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- Billy Woods on "FaceTime"
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"
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.