Ordinarily I would kick off the year writing about my top ten most anticipated hip-hop albums. However, as I’ve mentioned before, I was left quite underwhelmed by hip-hop in 2019 and I’m struggling to come up with ten hip-hop albums I’m really looking forward to this year. As a result, I’m expanding my list to include artists from some other genres I listen to (namely, R&B, soul and UK music).
10. Chance the Rapper
2018 came and went without Chance dropping a project. Instead, he dropped off a series of mediocre singles, all in the same happy-go-lucky, positive, gospel-influenced style that we’ve heard before (and are getting slightly bored of now). To be fair to the man, he’s been busy proposing to his long-term girlfriend and doing endless socil activism for the people in his city of Chicago. But enough is enough; time to get back in the studio! He must think he can live off Coloring Book and his ‘3’ hats forever. 2016 was a long time ago now and Chance is no longer hip-hop’s golden child. It’s time for Chance to deliver with a follow-up project and prove he has the potential to challenge for the hip-hop throne.
Bad gal riri is on this list because I’m tired of seeing Fenty Beauty this and Fenty x Savage that, whilst hearing no new music. Her last musical offering came in 2016 with her album, Anti. There have since been rumours that she’s been hard at work preparing a ‘reggae’ album, which I would be very interested to hear, and represents a return to her Bajan roots. However, I’m not actually hopeful of us receiving any new music this year if I’m perfectly honest. With Fenty Beauty, Rihanna has secured the bag. I don’t see her distracting herself from the make-up millions to indulge us with another album any time soon.
8. Daniel Caesar
Ever since hearing his unique blend of sultry R&B and neo-soul on his breakout debut album, Freudian, in 2017, I’ve been a massive Daniel Caesar fan. He was relatively quiet in 2018 but still managed to drop one of my favourite tracks of the year with his T-Pain assisted single, ‘Who Hurt You?’. He has since found himself a sweet one and cut the dreads. Everyone knows what that means. We’re going to receive the R&B we deserve in 2019.
7. Isaiah Rashad
My TDE bias may be showing here again but it’s time that we got the follow-up to Isaiah Rashad’s stellar 2016 project, The Sun’s Tirade. Following TDE’s dominance in 2017 with Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and SZA’s CTRL albums, I fully expected TDE’s bench to perform in 2018. Although we received albums from label mates Jay Rock, SiR and (new signee) Reason, the rest of the bench has simply been lazy. Kendrick and SZA will not carry the label forever; it’s time to get in the studio!
6. ScHoolboy Q
ScHoolboy Q is another lazy member of the TDE bench. ScHoolboy drops amazing, cohesive gangster rap albums and 2016’s Grammy-nominated Blank Face LP was no different. After promising an album every other year and, following rumours that his follow-up album was actually ready back in 2017, I was surprised to not hear from Q last year. The death of his close friend Mac Miller may have had something to do with the delay in dropping the album and it would be interesting and almost cathartic to hear from Q about how he is dealing with the grief of losing his friend. They say the best music comes from a place of pain so we could be in for a touching and special album from Groovy Q.
5. Bryson Tiller
I recently saw a meme that read, “Bryson Tiller really dropped ‘Don’t’ and dipped”. With his 2016 sophomore album, True to Self , flopping badly and the ensuing sophomore slump, the casual fan can be forgiven for thinking Bryson has disappeared since his stellar 2015 project, Trapsoul. Byson seems to be in a better place now and, with his new girlfriend in tow to inspire some beautiful R&B, 2019 could prove to be his comeback year.
The eccentric Atlanta rap duo and Dreamville signees were on my “Ones to Watch” list for 2018. They delivered with a series of impressive EPs and their impending album promises to be an exciting listen. Their outlandish style has drawn Outkast comparisons and they could cement a position as the biggest rap group to come out of Atlanta since the Migos.
Stormzy has been pretty quiet since 2017’s Gang Signs & Prayer, making moves outside of music, such as launching a book deal and Adidas clothing line, and collaborating with Cambridge University. As arguably the biggest grime artist in the UK, the pressure is on for him to perform with a stellar follow-up album. I’m interested to see if he continues down the positive, gospel-influenced style or returns to his gritty, grimy, ‘Wickedskengman’ roots with this project.
2. Samm Henshaw
You may remember when I reviewed Samm Henshaw’s Scala concert at the end of October, I hinted that he could be the future of UK soul music. Well 2019 is the year he will drop an album that supports my bold claims. You heard it here first.
Ever since I heard Dave and AJ Tracey’s 2016 collab track ‘Thiago Silva’, I’ve been a fan and followed both artists. While AJ has flooded the market with singles and EPs, Dave has taken a more measured approach. Dave is the best rapper in the U.K. right now. Just listen to his verses on Giggs’ ‘Peligro’ and Headie One’s ‘18HUNNA’ if you don’t believe me. All we need is an album to prove it.