The 20 most anticipated albums of 2017
Long-awaited efforts from legends, follow-ups from forces of nature, collective collaborations, and more.
It’s been established: 2016 was a banner year for music. We debated new artists and debuts, underrated releases, sonically off-center efforts, rule-breakers, the overall best albums and, well, Drake. But now, we’re looking ahead at the new year, at those who’ve made us promises, at those with whom we’ve lost patience. These are the REVOLT staff’s 20 most anticipated albums of 2017.
A$AP Rocky is one of the most polarizing figures in modern rap, without question. A mere glance at his Wikipedia page will tell you that he is an important fixture up there in the big leagues with the likes of Drake and Kendrick Lamar. However, Rocky has become increasingly hands-on with his art, directing several of his own music videos, as well as diversifying his musical style with the help of versatile super-producers like Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars) and Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells). Rocky also represents a more progressive and open-minded generation of rappers, having expressed remorse for homophobic comments made by his younger self, incorporated more abstract electronic elements into his music, and exploring fashion and film with unrivaled earnestness. No matter what he releases in 2017, it won’t be mindless or boring, that’s not on Rocky’s agenda.—Ken Glauber
Big Sean, I Decided (February 3)
We’ve already dubbed Big Sean the King of Posse Cuts and declared his verse on DJ Khaled’s “Holy Key” one of the best of 2016, but all that’s not to say he needs support in order to be a success. Despite boasting a signature delivery comprised of equal-parts punny wordplay, introspective storytelling, and braggadocio, and being able to spit alongside Ariana Grande as easily as he can Eminem, Sean can still fall into the territory of being “underrated.” Hopefully, that all changes with his fourth studio album, I Decided. Having shared appetizer “No More Interviews,” lead single “Bounce Back,” “thank you” gift for fans “Living Single,” and follow-up album cut “Moves,” I Decided is shaping up to be another effort full of quotable, made-you-look lyricism. All this, and he’s still had time to announce a tour and confirm another Twenty88 project. Who gon’ stop him, huh?—Danielle Cheesman
Drake, More Life
He’s music’s most inescapable artist and after yet another MVP campaign in 2016, Drake steamrolled right into 2017 with “Fake Love,” “Sneakin” featuring 21 Savage, and “Two Birds, One Stone,” pretty much dominating every musical platform. Drake describes More Life as more of a “playlist” than an actual album and has teased collaborations with Bryson Tiller and Skepta (although Drizzy obviously can work with just about anyone on the planet at this point). No release date has been set yet and, as we know, Drake likes to drop projects out of the blue sometimes. With no indication of any drop-off in quality, rest assured More Life will be one of the year’s top sellers once it drops.—Shaheem Reid
Fabolous & Jadakiss, Freddy vs. Jason
As, pound for pound, two of the Big Apple’s rap finest, Fabolous and Jadakiss joining forces for a joint project is a true gift from the rap heavens. After being teased for almost a year now, the collaborative project appears to be coming soon. Already, Fab and Jada have toured under the billed title and recently collaborated with New Balance for a shoe inspired by the Freddy vs. Jason title. As of the this writing, no release date has been set for the mixtape, but all eyes are on Friday the 13th. Since the announcement, the hard knock duo fired freestyles over records like Future’s “Wicked,” Uncle Murda’s “Right Now,” and Fat Joe & Remy Ma’s “All the Way Up.”—Ralph Bristout
Fat Joe & Remy Ma, Plata O Plomo (February 10)
Remy Ma went “All The Way Up” from prison to a Grammy nomination. If there’s anyone I want to win, it’s her. She came through on the remix of Phresher’s banger “Wait A Minute” and proved that she is a problem on her own, but alas, she is attached at the hip with Joey Crack. Their joint album, Plata O Plomo (meaning “silver or lead,” a phrase made famous by Pablo Escobar on the Netflix series Narcos), is due next month but if you fear the Remy/Joe shtick could wear thin, the album is available for pre-order on iTunes and the tracklist gives a glimmer of hope. French Montana, Ty Dolla $ign, Sevyn Streeter, BJ The Chicago Kid, The-Dream, and even Stephanie Mills (!) are among the collaborators on board to round the project out.—Driadonna Roland
G.O.O.D. Music, Cruel Winter
