The 50 Best Albums Of 2023

From smooth R&B projects to hard-hitting rap albums and an unexpected project that made its way to the top—these are Complex’s picks for the best albums of 2023.

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As our greatest unifier and language, music is once again the real winner here. This year’s albums granted us the gift of saying so much with no words at all—or as many as the track would allow. Its best offering this year was healing and joy. Fun was had in the making of artists’ foundational projects like the carefree energy on Sexyy Red’s Hood Hottest Princess, and we saw a successful, elevated return to one’s roots exemplified by Bad Bunny’s Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana. Freedom—of expression and thought—was sought and found in the Complex-knighted best album of 2023. It was in the aforementioned and more that a year filled with strife found a way to soothe us, move us, and even give us hope. Cleo Sol took us to heaven, Jorja Smith taught us to fly on our own terms, Drake made a case for the admiration of scary hours, and the young and promising Lil Tecca showed us the fruit of a planted dream. 

There was a lot of great work to parse through in the hip-hop, R&B, reggaeton and Latin trap spaces this year. But still, something felt lacking. Projects released after our 2022 Best Albums of the Year list (namely SZA’s SOS, Little Simz’s No Thank You and Metro Boomin’s Heroes & villains) were mainstays on the Complex Music Staff’s playlists but didn’t have a home in any of our lists. Their offerings, immediate strong contenders that surpassed a lot of projects released over 10 months after them, were admittedly so good they justified a new approach. In this year and hereafter you’ll see us assess, praise, and rank a few albums from the year prior, too—specifically, those released after December, when our list of that year goes out. We hope this allows for more conversation. And, as a reminder, that EOD deadline on your albums does not mean End of December, dears. Here are the best albums of 2023, passionately and thoughtfully discussed and selected, respectively, by our Complex Music staff. —Editor Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo

50. Lil Tecca, TEC

49. Mariah The Scientist, To Be Eaten Alive

48. Conway the Machine, Won't He Do It

47. Sampha, Lahai

46. Lil Wayne & 2Chainz, Welcome 2 Collegrove

45. Rauw Alejandro, Playa Saturno

44. Danny Brown, Quaranta

43. Kelela, Raven

42. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday 2

41. Kaytranada & Aminé, Kaytraminé

40. Nas, Magic 2

39. Rick Ross & Meek Mill, Too Good to Be True

38. Yeat, Aftërlyfe

37. Jordan Ward, Forward

36. Summer Walker, CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE EP

35. Kali Uchis, Red Moon In Venus

34. Amaarae, Fountain Baby

33. Don Toliver, Love Sick

32. PinkPantheress, Heaven Knows

31. Mike, Burning Desire

30. Cleo Sol, Heaven

29. Ken Carson, A Great Chaos

28. Brent Faiyaz, Larger Than Life

27. Little Simz, No Thank You

26. Baby Rose, Through and Through

25. Young Nudy, Gumbo

24. Jorja Smith, Falling or Flying

23. Sexyy Red, Hood Hottest Princess

22. Drake, For All The Dogs Scary Hours Edition

21. Earl Sweatshirt & The Alchemist, Voire Dire

20. Daniel Caesar, Never Enough

19. Larry June & The Alchemist, The Great Escape

18. Dave & Central Cee, Split Decision

17. Eladio Carrion, 3MEN2 KBRN

16. Veeze, Ganger

15. Offset, Set It Off

14. Karol G, Mañana Será Bonito

13. Tyler, The Creator, The Estate Sale

12. Noname, Sundial

11. Key Glock, Glockoma 2

10. Lil Yachty, Let's Start Here

9. Ice Spice, Like...? (Deluxe)

8. Metro Boomin, Heroes & Villains

7. Bad Bunny, Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana

6. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II

5. Killer Mike, Michael

4. Doja Cat, Scarlet

3. Travis Scott, Utopia


1. Gunna, A Gift & A Curse

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