Pusha T’s top-tier dope raps, J.I.D’s dynamic vision, and Megan Thee Stallion’s fearless confidence were only some of the highlights from one of the most surprising years in rap music
In 2022, the hip-hop world experienced a real reshuffling of the decks. At the top of the year, megastars Drake, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar delivered landmark albums that fell shy of possibly outsize expectations. In Ye’s case, one of the genre’s brightest stars fell shamefully into a stance of bigotry and confoundingly bad choices, all as the music deteriorated. But rap is built on movement, and 2022 proved that the well of talent in the hip-hop world is as fresh and exciting as ever. A new generation of artists — like JID, Smino, and Mavi — is entering new heights in their careers, dropping some of the year’s most compelling releases.
Elsewhere, underground stalwarts like Roc Marciano and billy woods continue to build confidently on the expansive creative vision that’s kept rap’s independent heart pumping into the age of social media. Women like Megan Thee Stallion, Little Simz, Flo Milli, and Latto continue to reshape rap’s gender dynamics. And global superstars like Stormzy and Central Cee are beginning to gain traction stateside.
Still, even amid rap’s shifting dynamics, some things stay true. Nas, whose been particularly prolific in recent years, joins the consistently hard-working lyricist Pusha T as the two rap elder statesmen who released some of their best work this year.
And that’s only scratching the surface.