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Album Review

SOCC Writers’ Albums of 2022

It’s been a big year for new music. Check out what some of our DJs and writers here at the SOCC consider their favorite albums of 2022.

Sexy by Coco and Clair Clair

Although everyone I know would likely expect to see Crash by Charli XCX as my top album (and I don’t blame them!), I have not been able to get Sexy by Coco and Clair Clair out of my head since its release. This aptly titled album is full of witty disses, hedonism, and most importantly, fun, that makes the pop duo so special. The playful rejection of men and self-centered attitudes play a defining role in these tracks, like in “Bad Lil Vibe“: “I just wanna party baby, I don’t want a man. Don’t want you, want a couple more bands”. Much of this album offers remnants of nostalgia for previous internet eras; “Pop Star”, the closing track, could fit right in on the wall of a celebrity gossiper/sparkle addict’s MySpace page. With lyrics like, “Girl built like a vape pen and think that she compare”, need I say more? As pure confidence exudes from every second of the short half-hour runtime, the listener is reminded that, although this is Coco and Clair Clair’s world, they can be a part of it too. – Lillian Fuglsang

Ants From Up There by Black Country, New Road

Working your way through this album is utterly exhausting, but once you’re done the only thing you want to do is jump back in headfirst. The catharsis provided by stellar almost theatric instrumentals polished by months of performing and improvising these songs in front of crowds for months, and the hauntingly beautiful lyrics written by Isaac Woods littered with little gleaming metaphors that you won’t decipher until your fourth listen, is exhilarating. Those two sentences were a mouthful but I could talk my mouth off about this album any day of the week. While it is disappointing we may never see this band in this form again due to Isaac’s totally understandable absence (he often cried while performing this album), you can’t help but be excited for what’s to come after such a masterpiece. -Issa Nasatir

NO THANK YOU by Little Simz

NO THANK YOU is Little Simz’s timely followup to her monumental Sometimes I Might be Introvert album last year that won her multiple accolades, including a BRIT and a Mercury Prize. I couldn’t stop listening to her last album; it was on repeat wherever I went. Simz, whose given name is Simiatu Ajikawo, grew up in North London to Nigerian parents and has been developing her musical career for a little under a decade. NO THANK YOU promises consistency with her recently developed sound and feels like the mark of an artist detailing and shaping her craft. The inclusion of dramatic orchestral sounds between her flow creates an entirely original and emotional sound. This album deals with themes of racial inequality and Black power, as well as her own personal struggles as an artist. It entirely sucked me in, just like the last one did. Give it a listen and I promise you won’t regret it. -Sadie Fleig

Get On The Otherside by Bobby Oroza & Cold Diamond Mink

Bobby Oroza is a BRAZEN VOCAL GOD with an incredible voice. You can hear the heartbreak and the passion in this man’s timbre on all twelve songs. With the talented, soulful musical stylings of Cold Diamond Mink in the background, this album is sealed as my top album of 2022. -Robby Brooks

Ants From Up There by Black Country, New Road

BCNR’s Opus blends the passion of Bowie, the animal rawness of Conor Oberst, and the behemoth goals of Godspeed You! Black Emperor into an hour of emotional surrender. This monolith has amended itself into the music canon quicker than any record in memory. Repeating themes lodge themselves into your head just to tighten your pull into the album’s space. Agh I just feel like I’ve listened to a band sacrifice themselves to a higher power in order to create something more powerful than the Elephant’s Foot. – Jack Madison

American Heartbreak by Zach Bryan

I know country might not fall to the top of many people’s list, but on the pure fun scale, this album topped my year without any question. This album completely changed my perception of country music- that is showing it is incredibly listenable, and was a perfect summer album. Although it’s a little long of a project, coming in at a whopping 34 songs, most of them are deeply replayable. It’s just easy, fun, and exciting; perfect for summer car rides, backpacking, and really anything in the warm weather. It’s my favorite album of the year for the memories its accompanied, and how it does a great job moving far, far away from hyper-commercialized trucks and republicans mainstream country. I’d recommend a listen. -Theo Tannahill