“If there’s a ‘Cruel Summer,’ then there’s got to be a ‘Cruel Winter,’ right?” It was the pseudo-promise that made us all gasp in unison, said by Q-Tip back in 2012. And since then, we’ve been tracking the possibility of a follow-up to the compilation that brought us bangers-turned-classics “Mercy,” “Clique,” and “Cold.” Travis Scott said it was coming “for sure” and “very soon”; Fonzworth Bentley said it was “happening now.” We got confirmation from Kanye himself in June when he premiered what would eventually become G.O.O.D. Music posse cut “Champions,” the lead single. Since then, he’s added Tyga to the roster but, more importantly, the G.O.O.D. Music family was announced, collectively, as the headliners for the new Fyre Festival. And they wouldn’t perform a bunch of old tracks, would they?—Danielle Cheesman
If you’re checking for Jay Z’s next album in hopes that it will be some grand response to Lemonade, you’re being disrespectful. That reduces him to just being Beyonce’s husband, which is an honor, yes, but he deserves more credit. However, the game done changed. The elder statesman debuted Reasonable Doubt 20 years ago; he never had to go up against the likes of Gucci, Migos, Drake — younger artists with ridiculous output who set the temperature of modern hip-hop with each release. You might say Hov has nothing left to prove, but we’re not entirely sure that’s true. 2013’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail wasn’t terribly exciting; he gave half a bar to Drake’s “Pop Style,” and his bestie Yeezy jumped bad on him. This next project has the potential to dilute his power or remind us why he’s on “the throne.” Streets is watching.—Driadonna Roland
Joey Bada$$, AABA
2016 propelled Joey to mainstream status in my opinion. He turned his main stage Coachella performance into ‘Prochella,’ noted by Billboard as one of the standout sets; made his acting debut with USA Network’s Mr. Robot; gave us the Narcos-influenced single “Front & Center”; and closed out the year with ScHoolboy Q on his Blank Face World Tour. So, to say the least, he was busy! AABA, his sophomore follow-up to 2015 debut B4.Da.$$ had an original release date of November 8 “but it’s been delayed 4 perfection,” according to a tweet Joey posted. And his record label founder, Jonny Shipes of Cinematic Music Group, hit Twitter to just a few hours before the new year to reconfirm.—Dana Jeter
She last left us with an emphatic roar and a record-breaking Super Bowl performance, so now expectations will be higher for Katy Perry when she returns with her Prism follow-up. Not much has been revealed about the singer’s upcoming fourth studio album in regards to a title and release date, but it has been teased for nearly a year and Perry herself promised a “tight af” 2017. Last year, she told New York Times that this new album wouldn’t see her “jump on any trends” and revealed plans to “evolve.” Perry teased the release again in a September interview with InStyle, revealing that she was working with “a lot of unexpected writer and producers” to bring “out a lot of different things, sonically.” Going further, she added, “I’m putting myself in unexpected situations and that is breeding a lot of new color.” Among these possible collaborators include Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee (“I wrote this track and [Katy] laid it and it’s pretty dope,” he told Complex), producers Max Martin, Shellback and more. Pop music’s chart-topping “dark horse” has also been teasing a slew of in-studio snippets on social media, all while signs are pointing towards an imminent “return of a star.” All in all, 2017 will spell more fireworks for Ms. Perry and the diehard #KatyCats.—Ralph Bristout
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter V
On the 10-year anniversary of the magnum opus that made Lil Wayne a mega star, Tha Carter III, it looks like we are finally going to get Weezy’s second sequel to that project. Tha Carter V has spent a couple of years in the holding dock with Wayne embroiled in an ugly public feud with Cash Money over owed money ($51 million dollars to be exact). And while fans have gotten false inklings of hope that #CV was on the way in the past, it seems like the long delay may be coming to an end. Cash Money co-owner Birdman just recently said in a Beats 1 interview with Travis Scott that he’s ready to move past the turmoil—keep in mind, there’s still a $51 million lawsuit pending that Wayne has against Bird and Cash Money—and support Weezy’s musical endeavors. Wayne himself took to Facebook a few days ago teasing projects, writing, “CV. Funeral. D6. Young Money.” As for Young Money, we’re betting Wayne’s most famous signees, Nicki Minaj and Drake, pop up on the album and we wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few of the slew of new artists that just came into the fold, including HoodyBaby. The great thing, we’re told that #CV is done, nestled comfortably in the vault, and is ready to go at a moment’s notice. Fans are surely going buy it in bunches whenever it’s released.—Shaheem Reid
