9 Best Rap Albums of November 2023

So much rap music comes out all the time, and especially with frequent surprise releases, it can be hard to keep track of it all. So, as a way to help keep up with all of it, here’s a roundup of the 9 rap albums from November 2023 that stood out to us most. We also probably still missed or haven’t spent enough time with some great November rap albums that aren’t on this list. What were some of your favorites of last month? Let us know in the comments, and read on for the list (unranked, in no particular order).

Danny Brown – Quaranta

After embracing total chaos on March’s Scaring the Hoes with JPEGMAFIA, Danny Brown closes out 2023 with one of his most pensive albums yet. The long-teased Quaranta is Danny’s first solo album in four years, and he considers it the bookend to the chapter of his career that began on his 2011 breakthrough XXX. As the title suggested, XXX came out the year Danny turned 30, and “Quaranta” is Italian for “forty.” (Danny is 42 now, but he was 40 when he first publicly revealed the album title.) Quaranta is also Danny’s first album since he got sober, and he said in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 that this album concludes a series of therapeutic albums that found him opening up about much of what he’d been dealing with these past 10+ years. Going forward, “I’m all about making music to uplift people and make them have fun,” he says, “and not necessarily be a trauma dump for me.”

Danny has made wise, reflective rap music before, but he’s never dedicated himself to that format for an entire album the way he does on Quaranta. With just 11 songs and no filler, it’s one of his leanest, most focused albums. Every song adheres to a similar vibe, but it never blurs or gets repetitive–Quaranta is one of those albums where every song stands out in its own way, and no individual track can fully convey the depth of the LP. (My favorite song on it at the moment is “Celibate” with MIKE, but even that song is just one small piece of the puzzle.) Danny opens up and gets immensely personal–or, on “Jenn’s Terrific Vacation,” laments gentrification–and the production from The Alchemist, Quelle Chris, Kassa Overall, Paul White, and others is the perfect backdrop for the mood of these songs.

It’s tempting to compare Quaranta to other calm, mature, late-career albums like Jay-Z’s 4:44, but even at 42, Danny Brown doesn’t come off like he’s late in his career. He’s been on an upwards trajectory for over a decade and Quaranta is one of his best albums yet. Combined with Scaring the Hoes, the Danny Brown of 2023 reminds you that he’s at the top of his game whether it comes to manic energy or sober reflection. He’s mastered the art of longevity in rap music, and it’s exciting to know that he’s already thinking about his next chapter.

Wiki 14K Figaro

Wiki & Tony Seltzer – 14K Figaro
Wikset Enterprise

Wiki has been on a roll this year (not that he ever isn’t). Following a brief EP in May, he put out an excellent collaborative album with MIKE and The Alchemist in September, and now he releases his own new solo album, entirely produced by Tony Seltzer. From working entirely with one of his earliest collaborators to the hyper-local New York City themes in the lyrics, 14K Figaro feels like a return to form, but not a retread or a look backwards. It’s his most overtly New York album since his masterful 2017 album No Mountains In Manhattan, and it embraces the maturity, wisdom, and stylistic variety that he’s picked up in the six years since that LP. Tony Seltzer’s modernized boom bap is hypnotic, and Wiki leaves you hanging on every word, with help from Zelooperz, WiFiGawd, and Remy Banks. As far as classic-style New York rap albums go, this is one of the strongest ones I’ve heard in recent memory.

Aesop Rock Integrated Tech Solutions

Aesop Rock – Integrated Tech Solutions

From the album artwork to the music itself, Aesop Rock’s new album Integrated Tech Solutions is a head-first dive into ’80s sci-fi retrofuturism. It’s full of skits, mock-commercial soundbites, and lyrics that drive the concept home, and Aes’ dizzying tongue-twisters and kaleidoscopic beats are both pure psychedelia. He ropes in a diverse cast of guests that range from billy woods to Hanni El Khatib to Nikki Jean, and his own performances are as strong as ever. He still zigs when the rest of the world zags, and he still raps and produces with the same fervor that he had two decades ago. He may not be driving alt-rap culture like he once was, but he’s never stopped making great music in his own weird lane.

Blockhead The Aux

Blockhead – The Aux
Backwoodz Studioz

For the followup to 2021’s Garbology with longtime collaborator Aesop Rock, veteran underground rap producer Blockhead now teams with billy woods to deliver a star-studded new solo LP, The Aux. woods executive produced and he’s releasing it on his Backwoodz Studioz label, and Backwoodz’ description deservingly calls this “an indie hip-hop All-Star game of an album.” The guests come from a variety of different generations and scenes of underground/indie rap, and they come together to create something that really feels like an album, not just a collection of tracks. Those guests include woods himself (and Armand Hammer), Aesop Rock, Navy Blue, Quelle Chris, Open Mike Eagle, Bruiser Wolf, AKAI SOLO, Defcee, ShrapKnel, RXK Nephew, Fatboi Sharif, and more; and the last track has Bruiser Wolf, Danny Brown, billy woods, and Despot all on the same song (it’s amazingly called “Now That’s What I Call A Posse Cut Vol. 56”). It connects the dots for so many different corners of the rap world, and it stands on its own as a great rap record.

