Every true Hip Hop fan is always hungry for more. Despite the mass of quality releases people have enjoyed over this past year, they already have their eyes set on what’s to come in 2021. Some of the albums on this list have been expected for months or even years, while others are fresh developments.
With promising news of soon-available COVID-19 vaccinations, a new president and stacked lineup of promising Hip Hop albums, 2021 is almost like a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
We know the name and rough release dates of a few of the projects listed below, such as Drake’s Certified Lover Boy, which set to drop sometime this month. Others are less-guaranteed rumors, such as the joint effort between Megan Thee Stallion and A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip who’s supposedly executive producing the project. Some are just wishful thinking (hi, Rihanna).
Let’s put 2020 behind us and look towards a brighter time. Here are 10 albums to look forward to in the new year.
Isaiah Rashad – TBD
Isaiah Rashad, one of rap’s cult-favorites, was relatively quiet last year. In fact, he’s been pretty much absent since the 2016 release, The Sun’s Tirade. Over the past few years, the TDE rapper has given us a few tastes of what’s to come with occasional features and his latest Crooklyn-produced single “Why Worry.” But on the first day of the New Year, Rashad scrubbed his social media accounts and beneath a cartoon image, ominously wrote: “happy new year fuckers. excited for all the fun stuff we’re gonna do this round. be safe and allat until then.” We’re also excited for whatever the LA-based rapper has slated for 2021.
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J.I.D – TBD
Dreamville’s J.I.D has a damn near perfect batting average throughout his still early career. He already has two fantastic albums in 2017’s The Never Story and his latest, the wildly-acclaimed Dicaprio 2, and that doesn’t include his work with the collective Spillage Village (which also includes 6lack, EarthGang and Mereba just to name a few) and the role he played in creating Dreamville’s Revenge Of The Dreamers III. He’s bodied several recent features from Aminé’s “Roots” to Kenny Beats and Smino’s “Baguetti.” The Atlanta-native has teased and hinted at new music coming soon, so we’re watching him closely.
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SZA – TBD
During the lockdown in the spring of 2020 SZA soothed our souls while playing sound bowls on Instagram Live. Then she released “Hit Different” which featured stunning vocals from Ty Dolla $ign and some of the most notable production from Chad Hugo and Pharrell in recent years. “Good Days” was SZA’s Christmas gift to the world, a passionate song backed with the lush soundscape of Jacob Collier’s vocals. Though it remains uncertain if an album is on its way, we’re still hopeful for a follow-up to her monumental album from 2017, Ctrl.
Travis Scott – Utopia
In many ways, Houston rapper/sneaker designer/McDonald’s Ambassador/video game tester/fashion influencer Travis Scott has become the face of rap. Something changed in 2018 with Astroworld, one of the most commercially successful and impactful albums of the decade. The project launched Scott into the global superstar conversation and pushed rap into new places. The 28-year-old rhymer has become the soundtrack to youth in America. As with every La Flame album, fans expect a star-studded cast that could include Don Toliver, Future, Roddy Ricch, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Young Thug. Utopia will mark Scott’s fourth studio album and if great enough, will solidify his legacy as a Hip Hop legend.
Megan Thee Stallion & Q-Tip – TBD
Megan Thee Stallion and Q-Tip, the iconic producer and MC from A Tribe Called Quest, is an unexpected but incredibly welcome collaboration. “Q-Tip is an album thing,” Megan disclosed in a 2019 Rap Caviar interview,” which Q-Tip confirmed in a November Tweet simply saying “Yes! 2021!” No one knows what shape the project will take, but anything featuring an artist who snagged two songs at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 2020 alone a Hip Hop stalwart who needs no further introduction, there’s a good feeling about this one.
Rihanna – R9
“It’s going to be worth it,” Rihanna told Entertainment Tonight in a July 2019 interview. Over a year has gone by since that conversation and while not much has been learned since, fans are still on their toes. It’s been four years since ANTI, RiRi’s last release, and aside from “BELIEVE IT,” the lead single from PARTYNEXTDOOR’s PARTYMOBILE and a small handful of other features, RiRi loyalists haven’t heard from the Goddess of R&B since. Pharrell has reportedly worked on what fans have nicknamed R9, which (as the title suggests) would mark the Barbadian singer’s ninth studio album.
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Lil Durk & Metro Boomin – No Auto Durk
A collaboration between Atlanta hit-maker Metro Boomin and South Side Chicago’s Lil Durk was initially announced in February 2020 but was eventually delayed. Durk put the joint project on the back-burner to make space for 21 Savage’s follow-up project with Metro, Savage Mode II. After leaks continued to complicate the release of No Auto Durk, the album’s status remains unclear. But for an artist who leveled up so prominently over 2020, fans are excited for what this year brings.
Drake – Certified Lover Boy
The 6 God works remarkably quickly for being one of the most famous artists in the world. Dark Lane Demo Tapes, which was released in early 2020, was disappointing on this end. But even a low point for Drake would be a monumental success for most everyone else. Perhaps to quell rumors, Drake busted out a slew of singles showcasing why he’s arguably the greatest rapper/singer alive. Certified Lover Boy was delayed as a result of Drake’s ACL injury but now is expected to arrive later this month.
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Pusha T – TBD
Out of the five albums spawned from Kanye West’s famed 2018 Wyoming Sessions, Pusha T’s DAYTONA was one of the best. The brief-yet-potent album easily marked the best offering from the Virginia Beach-born rapper since his Clipse days. Now, the G.O.O.D. Music president has announced his forthcoming album will be entirely produced by a Ye x Pharrell x Chad Hugo duo, The Neptunes. If the grandiose orchestral sounds present through the Grammy-nominated DAYTONA are present on Push’s next, there are high hopes.
J. Cole – The Fall Off
In mid-December, Twitter went ablaze with rumors J. Cole’s highly anticipated follow-up to 2018’s KOD would drop at midnight. To the disappointment of thousands, fans were placated with the video to “Fire Squad” from 2014 Forest Hills Drive. But that hasn’t stopped the intense countdown to Cole’s The Fall Off, (maybe?) set to drop this coming year. Cole enthusiasts can expect “The Climb Back” and “Lion King On Ice” to appear on that particular project, giving fans a taste of hard bars and focused lyricism from the Fayetteville-bred MC. Most recently, fans got an update from Cole via a rare post on social media. It appears Cole “still has some goals” before he falls off.
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Kendrick Lamar – TBD
Kendrick Lamar fans have been waiting since 2017’s DAMN. for new tunes from the Compton-born MC. He’s drawn ire from fans critiquing his slow release speed, while others trust in the artist’s creative process. This past year finally brought new sightings of the reclusive K. Dot filming music videos in Los Angeles, alerting fans to something. There are also reports Kung Fu Kenny is drawing influence and pulling sounds from rock music for what will be his sixth studio album. There’s arguably nobody in Hip Hop who has released so many consistently excellent projects, so whatever direction Dot is headed is probably a good one.
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