Ultimate Hip-Hop Album Guide 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Last year was one of the biggest in recent memory, with releases from what felt like ninety percent of the game. That may be an exaggeration, but it’s not entirely far from the truth. Drops from Drake, Pusha T, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Eminem, Royce Da 5’9,” Migos, Takeoff, Quavo, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, J.I.D, EarthGang, Future, Mac Miller, Denzel Curry, Nas, Dave East, Flatbush Zombies, A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, Cozz, Bas, Travis Scott and many more helped pad a stacked release calendar, fuelling a spirited album-of-the-year debate to match.
Given that artists, despite our best intentions, are not coin-operated music makers, albums generally arrive on a bi-yearly basis. Exceptions do exist, especially for those of a fiendish work ethic, or a renewed sense of hunger. Still, given the fact that we as hip-hop fans were indeed “eatin’” last year, one has to wonder if 2019 will bring forth the same fruitful harvest.
While we’re about two and a quarter months deep at the time of this writing, the release schedule has been relatively light. The quality has been there, with solid drops from Future, Offset, Boogie, Solange, Juice WRLD, 2 Chainz, DaBaby and more, but the frequency of A-list arrivals has admittedly slowed. Perhaps this is simply the calm before the storm. After all, it’s been a minute since we’ve seen TDE unleash their roster. Plus, Dreamville is positioned for a massive year, with Revenge Of The Dreamers 3, EarthGang’s “MirrorLand,” and Cole’s own KOD followup. Culture III is still out there, as is Kanye West's fabled Yandhi. It’s only a matter of time before the release dates start pouring in.
For now, familiarize yourself with some of the concrete arrivals, officially due out in March, April, and beyond.
Zacari - Run Wild Run Free
When: March 15th
TDE's melodic weapon is about to channel the wolves he appears to love so dearly. With singles like "Midas Touch" revealing the scope of Zacari's talents, it stands to reason that Run Wild Run Free will be an impressive introduction to the young singer's modus operandi.
Rich The Kid - The World Is Yours 2
When: March 22nd
Rich The Kid's anticipated sequel to last year's The World Is Yours has finally landed a release date. With features from Nav, Gunna, Juice WRLD, Gucci Mane, SZA, Offset, Big Sean, Lil Pump, Takeoff, and more, The World Is Yours 2 looks to be another slew of heaters from The Kid. We've already heard singles Splashin and 4 Phones, an early glimpse at the possible sonic direction.
Yelawolf - Trunk Muzik 3
When: March 29th
On his final Shady Records album, Catfish Billy appears to be back on his B.S, if the merciless onslaught of dope freestyles appear to indicate. Expect this one to revisit his gritter hip-hop aesthetic, as the Alabama emcee has seemingly exorcised his demons in favor of a back-to-basics approach.
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Khalid - Free Spirit
When: April 5th
The dulcet tones of Khalid will fill your ears once again, as soon as this Spring. The singer has already dropped a few lead singles, including "My Bad," "Better," "Talk," and "Saturday Night."
Anderson .Paak - Ventura
When: April 12th
After hunkering down for some creatively fruitful studio sessions with his friend and mentor Dr. Dre, Anderson .Paak came through with the rap-heavy Oxnard. He recently revealed that he and Dre's cook-up actually yielded a pair of projects, including the more soulful companion piece Ventura. Look for this one to please fans of .Paak's Malibu sound, which some felt was missed during his latest outing.
Dreamville - Revenge Of The Dreamers 3
Take this one well-salted. J. Cole recently revealed his intentions to unveil the culmination of the storied Revengers sessions at some point in April, though the Herculean task of narrowing down the selections is hardly an easy one. With contributions from Cole, Cozz, Bas, JID, EarthGang, Lute, Ari Lennox, T.I., Reason, Buddy, Smino, Vince Staples, Ski Mask The Slump God, King Mez and more, Dreamers III is easily one of the year's most anticipated projects. What else is there to say about this leviathan? SEE FOR YOURSELF.
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Famous Dex - Momma's Boy
When: May 22nd
This summer, Dexter returns from the lab with a new album in tow. The Momma's Boy project, a dedication to his late mother, appears to be a more personal outing from the animated rapper, following last year's Dex Meets Dexter.
DJ Khaled - Father Of Asahd
Who is DJ Khaled's favorite rapper? "MYSONNE!" Look for Father Of Asahd to arrive in May, as per the affable mogul's own confirmation. Expect plenty of notable names to pop up for the assist, as Khaled was recently spotted working with Nipsey Hussle, Lil Baby, J Balvin, SZA, Cardi B, and more.
Iggy Azalea - In My Defense
With her upcoming single "Sally Walker" set to arrive later this week, it would appear that the masters-owning Iggy Azalea is ready to return to the game. It's been five years since her last studio album The New Classic, and it should be interesting to see whether the "Cash/Ass" aficionado still has a few hits on deck.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Soulja Boy - Untitled
When: July 28th
The comeback of the century continues. BigDrako has already tapped a massive lineup of guest appearances for his upcoming album, including Tory Lanez, Swae Lee, Trippie Redd, Bhad Bhabie, ASAP Ferg, Asian Doll, Smooky Margeila, Chief Keef, Money Man, Nicki Minaj, Ronny J, and Murda Beatz.
