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 March 2022 that stood out to us most. We also probably still missed or haven't spent enough time with some great March 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).

Denzel Curry
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Denzel Curry - Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Loma Vista

Denzel Curry's 2019 album ZUU felt like the end of an era. It was an effortlessly great victory lap after the ambitious, three-part concept album TA13OO released one year earlier, and after ZUU came the Unlocked and Unlocked 1.5 EPs with Kenny Beats, lower-stakes releases that found Denzel making eccentric left turns rather than following the trajectory he had been on since his breakthrough LP Imperial. Now, having gone three years and a pandemic without a full-length, Melt My Eyez See Your Future is here and it feels like the start of a fresh new era for Denzel. It fuses the ambition of TA13OO with the effortlessness of ZUU, and it also feels like entirely new ground for Denzel. It's a cohesive album that wows from start to finish, and the songs feel monumental on their own too, with distinct vibes that stop the album from ever blurring or dragging. Guest appearances are well-picked and well-executed (from slowthai, Rico Nasty, JID, Saul Williams, T-Pain, Robert Glasper, and more), memorable hooks bleed right into in-depth verses, and production ranges from organic jazz to futuristic electronics. It raises the bar for an artist who's already released a string of classics, and this just might be another one.

Get the Denzel album on vinyl, cassette and CD.

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Fly Anakin
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Fly Anakin - Frank
Lex Records

Richmond rapper Fly Anakin is calling Frank his debut album, but he's no rookie. He's been a staple of underground for years, with projects dating back almost a decade (including his recent album and EP with Pink Siifu), and be brings all of that experience to Frank, which feels like some of Anakin's best work yet. It's got some of the warmest, richest production he's ever rapped over -- coming from Madlib, Evidence, Foisey, Lastnamedavid, Anakin himself, and others -- and his delivery and lyricism is at its sharpest. He packs his songs with so many wordy, dizzying rhyme schemes and the production leans trippy and psychedelic, but calling this "abstract" rap would be doing it a disservice. Anakin never uses tongue-twisting wordplay just for the sake of it. He's got something to say, and this album makes that clear, whether he's talking about the impact that Black art has had on all popular culture ("Black Be the Source"), paying tribute to a fallen legend ("Sean Price"), or diving into the depths of his own mind ("Poisonous Primates"). On the surface, it's the kind of chilled-out album you can throw on and zone out to, but its many layers run deep.

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Benny the Butcher Tana Talk 4
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Benny the Butcher - Tana Talk 4
Griselda/EMPIRE

Benny the Butcher remains extremely prolific, and today he returns with the fourth installment of his Tana Talk series, the sequel to 2018's Tana Talk 3, which is widely considered one of Benny's best projects and one of his first major breakthroughs. The Griselda rapper has continued to infiltrate the mainstream without watering down his gritty sound, and Tana Talk 4 might be his biggest mainstream breakthrough yet, thanks to its collaboration with J. Cole ("Johnny P's Caddy"), which became Benny's most-streamed song on Spotify in just a few weeks. And as anyone who's heard that song knows, it's not Benny catering to the radio, but Cole doing his best to assimilate into the Griselda sound. The rest of Tana Talk 4 follows suit, finding Benny doing what he does best over production from frequent collaborators The Alchemist, Daringer, and Beat Butcha. Another big-name guest appearance comes from Diddy (on a spinoff of Biggie's "Ten Crack Commandments"), but the other guests are all within Benny's usual inner circle, including Boldy James, Stove God Cooks, 38 Spesh, and Benny's Griselda teammates Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine. Tana Talk 4 doesn't fix what ain't broke, but Benny still has the urgency, energy, and hunger that he had when he was trying to get the world to pay attention. Now that they are, Tana Talk 4 reminds you that nothing can slow him down.

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Latto
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Latto - 777
Streamcut/RCA

Two years after declaring herself the Queen of Da Souf on her debut album, Atlanta rapper Latto (fka Mulatto) is back with her anticipated sophomore LP 777. From brash, hard-hitting trap bangers to softer R&B-tinged stuff to the bright upbeat funk-rap of lead single "Big Energy," 777 covers a lot of ground and Latto's a master of all of it. Guest appearances come from Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, Lil Durk, 21 Savage, and more, all of whom sound great but none of whom ever outshine Latto. She's charismatic, she has bars, and her presence is always commanding.

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Kojey Radical
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Kojey Radical - Reason to Smile
Warner/Asylum

With projects and singles dating back to 2015, UK rapper Kojey Radical has issued what he’s referring to as his official debut album, Reason to Smile, and it’s an ambitious, comprehensive work that makes good on the promise of everything he’s done thus far. Pulling from grime, jazz, soul, funk, R&B, dancehall, and more, Reason to Smile is a melting pot of music from different regions, genres, and cultures, and Kojey is a master wordsmith who ties it all together seamlessly. With a knack for in-depth storytelling, ornate poetry, and hardened, muscular bars, he weaves together personal tales with sociopolitical concerns and carves out his own lane of UK hip hop in the process, dishing out verses that stand out next to even the biggest crossover stars. Throughout the album, he gets assists from rappers and singers from both sides of the Atlantic, from veterans to rising stars, including Kelis, Wretch 32, Masego, Cashh, Knucks, Tiana Major9, Shakka, Shaé Universe, Lex Amor, and Rexx Life Raj - a musically diverse cast that fits right in with the shapeshifting production and adds to how rich and varied this album sounds. Kojey may be marketing this as a debut, but this is a seasoned artist who figured out exactly what works and what doesn’t, operating at the peak of their powers.

