/  01.27.2022

From Lil Baby to Kendrick Lamar, 2022 has the potential to be one of the biggest years our culture has seen music-wise since 2016 with a number of big-name releases that could drop. And, it’s not just rap and R&B that are expected to have a phenomenal year, two of Afrobeats’ biggest artists Burna Boy and WizKid are both expected to release projects this year, as well.

With drops from artists such as J. Cole, Summer Walker; Tyler, The Creator; and Isaiah Rashad in 2021, there was a little something for everyone to enjoy — and 2022 is expected to follow a similar trajectory. That said, it’s never too early to begin anticipating albums from artists we haven’t heard from in a while. Here are 17 artists we are hoping drop in 2022.

1. Rihanna

With her last official release in 2016, it’s safe to say that Rihanna’s presence in the music industry has been sorely missed. R9 has been rumored since at least 2018 with the most prevalent theory being that the LP will be a double-album — one side R&B and the other Reggae. But since Anti’s release, Rihanna has completely shifted her focus from music and has transformed herself into a billionaire beauty mogul with her Fenty Beauty line. Hopes may not be high for another full-length Riri album in 2022, but the anticipation is always there and only increasing amongst fans.

2. SZA

The First Lady of TDE had a phenomenal run in 2021 with the way she slid on each and every track. Her last album, CTRL, is deemed a classic record amongst fans and critics alike, and the anticipation for her next release has only managed to heighten due to the success of singles such as “Good Days” and “I Hate U.” She managed to score a top-five hit, as well, with her feature on Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More.” If her run in 2021 was any indication of what her next album will sound like, we may be in for another banger.

3. Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar’s last full-length album was released nearly five years ago in 2017. The industry hasn’t heard much from him since then, but he’s slated to be one of the five headlining performers at 2022’s NFL Super Bowl Halftime show and fans can only hope that he’ll debut or announce new music during his performance. From Section.80 in 2011 to DAMN. in 2017, Kendrick’s evolution as an artist has been thrilling to watch and it’s exciting to envision where he’ll go with his music next. Kendrick’s one of few rappers who can claim a nearly-perfect discography, so the pressure is definitely on for his next project.

4. Blxst

Blxst is one of the most promising newcomers in the game and in 2020, he dropped a perfect album with No Love Lost…and that was just his debut! His flow and cadence are purely contagious, and he has a producer’s ear that’s evident in his exemplary beat selection. He claims he hasn’t “heard one bad Blxst song” and it’s difficult to disagree. Since his debut project, he’s gone on his first headlining tour and released Sixtape 2, the second installment of his collaborative album with Bino Rideaux. Blxst may be new to the game, but with his work ethic and infectious flow, he’s definitely on his way to the top.

5. Smino

Smino is the young king of soulful rap and his presence in the music scene has been heavily missed. He has a unique ability to seamlessly blend the perfect elements of rap and R&B to create these beautiful downtempo tracks sprinkled with hard bars on top. His last album, NOIR released in 2018, and he recently inked a new record deal with Motown Records for his future releases. In December, he announced that his next album would be titled Luv 4 Rent and fans are ready.

6. Saba

Saba has recently announced the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2018 release, CARE FOR ME, would be titled Few Good Things, and the singles are living up to all of the hype. “Come My Way” featuring Krayzie Bone has quickly become a fan-favorite and it’s clear to see Saba’s skills have gotten more refined since we last heard from him a few years back. The star has already proven himself to be one of Chicago’s finest and his next project is expected to keep his name in that conversation.

7. Giveon

Giveon’s rise to superstardom has been fascinating to witness, and the R&B crooner has only topped himself with each release. In 2021, some of his biggest features included Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” and Drake’s “In The Bible.” He has already mastered the art of utilizing his voice to effectively inflict heavy emotion upon the listener with his beautiful layering patterns that allow for his music to feel like a complete experience. Giveon hasn’t released a full length LP since 2020’s TAKE TIME, although he did combine that project with a few loosie tracks to release When It’s All Said And Done…Take Time. As one of the leaders of the new generation of silky smooth R&B, the anticipation for his next project is only growing by the day.

8. Brent Faiyaz

Brent Faiyaz’s music has an energy that can only be described as smooth, player, and luxurious. His last full-length release, Fuck The World, was a flawless project that radiated said energy on every track. 2021 wasn’t completely quiet for Brent though. He released five singles throughout the year and progressively improved with each one. “Gravity” with Tyler, The Creator was a fan-favorite and ended up going viral on TikTok shortly after its release. If the singles Brent released in 2021 were any indication of what he has to come, fans can expect him to return with his signature suave playboy lyrics that ride his punchy, yet polished beats.

