Following on from last week’s continued roundup of some of my favourite releases from 2022, I’m back with what I thought was going to be my final selection. The original plan was to cover 30 EPs and albums, but as time has gone on my mind has decided to trigger more musical memories from the year. Add to that the fact that the last breaths of 2022 brought us a few more releases and I realise now that I could easily do a top 40 (shout out to 80’s Sunday evenings on Radio One). So without further ado, here are my next ten choices, and as usual they arrive in no particular order beyond the sequence my memory brought them to the surface. The third and final instalment will follow shortly.
Wrecking Crew – Sedale Threat (Three Dollar Pistol Music)
Jam Baxter – Fetch The Poison (Blah Records)
Lord Apex & El Lif Beatz – Joga Bonito (Self-released)
Boldy James & Nicholas Craven – Fair Exchange No Robbery (Nicholas Craven Productions)
ShrapKnel – Metal Lung (Backwoodz Studioz)
Pink Siifu & Real Bad Man – Real Bad Flights (Real Bad Man)
Galloping Ghosts & Axel Holy – Holyghosts (Village Live)
andrew – Sad Dance Songs / I Don’t Know (Cold Rhymes Records)
Chuck Enzo – Motherbox (Group BraCil)
Dubbledge & Forest DLG – Ten Toes Down (Potent Funk)
Wrecking Crew made the most of their year, both on a full gang level and in their respective solo guises. The crew as a whole released two albums, Steel’s Kitchen and Sedale Threat, the latter of which has made its way onto my list, mainly because of their production choices and the featured artists they brought into assist. Happy to see them thriving and I’m hoping it continues into the next year. Sticking with the crew for a moment, PremRock and Curly Castro also enjoyed another win with their latest escapade as ShrapKnel. Somehow reaching even greater heights than their already lofty earlier works, the duo played an integral part in Backwoodz’s reign across 2022.
Boldy James seemed to be releasing new music every time I opened my eyes, but it was his collaboration with Nicholas Craven that remained the highlight for me. While the project perhaps didn’t land as perfectly as Boldy’s Alchemist-powered joints, Craven’s production still provided the Detroit rapper with another jewel in his crown. Another rapper-producer duo who gave us gold, was Pink Siifu and Real Bad Man with their Real Bad Flights project. It was more of an upfront rap album than 2021’s GUMBO’!, but it was still a quintessential Siifu release and I enjoyed hearing Real Bad Man continue to find the same chemistry they had found with their other collaborations.
andrew was an artist who made it onto my radar this year for the first time, thanks to a string of releases, including a brilliant linkup with blog veteran, Zilla Rocca. His melodic solo release that emerged towards the year’s end captured a moment in time perfectly for me and it’s been the ideal soundtrack to my winter walks.
My UK hip hop tastes have changed a lot over the years but there were still a lot of gems to be sought out from this side of the Atlantic. Jam Baxter returned for his second Blah full-length and proved that enforced sobriety couldn’t do anything to dampen his creative vision, while also reigniting the flames of his previous work with Forest DLG (FKA Chemo), who produced a large chunk of the album. Forest DLG also cropped up again on the list, thanks to the emergence of an album he made with the infamous Dubbledge over ten years ago. A decade old it may be, but it lost none of its impact in the meantime and helped remind us all of Dubbledge’s importance on the mic.
Galloping Ghosts started off the new chapter of his career, shedding his old Ded Tebiase moniker and teaming up with Axel Holy for their Holyghosts EP. I was a big fan of the old material he was making so I wasn’t sure how I’d react to this new direction, but it worked out perfectly on every level. Chuck Enzo brought together a team of supporting players for his Motherbox album, which confidently walked the line between instrumental album and vocal project, while successfully floating from genre to genre. And last but not least, Lord Apex delivered another dose of comfortably skilled penmanship, alongside the beat-making talents of El Lif Beatz, making it easy for us to hear why he is one of Madlib’s chosen favourites. As usual, the majority – if not all – of these releases are available via Bandcamp.