Arrests and court cases dominated the hip-hop headlines last year, but with Lil Wayne free and a host of new stars ready to take the next step, 2011 should bring some better days.
Drake is expected to drop Take Care, the follow-up to his debut, and the entire Young Money/ Cash Money crew has their sights set on world domination (can we also get a world tour?). There are still some MCs behind bars, but T.I. and Mobb Deep's Prodigy will be out soon, and hopefully acts like Young Jeezy, 50 Cent and Nas can rebound from rap purgatory with projects worthy of their talents. Here, Mixtape Daily presents part two in our preview of stories to follow in the new year.
Drake's Second Date
The breakout star of 2010 is working on the follow-up to his debut, Thank Me Later,: the gentlemanly titled Take Care. He's promised bigger records for his sophomore set, and so far, he's been in the studio with Justin Timberlake and the Neptunes, among others, to prove his point. His much-hyped R&B mixtape, It's Never Enough, is on hold at the moment as Drizzy takes his act international during his current jaunt across the Atlantic with J. Cole. When the pair of projects arrive, however, expect Drake-mania to ratchet up all over again.
The past 12 months weren't kind to T.I. After being released from a halfway house in March, the beloved Atlanta MC returned to work, but the reception to his solo material was tepid. He scored knockouts with his guest verses on Drake's and Rick Ross' albums, but by the time he released his retooled (and rushed) No Mercy LP, he was back behind bars after a parole violation. We're hoping Tip rebounds like Blake Griffin when he completes his 11-month prison term. Mobb Deep's Prodigy, meanwhile, is scheduled to finish his jail sentence this year as well. The New York MC was embarking on a rejuvenated solo career when he was arrested on gun-possession charges. We'll be saluting him when he touches back down.
Without a doubt, Young Jeezy is one of the best out, but the trap star has had a harder time than usual getting his latest album, the long-delayed Thug Motivation 103, out the gate due to the slow response to his single choices. Likewise, a motivated 50 Cent, who has been busy milking millions of dollars out of Hollywood lately, is set to come back with a new album, the follow-up to Before I Self-Destruct, the superstar's first LP to fall short of the platinum-selling mark. Fellow Queens native Nas may have expanded his fanbase with his collaborative effort with Damian Marley, but fans are looking for the Distant Relatives MC to return to Nasty Nas form on his forthcoming effort, due later this year.
There's Lil Wayne's next album, and then there's everybody else's projects. Apologies to Jay-Z and Kanye West, but even their royal collaborative LP, Watch the Throne, has to bow down to Tha Carter IV as the most-anticipated hip-hop album of the year. The frenetic MC was behind bars for 10 months in 2010 and has kept a low profile since he was released in November. Weezy's rollicking "6 Foot 7 Foot" is a sign of things to come. Excuse his charisma, but we're rocking with the Cash Money King in 2011.
Young Money/ Cash Money Takeover
Nicki Minaj is still in full promotional mode for Pink Friday, with videos on the way for her Drake-assisted "Moment 4 Life" and "Fly" featuring Rihanna. Then there's Drizzy's pair of projects, his R&B mixtape and Take Care. Lil Wayne is back (!!!) and putting the final touches on Tha Carter IV. The next generation of YM heavy hitters are on deck: Tyga, Lil Twist and Cory Gunz are all expected to drop their debut albums. New Cash Money acquisition DJ Khaled is also readying his first project for the house that Baby and Slim built. Then there's the rumored YMCMB tour that would place the revamped crew alongside Bad Boy, Death Row, No Limit, Ruff Ryders and Roc-A-Fella as one of the premiere collectives in hip-hop history.
Mixtape Daily will be back on the daily grind beginning Tuesday, January 18, with our first Main Pick of the new year, Rick Ross' Ashes to Ashes.
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