10 Best Rap Albums of February 2022
So much rap music comes out all the time, and especially with frequent surprise releases, it can be hard to keep track of it all. So, as a way to help keep up with all of it, here’s a roundup of the 10 rap albums from February 2022 that stood out to us most. We also probably still missed or haven't spent enough time with some great February rap albums that aren't on this list. What were some of your favorites of last month? Let us know in the comments, and read on for the list (unranked, in no particular order).
Saba - Few Good Things
Chicago rapper Saba has stayed busy in recent years with the Pivot Gang album and a string of non-album singles, but he's only now finally releasing a followup to 2018's Care For Me, Few Good Things. Most of those non-album singles seemed too good to be kept off Saba's next album, but clearly he had a strong vision in mind, because Few Good Things is more than a collection of Saba's latest tracks; it's one vast journey that only makes sense from start to finish. Even the recent singles that do appear on this album couldn't have prepared anyone for the grand statement that Few Good Things makes. Across its 14 tracks, it incorporates the introspection of '90s alternative rap, soul balladry, George Clinton-via-OutKast psych-funk, hardened Chicago drill, auto-tuned trap-pop, and more, and it brings in a slew of amazing guests to help Saba achieve his vision (Black Thought, Krayzie Bone, G Herbo, 6LACK, Smino, Mereba, Fousheé, Saba's group Pivot Gang, and more). And it doesn't feel like the guests stopped in to the studio, recorded a verse, and left; Few Good Things feels more like those classic Soulquarians records, where one big collective came together to create a communal, multi-layered piece of art. Mood-wise, it's a more joyous album than the grief-inspired Care For Me, but just as detailed and reflective. Saba knows how to write songs that scan as "catchy" on first listen but are filled with in-depth lyricism that takes multiple relistens to unpack. Based on how well his previous work has endured, I have a feeling we'll be unpacking Few Good Things for a long time too.
Conway the Machine - God Don't Make Mistakes
Buffalo rapper and Griselda member Conway the Machine has been talking about his Shady Records debut since 2020, and he's stayed prolific throughout its delays, releasing multiple projects since first announcing the album. (In fact, he just dropped a new mixtape on DatPiff this past weekend.) He's put out a lot of great material on those lower-key releases too, but the anticipation's remained high for his major label debut, an album that's been poised to give Conway a long-overdue break from the underground. And indeed, there are moments on God Don't Make Mistakes that make Conway more mainstream-friendly than ever, like the collab with Lil Wayne and Rick Ross ("Tear Gas"), which should help introduce Conway's gritty rhymes to a much larger audience. But mostly, this album finds Conway doing what he's always done. It's got a few other bigger-name guests (Jill Scott, Beanie Sigel, and the disgraced T.I.), but it's also full of rappers and producers from within Conway's inner circle (7xvethegenius, Jae Skeese, Keisha Plum, The Alchemist, Daringer, Beat Butcha, and Conway's Griselda pals Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn), and some of the most memorable moments come from those artists. Conway himself is in fine form too. The major label involvement hasn't caused him to water down his sound one bit, and it's impressive that he's still got so many one-liners in his arsenal and so many personal, detailed stories even after putting out so many releases in such a short time. It can feel underwhelming that, after building up so much anticipation for it, God Don't Make Mistakes is largely more of the same. But Shady's involvement should hopefully help turn new people onto Conway, and if this is your first time hearing him, it'd be a fine introduction to the sound he's spent years crafting.
EarthGang - Ghetto Gods
Atlanta rap duo EarthGang are back with their new LP Ghetto Gods, and it's some of their most powerful stuff yet. It's a musical triumph that blurs the lines between modern trap and lush, organic soul, and it nails a lyrical balance between heavier topics like religion and politics and a more fun, lighthearted side. Guest appearances come from Future, Musiq Soulchild, Smino, Baby Tate, Ari Lennox, and more, and all of those artists fit right in with EarthGang's multi-faceted sound. EarthGang have been rising like crazy since their 2019 Dreamville debut Mirrorland, and Ghetto Gods proves they're not just getting bigger, but better too.
Junglepussy - Jp5000 EP
NYC rapper Junglepussy follows her great 2020 album Jp4 with a brief but very effective EP, Jp5000. Over ominous and at times cinematic production, Junglepussy rattles off bars that have as much in common with the tough, deadly mid '90s NYC sound as they do with the hazy, abstract rap of someone like Earl Sweatshirt. She continues to be both a gripping and inventive lyricist, and her words jump out at you on first listen. With 5 songs in under 12 minutes, Jp5000 ends too soon but always leaves you wanting more.
