The Hip-Hop game is a fast moving one. New stars come and go like the changes of the seasons. Only the artists with real talent, versatility and charisma are the ones that remain from year to year. 2014 saw some really good rap releases from some of the biggest names around - T.I., Young Jeezy, Rick Ross etc. - but it looks like 2015 might just be a watershed year in rap music. There are some outstanding albums in store from young upstarts, talented repeat winners and some of the most respected veterans in the game. Here are 16 of the most anticipated rap releases for 2015.
16 Action Bronson
For the last few years, the Queens, NY rapper known as Action Bronson has been making quite a name for himself with solid releases of mixtapes and great guest features. He is such a unique and distinct individual and his jovial and “very noticeable” persona all add to his growing popularity. Well in 2015, he’s scheduled to drop his first official studio LP called Mr. Wonderful. The first single “Easy Rider” already made a lot of noise when it was released, and it revved up the anticipation even more for the album. Producers expected to be featured are his longtime collaborators Harry Fraud and Party Supplies – we think this album will be a fun ride indeed.
Say what you want about Toronto rapper Drake, but one thing you can’t deny is that he’s an emcee who’s very much at the top of his game. He has done songs with the best of the best (Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye, Rick Ross etc.) and every album that he drops goes platinum. His last album dropped in 2013, and his new album Views From The 6 is scheduled to touch down in the first half of 2015. The “6” in that title refers to a number in the Toronto area code. He has already released some buzz-generating preview tracks like “6 God” and ‘Heat of the Moment” and it certainly sounds like he’s cooking up another smash. Can’t wait!
Washington DC rapper Wale finds himself in a weird juncture of his career. To date he has released 3 studio albums Attention Deficit, Ambition and The Gifted. He has had some worthy radio hits and even had global stars like Lady Gaga feature on his records. But the truth is, the fans don’t really know where to put him when it comes to a neat rap category. He has a penchant for spoken word poetry, he is not exactly street/hardcore and he’s signed to Rick Ross’s MMG label, which confuses matters even more. His next album is titled The Album About Nothing, and it’s inspired by the classic sitcom Seinfeld. He’s even featured on the recent cover of Complex sitting next to Jerry Seinfeld in a diner. It’s a bold gamble he’s trying to pull off – let’s see whether it works.
13 Kendrick Lamar
For the most part of 2013, the topic of discussion about the best new rapper on the scene would always include West Coast wunderkind Kendrick Lamar. His debut studio LP Good Kid, M.A.A.D city was executive produced by Dr. Dre and it contained quality hits like ‘Recipe” “Bit*h Don’t Kill My Vibe” “Swimming Pools” and more. He’s now one of the most recognizable faces in Hip-Hop and his new album is also scheduled to drop in 2015. He already released a new single called “i” that’s climbing up the charts - it has actually been used as an official song for the NBA this season. All the reviews that have leaked are pointing to another classic album. This guy is super-talented, so anything less than excellence will not be tolerated by his fans.
12 A$AP Rocky
The stakes are pretty high for the new album from young Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky. His last album Long.Live.A$AP was released in 2013, and even though it sold well and received critical acclaim, the rap terrain has changed. There are new rappers on the scene like Young Thug and Dave East that are making great strides - and even his group mate ASAP Ferg seems to be developing a stronger buzz than him. Rocky also recently broke up with his supermodel girlfriend Chanel Iman, so it will be interesting to see if his mind is in the right place to deliver a killer album. We expect a new release in the first half of next year.
11 Kanye West
There is a lot on Kanye West’s plate right now. He’s one of the producers (along with Jay-Z) on the new Chris Rock movie coming out called Top 5, there is a new sneaker he’s working on with Adidas dropping soon, and he’s also producing tracks for artists on his label like Big Sean and Pusha T. But somehow, he has also still found time to work on the follow up to his Yeezus album that dropped in 2013. In an interview with GQ earlier this year, he mentioned that he’s working on a collection of beautiful songs and that there is one stand out already called “All Day.” We’re not particularly sure of the arrival date or name of the new LP, but a 2015 release seems very likely.
10 Joey Bada$$
The NYC rap scene has been seeing a resurgence in the last few years, and one of the crews behind the new energy is the Brooklyn collective known as Pro Era. The leader of the group is Joey Bada$$ and he has been receiving a lot of praise from both the old and young rap generation for his slick rap skills and ferocious energy on the microphone. He has even been courted by Jay-Z for Roc Nation and for a short period, he was the face of the NYC-based streetwear brand Ecko. He’s finally ready to move from the underground to the mainstream and his new album B4.Da.$$ is scheduled to touch down on January 20th.