Chance The Rapper - Untitled
While Chance The Rapper has given us little in the way of detail, he has confirmed that his upcoming studio album will be dropping this July. Given that his manager has echoed the notion, it stands to reason that there's fire behind this particular smoke.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Beast Coast - Untitled
Joey Bada$$. Meechy Darko. Erick Arc Elliot. Zombie Juice. Ak The Savior. Issa Gold. Nyck Caution. Kirk Knight. CJ Fly. What more could you ask for? Stream lead single "Left Hand" right here - it's fire.
Chris Brown - Indigo
The multi-talented singer has been working on his Heartbreak On A Full Moon followup for a minute. Having recently compared the project to his first album, Breezy promised a few key themes on this go-around."THIS 'INDIGO' ALBUM IS ABOUT ENERGY, LOVE, LIGHT, and HAPPINESS," he proclaimed, alongside the debut single "Undecided." "IT WONT BE A MILLION SONGS THIS TIME EITHER. PROMISE."
Chris Brown & Joyner Lucas - Angels And Demons
Talk of Chris Brown and Joyner Lucas' joint effort has been swirling for a minute, though little concrete news has materialized. Still, we've already received three singles from the project, with "Stranger Things," "I Don't Die," and "Just Let Go." Could this be the year the full album arrives? It seems likely.
Conway - Untitled Shady Records Album
Griselda's Conway is poised to deliver his first album on Shady Records. "I consider it the illest shit in probably the last two decades," he teases. "We got some people on there too. Big boys on it." Eminem feature, perhaps?
DMX - Untitled
Dark Man X is back in the mix, preparing his first album since 2012's Undisputed. We've already seen him putting in work in the studio alongside Ruff Ryders alumni Swizz Beatz, who has spoken openly about X's healthy mindset. Perhaps a new album from DMX is exactly what the game has been missing.
EarthGang - MirrorLand
Venus and Dot are about to embark on a psychedelic journey unlike anything the world has ever seen. When I asked the duo about what we can expect from their upcoming project, I received the following answers: "It’s an LSD trip. It’s a coming of age trip. You gonna be shown who you are, who you wanna be and the endless possibilities of who you can be. All in this project." Also, "how far light can bounce."
Image via HNHH
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana
Though a concrete release date has yet to be provided, an increase in activity from the normally quiet tandem of Gibbs and Madlib suggests that Bandana is on the way. If "Flat Tummy Tea" and "Bandana" are any indication, look for this one to be one of the year's strongest drops.
G-Eazy - Untitled
Young Gerald, known affectionately as "The Bay Area Greaser" has been hard at work in the booth. With the Blueface-assisted "West Coast" already on deck, G-Eazy has confidently dubbed his new project his "best one yet."
Joyner Lucas - ADHD
While the project was announced late last year, Joyner's ADHD project appears to have been pushed back until 2019. While single "I Love" has been in rotation for a minute, details surrounding the lyricist's upcoming effort remain relatively scarce. We do know that he'll be reuniting with Eminem for a storytelling track, which Lucas previously compared to an Em classic. "This next record that I release with Marshall is going to be a storytelling record," teased Lucas. "I promise, nobody has heard him rap like this since 'Stan.' This is vintage, 'Stan' storytelling. His best."
Migos - Culture III
Though plans of an early 2019 drop appear to have been abandoned, it wouldn't be surprising to see Migo-mania kick off in the near future. Look for the third chapter of the Migos' Culture trilogy to be the biggest chapter thus far. If the first was excellent, and the second was solid, if unremarkable, what can we expect from this go-around?
Kanye West - Yandhi
What are we to expect from Ye on this go-around? Will the 6ix9ine and XXXTentacion collaborations remain intact? What about the Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign-assisted "body image anthem?" Will the turnt-up gospel of Sunday Services inform any of his new sounds? So many questions remain, and yet the oft-outspoken producer has opted to keep his cards close to his chest.
PnB Rock - TrapStar Turnt PopStar
At some point this year, PnB Rock will be returning with his followup to 2017's Catch These Vibes. While the release date has yet to be revealed, we do know that Rock is sitting on features from Lil Durk, Tee Grizzley, Quavo, XXXTentacion, Tory Lanez, Lil Skies, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and more.
Rick Ross - Port Of Miami 2
It boss has been absent for a while, but it would appear that Yung Renzel is ready to make a triumphant return. Port Of Miami 2 will assuredly arrive at some point in 2019, and while Rozay has kept details close to the chest, it's likely that he'll be welcomed back with open arms. It's unclear whether previous singles "Florida Boy" and "Green Gucci Suit" will remain part of the project, or whether they'll fall by the wayside in favor of new jams.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
ScHoolboy Q - Untitled
It's been a minute, but ScHoolboy Q appears to be dropping his Blank Face follow-up at some point this year. Look for his effort to be one of many TDE drops. While we have yet to receieve a date, ScHoolboy has recently teased some new music, signalling an imminent release.
The Game - Born To Rap
Oh, The Game. The album hasn't even come out yet and he's already pissed off Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Joe Budden, and Cyn Santana. With involvement from Nipsey Hussle, Dr. Dre, Just Blaze, Swizz Beatz, and many more, expect this one to be a send-off worthy of a hip-hop legend. Say what you will about the west-coast legend, but The Game will likely bring his A-Game on Born To Rap, and it should be a spectacle to behold.
Young Thug - Barter 7
At this point, we have so many Thugger IG snippets that a collection of them would likely make an album in itself. Hopefully, the serpentine auteur can find it in himself to collect the best ones in one cohesive package. We could always use some new Jeffery.