10 Best Rap Albums of August 2022

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 10 rap albums from August 2022 that stood out to us most. We also probably still missed or haven't spent enough time with some great August 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).

Roc Marciano Alchemist

Roc Marciano & The Alchemist - The Elephant Man's Bones
ALC/Marci Enterprises/Empire

Roc Marciano and The Alchemist have both been long responsible for the shaping the type of gritty, nostalgic yet innovative underground rap that's been having a moment these past few years, and they continue to remain at the forefront of this latest wave. The Alchemist has entirely produced a handful of the most-loved albums in recent memory (by Freddie Gibbs, Armand Hammer, Boldy James, and more), while Roc Marciano has also been a prolific producer lately, helming recent albums for rising underground faves like Stove God Cooks and Flee Lord. Now Roc Marciano teams up with The Alchemist for The Elephant Man's Bones, his first own rap album since 2020's Mt. Marci and his first album entirely produced by one person since 2018's Kaos with DJ Muggs. Roc Marciano creates dense lyrical passages that you're not gonna fully process in one listen, and The Elephant Man's Bones is no exception, with an array of bars that sound great on the surface but beg you to come back and keep unpacking them. He never goes for anything easily-digestible, but The Alchemist's glistening bells and pianos and warm, clipped-up jazz and soul samples bring just a bit of brightness to Marci's dusk. They're a perfect pair, and well-suited guest verses from Action Bronson, Boldy James, Knowledge the Pirate, and (wait for it) ICE-T only sweeten the deal.

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Danger Mouse Black Thought Cheat Codes

Danger Mouse & Black Thought - Cheat Codes
BMG

Talk of a Danger Mouse and Black Thought album dates all the way back to 2006, the year Danger Mouse was literally everywhere thanks to Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and the year Black Thought's group The Roots released their beloved Game Theory. It went unreleased for so long that fans started to give up on it, and some even gave up on the idea of Black Thought ever releasing a solo album at all. But then, between 2018 and 2020, Black Thought released the Streams of Thought trilogy, and he said even more solo releases would be on the way, including his long-awaited collaboration with Danger Mouse. Now, over 15 years since news of the album initially broke, it's here. It's titled Cheat Codes (not Dangerous Thoughts, which was the original title), and it was worth the wait. It's Danger Mouse's first rap album since his classic Beatles/Jay-Z mashup The Grey Album, and his sample-heavy style is in fine form, with bits of chopped-up psychedelic soul where you can still hear the crackle of the vinyl. And as Black Thought did on the Streams of Thought trilogy, he reaffirms himself as one of the best rappers alive, delivering hard-hitting screeds that are reminiscent of the '90s rap era Black Thought helped shape and just as urgent today. And as if 12 tracks of fiery Black Thought verses aren't enough to make a great rap album, Cheat Codes also has an impeccable cast of guests, including the late MF DOOM, Raekwon, Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, Conway the Machine, and Russ, plus hooks from Michael Kiwanuka, Kid Sister and Dylan Cartlidge. Given how long the album's been in the works for, that's presumably a real DOOM verse and not a leftover from the vault, and it's a real treat to hear a posthumously-released DOOM gem like this one. Every other rapper involved rises to the occasion too; you can't share a track with Black Thought and not bring your A-game, and everyone on Cheat Codes knows it. With any long-teased album like this one, you risk waiting so long that the world moves on from the music you've been making, but Cheat Codes avoids falling into that trap. It hits just as hard today as it would have in 2006, and its mix of veterans and comparatively newer rappers helps bridge that gap. But more than anything, Danger Mouse and Black Thought achieve timelessness by doing what they do best. May all mythically, long-shelved albums have such fates.

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ShrapKnel

ShrapKnel - Metal Lung
Backwoodz Studioz

billy woods and his duo Armand Hammer have been at the forefront of underground rap lately, and if you're into woods and his extended Backwoodz Studioz family, then ShrapKnel is a name you should be very familiar with too. It's the duo of Curly Castro and PremRock, both of whom have appeared on multiple billy woods and/or Armand Hammer albums. They debuted with 2019's Cobalt EP before putting out their self-titled debut album in 2020, and last year Curly Castro and PremRock each released solo albums, Little Robert Hutton and Load Bearing Crow's Feet, respectively. Now they return with their second ShrapKnel full-length, Metal Lung. After making their debut LP with Armand Hammer's ELUCID handling most of the production, this one was largely made with Backwoodz producer Steel Tipped Dove, along with some production from Child Actor, Olof Melander, and PremRock himself, and appearances by Rob Sonic, Fakts One, Donovan Days, Ethel Cee, and The Binary Marketing Show. As you'd expect from these two, it's well within the sound of the Backwoodz world, but ShrapKnel also have their own vibe that separates them from their peers. Prem and Curly have distinctly different deliveries, but their chemistry is so strong that they often literally finish each other's sentences, and their bars are hard-hitting and surreal all at once. The production fits perfectly, ranging from jazz to boom bap revival to far-out psychedelia.

