to form when he was once considered the next great Chicago rapper.

Signature – Joell Ortiz & L’Orange

Between his multisyllabic rhyme schemes, agility and penchant for piling writerly details, rapping has never been a problem for Joell Ortiz — and it wasn’t on his mostly solid 2021 album, Autograph. There, his raps were generally sharp, with the project’s main issues being indistinct production and spurts of formulaic song tropes that occasionally halted its momentum. Those issues are almost entirely erased on Signature, a reimagining courtesy of soul production maestro, L’Orange. This time, Ortiz and L’Orange cut trite mid-2000s sounds and a few generic songs for a tighter, more emotionally intense offering. As sharp as it is tidy, the Autograph remix edition is an exercise in efficiency and sonic imagination, with the latter being a courtesy of a production dynamo who keeps it anything but stale. In the end, L’Orange left his mark on Signature by penning his own, making this version of Autograph a lot more legible.

Nas – Magic 2

Working at its best, Magic 2 pairs competent Hit-Boy production with acrobatic flows and self-mythology that collapses the distance between a block-dweller and a venerable rap elder statesman. For “Office Hours,” he turns a Dells sample into the battleground for a revolution, letting off vivid flashes of ’80s ephemera while painting a portrait of a forceful, but benevolent Godfather in a world full of Fredos. While his 50 Cent reunion for the track isn’t as grand as you’d hope — enjoyable as it was, Fif’s verse falls well short of a full 16 — it’s a touch of yesteryear that gives off the impression of a man who’s come full circle with his own career. On “Pistols On Your Album Cover,” he pays homage to Boogie Down Productions while interpolating a famous lyric from his one-time rival Tupac Shakur for a solemn juxtaposition of the past and present. Cruising over a tranquil Hit-Boy beat, Nas serves up a poignant mosaic of day-to-day survival, broken dreams and the ironic dual tragedy that accompanies gunshots: “Single mothers on that EBT just tryna feed they seeds/Scammers and boosters livin’ nice off of EDD/CCTV, all the cameras’ll shoot ya/Soon as you let a shot off, it’ll damage your future.”

Grandson – King Von

King Von always sounds assertive in his raps, rarely leaving any room to question his ability to lead or inspire. “Phil Jackson” sounds like a cocaine-fueled attempt at asserting his dominance with Von referencing the titular coach and Shaq’s innate ability to score at his peak, while Polo G likens himself to Osama Bin Laden in his verse. The cockiness isn’t without humor, and while there’s no real way to know when Polo G recorded his verse, it toys with the idea that Von wasn’t as self-serious as his raps would imply. As dour and violent as Von’s raps come off on Grandson, there are still sobering moments of introspection and essential context. He blames his coldness on growing up in the grimier sides of Chicago on “From The Hood” with Lil Durk. Despite Durk’s surface-level lyrics ( “Don’t take it personal / It hit different when you comin’ from the hood”), the passion with which he raps them shows a level of conviction he hasn’t demonstrated much on his own tracks in years. Von only appears for a single verse, indicating that the song was probably only half-ready by the time Durk got his hands on it, but perhaps the grief helped inspire his Chicago peer into tapping back into his earnest side.

Sex Money Drugs – Lucki

SMD is LUCKI’s response to his clear path to commercial success. Fans swarm him on the streets, his leaks are just as coveted as his proper releases, and yet he feels nothing. His words are slurred together and whether it’s drug-induced paranoia, mania or depression, he falls in and out of melodies just as quickly as he’ll go from over-pronouncing downbeats on “No Bap” to monotony on “Bby Pluto.” s*x m*ney dr*gs is a torn and re-pieced portrait of LUCKI, honing in and honoring the raw sentimentality that brought him acclaim; he’s still an addict, now enabled by own success, questioning his own end goal.

Summer’s Mine – Babyface Ray

2022 was the year that Babyface Ray made his mostly seamless transition from a regional rap star in Detroit to an international star with critical acclaim and mainstream appeal. The beautiful part is that he didn’t need to stray far from his signature sound to do so. His latest offering, Summer’s Mine, is a return to form after a slight meander off the path with his second project of last year, MOB. Now, as one of the biggest names in the Motor City’s booming hip-hop scene, Babyface Ray is continuing to put his city on his back with a continuous, effortless knack for unapologetic flexes, nervous flows, and introspective reflections. On Summer’s Mine, all of these characteristics combine for a masterful, all-encompassing body of work that finds Ray claiming the summer for the second year in a row – and succeeding.

