Each year offers the promise of new music. We'll no doubt see some surefire duds, a slew of overhyped lulls and (maybe) a few winners. This list is about the latter category. From Andre 3000 to Nas, here are the 10 most wanted rap albums of 2014.
10. Chance the Rapper, TBA
Last year, Chicago's Chance the Rapper released a mixtape so dope most people forgot it was a mixtape. Add in the fact that Acid Rap was only Chance's second mixtape, and you realize that the 20 year-old has a stunningly bright future.
Level of Excitement: You just won an auction on eBay
9. Q-Tip, The Last Zulu
Q-Tip's last solo album, The Renaissance, took 10 years to arrive. As I wrote then, it should hold us over until 2018. I've changed my mind, you see. I no longer wish to wait until 2018. I would gladly welcome a new album now. Luckily, we won't have to wait that long. The Last Zulu is on its way. It has new songs with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Marsha Ambrosius, and Fiona Apple.
Level of Excitement: You successfully flipped an omelet for the first time
8. Yasiin Bey, TBA
Mos Def hasn't released an album since the name change. It's only right to christen the new moniker with new music. Besides, it's been way too long since he last blessed us with an album. And as that last outing showed, Mighty Mos hasn't lost a step.
Level of Excitement: You cracked an egg perfectly in half
Everyone forgot about Schoolboy Q's Habits & Contradictions within 3 months, in part because it came too early in the year and not least because Kendrick Lamar would go on to dominate. Still, don't expect Q to walk in the shadow of his Black Hippy partner. He wants to crush the competition, however friendly. "Kendrick left me no choice but to drop a classic," says Q said. (Update: Oxymoron is here!)
Level of Excitement: The latest season of that show you love is now on Netflix
6. Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, TBA
Yes, I know what you're thinking: Henry, you're out of your mind. Kendrick Lamar pretty much ruined any chances of a collaborative album by throwing shots at Jermaine on "Control." I doubt there's a real feud between these two. Even if that's the case, it's fun to entertain the thought of hearing them duke it out on the same album. Now that's a helluva game changer.
Level of Excitement: You found a curly fry in your bag of regular fries
5. El-P & Killer Mike, Run the Jewels 2
4. Kanye West, TBA
Kanye West's last outing, Yeezus, was deeply experimental. So experimental, in fact, that it alienated some of his core fans. Naturally, Ye plans to return to that supple, soul-leaking template that endeared him to grandmas everywhere.
Level of Excitement: Kanye would like to hear your answers
3. Kanye West and Jay Z, Watch the Throne 2
Watch the Throne 2 is a real thing. It's out there in the ether somewhere. It's taking shape as you read this. It probably only exist in amoebic form, or even in the imagination of Jay Z and Kanye West. Both Z and West dropped stupidly polarizing albums in 2013, so there's only one way to make things right with their fans: drop WTT2.
Level of Excitement: Meryl Streep just sent you a friend request on Facebook
2. Andre 3000, TBA
Big Boi has now released two solo albums with a third in the oven. Andre 3000 has released zero. Ice Cold has dropped enough guest verses to fill an album, so we know that he's got plenty to rap about. I hope this is the year 3 Stacks finally drops a solo album. An OutKast reunion would be nice, too, but let's not get greedy here.
Level of Excitement: Prince just DM'd you a selfie on Twitter
1. Nas, TBA
Nas never makes a huge hoopla before an album. But when he drops, you can bet your shiniest coin on it that every hip-hop head on the planet will tune in. He's coming off a strong release in Life Is Good, so expect nothing short of storytelling genius from the best lyricist alive.
Level of Excitement: You finally achieved the perfect milk-to-cereal ratio