The year 2022 will go down as one of the most eventful years for music in recent memory, and hip hop continued to move closer to the top of the music hierarchy. Rap legends like Kendrick Lamar and Pusha T released albums, while rising stars like JID and Vince Staples dropped breakout albums of their own. The amount of hip hop music that was put out during 2022 made the final months of the year feel like a blur, and some may have overlooked two of 2022’s best albums that dropped in December.
“HEROES & VILLAINS”- Metro Boomin
“HEROES & VILLAINS” was easily the best produced album of the year, and the vocals from Metro’s closest friends in the rap industry were an added bonus. Travis Scott was his vintage self on tracks like “Niagara Falls” and “Lock On Me,” and Don Toliver’s euphoric voice on “Too Many Nights” and “Around Me” made those songs two of the project’s best.
It would be easy to focus only on the performances of some of music’s top artists on Metro’s album, but ultimately the St. Louis producer deserves the most praise. Each one of Metro’s beats worked off the previous one, but he managed to carefully craft them in a way that made each one unique. The Morgan Freeman interludes and a sample from the movie “Homelander” are additions to the project that set it apart from the other albums we received earlier in the year.
This isn’t just any ordinary trap album, but rather a story told through complicated beats and samples. Metro’s battle between being a hero or villain are introduced promptly in the intro song, and the preceding tracks dive deeper into Metro’s fight. He spent nearly two years perfecting this album, and it’s safe to say that it was worth the wait.
Just a week after the release of Metro’s album, SZA dropped her long awaited album, “SOS.” The well known R&B singer, who typically only collabs with fellow R&B singers or rappers, broadened her horizons on “SOS” to prove she isn’t going to be held prisoner to just one genre of music. Music critics are quick to use the argument that a singer’s music all sounds the same, or they don’t have the ability to switch up their flow. The variety of songs on “SOS” will forever remove SZA from that debate as fans were exposed to trademark R&B songs, a few tracks with rappers, a rock song and an indie song with folk singer Phoebe Bridgers.
The album shared similarities to SZA’s ultra popular 2017 album “Ctrl,” while also straying from what SZA fans have grown to love the singer for. She ditched her comfort zone and executed the multitude of styles to near perfection. It’s an intricately made album that explores the struggle SZA has run into concerning her love life. She describes wanting to kill her ex on one song, while later on singing that she avoids hitting snooze on her alarm so she doesn’t lose time with the person she loves. The heart wrenching and reflective “Special” towards the middle of the album pays tribute to “Normal Girl” on “Ctrl,” and shows how, five years later, SZA still struggles with the pressures of being a female in not just the music industry, but society in general.
It’s remarkable listening to SZA’s soft side come out in songs like “Special,” considering she has the ability to be as outspoken as she is on “Smoking on my Ex Pack” where she channels her best impression of R&B legend Lauryn Hill. The multifaceted “SOS” was one of the best albums of 2022, and set the tone for R&B heading into 2023. SZA showed off her range of vocals, and her ability to sing in any style imaginable. She breezed through her indie and rock songs; maybe we’ll see her head down south and throw in a country song in her next project to become the one of the most versatile artists in music.
Written By: Nick Hancock