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

Rest in peace, Takeoff.

MAVI
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MAVI - Laughing So Hard It Hurts
self-released

Charlotte experimental rapper MAVI returns with not just his first full-length project since his 2019 breakthrough Let the Sun Talk, but his lengthiest, most expansive project yet. Part of MAVI's breakthrough was thanks to a collaborative relationship with Earl Sweatshirt, who MAVI was frequently compared to early on, but he's really come into his own since then. He recruited a team of producers, including Monte Booker, Ovrcast, Wulf Morpheus, Coffee Black, Dylvinci, and more, and together they created an album that veers more towards warm, organic jazz-rap compared to the warped, crackling sound that defined Let the Sun Talk -- though there's still a little of that too. MAVI's delivery is also clearer and more melodic than ever; he puts his strong lyricism front and center, and he's got a newfound knack for casually blurring the lines between rapping and singing. The only guest appearance on the album comes from Amindi, who injects a dose of neo-soul into "Trip"; otherwise MAVI handles everything himself, and he's got the commanding presence needed to do so.

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Wiki Subjxct5
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Wiki & Subjxct 5 - Cold Cuts
Wikset Enterprise

Wiki could probably have been a huge rapper if he wanted to, but he seems way more interested in sticking with the underground, and his latest self-released mixtape is yet another great underground rap release. Lately he's been doing projects entirely produced by a single producer, like 2021's NAH-produced Telephonebooth and the especially great Navy Blue-produced Half God, and this new one was helmed by NJ producer Subjxct 5, who's been on the rise thanks to putting a modern spin on early 2000s style East Coast production. The project follows Wiki appearing on tracks off two Subjxct 5-produced 2021 albums: Papo2oo4 and DJ Lucas' 2021 Dirty Designer and Reed & Hunnaloe's SRH, and all four of those rappers also appear on Cold Cuts, alongside past Subjxct 5 collaborators Afrikillz and YL, the aforementioned Navy Blue, and Wiki's old pal Slicky. So the whole thing is a very close-knit affair, and Subjxct 5's production style is perfect for Wiki, who's also an old East Coast soul as well as a forward-thinker. "I feel like we do it a certain way where it's still old school, but it's a new twist on it," Subjxct 5 recently told The FADER, after citing Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Pharrell, DJ Premier, and Just Blaze as his core influences. He's clearly got a distinct vision, but he also knows how to cater to the rappers he's working with, and he goes for something a little hazier and more laid-back on Wiki's album than he did on other releases, and Wiki really excels over beats like this. It makes a lot of sense why these two decided to do a whole project together; they really seem to bring out the best in one another.

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Open Mike Eagle
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Open Mike Eagle - Component System With The Auto Reverse
Auto Reverse Records

Open Mike Eagle refers to Component System With The Auto Reverse as part solo album and spiritual mixtape, part green room cipher, and part showcase for his label Auto Reverse Records. That's a lot to attempt at once, but Component System With The Auto Reverse does it in a way that feels totally natural. It's got plenty of moments that show off Open Mike Eagle's increasingly good knack for eccentric rap, and his frequently-appearing pals Video Dave and Still Rift scratch a similar itch. OME also ropes in talented friends like Armand Hammer, R.A.P. Ferreira, and Aesop Rock for standout verses, while producers like Madlib, Diamond D of DITC, Quelle Chris, Illingsworth, Child Actor, and others lay down a selection of beats that fit the vibe perfectly and keep the album flowing. It's kind of like an alternative/underground rap version of Kanye's Cruel Summer, a project that's clearly a group effort but still with one creative mind in the driver's seat.

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Cakes Da Killa
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Cakes Da Killa - Svengali
Young Art Records

NJ-born rapper Cakes Da Killa emerged in the mid 2010s as a talented purveyor of hip-house, but he eventually slowed his output down before experiencing a comeback with two well-received EPs produced by Proper Villains in 2020 and 2021. Now he returns with his first full-length album since those EPs (and first album in six years, and first since bringing his infectious charisma to Netflix's Rhythm + Flow), Svengali. The timing is perfect, since it's coming at a time where hip hop and dance music have collided on some of the biggest singles of the year, and it's also even stronger than the music Cakes was making when he first started to take off. It's got some hip-house bangers, but it's not just hip-house. A lot of the production leans in a more experimental electronic direction, and these are some of the most beautiful and mind-warping beats Cakes has ever rapped over. His delivery is stronger, more refined, and more confident than it was in the early days, and not at the expense of any of his original charm. It's not a comeback, it's a re-introduction.

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Loyle Carner
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Loyle Carner - Hugo
Universal

Speaking recently to The Guardian about his single "Hate," UK rapper Loyle Carner said he "finally felt allowed to discuss race," a topic he'd touched on in the past but never this explicitly. "I hadn’t really been able to do it before – to be mixed race," he said. "It’s a weird thing because you’re between these two absolutes … up until very recently, it wasn’t really accepted to openly discuss feeling oppressed." He later added, "The white side of my life is something I’ve known my whole life, it’s something I've been deeply connected to – I’ve been to Scotland, I grew up with my mom. It didn’t really need any more development or understanding. The thing I wasn’t able to understand was where I sit in the world as a Black man." "Hate" is the opening track on Hugo, and it starts the album out on a very high, powerful note that it remains on throughout. His production tends to pull from warm, twinkling jazz and militant, psychedelic soul, both of which are very fitting backdrops for an album of personal tales and protest music. The arrangements are stunning, and Loyle leaves you hanging on every word.