Time Skiffs by Animal Collective

As a longtime Animal Collective fan, I was so excited to hear some of their initial songs from this album on the radio at the beginning of 2022, with hits such as “Prester John” and “Strung with Everything” that were palatable enough for the avg. indie listener but still had traces of their signature experimental sound. The organic instrumentals throughout are reminiscent of a favorite AnCo album Sung Tongs, but offered even more meaning behind their songs thanks to Josh Dibb’s thoughtful lyrics. Not going to lie, I was not liking the trajectory of their discography before this album… BUT I know Time Skiffs is going to be a classic that I will keep coming back to. Favorite song: “Royal and Desire” -Emily Faulks

Florist by Florist

Florist opens up with June 9th Nightmare that is an eerie ambient tune that sounds like spiderwebs and creaking doors, yet you feel cradled by its cyclical nature. The two duets feel as if a waltzing battle is spiraling in and out your ears. The album pans out in a very beautiful way, much like how a flower blooms. Florist was made on the porch of a rented house in the Hudson Valley where the band focused on collaborative creation nestled into their daily routine and outdoor endeavors. The retreat into nature and intuitive processes make up the album’s dominance of raw elements. Ambient music outnumbers those with lyrics which requires the listener to be patient and invites them to move into a space of retreat, much like the creation of the album. The dominance of ambient sound forces a personal interactive experience that feels like flower petals reaching out like dangling intrusive arms rearranging your brain chemistry. The short abstract wording and ambience allows you to connect with it in just the way you want it to; if you allow it to be, it provides reflection of self. Though the album is about loss, homecoming, grief, and healing, Florist has mastered the art of saying a lot without saying anything at all which forces individualized interpretation. Just when you think the album picks up, it shoots you back down with beautifully nurtured hums, chirps, wind, fingerpicking and crickets. It plays with your mind and places you into pockets of your brain you have never visited before. Florist is an experience. It is spiritual, free, intuitive and alluring. Favorite songs: Spring in Hours and Red Bird Pt. 2 (Morning) -Marina Malin

Reset by Panda Bear and Sonic Boom

As members of Animal Collective and Spacemen 3, respectively, Panda Bear and Sonic Boom’s first album as co-songwriters was a big splash in psychedelia. But the album doesn’t call attention to itself as such: the yipping and screaming of AnCo’s early albums and the drones of Spacemen 3 are relinquished for easygoing melodies and arrangements. But as pleasant as is the spiraling music and its sampled foundations of 50s-60s hits, the lyrics detail a frustration that would be fit for sonic frenzy if its source wasn’t in the stillness of indefinite languishing. Reset is hopeful and bright with its darkness in plain sight. Released in August, I listened to it as this school year approached and found an album suited for beginnings and for staying in place—an encouragement to grow and a comfort in stagnation. -Tate Gibbons

Super Champon by Otoboke Beaver

Super Champon is the band’s third album since forming in 2009, in Kyoto. Its rhythmic and fast, and super exciting they are preserving the same feeling as the 2019 release Itekoma Hits. The album comes in at 20 minutes of super punchy and girly sound. PARDON? is my favorite track. – Isabella Garcia

Dissolution Wave by Cloakroom

It really comes down to the guitar tone. This album rolls through expansive distorted sounds built on simple song structure. It’s slow, heavy, and intentional, more shoegaze than metal. Many songs feel like a guitar-centered symphony, others are more pared down, fringing on indie, but overall the record swims between genres and tempos in an exploration of sound and texture. -Asa Gartrell

Ants From Up There by Black Country, New Road

The dissonant cacophony of sounds that introduces Black Country New Roads’ debut album, Ants From Up There, rightly sets the tone for the next jam-packed 58 minutes. This album, like nothing before and never will be again, brings together the unusually melancholy sounds of the 7 young British band members. The band’s first and last album together brings you on a pilgrimage to a not-so-classic breakup album. It is the breathless emotion throughout each and every one of the unparalleled tracks that made this album stand out as the best album of 2022 for me. -Meleah Silverstein

