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24 Most Anticipated Rap Albums For the Rest of 2017

Jay Z, Eminem, Nicki Minaj and more LPs that may drop before 2018

As 2017’s first two quarters wind to close, here’s a look at some albums you may hear before year’s end.

Nas

Jessica Lehrman/The NY Times/Redux

Nas

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
In 2016, Nas scored one of the best rhymes on DJ Khaled’s all-star blowout Major Key with “Nas Album Done.” One year later, we’re still waiting for that album. A recent spate of interviews – whether its for his restaurant ventures, his multimedia company Mass Appeal Entertainment or executive-producing the now-canceled Netflix series The Get Down – indicate that Nas is revving up promotion for his first full-length since his 2012 post-divorce grown-man rap opus Life Is Good. He has also released several new tracks, including the Gil Scott-Heron-sampling “Angel Dust” for The Get Down soundtrack, a duet with DJ Shadow (“Systematic” for the Silicon Valley soundtrack) and a duet with Jack White (“On the Road Again” for American Epic: The Sessions). But he has been coy on details for his album, only telling Billboard, “It’s not done until it hits the streets.”

T.I., The Dime Trap

Vivien Killilea/Getty

T.I.

Album: The Dime Trap
Release Date: TBA
T.I.’s 11th album is the second of three records he began with 2014’s Paperwork, initially advertised a return to the harder-edged form of 2003’s Trap Muzik. However, last year he got sidetracked by the U.S. presidential election, as heard in surprise release Us or Else: Letter to the System. The self-proclaimed “King of the South” is finishing what he started. “I’m just dying to see what kind of record this is going to be,” he said to XXL in May. “Is it going to be like the way I intended it to be? Like gutter and grimy like Trap Muzik, or is it going to be a culmination of radio records and trap records that make up kind of like a King album … or a Paper Trail?” The Dime Trap‘s singles so far suggest that T.I. found a middle ground. After “Project Steps” came “Dope,” featuring Marsha Ambrosius, an Aaliyah sample and production by Dr. Dre.

YG

Timothy Norris/Getty

YG

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
Over the last few years YG’s proved himself to be one of today’s best gangsta rappers, working a classic style in an era of modern diarists. His last two albums, My Krazy Life and Still Brazy, recounted tales of small-time robberies, petty friend beef and navigating Southern California race relations. “You’re gonna see with the third album, a guy who’s a grown man, who now knows his place and knows his worth in this game,” said Sickamore, the newly minted Senior Vice President of A&R and Creative Director at Interscope, to Billboard. Sickamore sees big things for the next phase of YG’s career and even compared this upcoming album to Jay-Z’s career redefining Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life

Phife Dawg

Lukas Maeder (13 Photo)/Redux

Phife Dawg

Album: Forever
Release Date: TBA
Phife Dawg died due to complications from diabetes during the recording of A Tribe Called Quest’s final album, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. But he left behind unreleased solo material, some of which started to appear last year. On “Nutshell,” which appeared in April of 2016, Phife Dawg rapped over an old instrumental from J Dilla. A second posthumous track, “Wanna Dance,” came out in February, featuring a smooth hook from the singer Dwele.

An album’s worth of Phife Dawg recordings is slated for release at some point this year, the first solo LP from the Five-Foot Assassin since 2000’s solo debut, Ventilation: Da LP. Phife Dawg’s former wife, Desha Taylor, gave an update on the LP’s progress during a press conference last November. “His solo album will be out probably sometime during the first quarter of 2017,” she said at the time. “We’re working on it now. He completed his entire solo album before he transitioned, so we’re excited about releasing that.”

Lil Uzi Vert

Natt Lim/Getty

Lil Uzi Vert

Album: Luv Is Rage 2
Release Date: TBA
Luv Is Rage 2 will appear after a surge of momentum for Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert, who appeared on Migos’ Number One hit “Bad and Boujee” and recently had a Top Ten hit with his own “XO Tour Llif3.” Earlier this year Uzi tweeted: “My album is gonna have a debut song from my Rockband.” No other singles have been released so far, so fans will have to see what direction he might go. 

