The Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums for 2021

It’s a new year, with plenty of upcoming rap and hip-hop releases on the horizon. We definitely have a lot coming from Top Dawg Entertainment, with both Kendrick Lamar and SZA up to drop their new albums any day now. Not to mention a new Childish Gambino joint, an overdue Vince Staples album, and the long-awaited sophomore LP from Cardi B.

Will 2021 finally be the year Rihanna drops the storied R9? Could we finally see DONDA now that Kanye is fresh out of wedlock? We can’t wait for the greatness, and perhaps the strangeness, to come out of the rap scene in 2021. Here are The Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums for 2021, the rap records we can’t wait to get a hold of.

Don Toliver: LIFE OF A DON

Fans will be delighted to hear that Don Toliver’s sophomore album, LIFE OF A DON, is arriving this month. The record will be out Oct. 8 via Atlantic Records and Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack label. You can check out the new album trailer, which features a snippet of the track “Xscape,” below.

Not only is Don Toliver dropping new music in 2021, the rapper is also embarking on an eponymous tour to promote LIFE OF A DON. Toliver will be making his way through the U.S this fall, with special guest Bia, to wrap-up at Rolling Loud in December.

Don Toliver Tickets

Noname: Factory Baby

It didn’t take long for Noname—Chicago rapper Fatimah Warner—to start discussing her follow-up to this year’s Room 25. Already, she has her fans hyped on what will be her third mixtape. “Critics love Room 25. Fans love Telefone. I love my new shit”, Warner once wrote in a tweet.

Factory Baby, the reported title of her forthcoming album, is hopefully due out sooner than later. Though she has promised not to tour, we would be satisfied with a witty, humorous, and gritty album from Noname. As of late, Noname has been very vocal about her listening and learning, critiquing the rap industry, and her journey towards becoming politically active while remaining centered on her art. And even more recently, she’s tweeted about getting back to Factory Baby. Needless to say, fans of Noname are anxiously awaiting her lyrical progression through life’s material, how there becomes an intersection between society and the self, and how some of the most beautiful things are made in the act of transgression.

Joey Bada$$

In April 2017, Joey Bada$$ released the increasingly relevant banger All-Amerikkkan Bada$$. In addition to landing a major TV role on the hit drama Mr. Robot, Joey Bada$$ also appeared on Escape from New York with Flatbush Zombies and Beast Coast. In July 2020, Joey Bada$$ dropped The Light Pack, a three-song EP that feaures Pusha T on the track “No Explanation.”

This past January, to celebrate his birthday, Joey Bada$$ dropped what will hopefully be just his first single of 2021. The track, “Let It Breathe,” features production by Statik Selektah. The accompanying visual is an all-out joyride to match the stated luxury of his bars. We can’t help it, we’re getting hopeful for new Joey Bada$$ in 2021.

Childish Gambino

According to Donald Glover—the creative mind behind the Childish Gambino moniker—his last album was stated to be the rapper’s final installment. Glover even affirmed this verdict on the 2018 “This Is America” tour, where he said to an adoring audience who’d just been fed a concert of a lifetime: “I’ll see you for the last Gambino album.”

Fast-forward to March 21st of this year, when Childish Gambino surprise released 3.15.20. The socially conscious, often eerie homage to the living, included the previously released “Feels Like Summer” (renamed “42.26”), in addition to appearances by Ariana Grande (who guests on “Time”) and 21 Savage (“12.38”). For a finale to a rap identity that has helped revolutionize the genre, we thought 3.15.20 was a sturdy and impressive album. But it left us feeling, let’s say, with a need for closure.

Though Glover has confirmed new music is on the way, we want to point out that he did not specify that it was a Childish Gambino project. The “new ancient strings” reference beckons to a 1999 album by the same name, made by Malian musician Toumani Diabaté with Ballaké Sissoko.

Fans, start getting excited for another offering from Donald Glover on the music front. And in the mean time, we deeply encourage you all to embark on a New Ancient Strings rabbit hole that culminates, as Glover suggests, by listening to the album outside…

Travis Scott: Utopia

Last August marked the two year anniversary of the record that solidified La Flame’s hold on the rap scene. Since Astroworld, it’s been virtually impossible to buy, consume, listen, or do anything that isn’t somehow connected back to Travis Scott. Now that the “Travis Scott Effect” is most definitely a real thing, whenever he drops his new album—allegedly titled Utopia—it will undoubtedly be an event.

So far, Travis Scott has dropped two singles that may or may not appear on the forthcoming Utopia, the Young Thug and M.I.A-featured “Franchise” and the Kid Cudi-assisted “The Scotts.” Both singles featured the signature Cactus Jack auto-tuned vocals, psychedelic production, in addition to soaring into No. 1 spots. In short: once Utopia arrives, we anticipate that Travis Scott will be celebrating (hopefully with fans) at Astroworld level proportions.

Kendrick Lamar

One of the best rappers alive is rumored to be dropping a new album this year. The evidence is staggering and just keeps coming. First, Kendrick was enlisted to headline several music festivals both local and international. From Montreal’s Osheaga Music Festival to London’s American Express British Summer Time, to Germany’s Wireless Festival, Kendrick was slated to spend a big part of his summer on stage.

Then, there was Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde who spilled that not only is Kendrick’s album nearly done, but that it involves “more rock sounds” than what we’ve previously heard from the Compton rapper. Though we always expect Kendrick to defy expectations, to deliver an album unlike anything he’s produced before, this news generated a lot of interest. What is Kung-Fu Kenny cooking up in the studio? Here is Everything We Know About Kendrick Lamar’s New Album and Tour.

