5 Hidden Tracks You Missed In 2023
2023 was quite the year for music and more specifically, underground music. Blank Thought is back with a very special review piece that breaks down 5 tracks you might have missed in 2023.
This track was a late addition, dropping on December 1st this year. However, with this incredibly vibrant but lethargic beat and incredible verses from all three Mc’s, I was hooked instantly. There is so much texture in all three of the voices on the track, with them coming together to create three different verses that feel as unique as they do cohesive. As easily as I could’ve put a track from the incredible Sleepingdogs album with Jesse the Tree here, this track particularly has already become a very special track in terms of my rotation and encapsulates that feeling of a long day immaculately. The beat’s laidback guitars and horns are inescapably catchy and provides a perfect canvas for these three artists to lay their soul bare. Andrew’s production is always very breezy and catchy, but this song is both dialed up to the max. OkNice opens the track with one of my favorite verses of the year, matching wit with contemplation. Andrew spits a classic verse, matching the feeling of the beat and also dropping the name of the track. Love Ulysses is the final artist on this track, and they bring energy and a charisma that very few have. All 3 of these verses are some of the best at what they do, so I’m personally glad we were able to hear them share a track. Special shoutout to the Sleepingdogs album, being one of my favorite projects of the year all around and really inspiring a stretch of music for me.
When listening to Beloved! Jazz! Paradise!? The production and rapping by McKinley Dixon were fantastic, but this track really stuck out from the beginning. From the start, when the distorted and hectic drums hit, you know you're in for something unique. Teller becoming one of my favorite artists of the last couple years made me really intrigued and everyone delivers. McKinley, Teller & Alfred all sound angry and energetic, with their anger and frustration fully coming through. I think the off the wall production and absolute wall of noise is really what entices me with this relatively short song though, perfectly complimenting the aforementioned energy. Being almost a one stop detour on a relatively light and soulfully produced album, this track stood tall as an individual over the last couple years. McKinley and Teller are both some of the best artists out, and their other collaborations have been absolutely fantastic as well. I haven’t heard much of Alfred. outside of the prior collaborations, but they are also an artist I will be looking for in the new year. I’m always excited to discover a new artist and project, and McKinley Dixon is one to keep an eye out for. Special shoutout to Live! from the Kitchen Table from this project which is also one of my favorite tracks of the year.
As someone who has more recently got into the music of the incomparable R.A.P Ferreria & had not heard AJ Suede’s music yet, I was hopeful for their collab album to be something great given Ferreria’s excellence and Suede’s impeccable reputation. I was right in my hopes, as this project could very easily have multiple tracks on this list. This track particularly though always hooked me in a very specific way. As soon as Ferreria starts the track with “ My pedigree is poverty, so when they say rap ain’t pay it didn’t bother me”, I knew this deceptively smooth but slightly stuttering beat from Steel Tipped Dove would be a perfect fit for both these artists. Suede equally captures the track though, his flow bringing a tremendous amount of charisma and a change of pace to the rhythm of the track. Steel Tipped Dove’s production is at its best I’ve heard so far, with a perfect atmosphere & bounce, while still giving these artists a unique pocket to settle in. Bravary & Bright Boy are both rappers I’m not familiar with, both hold their own with these modern underground titans and mesh extremely well into the track. Special shoutout to Suede on Freaks also being one of my favorite verses of the year.
Now this was one of those songs that the moment it hit, I knew this would be an all timer for me. All 3 artists here are among my favorites ever, and each in their own renaissance as an artist. Earl has found a new spot in hip hop among the growing wave that MIKE pioneered, Vince has been expanding his sounds and abilities while still doing tracks with people such as the Alchemist & Tyler the Creator. The Alchemist himself is debatably having the best time of his career with the run of the last three years, and these three powers come together to create a perfect encapsulation of why I love their music so much. As soon as the cinematic piano starts, the listener is immediately transported into this track in the way the best Alchemist beats do, and Earl and Vince go back and forth delivering clever bars & equal charisma. Vince especially on this track shows why he’s one of the best in the game on this track, with some absolutely dope sports references to stars like Kobe Bryant or Donavan McNabb. All around, probably my favorite track of the year especially given my affinity for everyone involved. Special shoutout to Voir Dire offline version, with My Brother the Wind being one of my favorite alchemist beats ever.
There was no artist this year that caught my attention more than Billy Woods & specifically the album Maps. It came out at a time when I happened to be making a big move from the Northeast to Florida, and this album was my companion during that time. The sonic variety & warmth of this project produced by the incomparable Kenny Segal, with the lyrical mastery and relatability of Woods delivery and writing throughout this project helped give the backdrop to a big moment of this year for me. However, I’ll never forget hearing these opening piano chops and the beat settling in on Babylon by Bus. Woods opens the track in classic Woods fashion, gliding across this slowly developing and morphing beat that you never truly feel settled in with. After this, the beat drops out and switches into a dark and dingy beat for Curly Castro and PremRock of ShrapKnel to absolutely murder. I was relatively unfamiliar with these two before this project, and they were one of my favorite finds of the year. The way they rapped together created a perfect mix to contrast Woods' opening verse. Then, out of absolutely nowhere, these incredibly grand strings come in and Woods drops some of his best bars of the year. This track is constantly rising in energy and intensity, and one of my favorites this year. Also, big shout out to the transition into Year Zero here, absolutely insane track run.
Written By Blank Thought: linktr.ee/b1ankthought