2008 saw the release of some really good albums from T.I., Q-Tip, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo and a host of others, but there were several that were scheduled to drop that have yet to materialize. Here are five that I can’t wait to add to my iTunes rotation:

# 5) The Blueprint 3, Jay-Z

Producers: Kanye West, (maybe Timbaland?)

Leads: “Jockin Jay-Z,” “Swagger Like Us,” “Dead Presidents 3,” “Brooklyn Go Hard”

Quotable: “I can’t teach you my swag. You can pay for school but you can’t buy class.”

It’s hard not to get excited about a Jay-Z album but I can’t help but wonder what he has left to rap about. The title alone is a sign of redundancy for what will be Hova’s eleventh (damn!) studio CD and the last under his contract with Def Jam records. Even with the hints he’s given in the form of “Jockin Jay-Z” “Brooklyn Go Hard” and “Dead President 3” no one can tell which direction Brooklyn’s finest will go in.

He’s already rehashed the Reasonable Doubt steelo on American Gangster so no one is really anticipating more fish scale tales from Beyonce’s husband. He gave us the grown and sexy approach on Kingdom Come to mixed results so that leaves us with what? A CD of party music? Let’s hope not. If this is indeed going to be The Blueprint 3 are we going to learn more about the most mysterious MC in the game? That is really what made the original Blueprint so endearing, Superman opened up and let us see what it was like to grow up on the farm that was Marcy over wonderfully soulful beats from Kanye and Just Blaze.

The other option is to indulge in the other thing that made The Blueprint the talk of New York: beef. Will Hova finally give Jim Jones and 50 Cent the verbal sparring they’ve been begging for and release “The Takeover 2?” And will he get a mutual foe of them both like Nas to join him? It’ll be like Spiderman and Hob Goblin taking on Venom and The Sandman in Spiderman 3.

And speaking of threes, Jigga really only has one MC to be worried about-and I can’t believe I’m saying this-Lil Wayne. Weezy’s Tha Carter III is the high watermark for a hip-hop record nowadays, both creatively and sales wise. The elder Mr. Carter will have to pull some tricks out of his sleeve to grab the nation’s attention again. Let’s just hope one of them isn’t Autotune.

Click to see:

Number 4

Number 3

Number 2

Number 1

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