Tkay Maidza Sweet Justice

Tkay Maidza – Sweet Justice

The Australian-raised but now LA-based rapper/singer Tkay Maidza spent 2018 to 2021 rolling out a three-part EP series, and now she finally releases a new full-length album–her second ever–Sweet Justice. As good as the EPs were, it makes sense that she took her time before doing a new full-length; Sweet Justice has a level of well-executed ambition that the EPs only hinted at. With everything from hard-hitting rap songs to airy R&B to kinetic synth-funk to the tropical polyrhythms of “Love Again” to back-to-back forays into industrial rap with “Free Throws” / “Silent Assassin,” Sweet Justice is a vast undertaking and Tkay Maidza pulls it off remarkably. Like last year’s Sudan Archives album, it’s an indie album that feels like it could be the work of an album-oriented A-list star. (For an actual pop comparison, it’s kinda similar to what Doja Cat was going for on Scarlet, and perhaps an even stronger album. She’s also toured with Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, and Lizzo.) It’s pretty amazing to get a mainstream-friendly album this well-thought-out and interesting from an artist who’s still playing 600-person venues, but if there’s any (sweet) justice in the world, her crowds might get a lot bigger once this album settles in.

H31R HeadSpace

H31R – HeadSpace
Big Dada

Brooklyn rapper maassai and NJ producer JWords quietly self-released their debut LP as H31R (pronounced “heir”), ve​·​loc​·​i​·​ty, in September of 2020, and the pair’s unique blend of rap and electronic music slowly but surely started stirring up some buzz. Now they’re back with a higher-profile followup, HeadSpace, their first release for Ninja Tune imprint Big Dada, and it feels safe to say that this one’s even better. JWords crafts a clubby head-trip, and maassai’s delivery is equally experimental. It transcends genre and scene, and really exists in a world of its own, and that world feels even more welcoming on HeadSpace than it did on H31R’s debut.


Real Bad Man & YUNGMORPHEUS – The Chalice & The Blade
Real Bad Man

YUNGMORPHEUS already released one album this year (From Whence It Came), and Real Bad Man has already fully produced two albums this year (one with Kool Keith and one with Blu), and now they’ve made one together. Kool Keith and Blu are both on it, as are others like frequent RBM collaborator Boldy James, frequent YUNGMORPHEUS collaborator Theravada, Fatboi Sharif, and more. YUNGMORPHEUS generally veers towards abstract rap, and Real Bad Man generally veers towards hazy, boom bap-inspired beats, and it should come as no surprise that these are two great tastes that taste great together. It’s a very solid record, and a subtle change of pace for both of them.

RXK Nephew Harry Fraud Life After Neph

RXK Nephew & Harry Fraud – Life After Neph
Fake Shore Drive / AintNobodyCool / SRFSCHL

Real Bad Man and YUNGMORPHEUS aren’t the only prolific producers/rappers with a collab album out today. Producer Harry Fraud (fresh off doing full albums with Curren$y, Valee, and Jay Worthy/Kamaiyah) and rapper RXK Nephew (fresh off too many projects to count) have put their heads together for Life After Neph. RXK Nephew is a chameleon who can adapt to so many different musical environments, and with Harry Fraud, he largely embraces his chiller side, with just a few of his more zany moments thrown in. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the amount of music he releases, but I like the focus that he has when he does an entire project with a single producer, as on this year’s The ONEderful Nephew with DJ Rude One and now Life After Neph with Harry Fraud. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker, so it’s cool to hear what happens when he is working within some kind of limitation like Harry’s comparatively more straightforward production style.

Niontay Demon Muppy

Niontay – Demon Muppy

Brooklyn-via-Florida rapper Niontay is one of the more recent recruits into MIKE’s orbit, and it’s easy to see why he’s catching on within that world. On his new EP Demon Muppy–released on MIKE’s 10k label–Niontay shows off a slurred, muttered flow that goes perfectly with the hazy production of 454, TAKA, Tony Seltzer, and Surf Gang’s Harrison. 454 guests on the EP, as do Earl Sweatshirt, MIKE, and El Cousteau, who all appear on the Tony Seltzer-produced closing track “Real hiphop.” That song already feels like a moment-capturing posse cut of modern abstract rap, and it shows how tall Niontay stands next to those established greats.

Honorable Mentions
JasonMartin – A Compton Story
Larry June & Cardo – The Night Shift
Lola Brooke – Dennis Daughter
Pink Siifu & Turich Benjy – IT’S TOO QUIET..’!!
Rick Ross & Meek Mill – Too Good To Be True
2 Chainz & Lil Wayne – Welcome 2 Collegrove

Browse our Best Rap Albums archive for more.

Top photo from Danny Brown & JPEGMAFIA at Pier 17 in August. More pics by P Squared here.