Drake-mania, Barbies, reunions, arrests and more dominated the hip-hop headlines in 2010. Lil Wayne went to jail and came out, and T.I. got out of jail only to go back in months later. Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj proved the ladies can still get behind a mic, and Drake delivered on his potential with a stellar debut album.
Now, looking ahead to the next 12 months, the year in hip-hop promises to be bigger and better than the last, from Dr. Dre's return to a slew of hungry new rappers ready to vie for the Hottest MC crown. Here, Mixtape Daily presents part one of our preview of stories to follow in '11. You know what it is.
Detox Is (Really) Coming
The doctor is finally in! Dr. Dre is set to release his long-in-the-works Detox album. He's already in promotional mode, having graced the cover of the most recent XXL and dropped his new single, "Kush," featuring Snoop Dogg and Akon. After a few false starts, Dre is finally on pace to put out the project, which could also prove to be the launching pad for newcomer Kendrick Lamar's career. Though he's not signed with the super-producer, the upstart MC is poised to be the latest breakout from Dre's albums, following perhaps in the footsteps of Snoop (The Chronic) and Xzibit (2001). Put your drink down and enjoy this one.
Dipset, Dipset, Dipset
This merry band of Harlem bandits put their differences aside last year and celebrated re-grouping with the rumbling "Salute," their first collective effort in years. Since, Cam'ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana and Freekey Zekey have gotten back to their old Diplomats tricks. They've ruffled a few feathers (Cam and Jones took a few shots at former labelmate Kanye West on their version of "Runaway"), re-injected their sense of humor into the game (joining Kanye for "Christmas in Harlem") and stoked rumors the New York collective will join Jimmy Iovine's Interscope Records. Reunited, and it feels so good.
Jay and 'Ye
What more can we say? Two of hip-hop's reigning kings are joining forces for a full-length project that should provide material for playlists for the rest of the year. The pair dropped their first single, "H.A.M.," first thing Tuesday (January 11), and the MTV News Hip-Hop Brain Trust, like everyone else, will now analyze, debate and dissect the Lex Luger-powered number.
The Now School
Big names usually lead the release schedule each Tuesday, but this year, an influx of new stars is set to debut, including Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole, Jay Electronica, CyHi the Prynce, Big K.R.I.T. and a solo Pusha T. The collective should ignite the game in the coming months as their profiles grow. With established acts like 50 Cent leaning toward Hollywood and veterans like Nas opting for alternative projects, the young guns have taken aim and are ready to fire. Take cover.
Hip-hop's prodigal son, Shyne, is expected to release not one, but two albums this year: his next project on Def Jam (his last for the label was 2004's self-titled LP) and another tentatively slated to bear the Cash Money Records logo. After serving nearly 10 years behind bars for his involvement in the infamous Club New York shooting, the Brooklyn rapper was deported to Belize, where he's now based. Despite a rather tepid response to new material he put out last year, the outspoken MC remains as fascinating an artist as hip-hop has seen in recent years. He's converted to Orthodox Judaism, but his rhymes still feature the potent realism of his previous work. Will his future be as bright as his once-promising past?
Mixtape Daily's two-part 2011 preview continues Thursday, and your favorite hip-hop column will be back on the daily grind Tuesday, January 18, where you'll find the best coverage on all things rap, from mixtapes to DJs to MCs to culture.
For other artists featured in Mixtape Daily, check out Mixtape Daily Headlines.