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Megan Thee Stallion Traumazine

Megan Thee Stallion - Traumazine
1051/300

Few rappers in recent memory have risen to the top as fast as Megan Thee Stallion, and it's been a thrill to watch her take over the world and just get better and better as she does it. In a year that's already included much-talked about albums from Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake, Megan announced Traumazine just hours before its release, and it already feels like one of the year's true event albums. Megan's path to stardom has also been rattled by some serious personal roadblocks, and like 2020's Good News, Traumazine addresses Megan's personal struggles but she always comes out sounding triumphant, energized, and on top. It's an album that's as fun as it is serious, with plenty of much-deserved boasts, shit talk, and raunchy sex and love songs too. She contributes to the summer of house music with "Her," tacks on her Dua Lipa-featuring pop hit "Sweetest Pie" at the end, and fits in a few R&B slow jams (with help from Jhené Aiko and Lucky Daye), but for the most part, Megan sticks to what she's done best since her mixtape days: churning out catchy, hard-hitting, early 2000s-style rap with a modern twist and a huge personality that you'd never mistake for any other rapper on the planet. In addition to the aforementioned guests, she gives peers like Rico Nasty, Latto, Pooh Shiesty, and Key Glock a chance to shine, gets an assist from Future on (recent single) "Pressurelicious," and offers up a love letter to her Houston hometown with "Southside Royalty Freestyle," produced by Juicy J and Houston vet Mr. Lee and featuring Sauce Walka and Screwed Up Click members Big Pokey and Lil' Keke. It's become a cliché for massive artists to brag that they haven't forgotten where they came from, but Megan doesn't have to tell you; her music speaks for itself.

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JID Forever Story

JID - The Forever Story
Dreamville/Interscope

JID is such a constant force in hip hop -- between his many singles, guest features, and contributions to Spillage Village and Dreamville albums -- that it's almost hard to believe it's been four years since his last album, DiCaprio 2. But that is indeed the case, and despite being so prolific since then, it really does feel like he saved his strongest material for the new full-length. The Forever Story finds JID operating at the top of his powers, sounding more confident and more original than he did on DiCaprio 2, and coming out with his most cohesive project yet. From the warm, multi-layered production to JID's spitfire rhymes to the features (Lil Wayne, Lil Durk, BADBADNOTGOOD, Ari Lennox, Ravyn Lenae, Kenny Mason, 21 Savage, EarthGang, Baby Tate, more), The Forever Story is a complete work of art. It's been clear since the early days that JID is a highly skilled rapper, but The Forever Story reveals there's now an even grander scale to his vision.

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Meechy Darko Gothic Luxury

Meechy Darko - Gothic Luxury
Loma Vista

Brooklyn rap trio Flatbush Zombies have been constants in the ever-thriving world of New York rap for over a decade, and they remain active and have shows coming up this year. The decision for group member Meechy Darko to put out his debut solo album wasn't because Flatbush Zombies went on hiatus or anything; it was because Meech was faced with one of the most significant tragedies of his life -- losing his father to the hands of Miami police -- and "I had no choice but to make this the most personal thing I’ve ever done because fortunately or unfortunately, I'm in an extremely soul-stirring part of my life right now," he said. "It's very important to capture this while I can still feel." To make this highly personal album, he also needed to stray from the "crazy shit, crazy-colored hair and psychedelics" of Flatbush Zombies and craft a darker, more cinematic sound, and he recruited executive producer Dot Da Genius to help him achieve it. The production suits the album perfectly, and Meech holds nothing back lyrically, opening up about everything from inner mental health battles to the system of racism and police brutality that took his father's life, and keeping you on the edge of your seat the entire time. An impeccable cast of guests help him out (Freddie Gibbs, Denzel Curry, Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Kirk Knight, and Vita), and all of them bless the album with standout appearances without distracting from Meech's vision.

