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10 Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums of 2020

on January 15, 2020, 1:00pm
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When Beyoncé dropped her self-titled album in 2013 without any warning, it felt entirely revolutionary (It wasn’t a shout-out to Radiohead). Now, it’s the standard. Artists can release projects at any given moment, rarely granting us the privilege of time to prepare. Oh, and even when we are given a time frame, it’s often not the case (I’m looking at you, Rihanna).

In 2019, officially announced release dates became more like suggestions. From the cyclical Kanye mayhem that saw his album’s intended drop date continuously pushed back to the all-out surprise drop of Bad Bunny and J Balvin’s collab project, one thing became increasingly clear this year: We always have to be prepared for new music.

That being said, we’re getting ahead of the game in 2020. Here are the anticipated hip-hop projects we’re most excited about being released this year. Will they actually be released? And when? Will even more exciting projects drop? Who’s to say.

Just … be … ready.

–Lucy Shanker
Contributing Writer

Click ahead to see our 10 Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums of 2020…


070 Shake – Modus Vivendi

070 shake MODUS VIVENDI album cover artwork

Release Date: January 17th

Why We’re Excited: In 2018, as the ceaseless swirl of Kanye discourse ensued following the release of ye, there was one question that rose above the rest, one that was asked with a fervent desire for an answer: Who was the feature on “Ghost Town”? The answer: 070 Shake. There was something serendipitous about her moment on the track, her haunting rasp crooning on a song about pain, numbness, and death. It was all-consuming. Considering how much buzz she received after that one moment almost two years ago, it’s safe to assume that there is a steady stream of excitement around her imminent debut album. –Lucy Shanker

Sample:


Young Thug – Punk

So Much Fun deluxe edition new songs "Diamonds", "Hop Off A Jet (Travis Scott)", "Die Today", "Millions" Young Thug, photo by Philip Cosores

Young Thug, photo by Philip Cosores

Release Date: February

Why We’re Excited: Whether or not you consider last year’s So Much Fun to be Thugger’s “official” debut is moot; with Jeffery Williams, it’s all part of the ride. So, part of the thrill is whether or not its alleged counterpart, Punk, will even materialize; remember HY!£UN35? Mainly the drunk uncle of our warped-sung rap era is still hanging with his peers in prolific, tuneful (£UN3FUL?) bursts, and there’s at least a real chance he’ll include punk songs. –Dan Weiss


Cardi B – Tiger Woods

Cardi B, photo by Christian Hjorth

Cardi B, photo by Christian Hjorth

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: After dominating the rap sphere in 2018 with the Grammy-winning Invasion of Privacy, all eyes are vigilantly watching out for Cardi B’s next move. The native New Yorker’s fire flow and larger-than-life personality have only been amplified since that last record — thanks to projects like one-off singles “Press” and “Money” and her Hustlers film debut — so the momentum is still undoubtedly in her favor even two years out. Her new LP’s tentative title of Tiger Woods — inspired by the pro golfer’s unexpected comeback — also offers a hint at Cardi’s state of mind going into album No. 2, especially when it comes to her detractors: You still can’t fuck with her, if you wanted to. –Lake Schatz


Frank Ocean – TBA

frank ocean new music album update interview w magazine

Frank Ocean, photo by Philip Cosores

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: There’s probably a 3% chance that the always enigmatic and revelatory Frank Ocean will announce an actual release date for his next album. But, in his cover story for W Magazine, Ocean revealed that his follow-up to the earth-shattering Blonde does exist, and it will wield influences from “Detroit, Chicago, techno, house, French electronic.” He also disclosed that it would be a “full motion picture fantasy,” which at once garners a deluge of excitement and, predictably, reveals absolutely nothing. –Lucy Shanker


J. Cole – The Fall Off

j cole revenge of the dreamers 3 stream dreamville

J. Cole, photo by Ben Kaye

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: J. Cole had a successful 2019 even without a solo record. Hit single “Middle Child” became Cole’s highest-charting song at No. 4, while Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III cemented his role as one of hip-hop’s top curators and community builders. The Fall Off follows 2018’s KOD where Cole claimed on “1985 (Intro to ‘The Fall Off’)” to be “looking for the next wave.” We’ll have to wait and see if he found it. –Christopher Thiessen

Click ahead to see more anticipated hip-hop albums…


Kendrick Lamar – TBA

Kendrick lamar new album damn follow-up rock social

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Let’s be honest. If Kanye watched the throne during the first half of the last decade, then Kendrick Lamar reigned as the undisputed king during the last five years. And it’s no contest. King Kendrick can point to having curated one of the biggest soundtracks of the decade and dropping three game-changing records, each of which, most impressively, demonstrated a different facet to Lamar’s aesthetic and ethos as an artist. Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde let it slip last week that not only had the album potentially been completed, but that it incorporated far more “rock sounds” than prior recordings. It’s not much to go on, and it really only tells us what we should have already known: If K-Dot drops an album, it’s going to sound, for better or worse, like nothing we’ve heard from him before. –Matt Melis


Megan Thee Stallion – TBA

megan thee stallion nye

Megan Thee Stallion on New Year’s Eve

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: It’s almost impossible to imagine life before Megan Thee Stallion. Between her onslaught of hits to the now trite (but still beloved) mantra, “hot girl summer,” Megan was inescapable in 2019. As she earned monumental success, she also faced incomprehensible loss: Both her mother, a former rapper and Megan’s greatest teacher, and grandmother passed away in the same month. The emotional ebb and flow of her year has undoubtedly supplied her with an endless amount of topics to delve into on her debut album. And if the project is anything like Fever, it will shape the entirety of 2020. –Lucy Shanker


Noname – Factory Baby

Noname Quit Music White Audiences

Noname, photo by Julia Drummond

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Noname recently decided to quit touring for the time being, but that doesn’t mean she’s done with music. Factory Baby, hopefully due out sooner than later, is the follow-up to her impeccable 2018 record, Room 25. Noname has kept details under wraps to this point, only offering cryptic tweets about the album’s direction. As always, however, we expect sharp rhymes with impactful reflections on self and society when Noname finally drops Factory Baby. –Christopher Thiessen


Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 4

Run the Jewels, photo by Philip Cosores

Run the Jewels, photo by Philip Cosores

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: From 2013 to 2017, Run the Jewels were a constant. The hip-hop duo put out a trio of genre-shaking albums — including one of the best of the decade — and were featured on just about every festival bill that would have them. And suddenly it’s been four years since their last full-length. Killer Mike and El-P have more fun in the rap game than most of their contemporaries, a no-holds-barred rawness too often feigned and so rarely unmitigated. These guys perfected it, and hopefully we’ll finally be getting more this year. The latest update is that the duo will be releasing their fourth installment prior to Coachella. –Ben Kaye


The Weeknd – Chapter 6

The Weeknd Heartless Metro boomin music video watch

The Weeknd’s “Heartless” Music Video

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: The info about The Weeknd’s Chapter 6 (not confirmed as the title yet) has been coming in dribs and drabs since late last year. The release will be Abel Tesfaye’s first full-length since 2016’s Starboy and first of any kind since 2018’s My Dear Melancholy EP. The biggest news, of course, has been the release of two early singles that have totally blown up, “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights”. It’s clear that more pain and heartache are on the way from The Weeknd, but nothing has leaked yet about possible features. Suffice it to say, we’re ready for this next chapter. –Regan Bexler

Sample:

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