Bin Reaper 3: Old Testament by Babytron

Bin Reaper 3: Old Testament is Babytron at his best. It’s the third album in Babytron’s Bin Reaper series, but this album shows him in a whole new light. Songs like Silly Me, Wake Tf Up, and Airtron are reminiscent of the sample-heavy beats that gave Babytron his initial claim to fame. Tron doesn’t stay beholden to this style though, as songs like Drake & Josh and 8th Wonder of the World sound unlike anything he’s put out previously. Whatever the beat’s style is and whoever is producing it, his rapping is always fast-paced and entertaining to listen to. -Peter Gottsegen

Categories
Artist Spotlight General Reviews

The Best Verses of 2022

2022 has seen some incredible verses, both guest features and artist’s verses that stood out on their own song. I’ve compiled a list of 10 verses (and a few honorable mentions) that, in my opinion, were the best of the year. This could include lyrics, flow, effectiveness, and whether the verse makes you rewind it to listen to it again.

(I’ve included time stamps for each verse, but I recommend listening to each song as a whole to fully experience the verses).

Honorable Mentions

“Freestyle 3” – Ken Carson

Ken can’t miss with his freestyle series.

“Almighty Gnar” – Lil Gnar

Lil Gnar one-ups Chief Keef on a song that’s named after one of Sosa’s legendary mixtapes.

“Big 3” – Babytron

“Wockiana turned my cream soda into Hennessy

Pull up from wherever, I got demigod tendencies

Unky fucking up the rope from West V to Tennessee

Hunnid dollar eighthy, heard you smoking shit that’s ten a G”

Bars.

“Intro” – Dbt Tha General/Seiji Oda

The verse is originally from 2007, but Seiji remixed it using City Pop-inspired production to do this Dbt’s verse justice.

“XXL Freshman Cypher” – Kentheman 

A stand-out verse on a male-dominated cypher.

“MDMA” – Destroy Lonely

Image courtesy of DLonelyArchive

2022 has been a monumental year for Destroy Lonely, Ken Carson, and the rest of Playboi Carti’s Opium label as all of the members (except for Carti) have dropped their own studio albums. Although this verse isn’t from Lonely’s solo album, it makes you question whether this song should’ve been on it. Ken Carson delivers a decent verse but keeps the same flow throughout most of it. Lonely doesn’t do anything new in this verse, but his calm yet enthusiastic delivery matches the production of this song. When Lonely punches in, he builds upon Ken’s flow, but then switches it up in a satisfying way by rapping:

“Big bro still serving rocks, yeah, but please keep that on the low

Yeah, shawty, I’m a rockstar, my guitar got a scope

I’m rockin’ all black and my cross upside down, I’m not the Pope”

This song is one of the best off of X, and it’s made even better with Lonely’s flow switch and passive delivery. This song is a definitive introduction to the Opium-style that has been taking Hip-Hop by storm, and Lonely’s verse solidifies it.

Destroy Lonely’s verse starts at 2:07

“The Kingdom” – Thaiboy Digital

Image courtesy of The Fader

This year we’ve seen multiple projects from the Swedish collective, Drain Gang, and Thaiboy Digital third solo project Back 2 Life is a part of this. While this project is nothing new for Thaiboy, it’s a welcome addition to his catalog. Thaiboy has generally remained the most consistent of the group, with the other members’ music sounding wildly different with each of their projects. “The Kingdom” opens with a solid verse from Bladee, but Thaiboy’s verse does this video game-like beat justice. If you’re looking for insane wordplay, bars, or storytelling, this verse might disappoint you. But if you know about Thaiboy’s struggles with drugs and the Swedish government deporting him and his family, the opening lines to this verse hit harder:

“Feeling resurrected, man, I can’t go back to hell

I was fucking up the balance, so the darkness tipped the scale

Now I’m going so damn hard, I’m making sure they’re living well

My life is a movie, tell my daughter fairytales”

Thaiboy and the other DG members’ lyrics and production have reflected more positivity, especially when compared to their early work. This verse follows this trend. This verse expresses a level of emotional growth and despite the darkness “tipping the scale”, Thaiboy’s able to overcome it and grow from it.

