Best Canadian Albums Of 2023 (So Far)

From big names to up-and-comers, here are 10 Canadian albums that stood out in the first six months of 2023.

Complex Originals

Last year, Canadian twin titans Drake and Weeknd went all out and dominated the best-of lists. So far in 2023, things have opened up for the rest of the country's talented artists to fill the gaps with interesting new releases. There are recognizable names on there, as well as up-and-comers who are proving they've got next. From smooth R&B to Peel Region rap and beatless wonders, Canada had a strong start to the year—these are Complex Canada’s picks for the best albums of 2023 so far.

10. Jay Worthy x Roc Marciano, Nothing Bigger Than The Program

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Label: GDF Records

Released: May 26

2023 has been a great year for rapper-producer collaborative albums. Vancouver native Jay Worthy’s partnership with the legendary Roc Marciano only furthers that thanks to a mix of the former’s straight-to-the-point flows and the latter’s eerie samples. Worthy sounds relaxed and highly composed across the brief runtime, accentuating the high-friendly sound that Marci nails on the 12 tracks. Worthy offers enough introspection and gloating throughout, even if it's nothing revelatory. —Louis Pavlakos

9. Mike Shabb x Nicholas Craven, Shadow Moses

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Label: Independent

Released: April 14

Montreal duo Mike Shabb and Nicholas Craven sound like their aesthetics were made for each other. Between Craven’s sample-heavy production and Shabb’s rugged, cutthroat bars, the two could probably drop a dozen more albums in the same vein as Shadow Moses with similar results. Though more subtle than explosive on this tape, Shabb manages to paint a picture of the hardships he’s endured over the years all while maintaining hope for a better tomorrow. —Louis Pavlakos

8. Dr. Bushman, Canvas

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Label: Abstract Music

Released: January 13

Canadian rap didn’t necessarily embrace the album format fully in the first half of 2023, which makes “real Peel baby like Tristan Thompson” rapper Dr. Bushman’s 17-track behemoth all the more impressive. Dizzying single “YWR” with Fleedoe got an all-important shout out from Drake on socials, but here’s hoping The Boy stuck around for the rest, which doesn’t dip in quality given the runtime. —Erik Leijon

7. Skiifall, Woiiyoie Vol. 2 - Intense City

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Label: Peoples Champ

Released: May 5

Assembled in Montreal (and elsewhere) and built for the tropics, Skiifall’s latest project fully encompasses the warmth of Saint Vincent while staying true to the city that helped shape him. Between the lovestruck “2 Charming,” the eerie aesthetic permeating “Yuteman Denis,” and the reflective closer “Our Souls Cry,” Woiiyoie Vol. 2 serves as a meatier second course showing his unwavering potential. Brief as the album may be, it effectively shows his growth as a songwriter and as an artist all while sharing the spotlight with rising stars from Montreal. —Louis Pavlakos

6. Planet Giza, Ready When You Are

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Label: Quiet Note

Released: April 7

Planet Giza’s Ready When You Are combines soulful synth productions with Tony Stone’s warm raps and humble charisma. Though the bulk of the album will have you gravitate towards the dancefloor, a few of the deeper cuts take you down a rabbit hole of overthinking and musing. Treading the line between wavy and tender, Planet Giza knows how to strike the balance without compromising its vision. —Louis Pavlakos

5. Debby Friday, Good Luck

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Label: Independent

Released: March 24

Nigerian-born Debby Friday has planted roots across the country, from Montreal to Vancouver to Toronto, and there’s a lived-in feeling that shines throughout her debut album Good Luck. Friday wouldn’t look out of place DJing an afterparty or getting into it in a sweaty punk mosh pit, and Good Luck brings those disparate elements together in a natural way. Single “So Hard to Tell” is the perfect example of being hard-nosed with an indisputable hook. —Erik Leijon

4. Boogey the Beat, Cousins

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Label: Red Music Rising

Released: May 12

A veritable all-star lineup jumps on the Anishinaabe DJ’s first album, feeling at once like a family affair, but also a greatest hits album. Snotty Nose Rez Kids, The Halluci Nation, Drezus, and more take turns doing victory laps over the Winnipegger’s booming productions. Boogey bends genres, bringing club-ready bangers that his rapping and singing guests can effortlessly make their own. The spirit of collaboration is felt throughout Cousins—Erik Leijon

3. Witch Prophet, Gateway Experience

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Label: Heart Lake Records

Released: May 1

There’s an undeniable groove that guides and grounds the latest from the Toronto-based artist. Produced by her wife Sun Sun, Gateway Experience takes the listener on a journey with its soundscapes. The tracks dabble in trip-hop, timeless R&B, and more experimental sounds without losing sight of the bigger picture, and the result is a complete vision that delves deep into your psyche. DillanPonders also delivers an appropriate, demon battling verse on “Energy Vampire.” —Erik Leijon

2. Kaytraminé, Kaytraminé

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Label: Venice Music

Released: May 19

After having previously collaborated on a few songs off Aminé’s debut project Calling Brio, the two join forces once again, this time for an entire album. Though Aminé has seen better days with his pen, Kaytra’s beats offer more than enough to warrant living 24/7 on your summer playlist. The laid-back strings on “Rebuke” are best suited for a day at the beach while the funky bounce of “4EVA” shows just why the two make for a solid pair. Aminé has his charms, but what truly makes this album a summer smash is Kaytra’s sublime production. —Louis Pavlakos

1. Daniel Caesar, Never Enough

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Label: Republic Records

Released: April 7

Daniel Caesar is back. Freudian was a smash that put him on the map, but following the lukewarm reaction to Case Study 01 and sticking his foot in his mouth online, Caesar retreated. The time away allowed him to refocus, and Never Enough is a well-rounded success that re-establishes Caesar’s star ascent. “Always” took everyone by surprise, becoming a TikTok torch song for 2023, while “Toronto 2014” with Mustafa and “Cool” show Caesar isn’t done building and exploring. It’s a return to form, and then some. —Erik Leijon

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