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Bandmanrill
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Bandmanrill - Club Godfather
Pure/1865/Defiant/Warner

Newark rapper Bandmanrill and his producer Mcvertt have pushed their way to the forefront of Jersey club-rap off the strength of a handful of singles over the past couple years, and Bandmanrill's drill-inspired delivery puts a twist on the genre that's very of-the-moment and very appealing. Today, he followed up those singles with his first full-length, Club Godfather, entirely produced by Mcvertt, and it makes very good on the promise of his early singles and fast-growing hype. It's a lean 13 songs in under a half hour, including a handful of his previously-released singles along with entirely new tracks, and it features NLE Choppa, skaiwater, Sha Ek, Lay Bankz, and DJ Swill B. It's a fun, fast-paced project, and Bandmanrill has all the commanding confidence needed to get away with calling your first project Club Godfather.

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Lil Baby
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Lil Baby - It's Only Me
4PF/Wolfpack/Quality Control/Motown

Lil Baby called his shot with 2020's My Turn, the album that skyrocketed him to the forefront of mainstream rap. It found him mastering the art of moody, auto-tuned pop-rap, and Baby had more than just catchy songs. On its monumental bonus track "The Bigger Picture," he proved he could be just as serious and purposeful as the Kendricks and Killer Mikes when the song calls for it. He kept the momentum going last year with a collaborative victory lap with Lil Durk, The Voice of the Heroes, and now he releases his own new album, It's Only Me. This one comes with more anticipation behind it than any previous Lil Baby album, and Baby meets expectations and makes it sound effortless. Like a lot of pop-rap albums, it's a little longer than it needs to be (23 songs in 65 minutes), but there are a lot of gems on there. Lil Baby seamlessly moves between his catchy pop side and his more serious side, and he dives into some Weeknd-ish downtempo R&B on "Forever" (ft. Fridayy) and "Stop Playin" (ft. Jeremih). Other guests include Future, Young Thug, Pooh Shiesty, Nardo Wick, Rylo Rodriguez, and EST Gee, the last of whom's verse on "Back and Forth" is one of this album's secret weapons.

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Mach-Hommy Duck CZN Tiger
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Mach-Hommy & Tha God Fahim - Duck CZN: Tiger Style
self-released

Underground rappers Mach-Hommy and Tha God Fahim are nothing if not incredibly prolific. They very recently put out the fourth installment their Dollar Menu EP series, and this week they surprise-released a sequel to their collaborative 2018 album Duck CZN: Chinese Algebra. Production on several tracks comes from Montreal's Nicholas Craven, who's fresh off producing the great new Boldy James album, and his distinct sample-based style helps make for several of Tiger Style's biggest standouts. Sadhu Gold also produces several tracks, and there's some production from Wino Willy and Tha God Fahim himself, and frequent Mach/Fahim collaborator Your Old Droog shows up to rap on "Blue Hill @ Stone Barns," while Juju Gotti guests on two tracks. It's all cut from the same outsider rap cloth as Mach and Fahim's many other releases, and even with their vast number of projects, they still sound as fresh and hungry as ever.

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Smino
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Smino - Luv 4 Rent
Zero Fatigue/Motown

Every Smino album has been more expansive than the last, and Luv 4 Rent -- his third album and first since 2018's Noir -- keeps that trend going. It's a rich-sounding, multi-layered mix of hip hop, soul, and funk with gorgeous production and a commanding, shapeshifting mix of rapping and singing from Smino and his impressive guests. Those guests range from others in the Midwest hip hop scene he hails from (Ravyn Lenae, Phoelix) to Dreamville leader J. Cole to pop-rapper Lil Uzi Vert to fast-rising, TDE-signed spitter Doechii, and Luv 4 Rent is the kind of multi-faceted album where all of those artists have no trouble feeling right at home. It breaks down boundaries between the Midwest and the South, the '90s and 2000s and present-day, and it continues to prove that Smino has both a great voice and a strong vision.

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Marlowe 3
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Marlowe - Marlowe 3
Mello Music Group

If you keep up with boom bap-inspired underground rap, especially the kind associated with the Mello Music Group label, there's a good chance you've heard producer L'Orange, who's spent the past decade crafting beats for Kool Keith, Mr. Lif, Namir Blade, Jeremiah Jae, and others. In 2018, he linked up with North Carolina rapper Solemn Brigham for a collaborative album as Marlowe, and now they're on their third record together. These two are great on their own and a real force when they come together, and Marlowe 3 is loaded with triumphant, jazz/soul/funk-sourced beats from L'Orange and a rapidfire delivery from Solemn that lands perfectly in the pocket. Solemn and L'Orange's initial pairing made for one of the most underrated rap gems of 2018, and now they're a true dynamic duo with three full-lengths in four years and no sign that they're slowing down.

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Honorable Mentions
Armani Caesar - The Liz 2
BabyTron - Bin Reaper 3: Old Testament
Che Noir - The Last Remnants
Duke Deuce - Memphis Massacre III
Fatboi Sharif & Noface - Preaching In Havana
Flee Lord - Ladies & Gentlemen
Westside Gunn - Ten

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