If you found 2014 a bit lacking in music star power, then 2015 will be your year. The recently departed year had a majority of its premier releases stacked into the last quarter. This year will probably see releases from Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Lil Wayne and others. In other words, there are many more “album of the year potentials” to look for to in the next 11 months. With the exception of Joey Bada$$’ B4.DA.$$, January is looking as dry as it typically is in terms of album releases.
As the first weeks of 2015 continue, let’s take count of what’s in store with a look at the 15 most anticipated albums of 2015.
West is perhaps the only rapper ever to go six albums without dropping a dud. It doesn’t look like he’s starting now. Like his most recent efforts, West brought together a rumored murderers’ row of talent to help him out, including producers Q-Tip and Rick Rubin, Drake, Young Thug, DJ Mustard and Rihanna, to name a few. The possible songs that will end up on the tracklist sound like winners, too. And, yes, that includes “All Day” in its rough form. West ended 2014 with the emotional highlight “Only One” featuring Paul McCartney and Ty Dolla $ign‘s backing vocals. The former revealed he’s featured on another ‘Ye collaboration that includes Rihanna and McCartney that’s on the way. Ambitious? Yes, but West did bring the likes Elton John and Fergie together on one song and still pulled it off. Yeezy season cometh…
Pusha T – King Push
After dropping the long-delayed My Name Is My Name, Pusha T’s main highlight from last year came in the form of a guest verse on the urban brick-slinging idiosyncrasy that’s Future’s “Move That Dope.” Push didn’t leave it at just a contribution, though. He took some of that weirdness and transfixed it on to the glitchy adrenaline shot of the Kanye West-produced “Lunch Money.”
If anything, 2014 reminded us that Pusha T does weird well even though he’s of hip-hop’s traditionalist guild. Remember: those weren’t corner rhymer beats on “Hell Hath No Fury.” Speaking of which, The Neptunes and Push did spend 20 days working in the studio together. That, plus the certainty that West will be involved, ensures that King Push shall reign again.
Drake – Views From The 6
Look no further than 2014 for proof of Drake’s near infallibility. The man didn’t drop an album but still managed to be in the center of the conversation via the ESPYs hosting gig, the club burner “0 to 100,” and an EP that included highlight “How Bout Now,” that asked: “Would you really drive in the snow to see your woman?” The two tracks are Drake at his Drake-iest: a cocktail of instant memorability and emotional transparency. Long story short, Views From the 6 is looking like more of the same, and that’s OK.
There’s nothing like watching a man on a mission, and fortunately that man is rap prodigy Kendrick Lamar. He’s been spitting real in interviews and inspiring the homies locked up in prison. But is he preparing a worthy follow-up to good kid, m.A.A.d city? “i” is divisive, but the untitled track he debuted on The Colbert Report and even the track “Never Catch Me” with Flying Lotus shows he’s traveling a mile per minute, with jazz as the vehicle. Then there’s the unheard “King Kunta,” a track so good that Pharrell called it “unapologetically black and AMAZING.” Pharrell isn’t great when it comes to social issues, but we’ll take his word when it comes to music.
This is Frank Ocean we’re talking about here, so of course we aren’t going to get much more than cryptic hints of what’s to come. Another year passed without a new Ocean project, but at least we got “Memrise” — a sunny ode to a companion that shows that even Ocean’s falsetto hasn’t lost its passion. There isn’t much word on an estimated release date, but again, this is Ocean. This album is coming with care.
Meek Mill – Dreams Worth More Than Money
Meek Mill’s jail stint has made room for an underwhelming Rick Ross album and an underselling Stalley debut. So the future of MMG now rests on Mill and Wale. You should expect fire from the former for two reasons: he hasn’t had a true club hit in a while, and he’s about to have some real talk verses following his jail stint.
Wale — The Album About Nothing
Wale reached toward the mixtapes that helped make him (namely The Mixtape About Nothing), but that move doesn’t speak much to artistic progression. It’s a great PR stint: slip-ups like his threat to Complex has him marked as an arrogant individual to many. If anything, fans could take solace in how TAAN is for the people — a motive that pushed him to drop the free mixtape “Festivus” despite Jay Z and Rick Ross’ advice. Wale also said J. Cole and Jeremih (and probably Jerry Seinfeld, an inspiration) are the only features on what he considers his most creative album. Here’s to hoping it surpasses his previous middling studio efforts. MMG needs it.