It’s been over four years since Lorde stepped onto the scene with little to no introduction, save for a refreshingly tongue-in-cheek expose titled “Royals” that would (eventually) give us a major look into her incomparable songwriting abilities and her a life that ironically mirrored the ones she so poked fun at on said track. Capitalizing on its success, she released her debut album Pure Heroine, an electro-pop gem that tackled youth culture with lyrical genius and minimal but melodic production. Since then, she’s won two Grammy Awards, curated a Hunger Games soundtrack (and made a fan of Kanye in the process), supported Disclosure at Coachella, been named one of the world’s most influential teenagers by TIME, was listed in Forbes‘ “30 Under 30,” and become a standout figure on feminism and public image. With all that’s transpired in the world since her debut, we need to hear her take. Preferably over something we can bounce to.—Danielle Cheesman
Migos, C U L T U R E (January 27)
Raindrops turned into a No. 1 smash for Migos, as the lead single behind their eagerly-awaited album, C U L T U R E, earned the Atlanta trio a new record and unparalleled momentum. As if the crockpot-referencing smash wasn’t enough to set the campaign off, the follow-up single “T-Shirt” basically clears the path for Migos’ impending early ’17 victory lap. While their debut album Yung Rich Nation was overshadowed in 2015, C U L T U R E is geared to be the album that finally cement the “OG Black Beatles” as vanguards of this new rap generation. — Ralph Bristout
Without releasing an album, Nas made 2016 “Escobar Season” and that’s all thanks to a string of repeated playbacks (“Nas Album Done,” “Figure It Out”), silent venture capitalist moves (QueensBridge Venture Partners), and beyond (“The Get Down,” The Land). Come to think about it, the guy who once described himself to us as “half man, half amazing,” actually became like the James Bond of the rap game this past year, keeping a low profile while striking accomplishments left and right. While an album from Esco, his first since 2012’s Life Is Good, was expected to arrive in 2013, the Queensbridge vet has been working hard on what he’s described as “the next chapter in myself as a writer.” Details on this “chapter” has been scarce, but during a sit-down on REVOLT’s “Music Talks” last year, Nas gave Andre Harrell a glimpse into the album’s creative direction. “My album — you got to think about [me] getting involved with ‘The Get Down,’ going into stories of the 70s — 1970 in The Bronx — opened my head up to different things,” he shared. “So to put that record together and have what I’m feeling from my experience of working on ‘The Get Down,’ [and] what I’ve been learning, and combine that with the way I hear music today, as soon as we mold that thing perfectly together and put the special glue in there, we’re going to give it to whoever wants to hear it.” Boom-bap Nas incoming?—Ralph Bristout
Pusha T, King Push
First single was a knockout — Pusha T featuring Jay Z, “Drug Dealers Anonymous.” Second single showed promise — “H.G.T.V.” (“Don’t listen to ’em, Desiigner / the same rappers talking next year will be Uber drivers”). The Ty Dolla $ign and Desiigner-featured “Circles” kept the momentum going. Between the three records, Pusha T has prepped King Push into quite the main event. While the buzz isn’t exactly where it was when the album was first announced back in 2013, all eyes remain glued on what Pyrex P cooks up next. Since the announcement, the Virginia wordsmith has been appointed president of G.O.O.D. Music and transformed into a new face for social activism. Should this long-awaited album arrive, the walking “self-righteous drug dealer dichotomy” is expected to show other sides to his world, while finally revealing the inside his proverbial piñata.—Ralph Bristout
Rick Ross, Rather You Than Me
Ricky Rozay built a hall of fame résumé during his 10-year career on Def Jam. He earned his status as one of the game’s most consistently great with a handful of classic projects, including the recently-turned-five Rich Forever mixtape. But now Renzel embarks on a new chapter of his career with a deal at Epic Records with monster mogul LA Reid. Epic has been white-hot with a string of successful LPs from Yo Gotti, Future, Travis Scott, A Tribe Called Quest and one of Ross’ best friends DJ Khaled. The combination of Ross’ hustle and talent aligned with Reid’s seemingly endless resources and influence make for a scary union. The MIA Don has been playing his cards close to his chest with Rather Than You Than Me, but “Buy Back The Block” with 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane is turning out to be healthy appetizer that has rattled the streets.—Shaheem Reid
