Rap seems to move more quickly than virtually any other style of popular music; blink and you'll miss a whole slew of promising new artists. We listen to as much as we can, and we're always coming across new favorites, so we decided to put together a list of 12 newer rappers that really made their mark this year that we think any rap fan should be listening to. The definition of "newer" is always debatable, and some of these artists were more established prior to 2022 than others, but all of them really seem to have hit their stride this year, and we hope and expect that 2023 will be an even bigger year for everyone on this list. The list ranges from more traditional '90s/early 2000s style stuff to drill, trap, rage, Jersey club, bounce, art-rap, and more, and the rappers featured here are from all over the country: East, West, North, South, and in between. There are so many different types of exciting things happening within rap right now, and we aimed to highlight as much as we could.
12 is a very small number and if your new favorite rapper isn't on this list, it's possible we haven't heard them yet. So leave your faves in the comments and read on for our list, in alphabetical order...
Traces of Jersey club can be heard on the new Drake album and other A-list rap albums this year, but as for people actually in the trenches of that world, perhaps no one's made a bigger impact these past few months than rapper Bandmanrill and his frequent producer Mcvertt. Their work together is a thrilling take on the style, which pulls from both dance music and hip hop to create frenetic and assertive production, often featuring familiar-but-dancified samples. Bandmanrill's 2021 single "I Am Newark," sampling Frankie Valli's "Beggin" and highlighting Rill's gritty flow, solidified him as one to watch, and since then he has broken out from the NJ underground. His hard-hitting vocal style and recent collaborations with Sha Ek have situated him comfortably in the NY drill scene as well, and his great new album Club Godfather bridges the gap between both worlds. He explores even more sonic stylings with softer single "PIANO" featuring a smooth chorus by Lay Bankz and autobiographical lyrics from Bandmanrill. His ongoing experimentation with local sounds and collaborations with rising peers continues to shape him into a world-class rapper. [A.G.]