Complex UK’s Best Albums Of 2023

Did your favourite make the cut?

Image via Complex Original/Artwork by Willkay

It was another stacked year for projects in 2023 and, a testament to the vitality of our scene, it was a pretty balanced spread of young and old artists in their creative prime. 

We’ve had a lot of returns from some of our most treasured artists this year, after years of either scant appearances or complete silence. Sampha’s Lahai arrived six years after his last album, Process, and if you think about everything that’s happened since, that feels like a whole lifetime ago. Famous Last Words, the debut album from North London native CASISDEAD, wasn’t so much a return since he’s been dropping off singles fairly steadily for the last year or so, but his last two mixtapes—23 and the cassette-only Commercial 2—were released in 2014 and 2015, respectively. 

But perhaps the most enthusiastically received return of all was J Hus’ Beautiful And Brutal Yard. One of his darker releases, it landed just in time for summer and drew a line under what’s been a difficult period for Hus after overcoming some legal troubles.

Just as exciting for music fans have been the upsetters, and there have been plenty of those this year. First and foremost is Len, who introduced himself with a blend of Nigerian Alté and UK rap and a star-studded tracklist including Lancey Foux, Unknown T, and OG Kemi. And then there’s the multi-faceted Jim Legxacy, a young artist-producer who overcame homelessness to create HMNP, a masterpiece that blended emo, indie, rap, pop, R&B and club influences to create a scrapbook tribute to the sounds of Gen Z London. 

In between the new faces and returning legends, there were still plenty of other surprises to keep us on our toes. Cleo Sol and Nines both released two albums this year and, amazingly, all four LPs were career highs for the two artists. Potter Payper, meanwhile, added more jewels to his crown with Real Back In Style, M1OnTheBeat made the jump from backroom king-maker to headline artist with The Mixtape, and Jorja Smith liberated herself with her first independently released project, Falling Or Flying.

Check out the albums we were loving the most in 2023 below, and to read and hear more, just click through the links.

25. Ama Lou — I Came Home Late
24. Blanco — ReBourne
23. Fekky — We Already Won
22. D Double E — No Reign, No Flowers
21. Yussef Dayes — Black Classical Music
20. M1OnTheBeat — M1OnTheBeat: The Mixtape
19. M Huncho — My Neighbours Don’t Know
18. Giggs — Zero Tolerance
17. MIST — Redemption
16. Digga D — Back To Square One
15. Len — LEHGOLAND 
14. RAYE — My 21st Century Blues
13. James Blake — Playing Robots Into Heaven
12. Nines — Crop Circle 3
11. Sampha — Lahai
10. CASISDEAD — Famous Last Words
9. Jorja Smith — Falling Or Flying
8. KwolleM — Melo
7. Jim Legxacy — HNPM
6. Nines — Crop Circle 2
5. Cleo Sol — Heaven
4. Cleo Sol — Gold
3. J Hus — Beautiful And Brutal Yard 
2. Potter Payper — Real Back In Style
1. Headie One & K-Trap —
Strength To Strength

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