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ZelooperZ
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ZelooperZ - Get WeT.Radio
self-released

ZelooperZ has been solidifying himself as one of the most delightfully weird rappers around, and Get WeT.Radio — the Bandcamp-exclusive followup to last year’s great Van Goghs Left Ear — only further cements that reputation. Z says the album was inspired by a playlist his father made him before passing away two years ago, which features Sade, Ginuwine, Brandy, TLC, Marvin Gaye, Janet Jackson, The Isley Brothers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, D’Angelo, and others in that realm, and as a result, Get WeT.Radio takes much more influence from smooth R&B and soul than it’s predecessor. Producers Black Noi$e, MIKE, Nedarb, duendita, Dilip, and Benamin, and guest vocalists duendita, Fousheé, ilyHook, and SuperCoolWicked help him achieve the more melodic sound, and ZelooperZ manages to embrace these woozy slow jams without losing the eccentric energy that he won everyone over with in the first place.

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Buddy
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Buddy - Superghetto
Lil Company/RCA

In the wake of George Floyd's murder, a wealth of new protests songs were released, and one of them was Buddy's "Black 2," a sequel to his 2018 song "Black" that criticized the way non-Black people want to consume Black culture but turn a blind eye to racism. It's one of the most enduring, powerful singles of the past couple years, and it's one of 10 songs on Superghetto, the Compton rapper's first full-length since his 2018 debut LP Harlan & Alondra. With assists from Tinashe, Ari Lennox, T-Pain, and Blxst, the album finds Buddy exploring the heavy topics of a song like "Black 2" but also making observations about party culture, dealing with personal demons, and singing about high school crushes. It's just as diverse musically as it is lyrically, with traditional rap songs, soulful R&B songs, and a couple upbeat songs that veer towards rock band territory ("High School Crush," "Bad News"). It's an impressive, unpredictable followup to Harlan & Alondra that reminds you that Buddy refuses to be pigeonholed.

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Phife Dawg
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Phife Dawg - Forever
Smokin' Needles/AWAL

Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest left us six years ago this week, and his estate finally released his long-talked-about posthumous album, Forever. The album features material recorded around the same time as ATCQ's excellent comeback album We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your service, and it features his ATCQ bandmate Q-Tip, as well as Busta Rhymes, Redman, Pos and Maseo of De La Soul, Little Brother, Rapsody, Lyric Jones, Dwele, Illa J, Renée Neufville, Angela Winbush, Darien Brockington, and Phife's mother Cheryl Boyce-Taylor. Read more about it here.

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Elzhi Georgia
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Elzhi & Georgia Anne Muldrow - Zhigeist
Nature Sounds

"Does anybody make music anymore like Biggie at 24 and Nas in '94?" asks Elzhi on "King Shit." Regardless of how you personally might answer that question, it gives you a good idea of where Elzhi is coming from on Zhigeist, the former Slum Village member's new collaborative album with Georgia Anne Muldrow. It's been over a decade since Elzhi put out his own version of Illmatic, and Elzhi's own early releases are now even older than Illmatic was then, but the Detroit rapper's heart still lies in that mid '90s era of New York rap. On Zhigeist, he never caters to modern trends or does anything besides make the music that he himself would want to hear, and he sounds as fresh and energized today as he ever has. And what makes the album go past your typical boom bap revival is the involvement of Georgia Anne Muldrow. She provides Elzhi with lively, funk/soul/jazz-derived production and her own soaring hooks. It makes for what might be his richest sounding solo album yet.

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Ho99o9
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Ho99o9 - Skin
DTA Records

Travis Barker has been at the center of so much of the emo-rap/hip hop-adjacent pop punk revival thing, but if you've been hoping for him to latch on to some punk/rap crossover that's a little harder, look no further than the latest album from Ho99o9 (pronounced "horror"). After drumming for the duo on a Bad Brains cover during a 2020 livestream, Travis now fully produced their new album Skin and he's releasing it on his label DTA Records. Alongside Travis, it features Texas rap legend Bun B, Corey Taylor of Slipknot (who Ho99o9 are touring with), spoken word/alt-rap great Saul Williams, and Soundcloud rapper Jasiah, and Skin is the kind of borderless album where all of these disparate artists make sense. There are straight-up punk songs, straight-up rap songs, rap songs that feel like punk songs and vice versa, and everything in between. It's Ho99o9's most aggressive, most experimental, and most fully fleshed-out release to date.

Pick up a copy on limited-to-200 violet vinyl.

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Honorable Mentions
Tha God Fahim - Six Ring Champ
Your Old Droog - YOD Wave
Nigo - I Know NIGO!
The Cool Kids - Before Shit Got Weird
BabyTron - Megatron
King Von - What It Means To Be King
Duwap Kaine - A Dogg's Influence
iblss - Raja's Sun
Kali - Toxic Chocolate EP
midwxst - better luck next time. EP

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rap vinyl
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Past monthly rap album roundups here. For more hip hop, stay up to date with our weekly rap and R&B song roundups, and read our daily hip hop coverage here.

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