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 8 rap albums from April 2023 that stood out to us most. We also probably still missed or haven't spent enough time with some great April 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).


redveil - playing w/ fire EP

At the turn of the 2010s, a new generation of rappers arrived with a fresh perspective that threatened to change the rap game forever--artists like Odd Future, Danny Brown, Denzel Curry--and redveil feels like the true heir to their thrones. He's been co-signed by Tyler, the Creator, he toured and collaborated with Denzel Curry, and he's the sole guest on the new JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown album. His music also shares various traits with all of those rappers, but he never sounds like he's imitating any of them. He's a true auteur who handles much of his rapping, singing, production, and instrumentation on his own, and he's been on a roll lately. He released one of the best albums of 2022 with learn 2 swim, and now he follows it with the playing w/ fire EP in the midst of his first-ever headlining tour. It's only got six songs, but that's enough to prove that redveil is still pushing forward. The aforementioned JPEGMAFIA makes an appearance, as does R&B/soul singer Mekdelawit, and the EP shows off so much range. He blurs the lines between organic instrumentation and synthetic production, and he fills the EP with melodic hooks and lyrical turns of phrases that land with severe impact. It's not just that redveil's music reminds me of the sounds of that exciting early 2010s era; it's that he's as hungry and talented and as original as his heroes were back then too.


Black Thought El Michels Affair

El Michels Affair & Black Thought - Glorious Game
Big Crown Records

30 years into his career, The Roots' lead MC Black Thought remains at the top of his game, and seemingly nothing can stop the creative hot streak he's been on since officially launching his solo career in 2018. His latest album is a collaboration with El Michels Affair, the retro-soul group known who came to prominence after "reverse-engineering" Wu-Tang Clan songs on such albums as Enter The 37th Chamber and Return to the 37th Chamber, and eventually went on to work with Wu-Tang Clan members themselves. For this album, El Michels Affair leader Leon Michels would write and record entire vintage-style soul songs, and then chop up and loop his own music the way hip hop producers like his hero the RZA did back in the day. It's a perfect setting for Black Thought, who came up in that same era and whose voice goes great with dusty soul. On Glorious Game, Thought sounds as athletic as ever, darting around the El Michels Affair instrumentals with curveball rhyme schemes and knockout punchlines. And unlike last year's Danger Mouse-assisted, guest-filled Cheat Codes, no features; just Black Thought commanding the ship and reminding the world he's one of the best to ever do it.


Gabe 'Nandez Pangea

Gabe 'Nandez - Pangea
POW Recordings

Gabe 'Nandez is a rapper based in NYC--though he's also lived in Haiti, Tanzania, and Jerusalem--and he's been pretty prolific these past few years, but even if you haven't heard one of his own projects, you might've heard him alongside Boldy James on "Sauvage," one of the big highlights of last year's widely-acclaimed billy woods album Aethiopes. This week, Gabe released his own new project, Pangea, and it's a great one. It's got eight songs, all produced by Tony Seltzer (Wiki, MIKE, Princess Nokia), and Tony and Gabe's styles go really well together on Pangea. Both have a knack for using familiar, accessible tricks in inventive ways, making for a record that's easy to process but never predictable.


Fly Anakin

Fly Anakin - Skinemaxxx (Side A)
Lex Records

Richmond underground rapper Fly Anakin's 2022 album Frank felt like a landmark release in his prolific career, and not just because he considers it his "debut album," and he's got even more ambitious plans for its followup, Skinemaxxx. It's a two-part album, and the first half came out this week (release date for second half TBA). It was made entirely with producer Foisey, guests include Pink Siifu and Big Kahuna OG, and it continues down the lush, melodic path that Anakin has been on for years. It's too off-kilter to be pop-rap, but still warm and welcoming in its own way.


Kiko El Crazy

Kiko El Crazy - Pila’e Teteo

Dominican rapper Kiko El Crazy has been coming up in the dembow underground for years, and he's begun to cross over on a worldwide level. His 2022 album Llegó el Domi was his first for Rimas (home of Bad Bunny), and as the Pitchfork review for his new album Pila’e Teteo points out, he was referenced by Rosalía on "Saoko" and sampled on Bad Bunny's dembow mega-hit "Titi Me Preguntó." His approach to androgynous, flamboyant fashion was inspired by Prince, and his music is just as line-blurring and charismatic as his image. The 15 bangers on Pila’e Teteo--which feature appearances from established names in dembow like El Alfa and Chimbala, as well as up and comers like Flow 28, Angel Dior, and Braulio Fogón--live up to the image that Kiko has cultivated, and help back up why some of the biggest stars in the world are latching onto him. Kiko has talked about wanting dembow to become a more global genre, and an album like this one shows how much crossover appeal this music has without watering anything down or catering to other audiences.


MC Yallah

MC Yallah - Yallah Beibe
Hakuna Kuala

East African rapper and Nyege Nyege Tapes collective member MC Yallah's latest album Yallah Beibe knows no bounds. She raps in four languages (English, Luganda, Luo and Kiswahili), ropes in producers from all over the world (the French-born Debmaster, The Democratic Republic Of Congo's Chrisman and Japan's Scotch Rolex), and gets a dancehall assist from Ratigan Era and metallic screams from Lord Spikeheart (aka Martin Kanja of industrial duo Duma). Her music is so genre-defying that it makes the bridge between trap, industrial, and dancehall seem tiny, and she tops it off with such in-your-face, skillfully complex rapping that would make anyone turn their head.


Honorable Mentions
Curren$y & Jermaine Dupri - For Motivational Use Only, Vol. 1
Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs – Champagne For Breakfast
Niontay - Dontay's Inferno
YUNGMORPHEUS - From Whence It Came

Browse Best Rap Albums for past months.

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