Thaiboy Digital’s verse starts at 0:55

“aero3” – Seiji Oda

Image courtesy of The Martorialist

Seiji Oda’s album lofi//HYPHY was an exploration of genre-bending music. This album mixed the well-known Lofi genre, popularized by that one YouTube live stream that had that looping video of the anime girl chilling with the cat, and Hyphy, a genre native to the Bay area, which is characterized by its danceability. Aero3 is more of a Lofi cut off the album, however, the drum patterns and dance track sound effects sprinkled throughout the song add elements of Hyphy to the mix. This song is personal, with Seiji going into detail about his family, friends, and past relations,

“Can’t say her name, but we ain’t talk in a minute

Some people, you gotta love from a distance

You made your choice, I made mine, what’s the difference?

I still hope that you find what you’re missin'”

The production in this section is all over the place, in the best way possible. Seiji’s ability to keep up with the constantly changing beat and switch his flows accordingly makes for a great listen. His vocals stay relatively calm throughout the verse, but he’s able to explore different vocal ranges within his calm delivery if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, just listen to the song, if it does, you should still listen to it. To make things even better, there’s a Hyperpop version of this song, which I talk about in my interview with Seiji (check it out).

Seiji Oda’s second verse starts at 1:27

“Murdaman! (Remix)” – Chief Keef

Image courtesy of Hip Hop DX

2022 was a relatively quiet year for Chief Keef, mostly doing features and focusing on his clothing brand and label, 43B, which saw him signing Lil Gnar. He’s hopped on a few features and delivered every time. This feature is no exception. “Murdaman!” by YungManny originally blew up on TikTok (yeah I know, just bear with me). He then asked fans on the app who he should get as a feature on the remix, Lil Uzi Vert or Chief Keef, and an overwhelming amount said Sosa. Great decision. The Chicago rapper’s bold delivery, flow, and lyrics perfectly fit this chaotic and aggressive beat. Sosa spits:

“Murder man, you ain’t never seen no murder man

If Chief So’ was still up on this block he’d probably serve a fan

*****s always got they damn hand out, that shit don’t hurt your hand?

And I swear to God that God the only ***** I’m worshippin'”

And he keeps going. In this verse, Sosa feels like an unstoppable force, and the beat is an immovable object. His vocal inflections perfectly match the blaring horns and his grizzly delivery forces the listener to be totally immersed in this bloodthirsty verse, both lyrically and sonically.

Chief Keef’s verse starts at 1:44

“Flawlëss” – Lil Uzi Vert

Image courtesy of Consequence

At the beginning of this year, Yeat and Lil Uzi Vert posed for a couple of photos for Yeat’s Instagram, and he shared a snippet of their first song together “Big tonka”. In February, Yeat dropped a solid 12-song project Lyfë, which included Uzi on the opening track, “Flawlëss”. This song is a triumphant opening track, and Uzi helps secure it. Uzi’s energy and cadence is infectious, especially with the animated opening line to this verse:

“Flawless, flawless, flawless, yeah

Buffy the Vampire Slayer with these Cartiers”

This line will send chills down your spine, trust me, just listen to the song. Uzi utilizes the heavy autotune on his voice to the fullest, working around the usually awkward autotune pitch changes whenever he decides to go baritone or falsetto, or whatever. This verse is exciting and energizing, made for Yeat’s mosh pits, despite how cringy his fans make them.

Lil Uzi Vert’s verse starts at 1:14

“Type Shit” – Babytron

Image courtesy of BabytronSB

2022 was definitely Babytron’s year, with the release of Megatron and Bin Reaper 3, Tron always leaves the fans satisfied but also wanting more. “Type Shit” is a two-part song, with the first part being slower than the second part. The theme throughout the entire song is the word “type shit”. If you don’t know what that means, just look it up on Urban Dictionary. The second part is where the Detroit rapper shines, with absurd bars about selling codeine to basketball superstar Giannis Antetukumpo and more:

“You internet thugging, I ain’t finna type shit, bro

Adonis, we’ll pull up with that baby Drac’

Charged up off a yerky, bet not try shit, bro

In Milwaukee charging Giannis for a pint of Quagy, ayy”

This isn’t the end of the hilarious and well-crafted bars that Babytron delivers in this song. He also raps about flying to Europe with an “enhanced fake ID” (whatever that means) and ends the verse claiming that he freestyled the entire thing:

“Freestyle type shit, no, I ain’t write shit”

It’s impressive how Tron’s able to use the phrase “type shit” in creative and innovative ways throughout the verse. This is a great song to introduce any new Babytron listener to his style, and it definitely won’t disappoint long-time fans.

