2018 is going to be a hard year to top album-wise. However, despite more and more rappers keeping album details and release dates close to the chest, there is still enough to make your head – and hipsters’ record players – spin. Don’t sleep on these 19 potentially dope rap albums slated to drop in 2019.
19. Q-Tip – The Last Zulu
We haven’t heard from Q on the solo tip since 2009’s Kamaal The Abstract, but he dropped The Abstract and the Dragon with Busta Rhymes in 2014, and 2016 saw the release of the unanimously loved Tribe album, We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service. Q-Tip tweeted on 2Pac’s birthday last year that The Last Zulu is coming soon. The project reportedly will feature boom-bap to the core and will finding Tip basking in production from Kanye West.
Can he kick it?
18. Missy Elliott – TBA
No conversation of the greatest female MC ever is complete without Missy Elliott. Though in recent years she’s been better known for her Super Bowl performances or courageous battle with lupus than her actual music, that will likely change in 2019. Elliott tweeted in October 2018 that she was recording new music that will have people dancing “nonstop.” In November, she shared a video of her and longtime collaborator Timbaland in the studio together, so the project might just be supa dupa fly.
The album will be the follow-up to 2005’s The Cookbook. Make it rain, Miss E.
17. Lil Wayne – Funeral
Weezy was hella busy last year, with Dedication 6: Reloaded and Tha Carter V both dropping in 2018. While the former was an endlessly quotable mixtape, the latter became one of the most streamed albums ever. The Kendrick Lamar collaboration “Mona Lisa” especially showed Lil Tunechi can still beast when he wants to.
Funeral was announced in 2016, and Rolling Stone reported he’s cooked up beats with Scott Storch for the project. If the album drops this year, all eyes will be on Wayne to see if he can bounce back like roundball.
16. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
This album is reaching mythical proportions of Detox. The follow-up to the wildly-hailed, fan-favorite Pinata has been gracing “Most Anticipated” lists for the past couple years. Bandana was written in 2016 while Gibbs was sitting in prison awaiting a not-guilty verdict, and some of Madlib’s beats are supposedly leftovers from Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo sessions. Gibbs said Bandana, which is finished, may be his last album, so that means it could be a while before it drops. However, stay vigilant, as he also told Zane Lowe it could drop from the clear blue sky.
15. Black Star – TBA
It’s been a long time, they shouldn’t have left us, without some dope rhymes to step to. It’s been nearly 21 years since a young Mos Def and spry Talib Kweli joined forces to give us knowledge of self in the wake of the tragic murders of 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. A lot’s different now, including a name change from Mos Def to Yasiin Bey. One thing that’s remained the same is the duo’s camaraderie. Bey declared in February 2018 that he and Kweli were working on a new Black Star album. Even though this was news to Kweli, Bey followed up by announcing he had recorded his first verse for the album.
Black Star keep shinin’.
14. Czarface & Ghostface Killah – Czarface Meets Ghostface
Czarface is in a collaborative mood as of late. The supergroup consisting of Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric combined with MF Doom for the album Czarface Meets Metal Face in 2018. Now, Deck will bring his crew along to team up with his Wu-mate, the legendary Ghostface Killah. The foursome has already dropped “Iron Claw,” a hard-knocking, sparse banger with quotables galore.
If the cut is any indication, This group will surely bring da ruckus in 2019.
13. Nas – TBA
Let’s face it: NASIR failed to meet expectations. The seven-track, Kanye West-produced album had its moments, but failed to live up to the hype for Nas’ first album since 2012’s critically-hailed Life Is Good. Nas said back in July he’d had an album he’d been working on before NASIR, and that it won’t be long before Nas album done. He also said the album will feature production from Swizz Beatz and RZA, which means we could get tracks for both the club and the streets.
Nas apparently has said all he’s going to say on Kelis’ abuse allegations, but hopefully we find out more about what he’s been up to for the past seven years than a seven-track album will allow.
[Editor’s note: He needs to make a full album with Swizz Beatz.]
12. The Game – Westside Story
If you take a look in Game’s eyes, you’ll see he’ll be a rapper ‘til he dies. With that considered, it’s hard to believe him when he says Westside Story will be his final album. Regardless, with all the legal drama swirling around Jayceon Taylor, it’s interesting to see what he’ll have to say (besides his Blood talk, of course). Chuck Taylor is said to have beats by Dre for the project, and we’ll see if he takes DX’s advice to create a classic on his alleged final album.
11. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels IV
Killer Mike and El-P will continue their remarkable chemistry. Though the last go-round sounded too similar to their first two installments, hardcore RTJ fans still ate it up. The duo will return with part four this year, and El-P told Zane Lowe in October they’re aiming to make the “grimiest, rawest record” they possibly can. RTJ’s recording for the album was inspired by its cut “Let’s Go (The Royal We)” off the Venom soundtrack. If that joint is any indication, Mike and P will definitely reach their goal in emanating a raw feel.
10. Joyner Lucas – ADHD
Mr. Lucas has been steadily building buzz since the thought-provoking “I’m Not Racist” dropped in late 2017. The Atlantic Records signee didn’t have the busiest 2018, but notably popped up on Eminem’s lyrical assault “Lucky You” off his well-received Kamikaze.
