The Return of Rap: What to Expect in 2015

Wale / Courtesy of
Wale / Courtesy of

I don’t think you could find one person who wouldn’t agree that 2014 was a lackluster year for hip-hop as a whole. Although, December did see the release of J. Cole’s best album to date, a dope mixtape from Wale, and a surprisingly pretty good album from Nicki Minaj. Things seemed to pick up a bit in that last month of the year, perhaps foreshadowing the monstrous year to follow. 2015 is looking to be infinitely better than 2014 – with many major rap releases scheduled to release this year.

Things really kicked off with a bang on January 20th. Rap veterans Lupe Fiasco and Lil Wayne both released projects, along with newcomer Joey Bada$$. Lupe released his fifth album Tetsuo & Youth, a great project that marked the end of his contract with Atlantic Records. 20 year-old Joey Bada$$ released his debut album B4.DA.$$ which pleased both fans and critics. And yes, Lil Wayne dropped his highly-anticipated mixtape Sorry 4 the Wait 2, a sequel to his 2011 tape. Overall, it was a very good day for hip-hop.

February will have a similar day – the 24th – when Big Sean releases his third studio album, and Chris Brown teams up with Tyga for their first collaboration album. Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise is shaping up to be his best yet. After his disappointing 2013 album Hall Of Fame, he’s coming back strong with the singles “Paradise” and the hit, “IDFWU” featuring E-40. With Sean back at the top of his game and rumored features from Kanye West, Drake, Pusha T, PartyNextDoor, and others – this album is shaping up to be something special. It will face Chris Brown and Tyga’s Fan of a Fan: The Album, a sequel to their 2010 mixtape Fan of a Fan. Their album will feature the likes of Pusha T, 50 Cent, and Schoolboy Q, among others. Tyga’s The Gold Album, executive-produced by Kanye West, was supposed to release on January 27th but has been pushed back indefinitely. Expect to see that by the end of the year as well.

Washington D.C.-based rapper Wale will drop his third album on March 31st 2015. The Album About Nothing has been in the works for a while, with Jerry Seinfeld reportedly contributing a lot. Wale released his latest mixtape Festivus on December 23rd, an ode to the holiday created on the show Seinfeld. The tape was very impressive, so hopefully, it is a sign of what’s to come on the album. Also scheduled to drop in March is rapper-on-the-rise Travi$ Scott’s debut album Rodeo. Travi$, who is signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle record label and Kanye West’s Very G.O.O.D Beats production label, released a mixtape entitled Days Before Rodeo last summer. The tape built a lot of hype for his album and also showed quite a bit of growth as artist from his previous mixtape Owl Pharaoh.

There are a lot of rappers who are dropping albums this year that have neither revealed a release date nor time frame for when it will drop. The biggest name of these is Kanye West, whose highly anticipated follow-up to his 2013 release, Yeezus, is scheduled to release sometime this year. So far we have gotten the singles “Only One” with Paul McCartney and “FourFiveSeconds with Rihanna and McCartney, which is reportedly on both Rihanna and Kanye’s albums. These songs seem to prove that West is taking a different, happier direction with this album. But with the news of him recently working in the studio with rappers Consequence and King Louie, it is unsure just how this album will sound. Yet if it follows the pattern of his first six albums, it will be nothing short of amazing.

Lil Wayne is hoping to drop his album Tha Carter V this year. The project was pushed back twice last year, after originally having an October 2014 release date. Wayne has spoken out against his record label Cash Money Records for not letting him release it. He is currently suing Cash Money, claiming that the label is going against their contract. His label mate Drake, on the other hand, is definitely dropping this year. In fact there are rumors that he will follow in Wayne’s footsteps and release a mixtape before this year’s album Views from the 6. This album is also in high demand and is rumored to release in the spring.

Pusha T, who’s not so friendly with Drake and Wayne, is scheduled to drop an album titled King Push this spring. The follow-up to his dope (no pun intended) 2013 album, My Name is My Name, will feature his eccentric, Kanye West-produced single “Lunch Money”. Other rappers scheduled to release this year whose last album dropped in 2013 include Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, and Chance the Rapper. All three released great projects that year as well, so expectations for these follow-ups are very high.

And let’s not forget about Kendrick Lamar. After his critically-acclaimed 2012 album good Kid, m.A.A.d city, the rapper hadn’t released anything until last fall, when his single “i” dropped. The song showed off a new, happy sound that is very enjoyable, but some fans just weren’t having it. He then performed an untitled track on The Colbert Report that many fans enjoyed much more. That track is still unreleased. Kendrick is also featured on the single for Jay Rock’s album – another album that’s supposed to drop this year. It is unknown when Kendrick will release his album and if he will release another single beforehand. And at this point, I’m not sure that Kendrick knows any of this information himself.

Other big names releasing sometime this year include Meek Mill, Nas, Tyler the Creator, Game, Action Bronson, B.o.B, Earl Sweatshirt, Snoop Dogg, Ty Dolla $ign, French Montana, and Macklemore. If those 30 upcoming 2015 projects don’t get you excited as a rap fan, I don’t know what will. Obviously, we’re in for a much bigger, better, and more exciting year for rap music than we were in 2014. The bad news? This means that there will probably be another drought in 2016. But hey, let’s worry about that in 12 months.