Babytron’s second verse starts at 1:14

“Tomorrow 2 (Remix)” – Cardi B

Image courtesy of Dazed

Although Cardi B is known for her pop/rap hits and being a brand ambassador for pretty much every major designer, most recently Balenciaga, “Tomorrow 2” shows her skill as an MC, with raw, unapologetic bars that seem to flow naturally. I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts and criticisms of Cardi B, but this verse proved to me that when she wants to, she can rap. GloRilla and Cardi B have become an unstoppable duo on social media, and Cardi compliments GloRilla’s deep voice and aggressive flow on this song with lyrics like:

“Ridin’ with my twin and ‘nem, and we all look good as fuck

She say she my opp but I don’t know her, had to look her up

I know that I’m rich, but I can’t help it, bitch, I’m hood as fuck

I’ve been on these bitches neck so long, sometimes my foot get stuck”

Cardi’s energetic, assertive voice and flow, which adds a lot to the already aggressive lyrics, make this song an instant classic. This one verse will have you rewinding the song multiple times, it’s that good. With 2022 being a great year for female rap, this song is sure to cement its place as not just one of the best female rap songs of 2022, but one of the best rap songs of 2022.

Cardi B’s verse starts at 1:53

“Dark Hearted” – Freddie Gibbs

Image courtesy of NPR

Freddie Gibbs’ album $oul $old $eperately was a victory lap for the rapper after countless personal and legal issues with his label, and Freddie’s as confident and consistent as ever on this project. “Dark Hearted” is a song about betrayal, perhaps the way the executive who signed him to RCA betrayed him, or maybe something more personal. In this song, he reflects on how most of his life, he had to depend on a life of crime to sustain himself and his family. Because of this, he’s constantly paranoid about being betrayed by the people he trusts and loves. While both verses are similar, it’s impressive how he’s able to reutilize lyrics and rhyme schemes from the first verse in his second verse.

In the first verse raps:

Dirty .30 in my hand

DEA and detectives, they got me cuffed on that ambulance

*****, ain’t no solvin’ no murders, welcome to Murderland

Send a hit and scratch off a hit, bitch, I’m the murder man

Pray the Lord put his hands on me

And I know I took a risk with this shit when I put my hands on it

All my enemies watchin’, they plot and plan on me

They gon’ end up one of them dead homies

In the second verse, he raps:

Dirty .30 in my hands

Shoot him, if he ain’t DOA, we shoot up the ambulance

*****, ain’t no solvin’ no murders, welcome to Murderland

Bulletproof my shit, they might hit it, bitch, I’m the murder man

Dead ***** put his hands on me

I’ma pop another bottle and pour one out for your dead homie

Swear my friends turnin’ fed on me

Man, these pussy *****s might take the stand on me

Violent, unapologetic, and dark (hence the name of the song), Freddie leaves little to the listener’s imagination, or does he? Is this a retelling of his life in Gary, Indiana? Or is this a metaphor for the label executives blackballing and betraying him? The reutilization of the first verse in the second verse is impressive, and maybe it was done as a way to drive the message of this song home.

Freddie Gibbs’ second verse starts at 1:21

“XXL Freshman Cypher” – Big30

Image courtesy of Rap Radar

Big30 is one of the main rappers from the new generation of Memphis rap to break through to the mainstream. As an affiliate of the recently incarcerated Pooh Shiesty, and coming off the death of Memphis legend Young Dolph, it’s up to him and the other young Memphis MCs to carry on their city’s legacy of Hip-Hop. Big30 had his moment in the spotlight in the 2022 XXL Freshman Cypher where he was joined by Nardo Wick, BigScarr (another Memphis rapper), and KenTheMan. Big30 punches in right after Nardo Wick’s verse, which, while enjoyable, is monotone and emotionless, a style Nardo has embraced. Big30’s energetic, southern drawl counters Nardo’s sonic numbness and emphasizes the lyrics that reflect his life in Memphis, including,

“***** spin my block incorrect, then somebody gettin’ killed

My young ***** fifteen with four bodies, can’t even buy a fifth

He ain’t even old enough to vote, that lil’ boy bangin’ Crip”

