Maze Overlay is on an absolute tear with releasing dope music. This time he gets a hold of a SadhuGold banger, and he does what he always does…stays in the pocket with that flow and drops a steady diet of gems. He really has a unique way of keeping his rhymes gritty yet elevated, if that makes sense. Can’t wait to hear what’s next.
Lists of this magnitude are tough to do and I take a great deal of pride in crafting. I think the first ten to fifteen are easy to distinguish and then after, I think the places can be somewhat become interchangeable. All great tracks, where the pecking order becomes less discernible. So many artists could have been included multiple times on this list, but then we lose depth. Artists like Mickey Diamond and Jay Royale could have had multiple entries. As it stands only one emcee, Ransom, got two tracks selected for this list.
In the end, this is a testament to the strength of hip hop in 2022. We can agree to disagree on many points but maybe you will find something dope you hadn’t heard or a new artist to support. This is my hope.
Thanks for your time and readership!
-Stef aka thathiphopguy
|#1 – Done||M-Dot & Apollo Brown||This is the track that sets the tone for the entire year and this is what M-Dot and Apollo Brown typify: Hard work and talent!|
|#2 – Unruly||Vandal & Nottz||A song that gets caught in the head and does not let go. It is a personal anthem.|
|#3 – Power Nap||Nicholas Craven & Boldy James||Boldy and Craven is a beautiful union and nobody makes me crave a little rest like this cut. Beautiful music.|
|#4 – A Most Dreadful Symphony||Ransom & V Don||This song’s whole vibe gives me chills.|
|#5 – Chain Gretzky||Mickey Diamond & Big Ghost||No song went harder than this in 2022.|
|#6 – War I Bring||Sherm LaRock & Midaz||No song went harder than this in 2022…except above|
|#7 – Area 57 (ft. Skyzoo)||J57||Dope rhymes. Fluid flows. A Change Up. Perfect.|
|#8 – Qtna||Defcee & Boathouse||From the best album of 2022, you would expect a Top 10 song.|
|#9 – Highly Favored (ft. Bub Styles & Mickey Diamond)||Ty Farris & Slim One||It’s raw hip hop with a fantastic producer and three consummate emcees.|
|#10 – Linchpins (ft. Prince Po)||Guilty Simpson||The strings are glorious and the rhymes abound.|
|#11 – Everywhere I Go (ft. Muja Messiah, Guilty Simpson, and Copywrite)||Dub Sonata||The connections and cohesion on this joint are unparalleled. So clever!|
|#12 – Paint Pictures (J.Rocc Remix)||XP The Marxman||Hip-Hop holds true to it’s purest form on this joint.|
|#13 – The Most Exalted||IAMGAWD||Pen game is strong with this one. Glorious.|
|#14 – 3x||Madhattan & NV||Pied Piper type smooth. Follow the flute and dope flow.|
|#15 – Sal’s Pizza||38 Spesh & Harry Fraud||Spesh and Fraud are an elite combination, and you can hear it here.|
|#16 – Why Bitch||Starvin B & DustyVibes||Starvin B is a regular on these lists and this year is no different.|
|#17 – No Time To Waste (ft. Jadakiss)||Apathy & Stu Bangas||If you love sick lyricism this is the joint for you.|
|#18 – Cancel Myself||Ren Thomas & Brutal Caesar||You make a mockery of hip hop so Thomas and Caesar make a mockery of you.|
|#19 – Immortals (ft. Casual)||Lunar Heights||Great track and the Casual cameo is spot on.|
|#20 – Keeper Of The Flame||Mooch & Oh Jay||Smooth track and crisp flow.|
|#21 – Gunsmithz (ft. Phat Kat, Asun Eastwood, Recognize Ali)||Ol’ Man 80zzz||Another track in 2022 that knocks harder than most.|
|#22 – Stuck In Our Ways (ft. Rigz, MAV, Mooch)||Real Bad Man||It’s Da Cloth!!! Flames!|
|#23 – Carlito & Kleinfeld||Jay Royale & Kool G Rap||It’s that certified street shit featuring a legend with one of today’s strongest.|
|#24 – Bone Tomahawk||Spit Gemz||This is an intro to Gemz project and packs a lot of heat in a minute’s time.|
|#25 – Fire Slingers (ft. Snak The Ripper)||N.B.S.||Yeah. This track stays true to the namesake. They are spitting flames on here.|
|#26 – Scud Missle||Planet Asia & Snowgoons||Legends unite to give you this heat rock. These guys are at the pinnacle of their craft.|
|#27 – Roar Of The Lions||El Gant||Another track that just “feels” like hip hop. It gets you hype to be a fan.|
|#28 – Slay||Johaz & Nottz||Nottz does it again this time taking you to church with Johaz.|
|#29 – Dis Could Be Bad||MAV||It could be bad, but MAV is oh so good.|
|#30 – Raekwon’s Table||Ullnevano & God Sense Beats||Not all are worthy to sit at Raekwon’s Table. But these artists show and prove.|
|#31 – Lo Pan||Teek Hall||Teek Hall is name you should know and when this song gets caught in your head, you’ll remember.|
