"I have to tap back into the essence of hip hop"
2022 was a massive year for hip hop albums with successes like Metro Boomin’s Heroes and Villains and Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.
There were also surprise releases such as Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind and Stormzy’s This Is What I Mean.
So of course, fans are eagerly waiting for what artists have lined up for 2023.
There are a number of popular musicians who have confirmed that they have new music on the way but for other artists, there’s still mystery surrounding their albums.
Nonetheless, those listed are staples in the music scene so people are bound to be excited about what’s to come – whether they have to wait or not.
A$AP Rocky – ‘Don’t Be Dumb’
New York native, A$AP Rocky will have been on a five-year hiatus before his upcoming release Don’t Be Dumb.
The last project Rocky released was Testing in 2018.
But, part of the reason for his distance from the music industry is due to having a baby boy with the singing icon, Rihanna.
However, Rocky has still pleased his fans with multiple singles and collaborations, with the main two being ‘D.M.B’ and ‘Sh*ttin Me’.
He also appeared throughout producer Metro Boomin’s Heroes and Villains which left listeners wanting more.
Luckily for them, during a concert for Amazon Music Live, Rocky said:
“Amazon. My first time back on the stage. Album’s finished. Don’t Be Dumb. Let’s go!”
And if that wasn’t enough, Don’t Be Dumb will also have input from Metro Boomin and feature Rocky’s signature alternative sound and New York flair.
His singles have hinted at a new fiery side to Rocky’s delivery and it seems the rapper will give a multilayered performance on the album.
Cardi B – ‘TBC’
Cardi B has quickly cemented herself as one of the best female rappers in the game.
Although, in regards to hip hop albums, she only has one to her name – Invasion of Privacy (2018). So, fans were looking forward to what Cardi had cooking up in 2022.
The artist did deliver with ‘Hot Sh*t’ which featured Lil Durk and Kanye West.
However, given Kanye’s controversial comments in the media, there was an inability to promote the song properly.
She quickly moved on, giving an instant classic verse on American rapper GloRilla’s single ‘Tomorrow 2’.
Reminding fans of the flow and talent she possesses, many were calling on her to release an album quickly.
But, Cardi admitted on Instagram that she’s feeling pressure and anxiety to live up to the success of her debut album:
“Making music to me has become like a job that gives me anxiety because everybody just critiques everything that I do.
“It’s just like, sometimes you don’t want to do something that gives you that much anxiety.
However, she followed that up with:
“I have to release more music — I have to go out there.”
If Cardi does follow up with her statement, then there’s no doubt she will have one of the most listened-to hip hop albums of 2023.
J. Cole – ‘The Fall Off’
It seems 2022 was the year of basketball for J. Cole, having featured in some professional games – and doing quite well.
But, it’s hard to imagine one of the best musicians in hip hop has forgotten about his promise to deliver another album to his fans.
Although he released his sixth studio album, The Off-Season, in 2021, he’s revealed this was more of a “warm-up” project.
If there’s anything about J. Cole, his “smaller” releases are gearing up for something bigger.
So, it has fans speculate that The Fall Off will be on the same level as 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014) and KOD (2018).
The hype for this album has been brewing since 2020 when J. Cole played a marketing video at a show. During the footage, the narrator says:
“The country needs a hero to turn to in these turbulent times. Jermaine Cole is that hero.”
The clip ended with the words “The Fall Off 2020” displayed on the screen. Therefore, it’s no surprise as to why people are growing impatient.
But, they’ve received just enough of the rapper’s lyricism throughout 2022 with songs such as ‘London’ with female artist BIA.
The song went viral for Cole’s wordplay, tone, and delivery.
It also showed the industry a more impressively brash side of J. Cole who is normally quite reserved. Many are hoping to see more of this on the new album.
Nicki Minaj – ‘TBC’
Nicki Minaj is one of the veterans of hip hop and she seems to have gone on a path of rejuvenation since having her son in 2020.
After her stints with Doja Cat for ‘Get Into It’ (2021) and Coi Leray for ‘Blick Blick’ (2022), she’s been relentless with her releases.
Nicki released ‘We Go Up’ with drill artist Fivio Foreign and then referred back to her ‘Anaconda’ era with the track ‘Super Freaky Girl’.
She made history with this song as it became the first project by a solo female hip hop artist to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1998.
Talking about ‘Super Freaky Girl’, Nicki expressed:
“Once I started writing it, it became easy and fun. It’s been a while since I put out a fun song.”
She followed this up by admitting she is in a “great place” in her life which will reflect in the upcoming album.
The rapper also paid homage to artists JT and BIA who were on the remix of the historic song. Nicki said:
“In order for me to deliver the best music for my album – which is coming out soon – I have to tap back into the essence of hip hop.
“On the remix of ‘Super Freaky Girl’, all the girls tapped into that.”
It seems the music mogul is all fired up and ready to deliver another body of work that dominates the charts.
This may be easier to do given that she was awarded the esteemed Video Vanguard Award at the 2022 MTV VMA’s. So, fans are definitely eagerly waiting.
Travis Scott – ‘Utopia’
Arguably all of Travis Scott’s hip hop albums have been “classics” and had their own aura and sound.
His last project, Astroworld (2018), saw the American rapper create a very psychedelic setting, making you feel like you’re at a futuristic theme park.
Many are speculating that Utopia will take on the role of creating a unique and mesmerising listening experience.
Whilst recording for the album began in 2019, Travis admitted in an interview with I-D that he’s been trying to experiment:
“I’m working with some new people and I’m just trying to expand the sound.”
“I’ve been making beats again, rapping on my own beats, just putting everything together and trying to grow it really.
“That’s been one of the most fun things about working on this album. I’m evolving, collaborating with new people, delivering a whole new sound, a whole new range.”
Hip hop fans and musicians alike are seeing what Tavis can conjure up, especially as he is so distinct on every song he touches.
This was evidently seen again on his 2021 singles ‘Escape Plan’ and ‘Mafia’ which many thought would be off of Utopia.
However, it seems these are actually off Dystopia – an EP apparently releasing before the major album as a type of warm-up.
If this is the case, then 2023 is looking like a very rewarding year for Travis Scott’s followers.
These hip hop albums are causing major excitement already and there’s no wonder why.
Many of these artists haven’t released a major studio album in a while and so there is massive intrigue as to how their music has developed.
It’ll also be interesting to see any differences their personal lives have made in the types of tone, production, beats and melodies they use.