9 Jay Electronica
In the rap industry, there’s a myth about a certain album called DeTox which was supposed to have been released by Dr. Dre as a follow up to his Chronic 2001 album many years ago. But somehow the album kept getting pushed back and it has never materialized till this day. People are starting to say the same thing about the long awaited album from the talented rap enigma, Jay Electronica. A few facts about him; he’s originally from New Orleans, he’s signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and he has a child with esoteric songstress, Erykah Badu. He’s a rare talent indeed, but if he doesn’t drop his album in 2015, his loyal fans may soon abandon him.
For the most part of 2014, NYC rapper Nas has been basking in the glow of the 20th Anniversary celebrations of his seminal debut album Illmatic in 2014. A special 20-year edition of the album was released and even a documentary about the album debuted at the Tribeca Film festival. Now that those celebrations are winding down, he’s ready to release some new music again. At a listening session earlier this year, he released a track called The Season that was produced by late great Detroit rapper/beatmaker J Dilla. It’s likely the first single to a new album dropping in 2015 rumored to be titled Season of Nasir. 20 years later, this lyricist is still going strong – he’s definitely one of the living legends of rap.
7 Big Sean
Big Sean is that one rapper that always seems like he’s on the verge of really becoming the next big star, but then it never quite materializes. He’s been a protégé of Kanye West since 2007, and he released his debut album Finally Famous in 2011 which received moderate success. His second album Hall of Fame dropped in 2013 and it was widely considered a huge disappointment. But since then he has guested on several hit songs and he’s more visible than ever before because of his private life. He was briefly engaged to actress Naya Rivera, and he’s currently boo’d up with pop starlet Ariana Grande. He is currently signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management label, so it’s all looking like his next album in 2015 should be a certified platinum success. Let’s see whether Big Sean can deliver this time.
6 Remy Ma
Sometimes rappers do the dumbest things. Queens NYC rapper Remy Ma was one of the hottest femcees of her generation. She was part of the Fat joe crew named Terror Squad and was even featured on their breakout hit single “Lean Back.” But she messed it all up in 2007 when she got into an argument with an acquaintance over $3,000 and shot her in the abdomen. She was trialed and sentenced and ended up spending 8 years in jail. She was released this past August, and she’s working double time to get her spot back. She already has a new mixtape out, she’s been on tracks with DJ Khaled, and she’s prepping her full album for a 2015 release. She has a lot to prove
5 Dej Loaf
One of the breakthrough rap singles of 2014 was a song that arrived in the fall called “Try Me.” It’s a smooth track by a pint-sized Detroit rapper called Dej Loaf, and the song took off like wild fire. So many rappers were clamoring to do a remix of her song including Wiz Khalifa, E-40 and The L.O.X. The contrast that makes her so intriguing is that she has such a diminutive size but she raps about really gory and hardcore street life. After the song blew up, she was signed to a major label deal, she was surprisingly called up for an Eminem track and she even appeared on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. With all the buzz surrounding her, there are a lot of stakes riding on her debut album next year. For a new rapper on the scene, it’s a lot of pressure to carry.
For the majority of his career, rapper/singer T-Pain has been known as the king of Auto-Tune. If you’re not familiar, this is the studio program that digitally corrects a singer’s voice while he/she is recording. But for his next album coming up, T-Pain is stripping everything down and going for a raw, grittier sound. The album is apparently titled Stoicville, and the title track has already hit the internet. For the most part, the response has been positive, and music critics are waiting to see whether a reformed auto-tune king can really make it in the world of raw, emotion-filled rap. This will be interesting to see.
3 Meek Mill
One of the most authentic (and aggressive) rappers in the game right now is the young Philly representative known as Meek Mill. In many ways, he is one of the most popular rappers to emerge out of Philadelphia since Will Smith was known as The Fresh Prince. He is signed to Rick Ross’s MMG label and his debut album Dreams and Nightmares was an instant street classic. This fall, he was gearing up to release his sophomore LP when he was hauled off to jail for six months for a parole violation. But he’s back home now, and the upcoming LP titled Dreams Worth More Than Money should see a release date in early 2015. Fans of raw street Hip-Hop are eagerly anticipating this one.
2 Pusha T
1 Mac Miller
At the young age of 22, it already feels like Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller has lived a lifetime in Hip-Hop. He came up in the game with a local record label named Rostrum and ended up garnering a very solid fan base. He transferred that hype into a MTV reality show, a mansion in Los Angeles and good friendships with some of the coolest rap crews on the West Coast: Odd Future and T.D.E. For his next move, he just signed a major deal with Warner Brothers worth a reported $10 million. He says he already has tons of records done and ready to go, so it's all about the editing process now. Is Mac Miller ready to be next rap superstar? Time will tell.