Although 2021 might come with a lot of uncertainty, one thing we can always count on in this world is good music. Several of the rap game’s biggest artists opted out of dropping any major projects in 2020, giving us hope that 2021 could be the year of the rap superstars. That being said, there are plenty of young rap stars that are lined up to drop projects as well, and the rap community cannot wait. Let’s get right into it! Here are some of the most anticipated releases of the year.
Drake – “Certified Lover Boy”
Although the Canada native released a 14-track mixtape/demo titled “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” in 2020, those songs mostly consisted of leaks and “throwaways.” Tracks like “Toosie Slide” and “Chicago Freestyle” still did very well, leaving Drake’s fans excited for a full-length album. Drake announced the album, titled “Certified Lover Boy” last August via Instagram. Following the announcement, Drake released several album-related promotions, including his exclusive merchandise with Nike. More importantly, the first single from the album, “Laugh Now Cry Later” with rapper Lil Durk, was released Aug. 14, 2020 and skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot on the US Rap Chart as well as the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The anticipation for the album continued to grow. Since then, Drake announced that the album was supposed to drop in January. Though a serious knee injury has since delayed the release of the album, we can expect “Certified Lover Boy” to release fairly soon, and start the year off with a bang.
Kendrick Lamar – Not Yet Announced
Kendrick Lamar. Kdot. Kung-Fu Kenny. Whatever you want to call him, he is one of the best in the game right now. It has been over three years since the release of Kendrick Lamar’s last full-length album, “DAMN”. To fully capture how long that is and to give a deeper context for the anticipation behind this album, it has been exactly 1,385 days since Kendrick’s last album — one of the longest wait times on this list. Now, Lamar has not exactly been MIA since the release of his last album. In 2019, He was nominated for several academy awards as the executive producer for the album “Black Panther.” Whether it comes sooner or later, we can expect a lot of meaningful raps along with some awards for the Compton rapper.
J. Cole – “The Fall Off”
Nothing quite hypes up an album more than missing the release date. Jermaine Cole, also known as J. Cole, announced his album, “The Fall Off,” in 2019. The promo was released in a presidential campaign fashion. “The Fall Off 2020” was everywhere on social media platforms. Seeing as I am writing this article in 2021, one can assume “The Fall Off” has yet to drop. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue surrounding this album. Many of J. Cole’s biggest fans have linked the album title to a possible retirement since J. Cole’s first mixtapes were titled “The Warm Up” and “The Come Up.” However, none of this is confirmed. Since his last release in 2018, “KOD,” Cole has had a plethora of great features on other artists’ songs. He and his label, Dreamville Records, also joined together to record and release the third installment of the “Revenge of the Dreamers” trilogy. In usual J. Cole fashion, the North Carolina rapper has stayed relatively quiet in terms of music. Nonetheless, his fans are highly anticipating the next release from one of rap’s superstars.
Cardi B – Not Yet Announced
Cardi B: whether she’s winning academy awards for her music or somewhere on Instagram making us all laugh, you’re no doubt familiar with her. She’s everywhere. It’s approaching three years since she dropped her record-breaking album, “Invasion of Privacy,” which became the longest-charting debut album by a female rapper. Her trailblazing music is paired with one of the most passionate fanbases in the world. Television appearances, feature verses and much more have kept fans well fed during their wait, but nothing beats an album release. After her 2020 hit song “WAP”, there is a lot to look forward to if you are a Cardi B fan. Little to no details have been said about her upcoming album, but expect the internet to break once it does.
Travis Scott – “Utopia”
Travis Scott is one of the biggest rappers and celebrities in the world. There aren’t many artists that get the attention upon a release that he does. There also aren’t many fanbases like his. Scott seems to have built a lifestyle and aesthetic around his music, which can be seen by all the collaborations he’s done. Some of these collaborations include Nike, McDonald’s, Netflix, Playstation and much more. Much like Cardi B, Scott keeps his fans well fed. It has been about two and a half years since the release of “Astroworld,” the album that catapulted Travis Scott into stardom. It is worth noting that this is the longest fans have had to wait in between his solo albums. Since his last album, Scott has released plenty of music including the first single off of “Utopia,” “Franchise.” Travis has been fairly open about releasing an album soon, so anticipation is high.
Nipsey Hussle – Posthumous Album
Before Nipsey Hussle’s tragic death in 2019, he had built one of the most passionate and loyal fanbases in the game. He was a staple in the Los Angeles community, where Nipsey was from. When the sudden news of his death was announced, it seemed like the entire hip-hop community froze. Almost every rapper and numerous other celebrities outside of the music industry took their time to wish their condolences for Nipsey’s family. His most recent and most successful album, “Victory Lap” was released in 2018. Since then, Nipsey has appeared on several songs of other artists as a posthumous feature. Not much was said about a posthumous album until recently, when his close friend J Stone started murmurings and rumors about this album last year. There is not a date or a timetable for when the album will drop, but the entire hip-hop community is waiting.
Baby Keem – Not Yet Announced
Baby Keem is one of rap’s bright, young stars. The talented artist out of California has already put together an impressive resumé. At just twenty years old, he has already been voted into the XXL’s 2020 Freshman Class, which is somewhat akin to the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Taking into account the fact that he’s only recently come onto the rap scene, this is an especially significant award and one that is warranted considering his writing credits on some of the biggest songs in rap over the last few years. These songs include “Numb Numb Juice” by ScHoolboy Q, “Nile” by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar and his own track “Orange Soda.” Not to mention, he is related to Lamar! His music has also done very well for such a young artist. His last full-length project was released in 2019. Although he might not reach the ridiculous number of listeners like the other rappers on this list, he has all of the makings and potential to be doing so soon. He takes after his cousin, Lamar, in the sense that he is fairly quiet about his moves, and it seems like he really likes to take his time with his craft. Hip-hop fans all over the country are waiting to see what the up-and-comer will deliver next.