New Year’s resolutions are bologna. Everyone signs up for Planet Fitness, goes vegan and joins a book club on January 2nd, and by February 1st, 95 percent of those people are lying around, eating Hot-N-Ready meat lovers pizzas and watching Netflix.
But you know what’s not Oscar Mayer? The promise of dope new rap music with each coming calendar year. Last year we named 17 albums to salivate for in 2017, and for the most part, the MCs behind those projects delivered. With the new year here, check out 18 albums we’re turnt up for in 2018.
18. Royce Da 5’9 — Book of Ryan
Ryan Montgomery is one relentless rhymer. Not long after Layers dropped in the spring of 2016, Royce announced that he was already almost done with his next album. As raw Layers was, Nickel Nine promised an even more personal project with his seventh studio album, Book of Ryan. “It’s really, really a lot of stuff that I want to share,” he told HotNewHipHop. Of course, that’s not the only Royce project that has us on our toes, but more on that later.
17. ScHoolboy Q — TBA
ScHoolboy Q’s last album, 2016’s Blank Face LP, was a never-boring smorgasbord of trap, traditional gangsta rap, and psychedelic tunes. It will be interesting to see what tapestry of sounds he comes up with for his next go-round, which he said in September 2017 was 90 percent done. Q hinted in an Instagram post that the album’s content will feature a more personal, mature direction. “I’ve never been this inspired this fast,” he wrote. “It’s more so my life after I made it to the point of ScHoolboy Q. I gave you me, but I never gave you the other side of me- the father, the dude that’s actually happy, the dude that doesn’t be in the hood just hanging out. The dude that’s trying to put his homies in position now.”
16. The Game — Westside Story
Jayceon Taylor is no stranger to claims of retirement. He had said LAX would be his last album way back in 2008, and three years later claimed “Give Interscope two more albums, then I’m done for good,” on “Pot of Gold.” So it’s a little hard to take him seriously when he claims that Westside Story will be his final bow. Regardless, The Game has been one of the most consistent rappers out for 13 years, so when he announced in June that he was working on a new album, Hip Hop heads stood at attention. The album is supposed to feature Dr. Dre beats and a Kendrick Lamar feature. The Game promised in an Instagram post to deliver “pain, love, sacrifice, and dedication to my craft.”
15. Joyner Lucas — TBA
Joyner Lucas has been dropping well-received albumixtapes for the past few years, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter of 2017 that he really made a splash. Shortly before turning Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” into flea market goods, amidst a flurry of political commentary, Lucas stood out from the pack with “I’m Not Racist,” scathing political commentary from the perspective of a Trump-supporting white man and a young black male. The video went viral and made Lucas a hot topic in the blogosphere. Even though an album hasn’t been announced yet, it’s likely that the Atlantic Records signee will capitalize on the buzz in 2018. If the project is anything like “I’m Not Racist,” we’ll all be in for a compelling, if uncomfortable, ride.
14. Phife Dawg — Forever
It’s been nearly a year since Desha, the widow of the late Malik Taylor, announced that his posthumous studio album Forever would drop in the first quarter of 2017. “We’re working on it now,” she said in February 2017. “He completed his entire solo album before he transitioned, so we’re excited about releasing that.” The album hasn’t dropped, though, and its details have been scarce. Still, seeing how A Tribe Called Quest honored Phife with We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service, as well as with a performance at the Grammys last year, it’s likely that Phife’s friends and family will release the album soon as a final hat tip to the Five-Foot Assassin.
13. Lil Wayne — Funeral
Go ahead and forget about Tha Carter V. It’s the new Detox. And even if it does come out, how could it possibly live up to expectations? Weezy knows this, so while shady-ass Birdman is holding onto that joint, Dwayne Carter has turned his attention to another project. He said in late 2016 he’s making Funeral, and while he’s been mum about it since, Rolling Stone reported that he’s been busy in the studio with Scott Storch. The album proceeds Dedication 6, which dropped Christmas Day and was a satisfying appetizer for starving Wayniacs.
