The nature of the music industry is such that predicting when or if a major label release will actually hit shelves has devolved to one step above guesswork. In January of 2015, HipHopDX trotted out an annual list of our most anticipated albums. Out of 14 total entries, nine artists released projects, though only six released the albums they said they would. The surprises weren’t all of the bad variety either as Drake’s If Youre Reading This Its Too Late replaced Views From The 6, and Pusha T delivered what we considered one of the year’s best albums very late in the game. And, hopefully, projects like Frank Oceans’s oft-delayed Boys Don’t Cry escapes from whatever musical purgatory is holding it hostage.

In the meantime, we’ve earmarked another group of albums that have us excited. They vary between works that have been promised for at least a year (or longer) to sets that are reportedly already in the works. As usual, each monthly flip of the calendar should bring increased anticipation of more good music.

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Pusha T – King Push

Darkest Before Dawnwas a terse, bar heavy masterpiece filled with Push’s signature prose. We’re nervous, actually, that King Push may not be able to hold up under the weight of its predecessor, but if Darkest Before Dawn isn’t one shot, then we may be looking at two fantastic records from Push in a row. For the new G.O.OD Music president, Pharrell is still talking that music shit, but he’s also working with Timbo and a crazy list of guest stars we’ve heard.  

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Big Sean – Untitled

Hands down, Dark Sky Paradisewas the best album of Sean’s career. Everything he did on the thing was the best he ever did it. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that Sean might have improved the most in the last few years out of all mainstream emcees. Pusha’s mentioned that his release and Sean’s will be the first two releases on the G.O.O.D Music calendar though we don’t have a title or release date. Still, after his last success, everyone is looking forward to the new LP.

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Diamond Lane & Jamla Collaborative Album

The Breathe EP made for another star-studded collaboration for Jamla, who would go on to team up with Talib Kweli later in the year. Bad Lucc et al, put forth some of their best performances yet, with guest verses from Rapsody and even TDE’s Punch. What they have in store is anyone’s guess, but you can be sure it will pure Hip Hop, whatever comes down the pike.

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GZA – Dark Matter

In February of 2015, GZA released “The Mexican.” The non-single loosie had a star-studded cast. It featured Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine. A remake of Babe Ruth’s 1972 oft-sampled song of the same name, GZA enlisted both Hanni El Khatib and Unknown Mortal Orchestra to bless the track. Now, this would be GZA’s first album since ‘08s Pro Toolsfor GZA, and with all that’s swirling around Wu-Tang right now, it’d be nice to get a solid album from the Genius to restore some faith in the Clan.

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Puff Daddy & Friends – No Way Out 2

Jadakiss flat out said he’s working with Puff on this, this year. Expected to be another out-and-out collaboration album with a slew of Hip Hop mainstays, this could also be a Bad Boy reunion record, with several Bad Boy artists now in a better place with the Bad Boy head honcho than they were just a few years ago. It’s also slated to be the last album of Puff’s career.

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Iggy Azalea – Digital Distortion

The most infamous name in Hip Hop right now is Iggy Azalea’s. She took the world by storm in 2014 with singles like “Fancy” and “Black Widow” featuring Rita Ora. She’s been almost banned from Hip Hop since then, however, for her penchant to get into shouting matches with her detractors and saying things that amounted to think-pieces over her appropriation, authenticity and blaccent. Since then, she’s had tours cancelled, but she claims to be back in the mix with her old producer D.R.U.G.S, and ready to give the world what they’ve apparently been missing: a real rap album from the Australian beauty.

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Lupe Fiasco – DROGAS

Lupe Fiasco has come with a blur of good and bad news already this year. Bad news first: he’s retiring. Good news: he’s intent on dropping three albums this year. DROGAS is up first, and the Chi-town emcee says it not only features a “Murals” jr. but that it’s the lyrical exercise of life. He’s made the claim that he’ll be retiring before and, luckily for Hip Hop, he did no such thing. Here’s to hoping we see much more past 2016 for the Tetsuo & Youthemcee.

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T.I. – The Dime Trap

T.I.’s 2015 offering TIPDa Nic was short and sweet and an appetizer for the main course that is to be The Dime Trap. Now, T.I. hasn’t had an offering the calibre of his classic earlier work in a while, but The Dime Trap may be the one we’ve been waiting for from the former king of the south.

