Diamonds in the Rough (Of the Music Industry)

Five hip-hop albums you may have missed


Jackson Crocker, Staff Writer

The new year is off to a raging start with Covid on the rise, and at this point I think that everyone needs an escape. News sites and publications everywhere are filled with lists of the top albums of 2022. These lists are a great place to start. However, I have found myself returning to some albums I had all but forgotten about. Whether it was an album lost to time, an experimental album that’s hard to approach, or maybe just an album that got swallowed up amongst a sea of other exciting releases, here are some lesser-known collections that deserve a listen as we race into 2022.


5: “Alfredo” by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist.

I know I said that this list would comprise lesser known albums, and I also know that this album is very well known. But I can’t help myself, this album is sublime. The alchemist lays the groundwork with a slew of chill almost lo-fi beats—many featuring prominent bass lines. And Freddie Gibbs stands proudly on this solid foundation, laying down calm, plodding, relentless rhymes. The themes of frustration and police brutality shine brightly through Gibbs’ buttery smooth flow. This expressive, chill album is a great way to start the year, and even if you’ve already listened to it once, listen to it again, you won’t regret it.


4: “We’ve got it from here…thank you 4 you service” by A Tribe Called Quest.

In 2021 I made an attempt to broaden my musical horizons. The band I immediately turned to was A Tribe Called Quest, and of course when I gave them the chance they didn’t disappoint. Their jazz-rap style and their sharp political commentary is always a treat. When I finally worked my way through their discography to the album “We’ve got it from here… thank you 4 your service” I must admit I expected a cash grab. It’s rare to see an influential band get back together and pump out a banger, and all too often fans are left dissatisfied and wanting more. That is not the case for this album. Smooth instrumentals, good rhymes, and intriguing political commentary makes this album a must listen to for fans and non fans alike.


3: “Vaudeville Villain” by Vicktor Vaughn (MF DOOM)

Vaudeville Villain, released under one of rapper MF DOOM’s aliases Viktor Vaughn, is one of his most energized, borderline angry albums. Coming in right around “Born like this” one of DOOM’s other less appreciated albums. The best way to describe the tone of this album is angst. Full of dark themes and lyrics. All of these extra flavors are not usually seen on MF DOOM releases and also don’t come at the expense of his notorious mind boggling rhyme schemes or groovy sample heavy beats. This album  puts on full display the DOOM’s ability to weave interesting comic-like stories into his tracks. A necessary listen for anyone who enjoys DOOM’s stream of thought, smooth rap style.


2: “Things Fall Apart” by The Roots

Things Fall Apart is an old album. But outside of a few tracks the album rarely shows it’s age. This LP is chalk full of modern instrumentals and bars. One listen will have you coming back again and again. Black Thoughts’ intricate rhyme schemes and clever wordplay make songs infinitely intriguing; and the themes of hip hop as art still ring true today, if a little less controversial than at the time of the album’s release. There are samples galore and interesting beats throughout, and mixed with an aggressive style, the album is nearly impossible to stop listening to.


1: “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” by Injury Reserve

This album is an experience. The vocals are present but not the main focus, instead complimenting the angry radio static atmosphere of the songs. The tracks are crowded with noise, it sounds almost as if the listener is stuck in a car during a sandstorm. The album came after the loss of one of the group’s members, Stepa J. Groggs. It feels as though the group channeled all of their anguish, sadness, and gratitude into this whirlwind of an album. “As By The Time I Get To Phoenix” comes to a close with notes of clarity and blue sky vibes, the group’s emotional goodbye to Groggs will leave you more than satisfied.