Hip-hop's last 12 months were so unpredictable. It used to be that you could count on certain heavyweights to carry us through a calendar year, but instead of solo releases from Jay-Z, Eminem, Lil Wayne or Kanye West, we were treated to a host of pleasant surprises in 2012.
2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and Meek Mill all delivered memorable solo debuts, while veteran MC Nas proved he can still craft classic material. Rick Ross held nothing back on God Forgives, I Don't, and T.I. got the trap back jumping on Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head.
Now that we have a number of new stars and returning veterans, 2013 could very well go down in the history books. Here are MTV News' most anticipated hip-hop albums of 2013:
February marks the 10-year anniversary of 50 Cent's deafening debut Get Rich or Die Tryin', and to help mark the occasion, the G-Unit head is looking to drop his fifth LP, Street King Immortal. It's been four years since Fif's last studio LP, and fans are wondering if he's still got it. We're thinking yes.
When Big Sean dropped his debut, Finally Famous, in 2011, we thought he did a mighty fine job, but being the perfectionist he is, the G.O.O.D. Music MC promised to up the ante for his sophomore disc, Hall of Fame. If the album is anything like his 2011 Detroit mixtape, rap fans are in for quite a treat.
Drizzy has racked up a ton of life experience since releasing Take Care at the end of 2011. He's toured the world, rumbled (allegedly) with Chris Brown's crew and moved from Toronto to L.A. — and we're sure he's broken a heart or two. It all should make for very engaging music once Drake decides to drop his third LP.
Sean isn't the only Detroit player slated to drop an album this year. Eminem confirmed he is working on his Recovery follow-up, and while no release date has been given, a commemorative baseball cap that went for sale on the rapper's website in October hinted at a 2013 release. We don't have much detail on the LP, but platinum producer No I.D. told MTV News that the two made plans to hit the studio.
Way back in December 2011, Hov revealed to MTV News he was in "a great place creatively" and not only hinted at a 12th solo LP, but told us we might get a Watch the Throne sequel with Kanye as well. In 2012, Hov stayed busy raising Blue Ivy and bringing the Nets to his native Brooklyn, so we never did get that album. We're not harboring any hard feelings; we know Jigga Man is good for it!
J. Cole takes this rap thing seriously. His tightly executed 2011 debut, Cole World: The Sideline Story, blended true-school hip-hop with some pretty poignant pop moments. We're looking for the Roc Nation MC/producer to do the same on his upcoming Born Sinner project. Already, the teaser single "Miss America" shows a ton of promise, thanks to its complex rhyme patterns and powerful social commentary.
Kanye West/ G.O.O.D. Music
No, Kanye West didn't drop a solo LP last year, but he didn't exactly leave fans hanging either. G.O.O.D. Music's Cruel Summer LP gave listeners plenty of standout Yeezy moments, and word is the Louis Vuitton Don is working on his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy follow-up. No I.D. confirmed the yet-untitled project with MTV News last July, and if we don't get that, we're still holding out for the mysterious Cruel Winter.
We were supposed to get Weezy's I Am Not a Human Being II last year, but what's a highly anticipated rap LP without a few pushbacks? With his "No Worries" single beyond buzzing and his newly leaked "Good Kush & Alcohol" hitting the Net, it doesn't seem like we'll be waiting too long for Tunechi's next masterpiece.
As one-half of the Clipse, Pusha T has already dropped countless sonic gems, but can he do it on his own? On his upcoming solo debut, My Name Is My Name, the G.O.O.D. Music rhyme dealer looks to permanently cement his name in the annals of rap.
The folks over at Top Dawg Entertainment got a good thing going. Last year, they partnered with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label to drop Kendrick Lamar's unforgettable good kid, m.A.A.d city LP; now, it's all eyes on K-Dot's Black Hippy partner-in-rhyme Schoolboy Q, who is scheduled to drop his major debut, Oxymoron, in the coming months. If his independently released Habits & Contradictions is any barometer, fans can expect pure heat.
Which hip-hop LP are you most looking forward to in 2013? Sound off in the comments!