Forget the Grammys. Here are The Black & White’s best albums of 2022.


Vassili Prokopenko

While 2022 wasn’t perfect, as no year can be, it marked an important transition to a post-pandemic society.

By Jacob Cowan

Coming off of the fever dream that was 2020 and 2021, we were all cautiously optimistic, hoping 2022 would be a year of healing, and perhaps even a mark return to an inkling of normalcy. While 2022 wasn’t perfect, as no year can be, it marked an important transition to a post-pandemic society. Sports thrived, films inched a bit closer to pre-pandemic box office standards, and naturally, music soared: Taylor Swift broke new records, Kendrick Lamar released his latest album and Beyoncé made her long-awaited return to music.

Here are The Black and White’s best records that carried listeners through 2022.

8. “Heroes and Villains” – Metro Boomin

Following up on his 2018 hit, “NOT ALL HEROES WEAR CAPES,” producer Metro Boomin returns to the limelight with this instant trap classic. The album includes collaborations with Future, the Weeknd, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, John Legend, Young Thug and even Morgan Freeman, marking a nostalgic, yet fresh addition to the trap genre. Unfortunately, “Heroes and Villains” lacks the lyrical creativity and innovation that would make it a true top album of the year. Still, with unbelievable production quality and some of the strongest, most creative transitions between tracks of the entire year, the album is a no-skip listen.

7. “Midnights” – Taylor Swift

While Midnights is one of Taylor Swift’s weaker projects, the sound is still exciting. Her lyrics never disappoint, and though I’m not a huge fan, credit is due for the numerous records she shattered. The project is undoubtedly a bit linear, and it certainly lacks the energy of “1989” or the nostalgia of “Red,” but it’s still a fun, introspective listen. Between fantastic lyrics, Taylor Swift’s unique voice and unheard of sheer commercial success, it’s hard not to include “Midnights” on this list.

6. “Cheat Codes” – Danger Mouse and Black Thought

One of the shorter entries on the list, “Cheat Codes” is a fantastic sub-40 minute listen. Featuring MF DOOM, Raekwon, A$AP Rocky and more, this rap album is both nostalgic and innovative, melding modern artists with old-school beats. The album, though not the best of the year, is deserving of a spot on the list, especially because rapper Black Thought and producer Danger Mouse are both consistently underrated.

5. “Renaissance” – Beyoncé

Does anyone need an explanation as to why Beyonce makes our list? The new dance sound, the powerful messaging, the fun transitions and the intoxicating energy all stand on their own. Few words are necessary to rationalize Renaissance’s spot on this list.

4. “Dawn FM” – The Weeknd

Following his 2020 hit “After Hours,” The Weeknd needed to expand on his newly established retro sound. As somewhat of a concept album, “Dawn FM” feels like a direct sequel to “After Hours,” though a little less mainstream and slightly less enchanting. While it may not be quite as alluring as “After Hours”, “Dawn FM” is still a fantastic listen with quality production, meaningful lyrics and incredible vocal performances.

3. “SOS” – SZA

SZA’s long-anticipated return to music was a bit abrupt, coming nearly six years since her last album “CTRL.” The new album seemed to appear out of thin air, but by no means does that diminish the beauty of the record. Arguably my personal favorite album on this list, SOS lacks many collaborations with other artists but compensates by demonstrating SZA’s breathtaking voice. With the interesting juxtaposition of self-love and self-destructive messages, the album simultaneously feels inviting and isolating. The R&B record is a phenomenal follow-up to her previous album and solidifies her as an R&B giant.

2. “The Forever Story” – JID

Rapper JID’s newest album is his best to date, marking an incredible leap in his artistry through versatility in his messaging, varied production and distinct voice. While a rap album, “The Forever Story”, pleasantly surprises listeners with JID’s singing, which is arguably the highlight of the record. The switch-ups from his quick, sliding style of rapping to the smooth, choir-like choruses are intoxicating, and weave in between the versatile beats and beautiful lyricism; the record is bound to achieve that elusive “classic” status.

1. “Mr. Morale and The Big Steppers” – Kendrick Lamar

The expectations for Kendrick Lamar’s fifth album were impossibly high but “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers” delivered — in an entirely unexpected way. MMTBS is unlike anything Kendrick Lamar has released before because this album listens more like a musical than an album. Kendrick, as usual, provides listeners with powerful, thought-provoking lyrics as he dives into numerous topics, including the horrors of fame, wealth, toxic masculinity, homophobia and grief. While MMTBS is certainly different from his more mainstream works on “Damn.” or his jazzier, conceptual works on “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Kendrick Lamar still delivers an entirely fresh, replayable album that will stand the test of time.