As dark as these lyrics are, it reflects the conditions of many young men living in impoverished communities in America, including the city Big30 is from. He’s able to let these lyrics sink in despite the speed and catchiness of this flow. This verse doesn’t contain insane wordplay, but 30’s able to utilize his heavy Memphis accent to rhyme “killed” and “fifth”, which I find extremely impressive, especially in a setting where most people freestyle their cyphers. In this one-take verse, 30 maintains a consistent flow with bars hitting left and right without missing a single word or going off beat. This is the best XXL cypher verse of the year, and one of the best verses of the year.

Big30’s verse starts at 1:25

“Father Time” – Kendrick Lamar

Image Courtesy of Complex

Kendrick. That’s it.

Alright, I’ll actually explain why this is the best verse of this year. Kendrick dropped one of the best albums of 2022 with Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. Among the many songs that stood out to me, this song, especially Kendrick’s second verse, is ingrained in my brain. This song breaks down the concept of masculinity, passed down from father to son, and how it’s reflected in modern culture, especially Hip-Hop. In this verse, like many other Kendrick songs, the lyrics and delivery are relatable, whether you’ve been affected by the topic or not. Kendrick dives into nearly every element of modern masculinity, so much so that I could write my senior thesis on this verse. Kendrick opens the verse with:

“I got daddy issues, that’s on me

Lookin’ for, “I love you”, rarely empathizin’ for my relief

A child that grew accustomed, jumping up when I scraped my knee

‘Cause if I cried about it, he’d surely tell me not to be weak

Daddy issues, hid my emotions, never expressed myself

Men should never show feelings, being sensitive never helped”

Despite being a fantastic lyricist, Kendrick doesn’t hide the message of these bars behind metaphors (which is also what makes this verse so special), so I won’t sit here and mansplain this. Kendrick continues:

“His momma died, I asked him why he goin’ back to work so soon?

His first reply was, “Son, that’s life, the bills got no silver spoon”

Daddy issues, fuck everybody, go get your money, son

Protect yourself, trust nobody, only your momma’n’em

This made relationships seem cloudy, never attached to none

So if you took some likings around me, I might reject the love”

This part needs a bit of analysis. Kendrick discusses the individualistic and stoic mindset that many young men are forced to develop. I could even argue that the line “His momma died, I asked him why he goin’ back to work so soon? His first reply was, ‘Son, that’s life, the bills got no silver spoon’” reflects the capitalist and stoic idea of masculinity, where men should ignore emotions and personal obstacles in the pursuit of their goal. While Kendrick delves into the habit of fathers molding their sons into the tough men they want them to be, he ponders the lack of a father figure in some men’s lives, and how it affects their perception of masculinity. Kendrick raps:

My *****s ain’t got no daddy, grow up overcompensatin’

Learn shit ’bout bein’ a man and disguise it as bein’ gangsta

He ends this verse with a stunning conclusion:

“And to my partners that figured it out without a father

I salute you, may your blessings be neutral to your toddlers

It’s crucial, they can’t stop us if we see the mistakes

‘Til then, let’s give the women a break, grown men with daddy issues”

In the final line of the verse, Kendrick critiques the history and future of male misogyny, whether external or internal. The reason I find this final line so important is that many rappers and rap music can display misogynistic tendencies both personally and in the music (not always, there are many exceptions). Hip-Hop is not the only genre where misogyny is present and obvious, unfortunately, most musical genres contain some level of sexism and misogyny (classical music is a prime example). Since Kendrick is a rapper, and one of the best, this verse could be viewed as not only a critique of misogyny in rap music but an analysis of it, where Kendrick tries to explain and identify its roots.

Kendrick starts this verse by angrily delivering and shouting his lyrics. As the verse progresses, we see him mellow out, coming to terms with his internalized masculinity and understanding why it’s made him act in certain ways. This makes this verse feel extremely personal not just to Kendrick, or men, but to everyone, including women who usually experience the effects of toxic masculinity (“Til then, let’s give the women a break”).

Everything about this verse could be analyzed in greater detail, but I’ll let you do that for yourself, and I have a bunch of reading to do for class.

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