5 best hip-hop albums of 2023 so far

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3. Maps - Billy Woods & Kenny Segal

Fans of underground and experimental hip-hop must listen to the second collaborative project between legendary east-coast underground rapper Billy Woods and veteran east-coast producer Kenny Segal. Woods and Segal dropped Maps this spring, receiving praise from underground fans and critics alike.

Rate Your Music users rated Maps as the second-best album of the first half of 2023 (through June 23, 2023). Hip Hop DX also tabbed Maps as one of the best hip-hop albums of the first half of the year (between Jan. 1-June 1, 2023).

What makes this project from Woods unique is the intricate lyricism and delivery from Woods combined with a diverse beat selection and some deep samples from Segal. Woods explores how his life has changed in the last few years since the COVID-19 pandemic while reflecting on how rap fans have shifted their tastes throughout the early 2020s. Woods even mentions Playboi Carti fans during a festival set at one point in the track "FaceTime", which features Samuel T. Herring.

"It's a party outside, some half, some overdressed
They was goin' off during Playboi Carti set
Now they in the halls, partyin'
Checkin' they phones, bass shake the walls
I'm smokin' alone in a cardigan"

Billy Woods on "FaceTime"

Maps will easily go down as one of the must-listen albums of 2023 in underground and experimental hip hop. Woods has become an underground rap icon at this point, with Maps joining a discography that includes other experimental hip-hop staples such as 2022's Aethiopes and his 2012 breakout album History Will Absolve Me.