Ganger – Veeze

Though it should be considered a musical aggregate of Detroit’s rap scene, Ganger’s mixing is far ahead of its time within the realm of Hip Hop. Where more experimental, electronic-leaning acts change the mixing of vocals and instruments to distort their sound to become hardly recognizable, Veeze and his team of producers, including Ddot, Pooh Beats, and Bass Kid, toy with the idea of a slight change. The mixing on Ganger periodically boosts Veeze’s voice to be just a few decibels too high or too low, leaving his mumbles either subdued by the instrumental or overpowered by it. The result is a sound collage, where each element in each song feels repurposed under the direction of Veeze. On songs like, “WHOda1” and “Weekend,” the augmented volume of Veeze’s voice reflects a warm amity, whether it be whispering roasts into your ear or shedding his vulnerabilities a bit too close to the mic.

Hard To Love – Moneybagg Yo

Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo solidified himself over the past five years as one of the most prolific emcees in Hip Hop’s current landscape. A string of LPs from 2018 to 2021 culminated in A Gangsta’s Pain, which found him advancing his formula of trap and drill bangers built around his distinctive flow, stark introspection, and a disrespectful assortment of ad-libs. Last year’s layoff found him becoming a single father due to the tragic murder of his ex-girlfriend, a cheating scandal involving his current partner, and a lean relapse. Still, all that couldn’t slow his artistic momentum. On Hard To Love, Moneybagg Yo addresses his real-life pain in some of the most vulnerable material of his career without sacrificing the street anthems that made him a star. On Hard To Love, Moneybagg Yo delivers a well-balanced trap treatise on the bittersweetness of fame and the difficulty of living real life in the spotlight. Not many artists could blend those deeply personal elements with the bawdy trap anthems that keep clubs churning but Moneybagg Yo seems to be an exception.

Michael – Killer Mike

The moniker Killer Mike conjures a lengthy list of descriptors: searing truth-teller, 2nd Amendment advocate, activist, MC. His new LP, Micheal, Executive-produced by No I.D., is an eclectic, heartfelt swirl of majestic soul and songwriting that’s as piercing as it is intimate. For this one, Mike explores tragedy and love with a mix of naked sincerity and the types of detail that usually has to be extracted from memory. As he’s explained in multiple interviews, this isn’t Killer Mike, it’s Michael Render, a human being that’s more than the sum of whichever labels we try to prescribe him. At about 54 minutes, Michael is a dense, but efficient body of thoughts and sounds, one embedded with instrumentation and gospel choirs you’d find in Black churches across the South. Of course, soundbeds like those are natural for Atlanta rappers of a certain age, but in this case, the dosage is more sizable — Mike’s deliberate move to incorporate the music of his childhood while paying homage to the culture that raised him.

Business Is Business – Young Thug

Business Is Business is a good Young Thung record. He’s still as strange as ever, finding new ways to contort his voice. On “Cars Bring Me Out,” a typical display of chemistry with Future, Thugger forgoes melody but keeps the autotune, giving his vocals a warbly, uncanny valley sheen. He’s as experimental as ever with flow, mimicking Project Pat on “Money On The Dresser;” on the Lil Uzi Vert-assisted “Hellcat Kenny,” Thug squirms against the minimal production, sinking into a heavy-lidded, mealymouthed delivery. “Uncle M” features some of his most quietly outlandish vocal work, beginning with autotuned whistling and continuing into the quavering hook. The way Thug’s pitch bends the end of his bars seems at odds with the cinematic beat. It gives the track a cartoonish menace, as captivating as it is off putting. More than anything, Business is a triumph for Metro Boomin’s curatorial skills, earning his executive producer credit by guiding the album’s greyscale sound. Metro provides the lion’s share of the beats, but the other producers he recruits — Wheezy, Aviator Keyyz, F1LTHY — match the unsteady atmosphere. Everything feels a bit paranoid, from the twinkling synths of “Gucci Grocery Bag” to the blanket of sub-bass on “Wit Da Racks.” Thug’s rote materialism doesn’t always match the gloomy production, but Metro manages to keep the energy high with sprightly sequencing.

Hood Hottest Princess – Sexxy Red

If Detroit has become the de facto center of the universe for a new generation of street rappers with a penchant for deadpan punchlines and copious punch-ins, then Memphis is something of a sister city. Led by the producer triumvirate of Tay Keith, Hitkidd, and Juicy J, the city’s resurgent scene has expanded far beyond Tennessee’s borders to cultivate a new lineage of raunchy, inescapable club-rap anthems. St. Louis’ Sexyy Red is the latest emcee to flip Three 6 Mafia’s tried and true formula into a contender for Song of the Summer: Her horny-as-hell breakout single “Pound Town” is a graphic, often hilarious celebration of casual sex that’s guaranteed to be a floor-filler for months to come. Though it can be tough to follow up bottled lightning with a full-length project, Sexyy Red’s sophomore mixtape Hood Hottest Princess manages to succeed by sticking to her strengths. Light on features and capped at a lean 30 minutes, the release is packed back to front with hard-hitting nu-crunk energy and pornographic quotables—exactly the kind of material anyone pressing play is looking for.

