7 Best Rap Albums of February 2023
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 7 rap albums from February 2023 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).
Nappy Nina - Mourning Due
Brooklyn-via-Oakland rapper Nappy Nina needs no introduction if you've got your ear to the rap underground, but if you haven't heard of her yet, Mourning Due just might be the album to change that. She began working on it back in 2019, even before she released her great JWords-produced Double Down in 2021, and it's an immersive, cohesive project that really takes you on a journey and feels like a grand statement. With production coming from JWords, dane.zone, Nelson Bandela, Nina herself, and others, its backdrop ranges from vintage jazz to futuristic electronics, with plenty of other compelling detours along the way. It's also loaded with awesome guests (Moor Mother, Mavi, lojii, maassai, Cavalier, Stas Thee Boss, JusMoni, and more), whose ear-catching contributions fit perfectly with Nina, whose own delivery varies between reflective introspection to rapid-fire bars to tongue-twisting abstraction. Nina has ton of range, and she's full of command in every scenario.
Maxo - Even God Has A Sense of Humor
Four years on from his previous project Lil Big Man, LA rapper Maxo returns with Even God Has A Sense of Humor and he really sounds like he's coming into his own on this one. With appearances by Liv.e, keiyaA, and Pink Siifu, and production from Madlib, Karriem Riggins, LastNameDavid, Graymatter, Beat Butcha, Lance Skiiiwalker, and more, Even God Has A Sense of Humor finds Maxo leaning more heavily into the hazy, the abstract, and the jazzy. He's clearly an out-of-the-box thinker, an artist who's dead set on defying whatever's trendy at the moment, and he knows how to repurpose old sounds in ways that feel futuristic.
Jadasea & Laron - The Corner: Vol. 1
Jadasea is a UK rapper who's appeared on several albums by NYC underground rap leader MIKE (including his new album Beware of the Monkey), and he's signed to MIKE's 10k label. He's also a collaborator of King Krule, with whom he's a member of the new group Aqrxvst. Laron is a NYC producer who's probably best known for working with Brooklyn drill rapper Jay Critch. And this week, they teamed up for the collaborative album The Corner: Vol. 1. Guest appearances come from both NYC (MIKE, Wiki, and Sideshow) and the UK (John Glacier and Pinty), and The Corner: Vol 1 feels like a true transatlantic collaboration. Laron departs from the drill/trap type production that he's become known for and instead channels the hazy, psychedelic style that MIKE tends to use, which is perfect for Jadasea's abstract lyrical style. It's a lengthy, immersive album, with 26 songs in nearly an hour--over twice as long as Jadasea's last project--and it really establishes Jadasea as a force.
Channel Tres - Real Cultural Shit
Channel Tres said last summer that he'd finally be following up his string of great EPs with his first full-length, Real Cultural Shit. Now that project is here, but it's actually another EP. We're still hoping to finally hear a full-length from him one of these days, but meanwhile, the five-song Real Cultural Shit is yet another example of why Channel Tres is such a remarkable artist. He calls his music "Compton house," and it's a style of hip-house that owes equally to the history of house music in Chicago (where Channel's father is from) and the history of hip hop in Compton (where Channel was raised). Channel has been making music like this since before hip-house's latest mainstream moment, and on Real Cultural Shit, he remains at the top of his game. This five songs are all bangers, with so many callbacks to hip hop and house music's pasts but in a way that feels entirely modern and forward-thinking.
Sideshow - 2MM DON'T JUST STAND THERE!
Sideshow is a rising, already-very-prolific DC rapper who's closely affiliated with MIKE (he's signed to MIKE's 10k label and frequently collaborates with him), and like MIKE, he favors production that puts a hazy spin on vintage jazz and soul. Sideshow's raps are just as abstract as the beats he chooses to rap over, and the tracks on 2MM DON'T JUST STAND THERE! flow right into each other, making things extra hypnotic.
Rome Streetz & Big Ghost Ltd - Wasn't Built In A Day
Big Ghost Ltd
Brooklyn rapper Rome Streetz has yet another coveted underground rap collaboration under his belt. He's got his curated by Westside Gunn album, his DJ Muggs-produced album, and now he's got a Big Ghost Ltd-produced album. Big Ghost--who also has albums with Conway the Machine, Ransom, 38 Spesh, and more--has become a reliable maker of hauntingly atmospheric post-boom bap production, and that's perfect for Rome Streetz's '90s-style bars. Guest appearances come from Conway, Method Man, Lukey Cage, Plex Diamonds, and Chyna Streetz.
Kash Doll & DJ Drama - Back on Dexter: A Gangsta Grillz Mixtape
Kash Doll Enterprises/MNRK
DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz mixtape series in the midst of a renaissance lately, and one of the best tapes so far of this new era comes from Detroit rapper Kash Doll. It's her first project since 2019's Stacked, and consistent with the Gangsta Grillz designation, it feels like she's gone for something a little more street-friendly. Gone are the big-name, pop-rap features in favor of an almost all-Detroit/Flint lineup (Babyface Ray, Icewear Vezzo, Peezy, Payroll Giovanni, Sada Baby, RMC Mike, Louie Ray, YN Jay, Baby Money, Skilla Baby, Cash Kidd, RiskTaker D-Boy, Coach Joey, Bryan Hamilton, TLG Deuce), as well as likeminded Midwest rapper Lakeyah from Milwaukee.
ALLBLACK - Born To Score
Bktherula - LVL5 P1
Jay Critch - Jugg Season
Jehst - Mork Calling Orson
Tha God Fahim - Iron Bull
Neek Bucks - Blessed to the Max
SKECH185 & Jeff Markey - He Left Nothing for the Swim Back
Vic Spencer & 38 Spesh - Greenthumbs Meets Trigger Fingers
Wesley Joseph - Glow
Yeat - Aftërlyfe