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Rapper Big Pooh

Rapper Big Pooh - To Dream In Color
Soulspazm

Back in 2019, only a few months before the world shut down, the great underground rap duo Little Brother (Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte) surprise-released their first album in nearly a decade, the very good May the Lord Watch, and they since appeared on a song on this year's posthumous Phife Dawg album and have plans for a documentary due in 2023. And now, amidst all this Little Brother excitement, comes the first solo album from Rapper Big Pooh in four years. I'm admittedly not as up on Big Pooh's prolific solo career as I probably should be, so I can't say how To Dream In Color stacks up against his many other records, but coming off of May the Lord Watch, it keeps the excitement and momentum going. The production is rich and warm, and Big Pooh is in fine form, rapping with all the hunger he had in his early days. It's nostalgia-inducing and fresh all at once, and it culminates in one of Big Pooh's most powerful recent songs, "In Surround Sound," where he reflects on Little Brother's reunion, Phife's death, details about his personal life, and more.

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Mach-Hommy

Mach-Hommy (& Tha God Fahim) - Dollar Menu 4
self-released

The elusive and always-great underground rapper Mach-Hommy has continued his Dollar Menu EP series with Tha God Fahim today with the surprise fourth installment. This one's only billed as Mach-Hommy for whatever reason, though Tha God Fahim does appear on every song, and Your Old Droog is on three tracks too (Big Cheeko and JuJu Gotti also appear). The chemistry between all three of them is seamless, and Dollar Menu 4 is another effortlessly great of dizzying wordplay, clever punchlines, and hazy beats.

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Doechii

Doechii - She / Her / Black Bitch EP
TDE/Capitol

Rising rapper Doechii recently signed to TDE and released a string of singles for the label, and now she's put out the she / her / black bitch EP while she gears up for a full-length. "Many times I’ve been referred to as a “bitch” as a way to gaslight me out of certain spaces, something I think many people can relate to in one way or another," Doechii says. "Lots of people will call you various names for doing something differently. So I decided to take ownership of the ‘black bitch’ and title my EP she/ her/ black bitch and reclaim that motherf***ing power. So if you’ve ever been put down for being yourself, just remember you're powerful and unapologetic- these songs are for you." The EP includes her recent singles "Persuasive" (the version with her TDE labelmate SZA) and "Bitch I'm Nice" (but not "Crazy"), as well as "Swamp Bitches" (ft. Rico Nasty), "Bitches Be" (ft. Jst Ray), and "This Bitch Matters." Pulling largely from brash, in-your-face rap, with a little airy R&B in the mix too, she / her / black bitch serves as a short-but-sweet major label debut for one of the brightest new voices in rap music.

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The Last Artful, Dodgr

The Last Artful, Dodgr - Hits of Today
Interscope

LA artist The Last Artful, Dodgr has been everywhere lately, and even if you haven't heard their name, you've probably heard their music on songs by Anderson .Paak. Mark Ronson, Black Thought, or Blu & Exile, or maybe you heard her 2020 single "Hot" in Euphoria. Born Alana Chenevert (she/they), Dodgr is a rapper/singer who's been defying the lines of genre and gender for about a decade, and now she finally delivers her major label debut album, Hits of Today, following the 2013 mixtape 199Nvrlnd, a collaborative release with Neill Von Tally, a long string of singles, and those many aforementioned collaborations. "Hot" is on this album, along with a new remix of recent single "Cloverfield" (now with an added verse from New York rapper Young M.A), along with recent singles "IT," "Hullabaloo," and "Better Safe Than Social" and a dozen other new songs. Across these 17 tracks, she gives you everything she's been building towards: electronic art pop, punky new wave, subwoofer-shaking trap rap, acoustic balladry, ethereal R&B, nostalgia-inducing synth-funk, and plenty of stuff that doesn't fit neatly into any category. Dodgr's become more and more of a truly post-genre artist over the years, and this long-time-coming album solidifies it.

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Honorable Mentions
AKAI SOLO - Body Feeling
Jay Worthy & Harry Fraud - You Take the Credit, We'll Take the Check
Larry June - Spaceships on the Blade
Meyhem Lauren & Daringer - Black Vladimir
ShittyBoyz - Trifecta 2
Your Old Droog - Yodney Dangerfield
YUNGMORPHEUS and THERAVADA - Up Against The Wall; A Degree of Lunacy