MAPS – billy woods & Kenny Segal

billy woods describes Maps, his exceptional new album and second collaboration with producer Kenny Segal, as a “post-pandemic” record, an interesting shift from the quarantine-album narrative that dominated the past couple of years. And Maps is exactly that, chronicling woods’ return to touring as the general population hesitantly removed their masks and walked back inside. He wrote a lot of the record on the road, documenting the mundanities and curiosities of life as a touring artist, especially one with a larger, more international audience than before. “Soundcheck” describes his need to escape the tedium of its titular activity, opting instead to find the nearest Szechuan restaurant. He fights jet lag on “Bad Dreams Are Only Dreams” and smokes weed in a hotel room during “Facetime,” listening to festivalgoers chase oblivion after a Playboi Carti set.

THE COURSE OF THE INEVITABLE 3 – Lloyd Banks

Since 2021, The Course of the Inevitable series has been a shining example of Lloyd Banks’ continued relevance. His longevity in Hip Hop is credited to the different variations of Banks that have bubbled over 20-plus years; starting with mixtapes and albums with G-Unit, peaking in the mainstream with his platinum-selling debut Hunger for More, and becoming a go-to download on Datpiff and LiveMixtapes as a solo artist with frequent mixtape releases. Now entering his 40s, Banks still holds the crown as the punchline king and metaphor messiah, earning respect from the New York OGs and the new generation who are inspired by the Rotten Apple era. It allows Banks to share his lane with COTI collaborators Freddie Gibbs, Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, Roc Marciano, Dave East, and The Lox members, who all match his wits, delivering street knowledge while keeping the style fresh.

FROM WHENCE IT CAME – Yungmorpheus

On From Whence It Came, YUNG contrasts humble beginnings with the success he now finds in doing him: “Y’all can be chameleons, call me mister Himself” (“Hold Tighter // Don’t Mention It”). He does this over an array of sounds from low-rider tunes to drum and bass. “For The Evening,” an infectious track that meets the criteria for an easy-going West-Coast hit, despite coming from a floridian. Even his friends laugh in disbelief on the outro. “For The Evening” and “Top Dog // Under Dog” showcases YUNG’s influences living in L.A. thanks to Al Dali and Fitz Ambro$e’s choice of thumping 808s, synths and the rejuvenation of A & B-side tracks. Outlier “Heavy Bags,” a subtle jungle anthem speckled with eerie pianos will keep crowds bubbling with energy. It’s a grounding refresher from other tracks like the musing “So It Goes” and his self-produced dreamscape “Creme Brûlée” that sound like floating in the clouds.

WON’T HE DO IT – Conway The Machine

Wont He Do It Digital Cover ArtWhile the metrics for what constitutes a great MC may not be as universal as they once were — as seen from the endless debates and comparisons on Hip Hop Twitter — it’s difficult not to consider Conway The Machine as one of the better lyricists of the day. Rightfully, that has been a bottom-line takeaway for everything he’s dropped since his 2020 debut studio album, From King To A GOD. Though his penchant for darker vibes may have once led some listeners and critics to attempt to confine and categorize his style, Won’t He Do It is his best example yet of why that’s impossible.

CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST: THE ESTATE SALE – Tyler, The Creator

Since Tyler, The Creator’s commitment to artistry prevents him from throwing out an unassociated deluxe version to one of his most beloved albums, he took nearly two years to add these eight tracks, which only provide extra ammo to the original release. Ignoring the trend in Hip Hop of releasing a deluxe that’s essentially an entirely different project of its own in the confines of the streaming era, Tyler plays and raps to his own drum, tearing down norms and his own self-inflicted pressure to prove himself as an elite rapper in the process.

MY VISION – Luh Tyler

An immersive, often serene debut project, My Vision asserts Luh Tyler’s status as an outlier in rap’s current landscape. His music’s too downtempo to fall in with the post-Detroit crowd, even when he hops on beats with vaguely Midwestern drum patterns, but it’s not experimental enough to lump in with the new wave of underground artists pushing plugg into alien territory. It’s more like comfort food for those who pine for a time when Kodak Black, Rich the Kid and Wiz Khalifa could hop on any beat—easy listening with 808s. Luh Tyler doesn’t push himself or his influences hard enough to transcend these comparisons, but in 2023, you’d be hard pressed to find a better mixtape to unwind to.