Cousin Stizz - Just For You
Boston rapper Cousin Stizz has always existed just on the fringes of mainstream rap, and after two major label albums, he's now back with his first independent release since the mid 2010s. He's back to operating fully on his own terms, and he sounds more confident in himself and more comfortable with where he's at; as a result, Just For You is one of his strongest releases yet. Over a warm backdrop that includes pitched-up soul samples, triumphant horns, jazzy keys, atmospheric synths, and more, Stizz delivers inviting, self-assured bars that feel relaxed and energized all at once. He may hail from Boston, but on this album he reminds me a little of Midwest rappers like Mick Jenkins and Smino, the latter of whom appeared on Stizz's last album. Still, Stizz has a vibe of his own, and on Just For You, it's clearer than ever that Stizz aspires to be no one other than himself.
Yeat - 2 Alivë
The young Portland rapper Yeat's 2021 song "Gët Busy" went viral when its line "this song already was turnt, but here’s a bell" inspired a TikTok meme, and the success does not appear to be at all fleeting. He since signed a major label deal (a joint venture between Geffen Records and Zack Bia's Field Trip Records), and then released 2 Alivë, a 20-song, 62-minute album that features Young Thug and Gunna and quickly became the talk of the rap world. It's an album that's largely about doing drugs, and the production and Yeat's gurgly delivery will make you feel like you're on whatever Yeat is. And underneath the drugged-out haze, Yeat's got an arsenal of instantly-catchy hooks. 20 songs in 62 minutes is way too long when your songs all sound as similar as Yeat's do, but 2 Alivë has more highs than lows, even if its highs are better suited for playlists than a full-length album.
Yung Kayo - DFTK
Young Stoner Life
Alongside Young Thug and Gunna, one of the other guests on Yeat's 2 Alivë is LA-via-DC rapper Yung Kayo, whose own new album DFTK also features Yeat on its breakout hit "YEET." (Gunna is on this one too, and so is experimental pop artist Eartheater.) The album came out on Young Thug's Young Stoner Life label, and it scratches a similar itch as the Yeat album. Like Yeat, Kayo uses auto-tune as an instrument, has an ear for hazy beats, and fills every song with hooks that resonate on first listen. He also has a knack for (slightly) more traditional rapping, and though DFTK can feel like a "vibes first, lyrics second" album, there's often more than meets the eye to Kayo's fast-paced couplets.
Bad Boy Chiller Crew - Disrespectful
UK trio Bad Boy Chiller Crew's antics always seem to come up before their actual music does (they first gained attention for videos that The Guardian's Damien Morris referred to as "a head-on collision between Jackass and People Just Do Nothing," to give you an idea), but with Disrespectful, they've written an album that's undeniable even if you don't know anything else about them. Over an array of UK garage and house beats, the trio deliver punky shout-rapping that seems like its main goal is living up to this album title. They also pepper the album with sugar-sweet, nostalgia-inducing, '90s-style R&B samples that offset all the brashness, and even the three members of BBCC show off a soft side when they flex their pipes on tracks like "BMW" and "Stick Around." On one hand, BBCC feel like the British Beastie Boys, and on the other, Disrespectful feels like the catchiest '90s Eurodance album of 2022. It's as ridiculous as it is alluring.
Central Cee - 23
Central Cee may not have made a big dent in the US yet, but the rising UK drill star (and FKA twigs collaborator) is already massive in his home country. The Guardian points out that he spent 97 weeks in the UK singles chart since releasing his crossover hit "Loading" in late 2020, 18 of which were in the Top 10, NME called him "the new face of drill music," and The Line of Best Fit called him "one of the most recognisable UK artists on the world stage." 23 (named after his current age) follows last year's breakout project Wild West, and its 15 tracks (including the Mura Masa-produced, PinkPantheress-sampling Top 10 hit "Obsessed With You") live up to the hype. Cee has the tough drill bangers, he has the pop songs, and like crossover UK rap star Dave (who co-produced album closer "End of the Beginning"), he's got a sentimental, introspective side too. He also found a great collaborator in Young Chencs, who produced or co-produced most songs on this album. Chencs has mastered the drill production style as expertly as Cee has mastered its rapping. Together, they're one of the genre's most dynamic duos.
Curren$y & The Alchemist - Continuance
The first time The Alchemist and Curren$y made an entire album together was 2011's classic Covert Coup, and the most recent time was when the two of them teamed with Freddie Gibbs for 2018's Fetti. Since then, Alchemist has been behind some of the most acclaimed rap albums in the world (with Boldy James, Armand Hammer, and Freddie Gibbs), and now he reunites with Curren$y on Continuance. As always, Alchemist's jazzy, psychedelic production goes perfectly with Curren$y's stoned delivery. Guest appearances come from Boldy James, Havoc, Wiz Khalifa, Styles P, Babyface Ray, and Larry June, and everybody caters their verse to the album's permanently chill vibe. Longtime fans know what to expect from this one, and Curren$y and The Alchemist give you exactly what you hope for.
Big K.R.I.T. - Digital Roses Don't Die
2 Chainz - Dope Don't Sell Itself
Ivy Sole - Candid
Cities Aviv - Man Plays the Horn
Chaz Canairy & steel tipped dove - The Birds
T.F., Mephux & Roc Marciano - Blame Kansas
KRS-One - I M A M C R U 1 2
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