Schoolboy Q

Bryan Sheffield/Redux

Schoolboy Q

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
During a 2016 Apple Music interview for his last album, Blank Face, which debuted at Number Two on the Billboard charts, Schoolboy Q declared that he was already “halfway done” recording the follow-up. He added, “I never gave you the other side – the father, the dude that’s actually happy, the dude that doesn’t be in the hood just hanging out.” Beyond that, not much is known about his potential fifth album, though he continues to hint that it may drop before year’s end. Potential guests might include Anderson Paak, with whom he reportedly recorded with. “Only six months left N da year…it a come befo den,” he tweeted cryptically.

Meek Mill

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Meek Mill

Album: Wins & Losses
Release Date: TBA
Meek Mill’s last studio album, Dreams Worth More Than Money, went Gold with hits like “All Eyes on You” and “R.I.C.O.” The rapper’s career, though, was mostly overshadowed by controversy and tabloid headlines: An argument over whether Drake wrote his guest verse for “R.I.C.O.” became a prolonged beef, and Mill had a breakup with superstar Nicki Minaj. Meek Mill is never afraid to address his real life woes in his tracks and, when speaking about Wins & Losses on Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist, he said the album will focus on the “trials and tribulations” that made him. However, those looking for gossip may need to look elsewhere: In the interview Mill seems focused things like his battles with the police system and when the young rapper he signed, Lil Snupe, was killed when he was only 18.

Yelawolf

Hell Gate Media/Rex

Yelawolf

Album: Trial By Fire
Release Date: TBA
Yelawolf’s 2015 second album, Love Story, debuted at Number Three on the Billboard 200 and crossed over to alt-rock radio with the quiet intensity of the acoustic track “Till It’s Gone.” If the the singles “Daylight” and “Shadows” are any indication, Yelawolf will be continuing in that rustic melodic vein on his third album for Eminem’s Shady imprint.

Conway

Salvador Espinoza

Conway

Album: GOAT (Grimiest of All Time)
Release Date: TBA
In March, Eminem’s Shady Records announced that it had signed a distribution deal with the Buffalo label Griselda Records for solo LPs and a joint album from Conway and Westside Gunn, a pair of prolific Buffalo rappers with a penchant for the rugged edge of Nineties hip-hop. Eminem’s show of support is the latest co-sign for these two, who have rapped over beats from Just Blaze, been praised by DJ Premier and recorded an entire album with Alchemist in under two days. “We’re fusing boom-bap/dark sounds with the hipster cool kid lifestyle,” Westside Gunn said in a joint statement with Eminem when Shady Records announced the Griselda Records deal. “A new lane is being carved.”

Action Bronson

Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage/Getty

Action Bronson

Album: Blue Chips 7000
Release Date: TBA
In the more than two years since Action Bronson released his major-label debut, Mr. Wonderful, the once prolific Queens rapper has released fairly little music outside of a handful of guest verses. Perhaps that’s because the former chef has been busy becoming a TV star, traveling the world and sampling local cuisine on two seasons of the Viceland series Fuck, That’s Delicious. But Bronson is planning to end his hiatus from music soon with a return to his most beloved series of mixtapes. 2012’s Blue Chips and 2013’s Blue Chips 2 teamed Bronson with Brooklyn production duo Party Supplies to juxtapose his densely referential rhymes with tons of samples. In March, the MC tweeted that he was putting the finishing touches on Blue Chips 7000. Earlier this month he dropped first taste, “Let Me Breathe,” which samples the Fat Boys’ 1985 classic, “The Fat Boys Are Back.”

MadGibbs

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Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
During a May 2016 conversation at Red Bull Music Academy, enigmatic loop-digging genius Madlib revealed that he and Midwest thug-poet Freddie Gibbs are working on a follow-up to their 2014 collabo Piñata. He added that the beats he gave Gibbs were originally made for Kanye West. (Madlib and West memorably joined forces for “No More Parties in L.A.”) When asked about a possible release date, Madlib answered in typically cryptic fashion, “Ain’t no telling. … We got tracks recorded, but that don’t mean they’re gon’ come out.” Meanwhile, Gibbs wrote lyrics for the project while he languished in an Austrian prison last summer amidst sexual-assault allegations. In September, he was acquitted of all charges.

