Our Year in Review series continues, looking back on the best music 2022 had to offer.
As is custom with this time of year, we count down some of our favorite songs we heard in 2022 — from global stars to underground artists with a passion for the beautiful game. This is the Urban Pitch soundtrack from what was a pretty solid year in music.
Freddie Gibbs – “Blackest in the Room”
Freddie Gibbs has already proven that teaming up with Alchemist is a winning formula. And although his last album $oul $old $eparately isn’t exclusively with the producer like 2020’s Grammy-nominated Alfredo was, Al did bless Freddie with the best track on the album.
The beat switch on this song could wake me out of a coma. The bass coming in is audio cocaine. It’s one of those moments where on first listen you aren’t sure what is going on. I nearly had to pull my car over to process it. It’s mind-blowingly good, but what else could we expect from Al and Freddie?
Cousin Feo – “Monaco Money”
A project 10 years in the making, Cousin Feo dropped his long-awaited The Repertoire in September. The album strays away from his usual football-inspired bars, but the South Central MC proves he’s got more in his arsenal with tracks like “Monaco Money.”
Instead of the posh French Riviera locale the title suggests, Feo paints a gritty picture of stacking paper by any means “from LA to Shaolin” over a Keor Meteor beat. What more do you want?
Kap G, Feefa, and Chris O’Bannon – “Vamonos”
We’ve been rocking with our guy Feefa for quite some time now, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see him make our year end list. He teamed up with fellow LA native Chris O’Bannon and former XXL Freshman nominee Kap G for “Vamonos,” a vibey single that plays to all three artists’ strengths.
Feefa and Kap G bring the bilingual lyrics they’ve become known for, while O’Bannon’s smooth crooning adds a finishing touch to one of our favorite tracks of the year.
AmirSaysNothing – “D.M.M.” ft. Project Pat
Any time you can get a Project Pat feature, it’s a massive win, but the verse he spits on AmirSaysNothing’s “D.M.M.” has a separate meaning to it. On our podcast earlier this year, Amir described how he was able to get in touch with Project Pat via Instagram in 2016, and how his late best friend Darnell Marshall had put him onto Pat when the two were in high school. It was only right that Amir dedicated the song to his friend, with the title being his initials.
SZA – “Low”
Perhaps the most anticipated album of the year, SZA’s S.O.S. has nary a skip on it, but the best of the bunch is “Low.” Whether it’s her razor-sharp flow, Travis Scott ad-libs, or booming beat, “Low” has an instant replayability to it that makes it stand out from the rest of the stellar album.
Drake & 21 Savage – “Pussy & Millions” ft. Travis Scott
As much as it pains me to put a Drake song on this list, the man who calls himself Champagne Papi is inevitable. Her Loss, his collaborative album with 21 Savage, features some of the biggest names in music, including Travis Scott on “Pussy & Millions.”
It seems like every rapper has used a beat switch in at least one of their songs these days, but when executed like this, it would be wrong to call it cliche. Drake and 21 start things off over a laid-back groove, but upon the second chorus, they clear out for Travis, who comes out to menacing horns and trap drums that were seemingly written for his voice. You can easily picture this song being played live in concert, with Travis walking out from backstage as the horns hit, as a cloud of smoke dramatically reveals his unmistakable silhouette before he gets into his verse.
Pusha T – “Rock N Roll” ft. Kanye West & Kid Cudi
Pusha T’s nearly unmatched run of quality continued in 2022 with It’s Almost Dry, a 12-track LP produced mostly by Pharrell Williams and a pre-Hitler-praising Kanye West.
“Rock N Roll,” which features production credits from both Williams and West in addition to Ojivolta, is a sonically booming track with King Push’s trademark coke rap bars and an incisive chorus from former G.O.O.D. Music mate Kid Cudi. Cudi, who had a falling out with West after this song was recorded, took to Twitter to say it would be the last time that he’d feature on a track with the maligned rapper, and with Pusha T also looking to distance himself from Ye, it might be the last time he appears on a track with West too.
Burna Boy – “It’s Plenty”
I’ll say it. This should’ve been the 2022 World Cup song. Because I value my general well-being, I would never publicly say a bad thing about BTS, but “It’s Plenty” has vibes too immaculate to pass up on. Off of Burna Boy’s Love, Damini album released in July, this track has everything you’d want from an anthem: catchy, singable chorus, multiple languages, and an internationally recognized artist.
Rema & AJ Tracey – “FYN”
Rising Afrobeats star Rema teamed up with grime staple and football fanatic AJ Tracey for “FYN,” a track with summer vibes written all over it. While “Come Down” and its subsequent remix featuring Selena Gomez may have been Rema’s breakout hit on his debut album Rave & Roses, “FYN” stands out with its changes of pace and ultra-catchy beat.
Ace Hood – “Greatness” ft. Killer Mike
We interviewed Ace Hood just as his album M.I.N.D. dropped this year, and he mentioned how he was becoming more appreciative of the beautiful game, even though he wasn’t a huge fan. He also discussed becoming an independent artist after having been signed to multiple major label deals, and the struggles and triumphs along the way. With songs like “Greatness,” we can see parts of that journey, as Ace raps about how no matter where he goes in life, he’ll stick to his roots.
He also gets bonus points for linking up with Killer Mike, a legend in the game who’s also been spotted at Atlanta United matches in the past.
Vince Staples – “EAST POINT PRAYER” ft. Lil Baby
We’ve long been fans of Vince Staples here at Urban Pitch, so the nearly three-year gap between albums from the Long Beach MC was particularly excruciating for us. Thankfully he’s given us two albums in a less-than-one-year span, both of which have displayed an incredibly impressive change of style. On both 2021’s Vince Staples and this year’s Ramona Park Broke My Heart, Staples’s trademark high energy bars were traded for a more laid back sonic atmosphere.
But what hasn’t changed is his ability to paint pictures with his words, as evident in “EAST POINT PRAYER” featuring Lil Baby. Staples almost lackadaisically raps a vicious portrayal of his Long Beach home, with lines like “I’ve been out all night tryna make it out/Swear to God that the set was the safest route.”
Lord Juco – “Split Screen” ft. UFO Fev
Like his Death at the Derby partner in crime Cousin Feo, Lord Juco was also busy dropping projects of his own in 2022, including Company, an EP in collaboration with producer and fellow Torontonian Finn.
It’s a tight, 12-minute project with some sound bites and a cover inspired by Misery, and Juco’s trademark swagger is present throughout. It’s no coincidence that the best beat on Company produces the best song, as Juco and UFO Fev spit fine-tuned bars over a soulful track that oozes class.