GLORIOUS GAME – Black Thought & El Michels Affair

Coming off the critically acclaimed Cheat Codes — a runner-up for the DX Best Hip Hop Album Of 2022 award — Tariq Trotter, better known as Black Thought, once again asserts his Zeus-level pen with Glorious Game, a collaborative LP with El Michels Affair (headed by one of his fave producers, Leon Michels). Playing out as a stage-worthy one-person show, Thought remains endearingly personal throughout the tightly curated 31-minute project, walking us through the sights, sounds, smells and sensibilities instilled coming up in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philadelphia.

GENERATIONAL CURSE – ICECOLDBISHOP

GENERATIONAL CURSE is a unique project from performance to production, especially regarding debuts in 2023. The music sounds fresh; it’s layered and anchored by its willingness to be heard. While Icecoldbishop adds plenty of social commentary throughout the songs, it never feels corny or shoved down your throat. Bishop’s storytelling is exceptional, learning from generations of west coast emcees who created the blueprint. GENERATIONAL CURSE excites the future, and for Bishop, the future couldn’t be brighter.

College Park – Logic

Logic isn’t nearly as bad as people say. Social media clowns him for his rapping skill, copying flows, possessing a catalog with way more hits than misses and only rapping about being bi-racial. Let the internet tell the tale and Logic has never been good. Obviously, this argument can be put to rest within two minutes of listening to any of his seven major label projects or countless mixtapes. Though his credibility and durability as a rapper is true in the streets, Twitter believes Logic hasn’t been able to shake this try-hard, culture vulture persona for much of his career. So how does a recently record label-free Bobby Tarantino deal with the years of Internet slander? By going back to his Maryland roots and releasing one of his best projects in years, College Park. It’s the the most free, fun and formidable Logic has sounded in years. It would be safe to assume the Internet has already made up its mind on the album and unfortunately Logic’s perceived corniness can’t be shaken with one solid outing. But with bars, beats and a positive belief system as strong as Logic’s its hard to deny the joy ride.

Gumbo – Young Nudy

Young Nudy operates in the realm of neon distortion. Since 2016, the 30-year-old stylist has blended his sticky rasp and macabre gunplay with beats that could soundtrack Zelda, creating songs that are jarring and immersive. With its vibrantly sinister sounds, pristine sequencing and spurts of Nudy’s underrated humor and flow versatility, Gumbo is just more evidence of his status as one of Atlanta’s most unique artists. Maintaining its cohesion while avoiding monotony, Nudy’s latest is at once chill and animated — an extravagant adventure that’s as controlled as it is fun. Released seven months after last year’s excellent EA Monster, the effort continues Nudy’s stream of strong projects. The LP plays out the way its title suggests. Murderous quips, onomatopoeias and agile flows get steeped deep into eclectic beats. The varied sounds begin to blend with the flavors next to it, and like the best Nudy projects, Gumbo highlights the contrasting ingredients while creating a flavor all its own.

Liberation 2 – Talib Kweli & Madlib

Seventeen years removed from their first collaborative effort, the elusive crate-digging Zeus Madlib and Brooklyn’s own Talib Kweli–the Libs–return with Liberation 2, a Luminary-only album a decade in the making. It’s easy to imagine why the album took so long; they have been swamped since their first Liberation project. Talib (among other things) dropped a cumulative 12 projects in that time span–Madlib had closer to 20, including respective AOTY contenders Piñata and Bandana with Freddie Gibbs. But, as Kweli himself notes in the project’s press release, “Never has there been a better time for such honest, message-driven music that pays tribute to the sounds that came before us.” Appropriately timed to Hip-Hop’s 50th anniversary, the album is not only a cry for unity–something that won’t surprise Kweli fans at all–but also a great reminder of what a well-thought-out, unrushed creative process can produce. Devoid of toxicity and rap-isms, this is an album built to age; in a landscape that thrives off of microwave LPs and feverish release cycles, that’s a particularly alluring approach.

