Photo: Kevin Mazur/Tim Mosenfelder/Matt Winkelmeyer/Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images
  /  01.13.2023

Simply put, 2022 was an amazing year for music, specifically in regard to hip hop and R&B. Notable drops from the likes of Kodak Black, GloRilla, Yeat, Stormzy, Lil Durk, Drake and 21 Savage, Chris Brown, and Rico Nasty helped to create a soundtrack for what was the nation’s first year back outside. While many of our favorite artists marked huge returns to wax (Kendrick Lamar, SZA, and Beyoncé are probably the biggest examples), others continued to hold off on long-awaited efforts or remain silent as fans bombarded their social media accounts with emotionally charged demands.

Below, REVOLT lists nine artists we hope to see unveil brand new bodies of work in 2023. Hopefully, these highly requested LPs will transition from near-mythical fever dreams to inevitable masterpieces that will top charts and fuel international tours in the months to come.

Rihanna

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

At one point, many were debating if Rihanna, who is now a member of the billionaires club thanks to her wildly successful Fenty enterprise, would even return to creating music. It’s been six years since the Barbadian mogul released her eighth studio LP, Anti, a genre-bending classic that’s gone three-times platinum. Since then, it’s been a virtual drought, save for the occasional contribution to songs like Mike WiLL Made-It’s “Nothing Is Promised,” Future’s “Selfish,” DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts,” N.E.R.D’s “Lemon,” and PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “Believe It.” Hopefully, she’ll be bringing a lot more than a Super Bowl performance in the new year.

What we heard from her in 2022: The surprising, emotional ballads “Lift Me Up” and “Born Again,” both of which appeared on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s official soundtrack.

Normani

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It’s been over four years since Normani parted ways with her Fifth Harmony mates, beginning what was (and still is) expected to be a longstanding career as an R&B, pop, and electronic powerhouse all her own. Months after the group announced its hiatus, the southern belle gave fans a taste of what to expect with a two-song EP alongside Calvin Harris. She has also blessed the masses with a slew of quality singles and collaborations, including “Love Lies” with Khalid, “Waves” with 6LACK, “Motivation,” “Diamonds” with Megan Thee Stallion, and “Wild Side” with Cardi B. Now, all we need is a solo album to solidify Normani’s position in music’s upper stratosphere.

What we heard from her in 2022: In addition to the occasional snippet, Normani dropped off the well-received single “Fair” and reunited with Harris on the Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 standout “New to You” with Tinashe and Offset.

ScHoolboy Q

Frank Hoensch/Redferns

Like many of the dynasties before it, the past year or so was a true season of change for Top Dawg Entertainment. Not only did Kendrick Lamar mark his long-awaited return to form with what was his final project on said label, Isaiah Rashad, SZA, and Ab-Soul have also brought back that old feeling with their well-received bodies of work. Given this, it’s only natural to hope that ScHoolboy Q is somewhere nearby, preparing to build on TDE’s latest run in between golf sessions and promotional campaigns for Google Pixel — especially since CrasH Talk was liberated three years ago. Intermittent collaborations with E-40, Maxo Kream, RJmrLA, Conway the Machine, Black Thought, and Freddie Gibbs prove that the LA star hasn’t lost a single step.

What we heard from him in 2022: One of the biggest moments for Q was “Soccer Dad,” a loose drop that arrived back in April. He also provided an uncredited assist for Soul’s “FOMF” and stole the spotlight on The Alchemist‘s “Clip in a Tray,” two songs that made landfall on the same day (Dec. 16).

Nicki Minaj

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs

Believe it or not, it’s been four years since we heard an official album from Nicki Minaj. That’s not to say that her presence hasn’t been felt from a musical standpoint, as her Barbz have remained well-fed via loose drops like “Barbie Drip,” “Barbie Goin Bad,” “Bust Down Barbiana,” and “MEGATRON.” She also rereleased the classic mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty and dropped off a compilation of current and past hits in celebration of her “Queen Radio” show on Apple Music. Add in some high-profile features, and you have an artist that hasn’t lost relevance even as some of her peers have fallen by the wayside. Regardless, the Young Money alum is overdue for an LP that’s been promised for most of 2022.

What we heard from her in 2022: The truth is that Nicki Minaj has given fans quite the new music campaign, further adding to the growing demand for a new full-length offering. Amongst the many singles and collabs released were “Do We Have A Problem?” with Lil Baby, “Blick Blick” with Coi Leray, “We Go Up” with Fivio Foreign, “Love In The Way” with Yung Bleu, and the wildly successful “Super Freaky Girl.” She even hijacked Skeng’s “Likkle Miss,” complete with a “Fine Nine” remix alongside several other female frontrunners.

