With 2012 now in our rear-view mirror, it's time to look ahead at what 2013 has in stock for hip-hop. This year boasts an exciting lineup of rap releases, including albums from Danny Brown, J. Cole, Pusha T, and (*fingers crossed*) Jay-Z. Here are the 25 most anticipated rap albums of 2013.
Which ones are you psyched about?
25. Angel Haze - 'TBD'
Angel Haze may be new on the scene, but she's no rookie -- she's already doing all the things you might expect from an attention-seeking vet. Viral hits? Check. Ill-advised interviews. Check. Twitter feuds. Check. Check. Check. Ultimately, her debut album will determine her fate in this unforgiving music industry. Drop a dud and it's a wrap. Drop a winner and we'll be talking about you throughout 2013.
24. Wale - I Ain't Perfect
© Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Wale has shown growth with each subsequent release. After a dismal outing on his debut, Attention Deficit
, he bounced back with Ambition
. The success he's enjoyed with the gold-certified Ambition
should provide him with confidence going into his third LP.
23. Talib Kweli - 'Prisoner of Conscious'
Despite a few minor hits, 2011's Gutter Rainbows
, only managed 19,000 units. But it's hard-wired gospel that if skills sold every rapper—not just Jay-Z
—would be Talib Kweli. Lackluster sales notwithstanding, the Brooklyn lyricist still commands a great deal of respect, as evidenced by his ability to attract top shelf features. His new set sports collaborations with Miguel, Melanie Fiona, and Kendrick Lamar, The RZA, and more.
22. Joe Budden - 'No Love Lost'
No Love Lost
is the fourth and final piece in Budden's album series, which includes Halfway House
, Padded Room
and Escape Route
. Joey says the album reflects his newfound outlook on life. "The title just symbolizes being in a real state of happiness. I don't have any malice toward anyone, no grudges, just being in a real pain-free type of state." Lil Wayne, Juicy J, and Ab-Soul will all contribute to No Love Lost
21. Yelawolf - 'Love Story'
Yelawolf is a warrior. The arrival of his Shady Records debut, Radioactive
, also signaled the beginning of numerous battles—personal and public. First, he fell out with Interscope over creative decisions. Then came the spleen rupture which cut into his recording schedule for Love Story
. If there's one bright spot for Catfish Billy it's that setbacks typically make for good music. Expect his second outing to improve on his first.
20. Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T. - 'Country Cousins'
© Def Jam
Yelawolf is no stranger to working with one-off producers. He dropped two of these in 2012 alone: Slumdon Bridge (with Ed Sheeran) and Psycho White (with Travis Barker). He's comfortable in that space. On paper, Yelawolf's rebel yells compliment K.R.I.T.'s trunk-rumbling production. If their chemistry on past records is any indication, expect the country pair to deliver a winner in Country Cousins.
19. Future - 'Future Hendrix'
Future's debut, Pluto, was one of the most polarizing albums of 2012: You either loved it or you hated it. There was no room for anything in between. For those who listened to Pluto more than once, the album's main draw was Future's new take on an old trick. He stretched the limits of Auto-Tune, made it do things his warbling predecessors hadn't considered (like abandon it from time to time). Look for rap's sad robot to continue his roll on Future Hendrix.
18. Rick Ross - 'Mastermind'
History will judge Rick Ross unkindly for giving away some of his best stuff on the freebie Rich Forever
and then stumbling on his proper LP, the bloated and sometimes insular God Forgives, I Don't
. Still, no other rapper influenced 2012 hip-hop like the avaricious MMG bawse. He's announced a new album, Mastermind
, due out sometime this year. You can bet your last mink coat that it's going to be an event.
17. Nicki Minaj - 'Pink Friday: The Pinkprint'
© Jonathan Leibson/Getty
You get the feeling Nicki Minaj is facing a creative conflict. She veered into a more experimental territory on Roman Reloaded
, splitting the album almost evenly between hip-pop and rappity rap. Expect that to continue on The Pinkprint
. And with average sales (at least, by her standards) on Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
, the barbz queen will be feeling the pressure to deliver this time.
16. Action Bronson - 'Saab Stories'
Indefatigable Queens rapper Action Bronson is teaming up with Brooklyn producer Harry Fraud for Saab Stories
, the first of many installments Fraud likens to "books." They've already recorded enough material for two projects. "We’ll probably do a series over the course of the next couple of years where we put out these free chapters of Saab Stories, where it might be 5 songs, it might be 7 songs on one offering, it might be 10 on another," says Fraud