It’s still a wonder how Big Sean could go from the promising Detroit mixtape to the chore that was Hall of Fame. But he’s kept his name alive through a series of guest verses, and on one fall Friday, he temporarily stopped the Internet with a four-song collection. The result: the brattish but catchy “I Don’t F—k With You” and instantly heightened anticipation.
Big Sean said his upcoming album will touch on his recent personal experiences, and that’s a lot to choose from considering how his ex, Naya Rivera, got married right after they broke up. For now, that means he’s still a reliable hitmaker. It’s easy to overlook his improvement as a rapper, though. “4th Quarter,” a cut off his last collection, finds him fluidly and triumphantly poking fun at The Fappening and touching on paranoia. It ranks high in his catalog, and it’s a hint that it’s clutch time for Big Sean.
Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 3
The reasons that Run The Jewels 3 is one of the anticipated albums of 2015 are simple. The biggest is how RTJ2 was the best — if not, top three — hip-hop album of the year. Secondly, El-P and Killer Mike hasn’t missed once since teaming up in 2012. Not in their solo efforts (Mike’s R.A.P. Music and El-P’s Cancer 4 Cure) or the RTJ albums. They’ll be straight with El-P’s apocalyptic production work and Mike’s passionate on-record presence.
Rihanna – R8
It’s perfect timing: After Nicki Minaj’s Pinkprint media blitz, the stage is set for her fellow queen to own the conversation. Rihanna is a bit overdue for an album— the nearly three years since Unapologetic is the longest delay between albums in her career. That said, it’s worth noting that Rihanna has arguably gotten better with her recent albums. Early career hits “Umbrella” and “S.O.S.” are still staples, but there’s something about her most recent hits “Pour It Up,” “We Found Love” and “Only Girl (in the World)” that resonate deeper within listeners. That extra time can kill the momentum or double the thrills. Our money is on the latter.
Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$
The one-time acclaimed prodigy is running out of real estate with his debut album. Retro New York is losing its luster thanks to Troy Ave’s short prominence and the return of G-Unit. Plus, his Summer Knights mixtape from 2012 was a downstep and showcased a Joey who was already worn down by industry mechanics before his 20s. So change up is needed on B4.DA.$$, and fellow PRO.ERA member Chuck Stranger promised just that, saying that “The stuff on Joey’s album definitely doesn’t sound like s*** we been doing.” Great, but that doesn’t take away from how high the stakes are on Jan. 20.
The A$AP Mob took a bit of an L by canceling its planned project for last year and seeing none of its members beside A$AP Ferg step up. But good news: A$AP Rocky still raps when he’s not on the runway. And when he raps, people still listen— Been Trill still hasn’t recovered from “Multiply.” “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye” proved Rocky still has a propensity for making bangers. His sophomore effort should have a few when it hopefully drops sometime this year.
Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment — Surf
Chance The Rapper surprisingly hasn’t followed up his acclaimed Acid Rap with another solo effort yet. Still, that mixtape was great enough to allow people to trust his artistic sensibilities. That’s why folks have been patient with his playful risk-taking with The Social Experiment. The material so far — which includes a cover of the Arthur theme song — has been pleasant, but it remains to be seen if Surf will make a serious artistic statement.
Lil Wayne — Tha Carter V
“Believe Me” featuring Drake was one of Lil Wayne’s best songs in years. That’s part of why it was so disappointing to watch that momentum dissipate into the intra-label beef that’s put this album’s release in limbo. Is it a Broke With Expensive Taste situation, where the album is so all over the place that it’s just hard to market? Or is it because nothing since “Believe Me” has really caught on? Regardless, this is still Lil Wayne, so the e-streets are watching.
Ty Dolla $ign — Free TC
“Paranoid” still sets off the club, “Or Nah” is still a catchphrase despite its patronizing nature and Ty Dolla $ign somehow ended up helping out Kanye West on “Only One.” Dolla $ign is doing great, and it doesn’t look like that momentum is turning down anytime soon. Whereas other contemporaries like The Weeknd and Trey Songz are comfortable in millennial R&B’s icy vibes, Dolla $ign is content with staying true to his love for ’90s R&B. For you, this means you get to hear Jagged Edge and R. Kelly on this album.
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