The general feeling among many rap fans seems to be that 2014 has been rather disappointing thus far. This is probably largely due to the fact that we’re coming off of a year that was chock full of high profile releases (Kanye, Jay Z, Eminem, Drake, J. Cole, Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt ) as well as critical smashes (Run the Jewels, CZARFACE, Pusha T, Danny Brown). It’s because as Jonah from “Veep” likes to say, “Haters gonna hate”.
While 2013 was undeniably a huge year for rap, this year has seen it’s share of stellar projects like albums from vets like Freddie Gibbs + Madlib, the Roots, Pharoahe Monch, Statik Selektah, Cunninlynguists and Common to up and comers like Mac Miller, Isaiah Rashad and Vince Staples as well as more experimental works from CLPPNG, Death Grips and Ratking. However, regardless of how you’ve felt about the first 8 months of 2014, I think we can all agree that the last quarter of the year is already looking very promising and could even be substantially better if several big-time albums actually see the light of day. Let’s take a look at what we already know is slated to be flowing through your speakers soon:
Jhene Aiko – Souled Out
After an impressive debut mixtape and EP complete with guest features from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Vince Staples and Childish Gambino, Jhene is set to release her debut album with Def Jam. Although there aren’t any TDE or Staples features, the tracklist does boast production from No I.D. and features from her frequent Cocaine 80’s collaborators Common and the criminally underrated James Fauntleroy.
Meek Mill – Dreams Worth More Than Money
The Philadelphia rapper’s second album boasts features from Migos, Rick Ross, A$AP Ferg, Big Sean and Ty Dolla $ign with rumors of a track featuring Nas and Jay Z as well.
50 Cent – Street King Immortal
Although June’s Animal Ambition was a disappointment, the recent, unlikely resurgence of G-Unit makes me optimistic that 50’s sixth studio album will be a much more inspired effort.
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
After five (six if you count the “Week of K.R.I.T.” compilation EP released in March) stellar mixtapes, the Mississippi rapper/producer is finally set to release his major label debut album. You’d be hard pressed to find anybody who deserves critical and commercial success more than K.R.I.T., who by all accounts is one of the hardest working, most down-to-earth talents in rap today. If the lead single, “Mt. Olympus”, which many have dubbed the best song of 2014, is any indication he is primed to carve out his spot as one of the kings of the not just the South, but the new school of rappers as a whole.
NehruvianDOOM – S/T
NehruvianDOOM is the collaborative LP between 19 year old New York MC Bishop Nehru and rap legend MF DOOM. Nehru, who released his debut mixtape Nehruvia at the age of 15 has already had the honor of being co-signed by none other than Nas, now gets a whole album of DOOM’s signature production to showcase his abilities. Hard to think of a more ideal scenario for a young rapper’s first album. Although rumor has it that DOOM will do very little rapping of his own on this album, what we’ve heard so far has me more than just a little excited for the full project.
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead
The experimental producer and rapper follows up his critically acclaimed 2012 albums Until the Quiet Comes and Duality with what promises to be another ambient adventure. Reportedly, the album is finished and is waiting for Kendrick Lamar to complete his verse on their track entitled “Never Catch Me”. Waiting for Kendrick to perfect his bars over Flying Lotus’ production is a valid reason for delay in my book.
Lil Wayne – Tha Carter V
Although many fans were disappointed with Carter IV I’m of the belief that it suffered Cruel Summer-style from Weezy simply releasing too much of it’s best content months in advance of it’s actual release. If people hadn’t been playing “Six Foot Seven Foot”, “John” and “She Will” to death before the album dropped I think the reception would have been very different. Regardless of your thoughts on that, it’s pretty clear from what we’ve heard from Wayne recently that he’s hungry, (mostly) drug-free and not finding a new way to say he’s swimming in pussy every other line anymore. In all likelihood he’ll never be the same Weezy who absolutely ran the game during the Carter 2/Dedication(s)/Carter 3/No Ceilings period of the late 00’s but if we can get anything close to that form and far away from the I Am Not a Human Being 2 shell of himself then that’s reason to celebrate.
Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels II
Following up on what I felt was the best rap release of 2013, the lovable duo of Killer Mike and El-P reunite once again to punch all of us in our faces. Figuratively of course. Or literally, I’m good either way. RTJ2 mark the third straight project between the two as El-P produced Killer Mike’s excellent solo album R.A.P. Music as well. El is one of the most talented and innovative producers around and he’s also far from a slouch on the mic. He and Killer Mike have incredible chemistry together and I can’t wait to hear their effort to follow up their sensational debut. After teasing us with several snippets, El-P finally released a full length track called “Blockbuster Night Part 1” and it sounds absolutely bananas. With apologies to Big K.R.I.T., this is my most anticipated album of 2014.
Now, even as impressive as September 23 and October 28 look, you might still be sipping your Stuart Scott brand haterade out of your snooty Dornish wine chalice and saying “Well, that still doesn’t look very impressive HARUMMMPH!” to which I would respond “Well sir, you haven’t yet feasted your eyes on these potential releases!”
2 Chainz – TBA (Album)
Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful (Album)
Akon – Stadium (Album)
AZ – Doe Or Die II (Album)
Big Boi – TBA (Album)
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Art Of War III (Album)
Busta Rhymes – E.L.E.2 (Extinction Level Event 2) (Album)
Cam’ron & A-Trak – Federal Reserve (EP)
Capital STEEZ – King Capital (Album)
Clipse – As God Is My Witness (Album)
Curren$y – Pilot Talk 3 (Album)
DJ Khaled – I Have Changed A Lot (Album)
Earl Sweatshirt – Gnossos (Album)
Fabolous – Loso’s Way 2 (Album)
Frank Ocean – TBA (Album)
Gunplay – Living Legend (Album)
Jadakiss – Top 5 Dead or Alive (Album)
Jay Rock – TBA (Album)
Jeremih – Late nights with Jeremih (Album)
Joe Budden – All Love Lost (Album)
Joe Budden – Some Love Lost (EP)
Joey Bada$$ – B4.Da.$$ (Album)
Juicy J – The Hustle Continues (Album)
Kanye West – TBA
Kendrick Lamar – TBA (Album)
Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon III (Album)
Lil Wayne – Da Other Album (Album)
Ludacris – Ludaversal (Album)
Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth (Album)
Method Man & Redman – Blackout 3 (Album)
Mike WiLL Made It – Est. In 1989 Pt.3 (Album)
Nas – TBA (Album)
Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: The Pinkprint (Album)
Omarion – Love & Other Drugs (Album) | Singles: Paradise
Pusha T – King Push (Album)
Raekwon – F.I.L.A (Fly International Luxurious Art) (Album)
Redman – Muddy Waters 2: Even Muddier
Slaughterhouse – TBA (Album)
T.I. – Paperwork: The Motion Picture (Album)
Tech N9ne – Special Effects (Album)
The Cool Kids – Shark Week (Album)
The-Dream – Fruition (Album)
Timbaland – Textbook Timbo (Album)
Waka Flocka – Flockaveli 2 (Album)
Wale – The Album About Nothing (Album)
Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow (Album)
Yelawolf – Love Story (Album)
Now, it’s virtually impossible that we see 100% of that list before the year is out, but honestly JUST LOOK AT THAT LIST. If we get even 60% of it, it will be incredible. Shit, if we just get stuff that by all accounts should drop like Frank Ocean, Joey Bada$$, Redman and Slaughterhouse in addition to what we know is dropping I’d be happy as hell. Any Pusha T, Kendrick, Jay Rock or Kanye releases are just icing on an already delicious cake.
Add to that the ever elusive projects from Dr. Dre (Detox), Jay Electronica (Act II), K.R.I.T./Yelawolf (Country Cousins) and even XV (The Kid With the Green Backpack) and we could have a very epic end of the year indeed. If you haven’t learned by now, don’t hold your breath because you will pass out and hit your head on a coffee table.