For those of us who have existed within the D.C. Metropolitan area (not just D.C., but I’m not using that dumb ass term here), we have been able to witness what could be considered a second renaissance in hip hop — artists like Rico Nasty, IDK, and Cordae (yes, he counts) have continued a path made golden by Wale, Shy Glizzy, and Logic. Even better: there are a wealth of talented artists that are currently giving us an idea of what’s to come.

In this editorial, JUKEBOX:DC has created a ranked list of albums that we feel have had the greatest impact this year. This isn’t just about sales or stream — an album’s quality and creativeness are among other factors considered. As you’ll see, these are also albums that we’ve shared at the time of their respective releases — if we’ve missed anything, feel free to let us know so that we can be more on point moving forward.

Without further adieu, step into the rabbit hole below.

PREVIOUSLY: #20-16

#15: Xanman – Like Tony 6 (READ MORE/STREAM)

At one point, it appeared as if Xanman’s trajectory was parallel to that of Jonny Shipes, who’s more or less best known for his Cinematic Music Group imprint. Up until just recently, it looked as if Xanman was back on the truly independent route — that was until a video surfaced showing his alignment with Sauce Walka. Before the outcome of that arrives (said to be titled Rap Like The Rent Due), those not familiar can get an idea of the Maryland star’s off-kilter, rewind worthy bars via the top tier Like Tony 6. NOTE: Any version outside of what’s on Soundcloud is definitely short a track or two.

#14: WillThaRapper – 50K (READ MORE/STREAM)

Following the Deluxe edition of last year’s Active, WillThaRapper struck the ground hard with 50K, a 10-track offering that continues the Maryland’s star’s penchant for ever-changing follows and street-oriented subject matter. A long way from “Pull Up Hop Out” (and, presumably, his deal with Republic), WillThaRapper has no plans of giving up his position as one of this area’s rap frontrunners. Hopefully, there’s plenty more to come in 2022.

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#13: Q Da Fool – Rich Shootas 3 (READ MORE/STREAM)

Back in April, Q Da Fool dropped off the third installment of his Rich Shootas series, which saw a couple of features from Lil Mar and Icewear Vezzo. Not only did this project spawn a very dope Deluxe version, 2021 also saw the Maryland talent bless his fans with My Heart A Graveyard and Twin — the latter of which saw a Deluxe upgrade of its own. Even with his current legal issues, Q Da Fool is still dropping off loose cuts for his fans to enjoy.

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#12: Goonew – Short Temper (READ MORE/STREAM)

Keeping it one hundred, the main thing that’s probably standing in Goonew’s way is his legal issues. Despite this, the Maryland emcee has remained one of this area’s most important — this is also the case for frequent collaborator Lil Dude. Back in March, fans got to check out Short Temper, a 15-track offering full of his signature whisper flows that saw additional assists from Lil Dude, Xanman, and Seddy Hendrinx.

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#11: Baby 9eno – Militant Mind (READ MORE/STREAM)

This isn’t to negate anyone else on this list, but Baby 9eno has been grinding musically for some time now, and he’s overdue for a trip to the next level of success in this industry. Contributions to Marino Infantry aside, the D.C. rising star really set the new standard with his Digital series in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Then, back in February, he gifted the world with Militant Mind, a nine-track offering with collaborations alongside BigBoss Donno, Tae Dawg, Cheecho, and Duwop. We can also imagine what the next drop for 9eno will sound like — we are confident that it will tower over many of his competitors in the process.

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A small but committed group of writers, bloggers and videographers that (mostly) exist and function all over the D.C. Metro area.