Sampha, Process (February 3)
As much as you’ve heard Sampha’s voice over the years—on Drake’s “Too Much” and “The Motion,” Kanye’s “Saint Pablo,” Frank Ocean’s “Alabama,” Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair”—you would’ve thought he’d at least have released an album by now. But no. Just two EPs in, we’re still awaiting the official debut from the electronic soul singer-songwriter and, in less than a month, we’ll have it. In 2016, we saw him share tracks “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood On Me” and announce his first-ever live show dates. Ever elusive, it’s time for Sampha and his emotionally-affected, commanding voice to come out of hiding. It’s time.—Danielle Cheesman
Virtually every hitter on Top Dawg Entertainment released a project in 2016. The exception was glaring: SZA, she of the honey-coated vocals and enviable personal style, who dutifully supported her labelmates’ albums and even popped up on Rihanna’s ANTI! She was so frustrated by being placed in a holding pattern that in October she tweeted: “I actually quit. @iamstillpunch can release my album if he ever feels like it. Y’all be blessed.” A retired SZA is worse than a delayed one and the fans roared at the label on our golden girl’s behalf, causing Top Dawg CEO Anthony Tiffith to assure us that SZA was up next for 2017. He better come through because, let’s be honest, at this point we’ve seen her at every festival imaginable, and while “Child’s Play” still moves the crowd, we deserve something new to sing along to.—Driadonna Roland
Travis Scott, Astroworld
Travis Scott took hip-hop by a storm last year. The success of his sophomore album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight surely put him in the category of the top elite rappers of 2016. With the success of his hits like “pick up the phone,” “biebs in the trap,” and “goosebumps,” he gained a whole new legion of fans. Travis was everywhere last year – from touring with Rihanna, to kicking it with Kanye West, and even finally collaborating with his mentor Kid Cudi. Just when we thought things might quite down for Travis as he readies his upcoming tour, he surprised fans with the announcement of yet another album entitled Astroworld. Set to release this year, the album could very well be Travis’ 4-peat, following the positive reception of his previous three projects. Travis also tweeted, “This year I’m making more beats,” reminding the masses of his skills behind the board so, hopefully on Astroworld_, we get to see a ton of Travis-produced beats because just when we think he can’t get any better, he always somehow does. Not much is known about the album yet beside that it’s “coming soon.” With G.O.O.D. Music rumored to release their Cruel Winter compilation album this year as well, 2017 could very well be the year Travis takes over the rap game. Yeah, I said it.—Asia Howard
Wale’s 2015 project, The Album About Nothing, found him bantering with comedian Jerry Seinfeld and ruminating on the elder’s advice about marriage and fame. But Wale told REVOLT that the follow-up, SHINE, “ain’t necessarily a book this time.” To boot, he delivered the sing-songy mixtape Summers on Sunset and a spattering of other singles in the same melodic pocket. But then, fatherhood happened. And then, J. Cole happened: “I got a homie, he a rapper and he wanna win bad / He want the fame, the acclaim, the respect that’s been had / By all the legends, so every time I see him, he stressing / Talking about, niggas don’t f—k with him, the shit is depressing.” So while we continue to wait for SHINE, which was originally slated for last year, we can only hope Wale is retooling some of his lighter fare, based on a gut-check by a good friend, and giving us a project that will finally put him in the pantheon where he fully belongs.—Driadonna Roland
The xx, I See You (January 13)
The xx have been releasing albums and EPs since 2009, but it was their brand new Hall & Oates-sampling single “On Hold” that achieved the group’s highest-charting success in the U.S., hitting No.2, No.7, and No.29 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under, Rock, and Alternative charts, respectively. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve gone unnoticed until now: Drake’s hit “Take Care” was built on bandmember Jamie xx’s remix of a Gil Scott-Heron song—and they’ve reportedly returned the mutual love as the band’s new cut “Naive” is rumored to sample Drizzy’s “Doing It Wrong”—and Jamie also sat behind the board of Frank Ocean’s “Ivy” and Alicia Keys’ “When It’s All Over.” The point is, complete with the alternating vocals of Romy Madley-Croft’s sweet whispers and Oliver Sim’s baritoned croon, the trio needs to finally be heard by the masses.—Danielle Cheesman
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