9. WizKid

WizKid had an incredible year in 2021 thanks to the success of his single “Essence” featuring Tems from his 2020 LP Made In Lagos. The sensual, silky smooth track, which seamlessly blended elements of both Afrobeats and R&B, was a huge success. “Essence” was the first Nigerian song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, and it peaked at No. 9. It was the unanimous song of the summer, as its infectious energy made it impossible not to want to dance while listening to it. Wiz recently collaborated with fellow Afrobeat star Burna Boy on “B. D’OR,” and the track is quickly gaining traction on social media. With WizKid’s incredible year in 2021, fans can expect more music in time for the summer.

10. 6LACK

The East Atlanta King of R&B is expected to make his long-awaited return in 2022 — four years after his last album, East Atlanta Love Letter. 6LACK’s music represents a different side of R&B. It isn’t as traditional as the likes of Lucky Daye or even Giveon. Instead, 6LACK uniquely blends elements of modern R&B and Atlanta’s signature style of trap, and the outcome is a confessional style topped with layers of Atlanta’s signature trap sound. He closed off 2021 by dropping two new singles (which were both bangers, by the way) and signaling new music for the year on Instagram. 6LACK is building a beautiful discography and it’s exciting to think about where he’ll venture next.

11. Solange

Neo-Soul was once the newest wave of R&B that quickly swept the late 90s and early 2000s. Once trap began to rise, a new sound of R&B emerged and it was heavily trap-inspired. Despite the ever changing genre, Solange kept true to her signature sound. During this time, she released two critically acclaimed bodies of work back to back. A Seat At The Table in 2016, and When I Get Home in 2019. Both albums became cult classics, and critics and fans alike loved the way she paid homage to Houston on “When I Get Home.”

12. Future

While Future hasn’t dropped his last full-length solo LP since 2020’s High Off Life, the toxic king started 2022 off with his feature on Gunna’s ‘pushin P’ and the track is quickly gaining traction. With Future’s influence being clear on most of the new generation’s rappers, fans can only wonder where he’ll take his signature sound next.

13. 21 Savage

21 Savage was another artist who had an incredible run in 2021 without an album out. In fact, if there was an award for Featured Artist of the Year, he would win it by a landslide. He spent a good chunk of 2021 on tour with J. Cole, and opened up 2022 with another killer feature on JID’s “Surround Sound.” His last full-length LP, SAVAGE MODE II was the second installment in his collaboration album series between him and his go-to producer, Metro Boomin. 21 has truly grown so much as an artist since his last release, so the anticipation is high for a new full-length solo project.

14. Lil Baby

Lil Baby’s last solo full-length LP My Turn, was released in 2020 and solidified him as an artist who was here to stay. Baby is arguably one of the most talented rappers of the new generation, and his music is a direct reflection of that. Nearly everything he touches in an instant hit, and he’s proven he can go bar-for-bar with some of the industry’s best. We know that there’s still another level Baby can tap into and we’re excited to see it.

15. Nicki Minaj

Rap’s queen hasn’t dropped a full-length album since 2018, but her absence has been completely understandable as she’s been busy with her new family. With that being said, her presence in the game has been missed. There’s truly no one on Nicki’s level and more music from her is always anticipated. In 2021, she released her 2009 mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty onto streaming platforms with three new tracks — one of the tracks being “Seeing Green,” a classic Young Money collaboration between Nicki, Drake, and Lil Wayne. If there’s one thing that track proved, it’s that Nicki can still get into her bag when she wants to. Her bars were slick and clever, and it was the classic Nicki that the game had been missing.

16. Kehlani

In 2020, amidst a pandemic and quarantine, Kehlani released It Was Good Until It Wasn’t accompanied with multiple music videos she shot in her house during lockdown. The album perfectly managed to capture the distinct feeling of intimacy during a time where there wasn’t much intimacy felt. Kehlani’s growth as an artist has been fascinating to watch as she continues to top herself with each and every project. She brings a special sense of honesty and rawness to R&B that very few others can compete with. In 2022, we hope to hear more from her vault!

17. Burna Boy

Burna Boy has remained one of Nigeria’s biggest Afrobeat stars since his debut in 2015. He released his last album Twice As Fall in 2020, and while still very commercially successful, fans were still thirsting for his more traditional Afrobeat approach to his LPs. He’s another artist expected to release a new album in 2022 and with the success of his single with WizKid, Burna is truly back. Afrobeats are finally starting to truly catch on in the states and Burna Boy is a huge reason why.