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The 10 Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Acts of 2018

on January 09, 2018, 12:00am
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05. Nipsey Hussle

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Believe the Hype: Nipsey Hussle wrapped up 2017 with one of the hardest singles of the year with his Victory Lap opening salvo “Rap Niggas”. Now, after inking a partnership with Atlantic Records and announcing an NBA All-Star Weekend — which just happens to be in Nip’s hometown of Los Angeles this year — release date for his major-label debut, 2018 is an opportunity for Nipsey Hussle to level up. After an unsuccessful partnership with Epic Records earlier in his career, Nipsey has been grinding on the underground for years. The hard work paid off, and he’s built up a rabid and faithful fan base who are proud to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for his music. This year, his fans’ loyalty pays off. –Greg Whitt

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04. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

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Believe the Hype: Freddie Gibbs made a triumphant return last year after a harrowing 2016 that included sexual assault charges and jail time in Austria. After being exonerated and acquitted of those charges, Gangsta Gibbs released some of the best work of his career in the short but potent EP You Only Live 2wice. But an eight-song EP does not a comeback make, so 2018 will be a big year for the Gary, IN, native. Most listeners expect his next full-length album to be the sequel to his 2014 Madlib collaboration, Piñata. But even if the Piñata sequel isn’t next on his release schedule, expect Freddie Gibbs to make his presence felt in a big way this year. –Greg Whitt

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03. PRhyme

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Believe the Hype: The first go-around with Royce 5’9” & DJ Premier melted our respective faces with a triumph of beats and rhymes powered by Adrian Younge samples and features from big names like Common, Jay Electronica, and ScHoolboy Q. In 2018, Antman Wonder takes over the reigns as the sample source for DJ Premier’s precision chops, and based on last year’s Bar Exam 4, we can expect Royce 5’9” to be in rare form as well. The guest list? Not unlike the first album, that is still a closely held secret that we don’t expect to learn until just before the album’s release, which only adds to the level of anticipation for the 2018 sequel. –Greg Whitt

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02. Cardi B

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Believe the Hype: Cardi B won 2017 in a landslide. With three top 10 hits — including the biggest song of the year, a gigantic engagement ring on her finger, and seemingly the whole world rooting for her to succeed — the “Bodak Yellow” Bronxite just needs a successful debut album to keep the momentum going. While very few details are available about her highly anticipated debut so far, the pressure is on for Cardi to strike while the iron is scalding hot. So many artists have gone from industry darling to afterthought overnight. Cardi B’s 2018 debut may mean the difference between great year and great career. –Greg Whitt

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01. Drake

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Believe the Hype: On “Do Not Disturb”, the closer to Drake’s 2017 playlist, More Life, the Toronto rapper shared that he would “be back in 2018 to give [us] the summary.” He spent a year announcing his 2016 album, Views, in seemingly every verse preceding that album’s release and delivered on schedule. There’s no reason to expect that he won’t do the same this year. With big wins for on-again/off-again rivals Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z in 2017, and lukewarm critical responses to his last two releases, Drake comes into 2018 with a lot to prove, even as he continues to destroy streaming records. –Greg Whitt

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