|#32 – Hans Gruber (ft. Lil Fame)||Wais P & Pete Twist||Bruce Willis may not approve but the hip hop community agrees this is a banger.|
|#33 – Diamond Backs (ft. Daniel Son)||Maze Overlay||Northside and AZ link up over some Farma heat.|
|#34 – Compromised||Ransom||Ransom is too talented to not make this list twice.|
|#35 – Guerrero (ft. Westside Gunn)||Benny the Butcher||The power and talent of Griselda is undeniable. This joint feels like it was actually made in a lab.|
|#36 – Triple Threat (ft. RIM & Frankky Smaccz)||Eddie Kaine||Flamethrower bars over some production from the talented Hobgoblin.|
|#37 – Both Sides||The Tangiers||Every time this cut comes on, my head nods instantly. Drops heavy.|
|#38 – One Bridge (ft. Fashawn & K-Prez)||Snowgoons||The organ that drives this track is the perfect set up. And the emcees give such great energy!|
|#39 – Bars After Bars||Fatt Father & DJ Jewels Baby||The Wu-Tang flip is insane and the bars and flow speak for themselves.|
|#40 – Museum Piece (ft. Torae)||Napoleon Da Legend & Just Music Beats||This song has the necessary hype and talent equivalent to make the list. Lyricism for days.|
|#41 – Hamster Wheel||Locksmith||One of the most authentic artists in hip hop delivers a virtuoso performance.|
|#42 – Tyrant||Shabaam Sahdeeq & John Jigg$||Two of my favorites link up for some lyrical gold here.|
|#43 – Dudesovadere (ft. Dro Pesci)||Mic Handz||This project is full of bangers and needs to be heard. This is just one of those harbody tracks.|
|#44 – Too Convinced||Nelson Dialect & BigBob||This joint is just so melodic. It honestly should be higher on this list but what’s done is done. Incredible track.|
|#45 – Queens Gambit||Shaz Illyork & Buon Anni||So good to hear Illyork over these banging beats from Buon Anni.|
|#46 – Big Coffins (ft. Mickey Diamond and Pro Dillinger)||Snotty||It’s The Umbrella posse cut that bodies the competition.|
|#47 – Bill and Fame (ft. Tone Spliff)||The Bad Seed||A tribute of sorts to M.O.P. and no one is more set to do it properly than Seed!|
|#48 – Riot||Daniel Son x Futurewave x 36 Cypher||Yes. This joint could easily cause a riot. Everything is intense on this cut.|
|#49 – It’s Like That (ft. DJ Grazzhoppa)||Supreme Cerebral||Supreme Cerebral slays tracks and he takes this rock infused beat and wreaks havoc.|
|#50 – Gawds Wrath Massacre (ft. Don Streat x Rico Blox x J Fliz x Jae Hussle x Street Da Villain)||Slik Jack & Kng Bondalero)||I needed to set off the list with this ill posse cut because this beat by Bondalero is an anthem.|
There are many ways to go about crafting a list. I think some people go out of their way to create the most eclectic list of music that they honestly would never give replay value to. There are others who would make such a large list that it winds up showcasing the average with the great. And no list will do everyone justice and so this list was crafted with the ten albums I feel that demonstrated the best melding of talent comprised of ten songs or more in one platter. Did elite lyricsm live within an ill beat? Can you replay this album indiscriminately and still appreciate the value? THESE were my requirements. With that being said I had 400 albums to sift through for the year and this is the top 5% of that collection. So, without further ado.
#1 – The number one album of my musical journey this year is For All Debts Public And Private from the duo of Defcee and Boathouse. I can revisit this album time and time again and find something different to love all over again, while appreciating the familiar. The production from Boathouse strikes every chord imaginable creating a boom bap powerhouse. And Defcee…wow. There is such a cleverness with his rhyme schemes, and he delivers each bar with such and strength and commitment it just sticks to your ears. So many quotable lines on this project. The whole thing is a tireless listen. It never grows old. It is the “go to” project for 2022 and set for many listens to come.
#2 – If the list was bigger, you would see the names, Mickey Diamond and Big Ghost littered all over it with other amazing projects. As it stands, there is no joint that knocked harder in 2022 than Gucci Ghost. The skill level embodied in this release is insurmountable. Big Ghost makes this album slap in unheard of ways. He could literally define the term “banger” with this one. And I don’t think anyone brings as much confidence and persona to the mic right now more than Mickey Diamond. He has the natural gift and the ferocity to deliver that is unmatched in today’s music scene.
