Hip-Hop 50 Finale: 25 Best Rap Albums Of 2023

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Nas & Hennessy Hip-Hop's 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Bottle Celebration

Source: Shareif Ziyadat / Getty

2023 proved to be a milestone year for the culture of hip-hop, mainly due to an industry-wide, year-long celebration of the genre’s 50th anniversary. From celebrating the ever-changing eras of rap and paying homage to the pioneering emcees that paved the way, to getting blessed with a handful of once-in-a-lifetime performances — Pass The Mic Live, Rock The Bells Fest and Hip-Hop 50 LIVE at Yankees Stadium stand out — it was a year that we’re sure many certified hip-hop heads won’t soon forget by a long shot.

Our guys over at the Dead End Hip-Hop Podcast even took us back 30 years not too long ago for a rundown of what they were bumping through the speakers back in hip-hop’s Golden Era circa 1993. Take a look below:

RELATED: 2023 Recap: Black-Led Films That Wowed Us This Year

While this year showed us the importance of never forgetting where you come from, there also was a good running theme of not forgetting where you’re going as well thanks to a hefty lineup of new rap albums released throughout 2023. As the world at large counts down the days — well, more like hours at this point! — until the big arrival of 2024, we had to give all the emcees who dropped this year a major salute for continuing to push the culture forward with our official roundup of the 25 best rap releases of the year.

Before we get into our favorites though, let’s first give props to a few honorable mentions. We love each of these projects for many different reasons, but there simply could only be 25 on the list:

Nas – Magic 3
JPEGMafia & Danny Brown – SCARING THE HOES
Smoke DZA & Flying Lotus – Flying Objects
Talib Kweli & Madlib – Liberation 2
Teezo Touchdown – How Do You Sleep at Night?
Gucci Mane – Breath of Fresh Air
Rick Ross & Meek Mill – Too Good to Be True
Big K.R.I.T. – Regardless It’s Still Timeless
Dave East – Fortune Favors the Bold
Lil Tjay – 222
Tyla Yaweh – Heart Full of Rage 2
Trippie Redd – A Love Letter to You 5
Coi Leray – Coi
Larry June & Cardo – The Night Shift
Homeboy Sandman – I Can’t Sell These Either
Busta Rhymes – Blockbusta
Bun B & Statik Selektah – Trillstatik 3

The ones we did choose will reflect a variety of emceeing styles. Some are younger than others, so the subject matter will be way different. Others decided to clique up and drop a collaborative LP — hey, the more the merrier we say! The main thing we came to understand overall though is that, while extremely diverse when it comes to the players on the spectrum, hip-hop culture is definitely in good hands and will only get bigger and better for another 50 years and counting.

Kep scrolling to see our picks for the 25 best rap albums released in 2023, and of course feel free to agree and/or debate with us on who you think should be on here:

1. Ice Spice – Like..?

Release date:
January 20, 2023

2. Styles P – Penultimate: A Calm Wolf Is Still a Wolf

Release date:
January 27, 2023

3. Dreamville – Creed III: The Soundtrack

Release date:
March 3, 2023

4. Black Thought & El Michels Affair – Glorious Game

Release date:
April 14, 2023

5. Conway The Machine – Won’t He Do It

Release date:
May 5, 2023

6. Kaytranada & Aminé (as Kaytraminé) – Kaytraminé

Release date:
May 19, 2023

7. Metro Boomin – Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Soundtrack)

Release date:
June 2, 2023

8. Killer Mike – MICHAEL

Release date:
June 16, 2023

9. Kool Keith – Black Elvis 2

Release date:
June 16, 2023

10. Tech N9ne – BLISS

Release date:
July 14, 2023

11. Nas – Magic 2

Release date:
July 21, 2023

12. Travis Scott – UTOPIA

Release date:
July 28, 2023


Release date:
July 28, 2023

14. Quavo – Rocket Power

Release date:
August 18, 2023

15. Noname – Sundial

Release date:
August 11, 2023

16. Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist – Voir Dire

Release date:
August 25, 2023

17. Curren$y & Jet Life – Season Opener

Release date:
September 8, 2023

18. Vic Mensa – Victor

Release date:
September 15, 2023

19. Doja Cat – Scarlet

Release date:
September 22, 2023

20. Drake – For All the Dogs

Release date:
October 6, 2023

21. Offset – Set It Off

Release date:
October 13, 2023

22. Westside Gunn – And Then You Pray For Me

Release date:
October 13, 2023

23. Jeezy – I Might Forgive… But I Don’t Forget

Release date:
November 3, 2023

24. Danny Brown – Quaranta

Release date:
November 17, 2023

25. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday 2

Release date: 
December 8, 2023

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