Kamaiyah

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Kamaiyah

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
Kamaiyah packed her acclaimed 2016 mixtape A Good Night in the Ghetto full of slick, funky Bay Area hip-hop, and the release earned her a contract with Interscope. She’s proceeded carefully since inking the deal, sprinkling the occasional feature on records for Bay Area comrades YG (“Why You Always Hatin?”) and E-40 (“Petty”) and joining self-proclaimed “King of Teens” Lil Yachty for “All Around Me.” During an interview on 106 KMEL last year, Kamaiyah explained her slow-and-steady approach: “Most people make the mistake of putting out records prematurely, and then it don’t sell and the record label looking at them like, ‘What the hell? We put all this money into that,'” she said. She encouraged patience from her listeners. “Don’t even think that I’m just a one-hit wonder,” she continued. “Everything is strategically planned with me. I always know what my next move gonna be.”

Desiigner

Ryan Jay

Desiigner

Album: The Life of Desiigner
Release Date: TBA
Desiigner has cut an unpredictable path since rocketing to fame behind “Panda,” an out-of-nowhere Number One hit in 2016. He managed to transform an XXL freestyle into a wildly strange Top 40 hit (“Tiimmy Turner”), but hasn’t seen much radio play on recent releases like “Outlet” and “Up.” In a moment of frustration, the young Brooklyn rapper tweeted “Fuck NY radio” in April, earning the ire of powerful New York City DJs like Funkmaster Flex. With his major label debut on the way, Desiigner then visited local radio stations Hot 97 and Power 105.1 to apologize. In his interview with The Breakfast Club, the rapper sought to put the focus back on the exciting eclecticism of his upcoming LP. “I got all type of swag,” Desiigner explained. “Y’all gonna see something real different – after this album, I’mma have everybody lookin’ at me real different. … My music is great. No matter what. If you didn’t know, y’all gonna see.” 

PRhyme

Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty

PRhyme

Album: PRhyme 2
Release Date: TBA
Last year, Detroit spitter Royce Da 5’9″ and boom-bap icon DJ Premier announced plans for a sequel to their 2015 collaboration. After releasing their debut, the two subsequently returned to their respective careers, with Royce issuing a new solo album and Premier developing his Year Round roster as well as serving as executive music producer for the VH1 series The Breaks. But Premier has said that the album is almost done, and Royce recently posted an Instagram video of Premier making a beat for PRhyme 2, suggesting that it should be ready before year’s end.

Shabazz Palaces

Victoria Kovios

Shabazz Palaces

Albums: Quazarz: Born on
a Gangster Star
and Quazarz Vs. the Jealous Machines
Release Date: July 14th
Seattle duo Shabazz Palaces are responsible for some of the most strangely alluring hip-hop of the 2010s. In July, Palaceer Lazaro (a.k.a. Ishmael Butler) and Tendai Maraire will drop two albums. A Sub Pop press statement explains that these Afro-Futurist concept suites will tell the story of the extraterrestrial Quazarz, “a wave warrior wielding his sonic sword,” who attempts to break our collective dependence on technology with “a collective Nah to the device and the guilds that proliferate them.” Pre-release tracks include “Shine a Light,” a dusty and melodic tune centered on a sampled loop from Dee Dee Sharp’s “I Really Love You.”

Milo

Spencer Wells

Milo

Album: Who Told You to Think??!!?!?!?
Release Date: August 11th
Rory “Milo” Ferreira has emerged as one of avant-rap’s most compelling figures since releasing his widely acclaimed and quietly reflective So the Flies Don’t Come in 2015. He’s recently wrapped a tour with Future Islands and is preparing for a third album that includes production from Kenny Segal and Illingsworth, alongside cameos from Elucid and Busdriver. The project is mixed by L.A. underground veteran Daddy Kev, who is best known for his work with Flying Lotus. “In the ?uest of rap mining the existential depths, Milo is asking, ‘Who told you to think?'” he explains in a press statement. “This is the record that bridges the personas of Milo on record, a Milo performance and Scallops Hotel, the blunted hermit in a fortress of demo tapes.”

Dr. Octagon

Jen Osborne/Redux

Dr. Octagon

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
Dr. Octagon’s 1996 debut album Dr. Octagonecologyst established Kool Keith’s post-Ultramagnetic MC’s career and launched the career of Gorillaz producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura. But, after creating a landmark LP for alternative and underground hip-hop, Keith, Nakamura and turntablist DJ QBert subsequently went their separate ways for a variety of other projects. This year,
they reunited for the first-ever tour by the original
team and, at a show in April, Nakamura told
fans that a new Doc Oc album was on the way. In the meantime, the original LP was reissued on vinyl, with bonus tracks, in an octagon-shaped box.

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