Best Albums that Defined 2023


Reading Time: 6 minutes

1. Killer Mike – Michael

Killer Mike - Michael - Credit by VLNS and Loma Vista Recordings
Killer Mike – Michael – Credit by VLNS and Loma Vista Recordings

Killer Mike dropped the album that everyone wished Drake had dropped – profoundly personal art that showed growth, evolution, and maturity.

2. Jorja Smith – Falling or Flying

Jorja Smith – Falling or Flying Album Cover – Credit by FAMM

R&B isn’t dead, but it did evolve. Jorja’s album is a gentle flow of rhythmic vibes that rest gently on the soul, as the upcoming year would like to be.

3. Offset – Set it Off

Offset – Set It Off – Album Cover – Credit by Motown Records

Yeah, we’re never getting another Migos album, sadly, but we are receiving this evolved MJ Beat It version of Offset. Once used to say only a few words, now he’s Billie Jean’n it. A lesson to never be. Afraid to leap into something different.

4. Key Glock – Glockoma 2

Key Glock – Glockoma 2 – Album Cover – Credit by Paper Route Empire

The resurrection of g funk music. It is nothing positive, but it only requires a little thinking. It does require good speakers. In case of stress from this past year, there is nothing like some carefree, ignorant music that makes you nod your head.

5. Victoria Monet – Jaguar 2

Victoria Monet – Jaguar 2 – Album Cover – Credit by RCA

Calling anyone the NEXT anything is a lot. But one can’t help but hear Janet’s “That’s the way love goes” when you hear Jaguar 2. Victoria Monet went from a cult following to a megastar and evolved Victoria.

6. Janelle Monet – The Age of Pleasure

Janelle Monae – The Age of Pleasure – Album Cover – Credit by Atlantic Records

Janelle seemed to be set free from the tuxedo days. The album plays like one long track. The cookout vibes of bikinis and hot wings sound through the songs.

7. Andre 3000 – New Blue Sun

Andre 3000 – New Blue Sun – Album Cover – Credit by Epic Records

Andre 3000 fans probably thought Dre’s newest album would err on the side of rap, but instead, 3 Stacks delivered an ambient all-instrumental album that’s heavy on the flute. He said that it was on his heart and that at 48, he didn’t know what to rap about. That sparked a discussion about what older rappers should talk about, but Dre gave us the answer: do what’s on your heart creatively.

8. Nas – Magic 2

Nas – Magic 2 – Album Cover – Credit by Mass Appeal Records

Nas has been releasing a lot of music lately, and Magic 2 is the second in a series of albums for the Queensbridge representative. Nas is the flipside to Andre 300’s quandary about middle-aged rappers. In his latest music, Nas raps about his investments, reminisces on the past, talks about love, and big ups the younger rappers who came after him. In other words, he still has bars and excels at storytelling, while Hit-Boy works his magic on the beats.

9. Jon Batiste – World Music Radio

Jon Batiste – World Music Radio – Credit by Verve Records and Interscope Records

Jon Batiste’s seventh studio album feels like a sonic hug, a welcome reprieve in such chaotic times. The genre-bending musician will make you smile with his tunes and the musical guests he brought along for the ride.

10. Noname – Sundial

Noname – Sundial – Credit by Noname

Noname is unapologetic about her rhymes, cultural critiques, and the people she chooses to collaborate with. In Sundial, her first album in five years, she switches up her flow from spoken word to traditional hip-hop, on a sonic journey that shows her range of critical thought and slinging rhymes.

11. Billy Woods and Kenny Segal – Maps

Billy Woods and Kenny Segal – Maps – Album Cover – Credit by Backwoodz

Billy Woods is not a name that sparks mainstream recognition, but his latest album, produced by Kenny Segal, might change that. Billy Woods floats over jazzy lo-fi grooves with punchy one-liners, introspective observations about life, and more.

12. Davido – Timeless

Davido – Timeless – Album Cover – Credit by DMW, Columbia Records, and Sony Music Entertainment

With Timeless, Davido re-emerges from unimaginable tragedy following the death of his three-year-old son. He reminds us that he’s still a leading contender in Afrobeats.

13. PinkPantheress – Heaven Knows

PinkPantheress – Heaven Knows – Album Cover – Credit by Warner UK

Heaven Knows is the 22-year-old singer, songwriter, and producer’s highly anticipated debut. PinkPantheress has drawn comparisons to the late Aaliyah throughout her years of releasing shorter projects, but she can hold her own.

14. Cleo Sol – Gold

Cleo Sol – Album Cover – Credit by Forever Living Originals

Cleo Sol’s Gold is the audio massage remedy for those who felt this past year gave them daily migraines. Songs like Please Don’t End It All, Life Will Be, and Things Will Get Better are rhythmic affirmations for the soul.

15. Jordan Ward – Forward

Jordan Ward – Forward – Credit by Interscope Records

The title track alone is the motivation to carry on into the new year.

16. Gunna – A Gift and a Curse

Gunna – A Gift and a Curse – Album Cover – Credit by YSL Records and 300 Entertainment

Gunna got caught up in the Hip Hop trial of the year and got branded with tomatoes for allegedly snitching. But not to be stopped, he came out of his cave and started rapping as if his life depended on it, with Fukumean being an answer call to his critics.

17. Dojo Cat – Scarlet

Doja Cat – Scarlet – Album Cover – Credit by RCA Records

The album is good, but the marketing behind it made Dojo Cat the GOAT of all trolls. No other artist captivates new fans and disrespects old fans to make them all show up to support their work like Dojo.

18. Lil Durk – Almost Healed

Lil Durk – Almost Healed – Album Cover – Credit by Only the Family, Alamo Records, and Sony Music

Lil Durk sent a message that if the Chicago Drill King can seek therapy, so can you.

19. Gucci Mane – Breath of Fresh Air

Gucci Mane – Breath of Fresh Air – Album Cover – Credit by Atlantic and 1017

Gucci Mane created a blueprint for former trap stars who wondered about life beyond the streets. While rapping about living high, he is standing on the album cover with his wife and kids; being Married with Millions is its human highlight.

20. Oddisee – To What End

Oddisee – To What End – Album Cover – Credit by Outer Note Label

The DMV MC album was an example of minding one’s business, drinking water, and creating dope art.

21. Quavo – Rocket Power

Quavo – Rocket Power – Album Cover – Credit by Quality Control Music and Motown

The album’s vibe plays like an office Christmas party once the supervisor leaves. This left us all wanting to get on a rocket ship and blast off planet earth’s ratchetness.

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