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The Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums of 2022

From Kendrick Lamar to Megan Thee Stallion, here are the rap albums we’d like to hear in 2022

Rolling Stone Jan 17, 2022

Photos: Ryosuke Tanzawa; Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images; Chinedu Chukuka; Republic Records

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There’s a lot of new music for hip-hop fans to be excited about in 2022. After a year of delayed album drops, canceled tours, and radio silence from most major rappers not named Ye or Drake, it looks like we’ll finally get some of the music that the pandemic stole from us. And if the festival and tour announcements for the summer are any indication, things are sure to get interesting. From Kendrick Lamar to Megan Thee Stallion, and maybe even Kanye West, 2022 is shaping up to be a year full of surprises from some of rap’s biggest names.

Of course, the world is a bizarre place these days, and anything could happen. But for the sake of optimism, here are some of our most anticipated rap albums for 2022.

11. Megan Thee Stallion

Photo : Griffin Lotz

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

Is there anything Megan Thee Stallion can’t do? She spent the majority of 2021 focusing on her studies — oh yeah, she also just got her college degree — but made sure to drop the appropriately titled Something For the Hotties to make sure her fans were fed. Now, with that out of her system, she’s ready for a new moment, and 2022 is beginning to look like the perfect time. She told fans last summer to be on the lookout for her second LP sometime this year. Given the temperatures outside right now, it’s safe to say the world needs “real hot girl shit” now more than ever.

10. Drake

Photo : Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

For all of Drake’s elusive mystique, he’s pretty consistent. Which isn’t to say that he’s gotten predictable. It’s still anyone’s guess what the next iteration of Drake might sound like. But you can count on him not keeping quiet for too long in 2022. If only because it’s poised to be such an active year. Drake isn’t one to miss out on the fun, so there’s a good chance we’ll get a mixtape, playlist, or some other repackaging of loosies — a time-honored tradition in the Drake release cycle. What better time than now for More Life II?

9. Monaleo

Photo: Chinedu Chukuka

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

Houston rapper Monaleo came into 2021 with a bang. But the infectious flip of the H-Town anthem “Knockin Pictures Off Da Wall,” by Yungstar, on the rapper’s debut single “Beatin Down Yo Block” was more than a one-hit-wonder — though it sure was a hit. Monaleo would follow up with “Suck it Up,” and the witty and self-empowering “We Not Humping,” establishing herself as a resonant and gifted MC with a knack for musicality. Her debut EP is slated for release in the spring and is sure to be the anthem of whatever this year has in store.

8. Freddie Gibbs

Photo: Griffin Lotz

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

Freddie Gibbs is having fun with it at this point. Over the past two years, he’s been unrelenting in his output, casually out rapping your favorite MC. His creative chemistry with producer The Alchemist made for the bonafide rap classic Alfredo and sets the stage for Gibbs’s next project. While the rapper hasn’t confirmed any details about new music — and despite an ongoing internet scuffle with Gunna — a new Freddie Gibbs album would be a welcomed dose of maturity in a rap landscape that could certainly use it.

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7. Jack Harlow

Photo: Urban Wyatt

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

What does one do after they’re poppin’? Future says whatever you want. Louisville, Kentucky’s Jack Harlow took heed. The rapper behind “What’s Poppin’” and “Tyler Herro” managed to sidestep meme-dom and lay the groundwork for what’ll likely be a formidable career. Harlow’s infectious flow and disarmingly affable appearance (he’s a staunch acolyte of the humble New Balance sneaker) made him one of rap’s more unlikely heroes. You could maybe think of him as the genre’s Pete Davidson, or something similar. There’s generosity beneath his adolescent bravado. And after confident contributions to some of pop music’s biggest records, we could very well be in the beginnings of a Jack Harlow renaissance. Turns out you really do what you want when you’re poppin’.

6. Earthgang

Photo: Ant Soulo

Album: Ghetto Gods
Release Date: January 28

Atlanta rappers Olu and WowGr8 have been collaborating together for some time under the name Earthgang. They’ve offered up their one-of-a-kind energy to everyone from Billie Eilish to Mac Miller and J. Cole. And while you can certainly hear motifs reminiscent of Outkast from the Atlanta rap-weirdos, Earthgang’s spaced-out brand of Southern charm is as experimental as it is present. They have a way of imbuing the textures of today’s hip-hop with just the right amount of freaky. Ghetto Gods, the follow-up to their 2019 debut Mirrorland is sure to kick us all into another dimension.

