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10 Most Anticipated Rap Albums of 2011

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Now that we've officially popped the cork on the bottle of 2011, it's time to look ahead to the promise of new music. Toast to a compendium of eagerly anticipated rap albums. Toast to the chance that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year that Detox finally sees the light. Raise your glasses and toast to the 10 most wanted rap albums of 2011.

10. Raekwon - 'Shaolin vs Wu-Tang'

Raekwon - Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
© Ice Water

You may be forgiven for thinking that the Chef emptied the pantry on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2. Shaolin vs Wu-Tang finds Raekwon whipping up more treats for Wu fiends. Rae also sprinkled some exotic ingredients to spice things up. If he strikes the perfect balance between that good ol' Wu sound and the not-so-Wu sound, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang should score him some new converts.

Release Date: March 8, 2011
Collaborators: Scram Jones, Alchemist, Rick Ross, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck
Level of Excitement: Michelle Obama has offered to babysit your kids

9. DJ Premier & Pete Rock - 'DJ Premier vs. Pete Rock'

DJ Premier vs Pete Rock
© Year Round Records

DJ Premier and Pete Rock are arguably the two most influential hip-hop producers of our time. They're certainly two of the greatest. What I'm trying to say is that both men in the same room is kind of a big deal. You can only expect deft cuts, plenty of boom, followed by plenty of bap, plus thick molasses. The title Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier was inspired by a series of concerts in which both men engaged in a battle sequence on stage. A grand good ol' time is guaranteed on this one.

Release Date: TBA
Collaborators: Unknown
Level of Excitement: Kanye West just sent you a Facebook friend request

8. Nas - 'The Lost Tapes 2'

Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Lost Tapes was a brilliant release that helped solidify Nas' catalog in the midst of his war with Jay-Z. While not entirely responsible for the superb rhymes on Lost Tapes, that beef forced Nas to reaffirm himself as a formidable MC. Without a rival to fire him up, Nas will have to draw inspiration from the slew of personal conflict that's plagued him of late. Possible themes may include his divorce from Kelis, financial turmoil, and label feud. Whatever the case, Lost Tapes...Pt. 2 would be a treat if it does drop in 2011.

Release Date: TBA
Collaborators: Unknown
Level of Excitement: You just won two tickets to that thing you love

7. Drake - 'Take Care'

Drake
© Getty Images

If success is a journey and not a destination, then Drake's next goal must be to do with his sophomore album what he did with his debut. Thank Me Later paid huge dividends for Drizzy, garnering him a platinum plaque and four Grammy nods. More importantly, it showcased a stunningly gifted songwriter at work. Expect Take Care to propel him to higher heights in 2011.

Release Date: Summer 2011
Collaborators: Florence and the Machine, Lil Wayne, 40, Boi-1da, T-Minus, 9th Wonder, DJ Premier, T-Pain
Level of Excitement: Danny DeVito is now following you on Twitter

6. J. Cole - 'Cole World'

© Roc Nation

North Carolina Padawan J. Cole has dropped three critics-approved mixtapes so far. You can bet your wallet he's got more bang where those tapes came from. Cole boasts a powerful combination of street sensibility and crossover appeal. Think Jay-Z with a hint of Nas. With Jedi Carter behind him, he's definitely equipped with the right promotional vehicle to make a dash for the top. The Force is strong with this one indeed.

Collaborators: No I.D., Jay-Z
Release Date: TBA
Level of Excitement: George Clooney has just invited you to his house for dinner.

5. Lil Wayne - 'Tha Carter IV'

© Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Love him or hate him, Lil Wayne is at the top of his game right now. You know what people do when they're at the top of their game? They keep playing until the crowd stops applauding. As "6 Foot 7 Foot" proved recently, the applause isn't going away anytime soon. So, Weezy will keep playing. At 28, he's accomplished more than rappers old enough to be his uncle. Given the commercial success of Carter III and I Am Not A Human Being, the Young Money General is poised for yet another big year with Carter IV.

Release Date: TBA
Collaborators: Drake, Rick Ross, 40, Bangladesh
Level of Excitement: You just became the neighborhood backward running champ

4. Jay Electronica - TBA

After 5 years of gestation, Jay Electronica is locked, loaded, and ready to unleash his debut album. I know what you're thinking. "Yeah, yeah, I've heard that one before." Your scepticism may be legitimate, but keep in mind that Jay held back on his album because he was entangled in a label bidding war. As you know, he wound up at Roc Nation. With the label situation now behind him, Jay is looking to settle down and record his much-anticipated debut LP.

Release Date: TBA
Collaborators: Jay-Z
Level of Excitement: DJ Premier just showed up at your birthday party with two turntables.

3. Dr. Dre - 'Detox'

© Interscope Records

It's been promised for 10 years now, but this may be the year that we actually get to see Detox. For starters, Dr. Dre has released a single for the album -- something he never did in previous years. Also, we now know more about the album (features, creative direction, etc.) than ever before. OK. Fine. This is Dre we're talking about and Detox is practically the Chinese Democracy of hip-hop. Go ahead, take that with a grain of salt, o ye of little faith. Me? I'll go find a soft pillow and a couch. Please don't wake me up.

Release Date: Feb. 15, 2011
Collaborators: Snoop Dogg, Akon, Eminem, Jay-Z
Level of Excitement: You've just been adopted by Angelina Jolie

2. Jay-Z & Kanye West - 'Watch the Throne'

Jay-Z and Kanye
Photo © Scott Gries/Getty Images for Universal Music

How to wipe the sour taste of Best of Both Worlds from our buds? You throw Kanye West in a studio and have him bang out that supple, soul-leaking music. You then proceed to pummel said beats into submission. Integrity restored. Don't let the "H.A.M." and bubbly fool you, this should be a feast fit for kings.

Release Date: TBA
Collaborators: Lex Luger, No I.D.
Level of Excitement: You've just won a toe-wrestling contest

1. Lupe Fiasco - 'Lasers'

© Atlantic

Lupe Fiasco had to fight tooth and nail to secure a release date for his third album. He made some enemies along the way, including label associates and members of the hip-hop community who expressed displeasure at the way he handled his situation. Still, all that becomes irrelevant once Lasers becomes a reality. Any rap fan with a pulse can't wait to hear Lasers. Saying you have no interest in hearing Lupe rhyme would be like going to a hockey game and saying you have no interest in seeing a fight.

Collaborators: Unknown
Street Date: March 8, 2011
Level of Excitement: Oprah just gave you a car!

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