The Marshall Mathers’ cosign only boosts anticipation for ADHD. Lucas and Shady collaborated again for ADHD, on a song which Lucas described as a storytelling joint. As long as the lyrical potency continues, we should be in for a hyped-up project to please a wide array of Hip Hop fans.
9. Joey Bada$$ – TBA
The Badmon likes to take his time. He was in no hurry to release his debut album after his debut mixtape, 1999, caught fire, and it’s been nearly two years since the stellar All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ was released. The album featured Joey’s signature boom-bap sound, but also expanded to previously uncharted sonics for the then 22-year-old rap star.
Very little is known about his next project, but Bada$$ teased fans on Halloween with a tweet asking who wanted to hear his new album. The fans went nuts in response, and we may just get to hear a new Joey album in 2019.
8. Rick Ross – Port of Miami 2
Not many people would have guessed that the “Hustlin’” Rick Ross would be more than a flash in the pan when he released Port of Miami in 2006. Yet, the former correctional officer weathered controversy, multiple beefs and life-threatening seizures to sharpen his pen and have an illustrious career. Even LeBron James is hyped for this album, which Rick Ross said will be a “classic.”
He said in November that he was putting the finishing touches on the album, so expect to drop sometime soon.
7. & 6. Chance The Rapper & Kanye West – Good Ass Job/Chance The Rapper & Childish Gambino, TBA
Oh, boy. The album that never was. Good Ass Job was supposed to be the final installment of Kanye’s education-themed series that began with The College Dropout and concluded with Graduation. Yeezy’s plans for Good Ass Job were derailed when his mother died, prompting 808s & Heartbreak and, well, a lot of other things. But, in September, Ye announced that he and Chance were working on the album.
Though Mr. West once promised it to be a boom-bap affair, it would likely be more soulful with Lil Chano involved. Not much else is known about the album but expected it to be entrenched in the streets of Chi City. Chance also said he’s worked on an album with Childish Gambino and has six songs in the can. Time will tell which one drops first.
5. Big Sean – TBA
One of rap’s most consistent could be back in 2019. In an interview with Vibe, he spoke on creating new music. He said he’s been taking vocal and piano lessons, and promised a more melodic focus on his next album. “I feel like I have a good natural tone, and my vocal teacher told me I have a really good voice so I’ve been working on it, doing my vocal warm-ups, just taking my craft a little more seriously,” Sean said. “All I ever wanted to be was a rapper but lately, I’ve been writing songs.” It will be interesting to hear if Sean Don, who sometimes has been criticized for treading to close to Drake territory, can carve out his own identity as a singer and placate the masses with his vocal pipes.
4. Kanye West – Yandhi
What a year 2018 was for Kanye West, and often not in a good way. The marathon of Yeezy-produced albums in the summer of 2018 yielded mixed results: Pusha T’s Daytona and Ye and Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts were heralded, while Kanye’s Ye and Nas’ NASIR were considered disappointments. Then there were his off-the-mic ramblings: his outlandish “slavery was a choice” comment, his self-serving meeting with Donald Trump in the Oval Office, and his sloppy, albeit understandable, Twitter rant aimed at Drake. It’s a testament to Mr. West’s talents that we are still interested in his music. Yandhi was pushed back twice, as West ditched his MAGA hat and began recording the album in Uganda to get in touch with his ancestral roots. Expect the unexpected, as Yeezy loves throwing curveballs and reinvents himself every album. Whatever else one might say about the man, every Kanye West album is an event.
3. Childish Gambino – TBA
Donald Glover had a helluva 2018. His FX show, Atlanta, garnered 16 Emmy nominations and was named DX’s TV Show of the Year. On the music front, he nabbed a Grammy award for “Redbone” and had a No. 1 hit with “This Is America” (also DX’s Video of the Year).
Gambino also announced that his next album will be his last. The proclamation brings both sadness to a generation of fans who benefit from his entertainment and wisdom, as well as increased intrigue to see just how he’ll bow out. Little is known about the album, but if it’s anywhere near as epic as the live action The Lion King look (in which Glover will star), we’ll be in for sonic excellence of catastrophic proportions.
2. ScHoolboy Q – TBA
We can’t blame ScHoolboy Q for delaying his album, as he had a damn good reason. After his good friend, Mac Miller, died of a drug overdose in September, he took a step back. “With my nigga gone right now, I just don’t feel right putting out an album,” Q told fans at a concert. “As y’all can tell, I’m not my real self right now.” Time heals most wounds, so maybe some distance from the tragedy has allowed ScHoolboy Q to refocus on his fifth studio album. If it’s anything like the dark, irresistible Blank Face LP, everyone from TDE patrons to college kids will be waiting for that next part.
1. Chance The Rapper – TBA
It’s the summer of 2016. Chance The Rapper has taken the world by storm with gospel choirs, his warm, welcoming delivery, and his endearing ad-libs. Coloring Book was DX’s 2016 Album of the Year, and the defiantly independent MC seemed primed to capitalize on his momentum. Nearly three years later loosies and Christmas music are “all we got.” However, he dropped two songs, the hypnotic “The Man Who Has Everything” and the Joey Purp-assisted “My Own Thing,” in late November. If these strong songs are any indication, there’s, well, a good chance we’ll see new Chano music in 2019.
After all, there’s no label to stop him.