2. Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? - McKinley Dixon
Another underrated hip-hop project that deserves its flowers from the first half of 2023 is the sophomore studio album from east-coast rapper and songwriter McKinley Dixon, titled Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!?. The 27-year-old Maryland native Dixon hasn't missed with his first two full-length albums that he's released in the last few years.
Dixon broke onto the scene as a standout in the jazz rap and abstract hip-hop subgenres with his debut full-length album For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her, which he dropped in May 2021.
Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? builds on many a lot of the emotions and conscious topics along with the beautiful instrumentals heard on Dixon's debut album in 2021. But the tracklist and themes on Dixon's latest project are even more concise while he shows even more versatility in his delivery and beat selection.
There are layered elements of southern hip-hop, old-school east-coast hip hop, modern jazz rap, and trap, among many other subgenres throughout music, that are infused into the production, vocal delivery, and sampling on this record.
At a duration just shy of 29 minutes, though, this is a shortened listening experience where Dixon gives you a broad range of emotions and lyrical themes to dive into.
Popular YouTube music reviewer Anthony Fantano scored Dixon's sophomore full-length album among his best projects of 2023 so far, giving it a nine out of 10.
While Fantano's reviews aren't for everyone, he did sum up this project well by saying that Dixon delivers a "beautiful and thoughtful album in a small package" with Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!?.