#3 – A late entry but clear contender, is Ransom and V Don’s project, Chaos Is My Ladder. This album is riveting in both its sonic instrumentation and its delivery of hard hitting and introspective lyricism. Ransom is hip hop’s philosopher’s stone. He drops more than just lyrics but thought-provoking moments bar by hard hitting bar. And he does so in keeping the moments gritty and not being over the top. He doesn’t fly over your head but keeps your finger pressed on the rewind button which is a true gift. This pairing is a true blessing for hip hop.
Most temporary homies will teach you permanent lessons
#4 – Lebron James loves it. Kevin Durant loves it. And we here at HipHopDependency love it as well! 38 Spesh has proved year after year just what a talented artist he is, either with the mic or behind the boards. And here we have him blessing the former over some premium production from none other than Harry Fraud. Beyond Belief is a showcase of distinction. These two artists have a sound that simply cannot be replicated. Spesh has that unique cadence, voice, and style that plays beautiful with Fraud’s haunting rock infused hip hop. There’s so much to love here and you can see it play to all audiences.
#5 – Surprise! I know you don’t know about this one but Fatt Father and DJ Jewels Baby cooked you up something special with Grindset Vol 2. Fatt Father has this way where his lines fly like darts and resonate with the listener. He combines topics of being a father, self-improvement, and also showing that he is not man to be trifled with. He can handle any topic and any beat, speaking of which DJ Jewels Baby brings a diversity of fire for our emcee to spit on. He’s got the whole repertoire on display here with hard hitting beats and impeccable sample usage. This project is extremely relatable touching on topics that we can all feel. Please don’t sleep on this joint.
#6 – Waterr and Vanderslice crafted a really great sound with their new album, Life Is More Than White Bricks. This project has so much soul entrusted to it. Vanderslice really brought plenty of depth to the music, using lots of different instrumentation and giving each song a ‘musical’ place in the album. There is such a melodic quality about this album that differentiates itself from other releases this year. And Waterr has always been impressive on the microphone. He has that sound that stands alone, and cuts through the music effortlessly, and allows his lyrics and message to be hear with clarity.
#7 – Casual and DEAD Perry are up next for this talented yet dark and twisted musical journey The Art Of Reanimation. Perry really just does a masterful job of bending sound giving each song a deep, rich, and yet dark tone. It’s boom bap with a shadowy twist and I absolutely love what he did sonically. And lyrically, Casual is razor sharp. His rhyme schemes and wordplay are not just as good as they were in 1992, but actually I think he’s better. And you can’t say that about so many. I think this album, released earlier this year, needs to get considerable credit for breaking quite a few molds.
#8 – There were quite a few dope producer albums that dropped in 2022 but I don’t think anyone served up a more delectable platter than Reckonize Real on his album Subterranean Obscura. There is such a great mix of sounds here that range from subdued and haunting to that boom bap slap. And you have a superb selection of emcees solicited for their rhyme skills. And each emcee and beat complement each other perfectly. Nothing sounds forced or out of place which I think is incredibly hard to do on a producer album, because out of sixteen tracks you would think something would be amiss. Not here. This is a complete release and a highlight of the year.
#9 – It’s the splendid union of soul with producer Nicholas Craven and emcee Boldy James. Both artists contributed alot of time and talent to 2022 but together they crafted the most soulful, yet slick album of the year with Fair Exchange No Robbery. Craven’s use of honing the perfect sample and creating a complete vibe in rhythm is on full display. This sound provides the perfect home for Boldy James, as his flow sounds completely at home over this production. His wordplay just cascading over this production with beautiful results. And that track, Power Nap, is simply one of my favorite tracks ever. Brilliant.
#10 – So when I think of who’s got next in hip hop, the first name that came to mind in 2022 was Maze Overlay. And when you hear his project, Aztecaz, produced by Farma you will understand why. Maze has some gritty lyricism and really great flow. Much like one of his guest spots on the album, Daniel Son, he always seems to be in the pocket. Perfect timing with a quick turn of phrase with at times an even melodic tone as he dips in and out of the chorus and into verses. And this is the best I have heard Farma in the last couple of years. These beats prove equally as gritty as the emcee and the perfect complement. He uses this somber guitar element a few times throughout the album that is really effective. Also, a perfect amount of dope guest spots to make this album the sure shot.
I first caught wind of the project when I head FARMABEATS was lacing the production. And not only did he lace it…it’s his best production to date in my mind. All of his projects are great quality but this is that premium special blend that you only break out once a decade. Vintage.
And Maze Overlay impresses thoroughly with his gritty, yet clever wordplay on top of those ominous beats. And in this case Death Valley is just the tip of the ice berg.