While some years amount to a venerable Rap drought, 2015 has already given us much in the Hip Hop world. We’ve gotten two solid major label debuts from Joey Bada$$ and Action Bronson, the long-awaited, overlooked and very good Tetsuo and Youth from Lupe Fiasco, an already nearly-platinum surprise mixtape from Drake, and an instant-classic in Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly. At the end of March Ludacris dropped his 9th album, Ludaversal, an excellent return to vintage form. What awaits us in the post-Butterfly Q2 and beyond?
Here in the month of April, we’re scheduled for two releases that I’m especially excited about. On April 21, Yelawolf drops Love Story, his second release since signing with Shady Records in 2011. Featuring lead singles “Whiskey in a Bottle”, “Box Chevy V”, and my favorite “Til It’s Gone”, Yela has some ground to make up after a somewhat disappointing debut in Radioactive. One week later on April 28, The Chef hits us with his 6th recipe, Fly International Luxurious Art (F.I.L.A.). After some noted back-and-forth with RZA, Raekwon nobly opted to put F.I.L.A. on hold in order to fulfill his Wu duties on A Better Tomorrow (which turned out not to be Better in any way). Produced in large part by Jerry Wonda (of Fugees fame) and featuring Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, A$AP Rocky and others, Raewon wanted a big sound for this album, one that catered to a truly international audience:
“It’s a good energy because it’s global music. It’s not just music that allows me to sit in one box. I want to make an album where people in London or people in Germany will love it. There are certain sounds I want to explore and not make it just a hardcore album from a hardcore emcee. I just want it to be universal—I want it to have stuff for the radio and for the hardest emcee’s. I want to mix it up and make it global and fly.“
Finally in April, it’s also reported that the latest installment in the Lil Wayne saga, the Free Weezy Album, could be dropping as soon as this month, despite the desires of his label Cash Money. Tunechi phrased it more succinctly at a recent concert:
On May 5 the most successful independent rapper in the land, Tech N9ne, drops Special Effects. For his 15th album (!), the Strange Music rapper went big with 24 tracks and features from Lil Wayne, T.I., B.o.B., Corey Taylor of Slipknot and one his fans have been craving for years, Eminem. By mid-May though, all eyes will be on the Doggfather himself for his 13th release, Bush. Produced entirely by Pharrell, a combination that brought some of the best work of Snoop’s career in Snoop Phase 3, Bush is set to come our way May 12 and has been led by the single “Peaches N Cream”.
For those looking for something a little more underground on May 12, Canibus has teamed up with Wu-Tang collaborator Bronze Nazareth for Time Flys, Life Dies… Phoenix Rise, with features from Raekwon, Killah Priest, Kurupt, Dizaster and more. A$AP Rocky’s sophomore release, A.L.L.A. (At.Long.Last.ASAP), has been cooking for a while and online retailer Amazon may have recently leaked the release date of May 26 by posting it on the pre-order page (which has subsequently been taken down).
On June 1st, Waka Flocka Flame is set to return with Flockaveli 2. The Atlanta emcee has released six mixtapes since announcing that the sequel to his debut was complete two years ago. Rumored appearances include Jay-Z, Kanye, Timbaland and Wyclef Jean.
The Game was reportedly trying to get The Documentary 2 ready for a January 18th release, ten years to the day after the first volume dropped, instead opting to perform a special anniversary concert that day and push the album back to a June 30 release.
With the rising success of the “surprise” release, some artists are choosing to keep their release dates hidden as long as possible, some entirely. Meek Mill’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, delayed by Mill’s 2014 probation violation, is reportedly very close to release, though no date has been publicized and may not be announced at all according to the artist himself.
Beyond the second quarter of 2015, two albums loom large on the Hip Hop front. Drake announced the title of Views from the 6 last July but said he wouldn’t be working on it until the fall. Then in February he surprise-dropped the year’s best-selling album to date as a mixtape, posting sales of 793,000 through April and setting a record of 17.3 million streams in a single day on Spotify (which was then broken by To Pimp a Butterfly). No further details have emerged but it’s a safe bet that Views… will be one of the biggest albums of the year’s second half.
At the beginning of March Kanye “I am Warhol” West tweeted out the title and probable artwork for his follow-up to Yeezus.
New Album title…
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) March 1, 2015
So Help Me God pic.twitter.com/e3UUsQQEts
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) March 1, 2015
West is a firm believer that release dates are “100% played out” so his 7th album will almost certainly be a surprise-drop.
As the inspiring year in Hip Hop that is 2015 rolls on, stay tuned to #JPLMagazine for all the latest news, rumors and insight, always with a Twist of Lime.