5. Earl Sweatshirt

Photo: Ryosuke Tanzawa

Album: Sick!
Release Date: January 17th

Earl Sweatshirt is a time traveler. Go back and watch the music video for his debut single, “Earl.” The then 16-year-old wordsmith conducts an experiment of rap agility, contorting impossible phrases into one another as if he was trying to remember a password, all the while downing a concoction of teenage delirium to take the edge off. In the decade that followed, Earl unlocked enough for us to decipher for at least another ten years. Dense with texture and feeling, his work grew defiantly experimental without veering into self-indulgence. On his new album Sick!, he’s found a way to translate his vision to us in real-time.

4. Lil Uzi Vert

Photo: Griffin Lotz

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

In just a few years, Lil Uzi Vert dropped a long-awaited album and a follow-up project with Future, all while setting trends in jewelry and modeling for brands like Marc Jacobs. He’s also quietly racked up a slate of features that might suggest new music is on the way. Back in 2020, following the release of Eternal Atake, Uzi alluded to a mixtape possibly titled Pink Tape during one of his many Instagram Live sessions. He’s subtly teased the project ever since, adding and deleting clues to various parts of his profile, and even apparently dying his hair pink. Still, this is Lil Uzi Vert, so it’s anyone’s guess what it all means. A new Uzi album in 2022 certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Also See  #RSDailyMusic: Here’s What We’re Listening to Today

3. Ye

Photo: Walik Goshorn/MediaPunch/IPx/AP

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

It is a Ye world, and we’re just living in it. Even after last year’s marathon performance project of a Donda rollout, Kanye still keeps us hooked on his every move. From his beef with Drake, collaborations with Gap and Balenciaga, high-profile divorce from Kim Kardashian, to his equally high-profile second date with actress Julia Fox. This year, he’s scheduled for a headlining Coachella performance and has already begun to tease new music. A cryptic post on Instagram — featuring an image by the photographer Nick Knight, of a monkey’s skinned corpse pasted against a red backdrop — suggests an upcoming collaboration with The Game is on the way. The caption reads: “MY LIFE WAS NEVER EAZY.” Ye’s confusing, productive, provocative, and brilliant run doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in 2022.

2. Cardi B

Photo: Flo-Ngala

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA

Early on in the pandemic, Cardi B was one of a few artists that were able to make people want to have fun, like on the mega-hit “WAP,” which came with the added bonus of causing conservative weirdos to tell on themselves. The rapper has been busy in the past year, though decidedly quieter. Other than the admittedly excellent “Big Paper,” from DJ Khaled’s Khaled Khaled, we didn’t hear much from Cardi B in 2021. She even took to Instagram Live in December to talk to fans directly about needing to make space for herself. “It’s been a lot trying to balance out my new motherfucking life,” she said. “I’m in a lot of positions and that requires a lot of my time.” Yet still, even with motherhood, business, and life on her plate, Cardi seems like she might be ready for another victory lap. “On top of that, I gotta put out this album next year,” she continued. We’re certainly grateful.

1. Kendrick Lamar

Photo: YouTube

Album: TBD
Release Date: TBA

That it’s been five years since Kendrick Lamar released his cross-dimensional missive DAMN doesn’t take away from its personal and political urgency. Kendrick’s clear-eyed and spiritually adventurous record is the reason one must refer to him these days as Pulitzer Prize-winner Kendrick Lamar. Still, in those five years since the release of Damn, Kendrick has been as frustratingly cryptic as you’d expect. He recently announced that his next record will be his last with the storied label TDE where he’s been his entire career. Now, after making “top of the morning” a catchphrase in 2021, on Baby Keem’s “Range Brothers,” not to mention his upcoming Super Bowl Halftime performance, it seems like 2022 might be the year Kendrick graces us briefly with his presence. Chances are it’ll make for a lasting impression.

From Rolling Stone US.

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