Glockoma 2 – Key Glock

key-glock-work-new-singleThe first Glockoma was one of the best mixtapes of 2018 alongside Future’s Beast Mode 2 and Lil Baby and Gunna’s Drip Harder. Five years later, Glockoma 2 arrives when Key Glock is an established Memphis trap specialist, continuing to show promise with elevated slick talk and better punchlines. If you haven’t listened to a Key Glock album yet, it’s like riding down Elvis Presley Blvd in a foreign dripped in designer. Each song represents strolling down the street with a pimp coat and cane energy. Beat-wise, some of the same producers from Glockoma return such as Tay Keith, King Ceeo, and BandPlay to create a Memphis trap that’s minimalist, rattling with bass hits and hi-hat ticks. Packed with flex raps, pimp energy and Memphis rap signatures, there’s plenty of energy to get Huey’s and Gus’s jumping.

Even God Has A Sense Of Humor – Maxo

maxo-free-new-singleThe California-based Maxo raps to tell deeply personal stories – not to flex flashy rhymes. Over atmospheric droning or dreamy jazz-fueled production, the 28-year-old grapples with the painful parts of human existence: depression, self-doubt, shaken faith. Maxo is in a more positive headspace these days, but debut LP Even God Has a Sense of Humor is billed as a tribute to and a final rehash of the troubled days leading up to his present at the precipice of mainstream success. Socially conscious and artistically daring, Maxo creates some magical moments on Even God Has a Sense of Humor.

Free 03 – 03 Greedo

From the GTL line, 03, formerly known as 03 Greedo, stated that when he gets out of prison he would “speak on the pain.” His new project, Free 03, doubles down on that promise, thumbing through his rolodex of styles to remind us all what he’s capable of, and how he’s the true pioneer of the melodic rap dominating the sound today. Considering he reportedly recorded around 3,000 songs before starting his sentence, Free 03’s grab bag mentality makes sense. The three new songs (“Today,” “Hype,” “If I Die”), all of which 03 recorded while behind bars, make the case that his technical proficiency and preternatural songwriting chops remain intact, if not sharper than ever. The tracks recorded prior to his bid move effortlessly from syncopated Southern California slink to manic Atlanta-inspired trap to silken sex jams. But no matter the subject, it always feels as though Greedy’s shoulders are up by his ears, eyes darting to keep every exit in sight.

I Rest My Case – NBA YoungBoy

The key to YoungBoy’s workaholic overload is consistency — he’s developed a dependable sound, not quite country rap, but aching with a bluesy soulfulness and frequently accompanied by classical guitar. It’s a style he does well, but his voice encompasses a wider spectrum of timbres and emotions. When YoungBoy veers from the formula in favor of something more unpredictable — like the old school Southern sound he channeled on last year’s 3800 Degrees — he’s easily one of the most exciting rappers out. I Rest My Case splits the difference between these two tendencies: about half the songs are YoungBoy as usual, while the rest go in over futuristic rage beats.

Mind Of A Saint – Skyzoo

Fully thematic albums can be a mixed bag. If an artist’s concept is too complicated or obscure, listeners will lose interest. Conversely, if it’s too loose, artists open themselves up to criticism for poor execution. Brooklyn MC and ATL restaurant owner Skyzoo’s latest release, The Mind Of A Saint: A Soliloquy by Skyzoo, is a master class in pulling off a conceptual album without breaking character or losing steam (no easy feat). The album is told from the point of view of drug kingpin Franklin Saint, a character in Snowfall, a drama co-created by the late John Singleton, set in 1980s Los Angeles at the start of the crack cocaine epidemic. Throughout the 10-song affair, Skyzoo’s penchant for crafting lyrically rich, rewind-worthy Hip Hop loaded with easter eggs shines as brightly as ever, with an almost mind-boggling level of attention to detail. Whether it’s telling the engineer that he’s not used to the studio as he’s from a “different life” on the song “100 to One” or describing Franklin telling his friend Leon about working on an album on the intro to “Brick by Brick” (“Yo Saint, I know you’re going to get all poetic”), he fully commits to his character.

Indiana Jones – Boldy James & RichGains

Just a few weeks after it was reported that rapper Boldy James had been in a car accident in the Detroit area that left him with broken vertebrae in his neck and other injuries, the MC (who has since moved to a rehab center) released a sobering collaborative project with Rich Gains, Indiana Jones. Boldy’s non-assuming delivery and melancholy aura seem almost elastic when applied to the sonic signatures of different producers—which makes, for example, his Nicholas Craven-helmed Fair Exchange No Robbery sound so different from his work with Futurewave (Mr. Ten08), Alchemist or Real Bad Man. In this case, Rich Gains, half of the production duo Blended Babies (with partner JP), has given the Detroit MC an eclectic vibe that pushes him in ambitious new directions. As a result, Boldy delivers incredibly intriguing tracks balanced against some of his bleakest bars in recent memory.



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