Diddy

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Much like Rihanna, Diddy has been spending much of his time enjoying life and expanding his billion-dollar empire. From a music standpoint, his most recent solo effort was 2015’s MMM (Money Making Mitch), a critically acclaimed offering that featured plenty of hip hop and R&B’s heavyweights. Following that release, the Bad Boy mogul continued to hold court as one of music’s most iconic producers while dropping off the occasional banger (ex. “Shmoney Ain’t A Problem” and “Whatcha Gon’ Do?“). While announcements for forthcoming projects have come and gone in the past, the creation of Love Records back in May certainly raises hopes that an official follow-up to MMM will soon come to fruition.

What we heard from him in 2022: Also adding fuel to the fire — the release of the Bryson Tiller-assisted “Gotta Move On” and its follow up, “Sex In The Porsche” with PARTYNEXTDOOR.

Lil Uzi Vert

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It’s already well-known how unpredictable a Lil Uzi Vert release can be. Both 2017’s Luv Is Rage 2 and 2020’s Eternal Atake weren’t without delays, to say the least. Thankfully, the eventual arrival of both albums made the wait worth it, especially with subsequent deluxe upgrades for both. Months after Atake, Uzi would team up with Future for Pluto x Baby Pluto, making that year one of the Philly rhymer’s most prolific to date. Now, Uzi’s  said to be putting the final touches on The Pink Tape, a project that was officially announced in 2021. While many have been speculating about a February release, it would probably make sense to refrain from holding your breath on an exact date until the young star confirms it — as we’ve learned before, perfection takes time.

What we heard from them in 2022: The latter half of 2022 was a busy one for Uzi, beginning with the nine-song effort RED & WHITE (an obvious appetizer before The Pink Tape). There have also been a wealth of notable contributions for the likes of Hotboii, Yeat, NAV, and Smino. The biggest moment of all? The inescapable “Just Wanna Rock,” which is now arguably one of the biggest song’s of the year.

T.I.

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Last year, T.I. released a song titled “What It’s Come To,” which — in a matching lyric video — also served as an announcement for his retirement album, Kill The King. The project would follow 2020’s The L.I.B.R.A., his 11th overall that was met with moderate critical and commercial success. Since the aforementioned proclamation, fans have been treated to a second single, the Lil Jon-assisted “F**k Em.” Outside of various speaking appearances, the Atlanta veteran has otherwise remained pretty mum about when Kill The King would finally arrive for fans to enjoy.

What we heard from him in 2022: Seriously — not much has come after the above drops, except for featured appearances on cuts like Snoop Dogg‘s “Gotta Keep Pushing” and Conway the Machine’s “Wild Chapters.” Hopefully, T.I. is saving all of his heat (and that album) for 2023.

Cardi B

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Out of everyone on this list, it would be fair to say that a Cardi B project is one of the offerings we’ve been waiting for the most — mainly because of the updates that have been provided by the always-transparent NYC star over the years. Earlier this month, she revealed during an Instagram Live session that the anxiety of leaving her family to tour and promote a new body of work is a big factor in why we have yet to experience a new album, which would be her first since the universally acclaimed Invasion of Privacy hit stores and streaming platforms in 2018. The upside is that her process has spawned some high-quality singles, including “Money,” “Please Me” with Bruno Mars, “Press,” “WAP” with Megan Thee Stallion, and “Up,” along with a wealth of notable features throughout. We’re just hoping that Cardi will give in and press the proverbial button sometime within the next 12 months.

What we heard from her in 2022: Cardi B spent the majority of 2022 stealing the spotlight on songs like Summer Walker’s “No Love,” Kay Flock’s “Shake It,” GloRilla’s “Tomorrow 2,” and ROSALÍA’s “DESPECHÁ RMX.” She also liberated a song of her own — the Kanye West and Lil Durk-assisted “Hot S**t” — over the summer.

Frank Ocean

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This is arguably the biggest long shot. Frank Ocean released his last two projects, Endless and Blonde, a day apart from each other back in 2016. Since then? A few magazine exclusives and a somewhat steady stream of songs heard by way of the Odd Future alum’s “blonded RADIO” platform (“Chanel,” “Biking” with Tyler, the Creator and JAY-Z, “Lens,” “In My Room,” etc.). Quizzical moves like clearing his social media profile and providing fans with cryptic, emoji-only responses to album requests certainly raised eyebrows, although — obviously — these don’t guarantee anything.

What we heard from him in 2022: Nothing. You can pick up a vinyl copy of Blonde, assuming its restock hasn’t already sold out.

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