12. Travis Scott — AstroWorld
The follow up to Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight was supposed to drop in 2017, and its absence probably had Scott stans calling his house like, “Pick up the phone, Travis!” It looks like their pleas will finally be answered this year, as Scott told fans in August 2017 that he was about to dive into a new album following the completion of the DAMN. Tour with Kendrick Lamar. Expect more of Scott’s robo-rhythms and maybe an anthem or two. A bona fide hit would be welcomed following the tepid Quavo collaboration LP that was Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho.
11. Nicki Minaj — TBA
Nicki hasn’t released an album since 2014’s The Pinkprint, but she’s stayed incredibly busy in the interim. Aside from her beef with Remy Ma, she’s stayed on your newsfeed by breaking up with Meek Mill and dating Nas. Oh, and she’s also made a splash on the charts. She released “Changed It,” “No Frauds,” and “Regret in Your Tears,” which gave her the record for most Billboard Hot 100 songs ever by a female artist (76), and are all said to be singles from her upcoming album. While Barbie has kept details of the project close to the chest, she told Dazed in September 2017 that this “era” of her music will be the most impactful of her career. Minaj also explained that her dedication to her loyal fanbase is the reason she has taken so long to drop an album. “It’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “I don’t take that for granted. That’s why I’m not rushing the album, because it means so much to me. I have to release a classic at this point.”
10. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib — Bandana
It’s been a long time, and Gangsta Gibbs and Madlib shouldn’t have left us without a dope beat to step to. Never fear; the follow up to 2014’s fan-favorite Pinata will finally arrive this year. Gibbs, who is still emanating heat from the 2017 HipHopDX Award-winning You Only Live 2wice, told Beats 1’s Zane Lowe in November that the album was being mixed. “…It’s definitely coming soon,” Gibbs said. “I can’t tell y’all when we’re gon’ drop it, but we’re just gon’ hit y’all out the blue.” These two have collaborated on one studio album and four EPs prior to Bandana, so expect flawless chemistry, as well as the imaginative production and steel-toed rhymes that graced Pinata.
9. Nipsey Hussle — Victory Lap
Nipsey may finally make the leap he’s been poised to take for years. His long-awaited, first official studio album Victory Lap will drop February 16, which coincides with NBA All-Star Weekend in his Los Angeles hometown. It’s not yet known if the album will be similarly star-studded, but Hussle definitely upped the ante by partnering his label All Money In with Atlantic Records for the release. “It’s not about fame, ambition or getting a radio record,” Hussle told Billboard in November 2017. “The decision really came down to the message I’m trying to get across. I wanted to give that message the best chance to be heard and consumed on the highest level.” Nipsey dropped the lead single and beautiful visuals to “Rap Niggas,” in December.
8. Cardi B — Debut Studio Album
Cardi B might be the most successful rapper to have never dropped a proper retail album. Her hit “Bodak Yellow” single made her the first female rapper to have a solo record hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in almost two decades. On top of that, she became the first female artist ever to have three songs in Billboard’s Top 10 at once, with “Bodak Yellow,” at No. 2, “Motorsport” (with Migos and Nicki Minaj) at No. 5, and “No Limit” (with G-Eazy and A$AP Rocky) at No. 10. However, Cardi doesn’t just want to drop a few hits and disappear, so she’s taking her time with her debut solo album. She tweeted in November, “I have a lot of pressure on me. I have songs stashed up. I just don’t think they qualified for my album. Sometimes I think is ready sometimes I think it’s not so I’m going to take my time till it’s right.” Look for the forthcoming album to eclipse Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 2, which dropped in January 2017 to the lowest of low reviews.
