There’s no doubt that 2013 will leave a major mark on hip-hop’s timeline, with veterans Eminem, Jay Z and Kanye West all dropping albums that were pitted up against releases from their successors like Drake, J. Cole and Big Sean, but there’s still plenty to look out for as we start a new year. Take a look at our most anticipated hip-hop albums of 2014.
Kendrick Lamar Even though MTV News crowned Kendrick Lamar the Hottest MC in the Game at the top of 2013, it was still impossible to predict just how much heat he’d bring in the following months. Still riding high off his major-label debut good kid, m.A.A.d city, K.Dot sent shockwaves through the industry by calling out his peers on Big Sean’s “Control”, shut down the BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher, opened for Kanye West and racked up an incredible seven Grammy nominations (including Best New Artist and Album of the Year). Now we wait to see how the Compton rapper will top his cinematic debut and continue to ruffle feathers in 2014. — Nadeska Alexis
Kanye West Yeezus pushed so far outside the boundaries of hip-hop that it left some fans pining for the soul-sampling Kanye West. But being experimental comes with the territory when you’re a “rap god.” The polarizing album still topped plenty of end-of-year album lists, and now ‘Ye has plans in motion for another project that might satisfy his core fanbase. In December, Q-Tip confirmed that he and Rick Rubin would be co-producing West’s upcoming LP, which signals a more hip-hop lean. Don’t expect an abundance of tracks though, since Kanye plans to keep it minimal.
“I think my next album is going to be eight songs. It’s just reducing down the amount of information that you need,” he said during an Art Basel panel in Miami. — NA.
Schoolboy Q Cautionary rap fans may be looking for Schoolboy Q to pick up where Kendrick left off, but die-hards know the Black Hippy MC is his own man. Those expecting a good kid continuation need to check Q’s previously released Setbacks and Habits & Contradictions to prepare for the February 25 release of Oxymoron. If singles “Collard Greens” and “Man of the Year” are any indication Schoolboy is setting up to teach a lesson or two. — Rob Markman
Rick Ross Rick Ross intended for his sixth solo LP to drop in 2013, but a true boss always sees the bigger picture. Rather than rush a release Rick Ross held Mastermind for the new year. And if his latest offering with Jay Z (“Devil is A Lie”) is any indication ,it’s going to be big. Not only does he plan to collaborate with soul music legend Bobby Womack, Ross also pays homage to the Notorious B.I.G. with a sampling of his classic “You’re Nobody (Until Somebody Kills You).” — R.M.
Chance the Rapper In a year of blockbusters, Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape made plenty of noise for standout production and insanely skilled rhymes. The 20-year-old Chicago native backed up big singles like “Juice” with raucous live shows (even opening for Eminem) and proved that he’s not just an Internet celebrity. With plenty of independent success, Chance has opted not to ink a major label deal so far, but in a recent tour documentary he teased that his “Social Experiment” was coming soon. A full-length album in 2014, perhaps? — N.A.
Nicki Minaj Kendrick bruised egos this year when he declared himself “the King of New York,” and while plenty of rappers fired back we’re hoping that it’s Nicki Minaj who actually comes to claim the rap crown for NYC in 2014. Nicki’s previous albums were steeped in pop and dance music, but the Queens rapper is already recording her third LP and it sounds like bars will be on the menu.
“With the album, thank God, I’ve experienced so much in the last year and a half that there is so much for me to talk about and I know my fans are going to be excited about it,” she told MTV News in November. Nicki proved once that she’s a “Monster” with a verse that went down in rap history, and a whole album’s worth of ferocious rhymes is certainly in the realm of possibility. — N.A.
Meek Mill Meek Mill has a good thing going. His Dreamchasers mixtape series have become the perfect set-up tool for his album release. September’s Dreamchasers 3 featured potent street singles like “Dope Dealer” with Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross and “I’m Leanin’,” so you can only imagine what his next LP is going to bring. — R.M.
T.I. Don’t bother looking out for Trouble Man II, because Tip has scrapped the follow-up to his 2012 album and headed in a totally different direction. During an appearance on “RapFix Live,” he confirmed that both the title and concept had been switched up. “Since we started working on the project, [it] has taken a different shape, I think we’re going to postpone that title,” he revealed in December. “We’re gonna rework that. I got a couple of things in mind.” T.I. explained that he’ll still hold onto the material he recorded for Trouble Man II, but it just won’t surface on his next solo project.
“All I’ma say is, it’s gonna be a motion picture, it’s gonna be a theatrical-worthy title,” he added. “I’m thinking something like Trap Champion, Paperwork, but whatever it is the subtitle will be The Motion Picture.” — N.A.
Nas If slow and steady wins the race, then Nas is in hip-hop’s pole position. With an already storied catalog in place, the Queens rap icon scored major wins in 2012 with Life Is Good. Rather than hit 2013 with a follow-up , God’s Son took his time and is now eyeing a 2014 release — if we’re lucky. “I’m an open canvas, a clear canvas and an excited painter with a shaky hand,” he told MTV News of his next album. “Not because of bad nerves, but because of excitement.” — R.M.
Future Future had an eventful 2013. He hit the road with Drake, collaborated with Miley Cyrus and got engaged to Ciara. The Astronaut Kid even managed to drop a few singles of his own (“Sh–,” “Honest” and “Real and True”), but when it came time to drop his sophomore LP Future pumped the brakes. There’s no way Honest doesn’t get a 2014 release. — R.M.