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Kanye West – SWISH

The oft-delayed SWISH went through several disappointing release date issues after making the name switch from So Help Me God. Then again, 2015 wasn’t a shining year for Ye whose “Only One” and “All Day” singles sort of just came and went. For the many worried about West’s musical output, his shoe game went high enough for him to feel as if he “jumped over jumpman.” Then the one-two punch of “Real Friends” and “No More Parties In LA” come into play. Set to drop next month, SWISH is, surely, to be one of the most discussed releases of the year for good or ill.

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M.I.A. – Matahdatah

In a recent interview with Democracy Now, M.I.A. spoke about her past several years fighting The NFL, the father of her son Ikhyd and, currently, a European soccer team over her recently released “Boarders” video. Doesn’t matter if the third-world champion made one of the best commentaries on immigration through the track. ΛΛ Λ Y Λ and Matangi lacked the prestige of her debut and the sophomore one-two punch in Arular and Kala. For her fifth full-length album, it’ll be interesting finding both thematic and sonically.

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Drake – Views From The 6

Drizzy had a ridiculously successful 2015 for several reasons. The early surprise release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late furthered his Billboard reign and own mythology. Meanwhile, he turned his fairly brief lyrical execution of Meek Mill into a pop culture moment. Last, October’s Very Own even picked the winning side of the Apple, Spotify and Tidal streaming war. What does this mean for his fourth major label album Views From The 6? Probably another winner.

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A$AP Ferg – Always Strive And Prosper

The Hood Pope dropped “New Level” featuring Future at the tail end of the year and proved he could still make turn-up records like “Shabba.” However, he’s grown significantly as an artist with A$AP Yams tribute “Tatted Angel” and has more up his sleeve for Always Strive And Prosper. Trap Lord was a solid debut album, here’s hoping he doesn’t face the sophomore slump.  

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MF Doom & Ghostface Killah – Doomstarks

MF Doom and Ghostface Killah have been working closely as far as Fishscale. Individual albums since have featured guest appearances from both. Fans of Pretty Tony have been pretty satisfied with the amount of projects released over the years from the slick BadBadNotGood Sour Soul project and Twelve Reasons To Die collaboration alongside Adrian Younge. Meanwhile, Doom spent 2015 fairly quiet after the joint album with Bishop Nehru. A full album from both can’t fail.  

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Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole – Untitled

The Black Friday Freestyles where Kendrick Lamar and J Cole spit on top of each other’s stuff damn near broke the internet. More specifically, Cole’s take on K Dot’s “Alright” featured a cryptic line about releasing a project with the Compton emcee sometime in February. Having the two together may be the most anticipated joint project since last year’s Future and Drake trap epic What A Time To Be Alive.  

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YG – Still Krazy

My Krazy Life can still be considered one of the best major label debuts of 2014. Besides the Grammy snub a year later, the rap game was shocked by a senseless shooting that nearly took his life. His musical output hasn’t slowed much either thanks to “Twist My Fingaz” and “I Wanna Benz” featuring Nipsey Hussle & 50 Cent. The current prince of contemporary West Coast gangta rap has the potential to drop an adequate follow-up.

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Post Malone – Untitled

“White Iverson” was more than a breakout hit for Dallas native Post Malone. It introduced him to a higher tier of artists ranging from 50 Cent and Kanye to Jaden Smith. According to a recent interview, his debut album will change the world. How accurate that statement has yet to be seen, but the Republic Records artists might have a jewel on his hands.  

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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Untitled

Can Macklemore & Ryan Lewis pull off the same magic that worked so well on The Heist? Striking pop culture lightning twice is easier said than done. It doesn’t help much that the old-school “Downtown” and ode to fatherhood “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)” failed to match the success of “Thrift Shop” or “Can’t Hold Us.” Regardless, the two are probably cooking up a project that’s surely set to turn heads.

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Adrian Younge – Something About April II

Before Adrian Younge became a household name in Hip Hop, he was known as the supervisor over the soundtrack for 70s blaxploitation parody Black Dynamite. Adrian Younge presents Venice Dawn: Something About April served as further his particular vintage sound further. Since then, he’s played a part in everything from the Twelve Reasons To Die albums with Ghostface Killah to PRhyme. It’ll be interesting to see how Something About April II finds inspiration from those lauded projects.

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Meek Mill – Dreamchasers 4

Despite having an improved sophomore album that managed to reach number one through Dreams Worth More Than Money, there wasn’t a more tragic fall from grace story than Meek Mill’s 2015. Getting bodied by a “singing nigga” served as a critical career blow that’s left him relatively quiet since. Dreamchasers 4 could become either his Stillmatic or Blood In My Eye. Regardless, rap is waiting to see what the Philly emcee has in store.