Rihanna: R9

Be. Still. Our. Hearts. Good, Rihanna-based news has finally arrived. Universal Music France held it’s yearly “open session”—where the label shares its yearly successes and future releases—and lo and behold, Rihanna’s highly anticipated ANTI follow-up is set to arrive in December. This is huge news for fans who feared Rihanna’s dancehall-focused album would never come to light. “It really does suck that it can’t just come out, because I’m working on a really fun one right now. I’m really happy with a lot of the material we have so far, but I am not going to put it out until it’s complete,” Rihanna stated previously.

Snoop Dogg: Algorithm

It’s been a busy year for Snoop Dogg, the one and only, as he gets ready to release two albums in a single year—for the first time in his whole career. Snoop brought the news to Jimmy Fallon just last month, confirming his 19th studio album Algorithm. According to the OG, Algorithm is a star-studded album with “a lot of big-name acts and some new ones.” Algorithm, due out in November, comes after April’s From Tha Streets 2 Tha Suites.

In addition to new music, Snoop has been busy in his new position at Def Jam Records as executive creative and strategic consultant. “I was a fan of Def Jam Records as a kid,” he said. “And knowing the talent that they have over there and the opportunity that was waiting on me, I wanted to go over there and give a lot of opportunity to the artists over there to get some information, some wisdom and some guidance from me and then also develop some new acts and give some opportunity.”

Post Malone

It hasn’t even been a year since Post Malone dropped his last album, 2019’s Hollywood’s Bleeding. But to the elation of his fans, Posty has seized this strange quarantine to grant himself the opportunity to pump out yet another album. “As crazy as the world is and as strong as everybody needs to be, being able to be in my house by myself and just vibe-out and see where my brain takes me — this has been a perfect time to make music, and to write songs about what’s going on currently,” Post told The Wall Street Journal.

“I’m working on an album now. “There’s so much to say in these times that will give people hope and hopefully uplift people’s spirits. Because it’s a dark time in America. It’s a dark time in the world. Honestly, for a songwriter to be in the house all day is a blessing and a curse. In the darkest of times I’m just trying to make something beautiful out of it.” We wouldn’t be surprised if Post Malone’s new album arrives sometime this year.

We know from earlier, confirmed rumors that Rihanna’s upcoming album is a pivot to dancehall music. After accruing over 500 samples from Jamaican producers and songwriters, Rihanna has crafted a record of Caribbean quality and sound. Though, fans should also expect major pop elements. According to sources, the LP endured a near constant changing of directions. But for the sake of those who dedicated and donated samples to the making of R9, we’re hoping that plenty of the dancehall survives.

Tierra Whack

On the eve of Halloween, Philly rapper Tierra Whack dropped another new single. This one, “Dora,” sees the experimental artist glowing-up on her fame and all of the hard work and time that was put into 2018’s Whack World. The single is of Tierra Whack’s signature, playful sound, and is accompanied by an Alex Da Corte video that, astonishingly, matches “Dora” in its creativity. Check out “Dora,” below.

Will Tierra Whack release a new album in 2021? We know that, since quarantine, Whack has focused on toying around with music. Most notably, she released a remake of Alanis Morissette’s classic hit “Ironic” to her own, pandemic-inspired lyrics. We think, even if it’s just a 5 song EP, that fans will hear more from Tierra Whack before the year is over.

Cardi B

We’re coming up on three years since Cardi B dropped her dazzling, powerful, commanding debut Invasion of Privacy. From a small acting role in Hustlers, to building an empire for the Bardi Gang to worship, to dropping the scandalous, star-studded “WAP,” Cardi’s queendom can’t be denied. But where is Cardi B’s sophomore album?

Most recently, the arrival of the new Cardi single “Up” gave the Bronx rapper another opportunity to assure her fans that she is working on the new album, but the songs simply aren’t all there yet. But with the continued success and platinum-level listening of her singles, we think Cardi has all the steam she needs to make the album of her—and her fans—dreams.

Ab-Soul

Overall, it’s been a quiet year from Top Dawg Entertainment. SZA, Kendrick Lamar, and Ab-Soul are all due to release their albums soon—promising a big year for TDE. Ab-Soul, West Coast rapper and former Black Hippy, recently tweeted to confirm the upcoming release of his new album and first since 2016’s Do What Thou Wilt.

Last month, Ab-Soul resurfaced in a new collab with Louis King and Fana Hues titled, “Anybody.” Nostalgic over the come up, dreamy vocals, a wide canvas of production, “Anybody” bodes well for Ab-Soul’s upcoming return.

Rae Sremmurd

The rumors have ceased. Rae Sremmurd, one of the best acts to break-out in the past five years, will not be splitting up. In fact, Swae Lee has recently opened up about the group’s follow-up to 2018’s SR3MM. “As for Rae Sremmurd, we dropped three classic albums already; it’s time for the fourth,” Lee said in an interview with Essence. “The fans have been patient. It’s time to give them what they’ve been waiting for.”

In addition to a new Rae Sremmurd album, fans also have their solo projects to look forward to, specifically Jxmmi’s. “And I’m about to drop a solo album, composed of all original music,” Jxmmi said. “I hope fans enjoy it.” Meanwhile, Swae Lee recently dropped “Sunflower” with Post Malone for the new Spiderman soundtrack.

SZA

SZA fans have been through some things. From the uncertainty of her vocal recovery, to the cancellation of several sets on TDE’s “The Championship” Tour, we were concerned about the durability of this rising star. But Solana is strong, and focused on her upcoming LP, which according to TDE’s oft-used two year album cycle, should arrive in the early part of 2021. And considering the talent, the writing, the awestruck vulnerability of CTRL, the next album from SZA is destined to be as compelling as her debut.

Here is Everything We Know About SZA’s new album.

 

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