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 Tiger Woods, the second LP promised by 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.
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.
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.
And it appears that Donald Glover agrees. Just last week, Glover took to Twitter to announce some incredibly exciting news for his fans.
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…
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? Check out Everything We Know About Kendrick Lamar’s New Album, including when/if we expect it to drop in 2021.
2020 XXL Freshman Baby Keem, who also happens to be one of Kendrick Lamar’s cousins, is definitely an artist you’ll want to watch out for in 2021. Not only is he integrated into the new pgLang arts collective, co-owned and operated by TDE heavyweights Kendrick Lamar and Dave Free. Baby Keem can also rip mad bars.
Need to be convinced? Check out Baby Keem’s 2019 project Die for My Bitch, a diverse arsenal of tracks that, though slightly lacking in vision, display Baby Keem’s ability (and interest) to do it all. From slower jams, to hard-hitting beats, to eccentric cartoonish freestyles, Baby Keem has introduced himself as a rapper of many feels and trades. This, and Baby Keem’s connection with one of the best rappers alive, are just a couple of reasons as to why his forthcoming record will likely be one of the best in 2021.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier this year, the Long Beach rapper signed with Motown Records and promised a new project—his fourth studio album. His last record, FM!, restated what we already knew about Vince Staples: The rapper is exceptionally talented, unrelenting in truths, and will rampantly do whatever he wants.
So what has Vince Staples been up to since 2018’s FM!? Staples has launched a web series, aptly titled The Vince Staples Show, featuring new music and sketch comedy visuals. The first episode dropped in August and debuted the new single “So What?” while the second episode arrived earlier this month and contained the single “Sheet Music” feat. Ray J.
Later this month, Vince Staples will have a new song out via the star-studded Queen & Slim soundtrack. You can listen to the uncharacteristically soulful single, “Yo Love,” here. Vince Staples will likely drop his fourth LP, containing the Vince Staples Show singles, before the end of 2021.
Cardi B: Tiger Woods
We’re coming up on two years since Cardi B’s debut album Invasion of Privacy dropped, a catering record which scored high acclaim and respect for the rapper
—all overwhelmingly deserved. Since then, Cardi B has dropped a number of hit singles, including but not limited to the hard-hitting “Money,” in addition to making her film debut in Hustlers. All in all, it looks like Cardi B’s reign has only just begun.
Now, fans are getting ready for the release of her sophomore album, rumored to be titled Tiger Woods. The album is said to feed off of the strong, comeback energy golf professionals and enthusiasts have witnessed from their formerly-fallen hero, Tiger Woods. Though we don’t think that Cardi needs any other societal figure to bolster her own reputable energy, we are excited for what this album will bring.
In the same announcement where new Kanye West, Rihanna, Migos, and The Weeknd albums were promised came word on Drake’s upcoming venture—reportedly due out in 2019. No matter that Drake recently dropped his The Best In The World Pack EP back in June. The artist, around that time, revealed via Instagram that he’s in full “album mode.” So fans, you may want to prepare for another massive Spotify campaign this year, as Drake continues to be one of the most successful and prolific rappers in the game.
Amongst the recent TDE releases
—Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Zacari
—fans are likely to bypass one of the label’s prodigies, the Black Hippie Ab-Soul, who is more than likely to drop a new album in 2021. He’s remained relatively tight-lipped since the 2016 release of Do What Thou Wilt, but just two weeks ago after his Day N Vegas set, Ab-Soul promised his audience a new album for the new year.
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.
J. Cole: The Fall Off
For those who were paying close attention when J. Cole dropped 2018’s KOD, it comes as no surprise that J. Cole’s forthcoming record is titled The Fall Off
—as indicated in the final song of KOD titled ” “1985 (Intro to ‘The Fall Off’).
According to a 2018 interview with Angie Martinez, J. Cole has been working on The Fall Off since 2016; the project has occupied a back burner while Jermaine has developed projects for his rap alter-ego kiLL edward, as well as the recent Dreamville compilation Revenge of the Dreamers III.
But according to J. Cole, he’s “working on it,” a statement heavily confirmed by an ad which ran during his set at the Day N Night Festival.
“It seems like shit is all fucked up. The country needs a hero to turn to in these turbulent times. Jermaine Cole is that hero,” a narrator spoke over media of the North Carolina rapper, along with corresponding visuals. “A man whose humility knows no bounds. A man whose pen is so potent, each word of his verses reportedly cost $2,000. We need someone with big ideas and bold solutions. An expert in diplomacy. A candidate that can heal the inter-generational war.”
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.
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.