7. Pusha T — King Push
Peasants have been waiting a long time for the royal return of King Push. He announced the album not long after his formidable solo debut, My Name Is My Name, dropped in 2013. The follow-up seemed right around the corner after he dropped Darkest Before Dawn – The Prelude in December 2015, but more than two years later and there still is no album in sight. What’s the hold up? Pusha told Billboard in November 2017 that it was his and Kanye West’s perfectionism that has delayed the album for so long. “I’ll rap to the beats, song’s done,” he said. “Then, he will listen to it and say, ‘Hey, I can do all of these beats better.’ It is Kanye West, and he’s probably the greatest producer of all time. So if he’s willing to take all of that time, then I can take my time.” Push promised the album will drop early this year, and said it would be the album of 2018.
6. PRhyme — PRhyme 2
As if one highly-anticipated Royce Da 5’9” album wasn’t enough, Ryan Montgomery holed up in the lab with DJ Premier for the follow-up to PRhyme, which was HipHopDX’s 2014 Album of the Year. Expect more pristine Premo beats and dexterous Royce rhymes from the duo. Premier told DX in November that the album was finished, and that even though there was no set release date, he hoped for PRhyme 2 to drop at the top of ‘18.
5. Kanye West — Turbo Grafx 16
Yeezy has busied himself by beefing with JAY-Z and working tirelessly on Pusha T’s upcoming album. However, he announced back in 2016 that he began work on the successor to The Life of Pablo, which is titled after his favorite gaming console he played as a kid. Kanye reinvents himself every new album, so anyone trying to speculate on what it will sound like is talking out of their ass. However, ‘Ye was spotted at an L.A. studio with Kid Cudi and Plain Pat, and there also were those rumors that West and Mescudi were working together in Japan. If Kanye can rein in his obsessive streak, we may actually hear a new K. West project in 2018.
4. Drake — TBA
Whether you’re dizzy for Drizzy or yawn over Aubrey, everyone takes notice when the prolific 6God drops new music. His last project, a “playlist” dubbed More Life, was a well-received flow of smooth joints that redeemed him from the colossal disappointment that was Views. He announced in August that he was going back to the studio to craft another project. “I’m about to go back to making this new album in Toronto just for you,” he told a crowd in the 6. “I’ll see you next year, we’ll be bigger, we’ll be better. I go by the name of Drake, this a OVO Sound ting for life.”
3. Nas – TBA
DJ Khaled announced way back in the summer of ‘16 that “Nas Album Done.” God’s Son told DX in 2016 that he was listening to Otis Redding and Frank Sinatra while recording the album, and said multiple times last year that the album was coming soon. However, ‘18 is here and we still don’t even know the title of Nas’ 11th studio album. The record will bridge the six-year gap created by the critically acclaimed Life Is Good, and at 44-years-old, it’s likely Nas will continue with the mature, elegant tunes that dominated that LP. Whenever he does drop, everyone except Lonzo Ball will be tuning in.
2. Migos — Culture 2
Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho wasn’t Quavo’s (or Travis Scott’s) finest moment. No matter. He’s still buzzing like three beers in, and he and Migos mates Offset and Takeoff are prepping the follow-up to 2017’s massively popular Culture. The album is slated to drop in January and is bolstered by supposed lead single “MotorSport,” a zoned-out trapfest featuring Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. Quavo listed off a slew of features, including Scott, Drake, Big Sean and Ty Dolla $ign.
1. Chance the Rapper — TBA
Lil Chano from 79th already won a Grammy for Best Rap Album and he’s still claiming to be working on his first official studio album. He told Complex in March 2017 that the difference between his 2016 HipHopDX Album of The Year-winning, Coloring Book, and his next joint is “opening the scope” to actually selling the album. He said he has songs recorded, but he’s not working on an album with a singular theme this time. “Acid Rap and 10 Day and Coloring Book was like a trilogy in itself,” he said. “One aesthetic, one goal. Whatever my next thing is, it’ll be a bit bigger. Like, maybe there’ll be some type of visual component to it. Like it’ll be a movie, or it’ll be a play, or some type of tour.” It’s unclear what kinds of sounds will fill out his next work, but in August, he posted to Instagram a video of himself vibing out to Soul For Real’s “Every Little Thing I Do.”