Last year might have only just finished, but resident hip-hop afficionado and Music Editor Andy Djaba is back. Following on from his top albums of 2017, he lets us know what he’s looking out for in the year ahead.
Drake ended ‘Do NotDisturb’, the final track of More Life, his 2017 ‘playlist’, by promising fans: “I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary More Life ”. 2017 may be remembered as the year that Drake finally relinquished his stranglehold over hip-hop. It was the year that he saw his phenomenal eight-year Billboard Hot 100 Streak finally come to an end - prior to August 2017, Drake had had a song in the charts every week since May 2009 - . The lukewarm reception to More Life suggests that Drake’s days of dominating the charts are behind him, and it is becoming apparent that Drake is slowly passing his peak. This could perhaps explain this period of unusual silence from him - since featuring on Metro Boomin’s ‘No Complaints’ in June, Drake has only appeared on one song - . Drake’s next album is, therefore, all the more important;: will he be able to drop a classic to reclaim the throne of hip-hop and cast his legacy beyond doubt?
9 Isaiah Rashad
TDE ran 2017 with both the best hip-hop and R&B albums of the year (Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and SZA’s CTRL, respectively). Naturally, I’m excited to see what all the artists from the label have in store for us in 2018 but I’m particularly excited to hear from Isaiah Rashad whose debut album, The Sun’s Tirade, was one of my favourite albums from 2016.
8 Jay Rock
Continuing the TDE trend, the label’s stalwart artist, Jay Rock, has been relatively quiet since his impressive 2015 album, 90059. He has been teasing the follow up album and recently dropped the Kendrick Lamar and Future-assisted lead single, ‘King’s Dead’. Jay Rock is criminally underrated but, after revealing in an interview with REAL 92.3 LA that the upcoming LP will be released through both TDE and Interscope, the additional major label backing may prove to propel this album and give Jay Rock the respect he deserves.
“TDE ran 2017 with the hip-hop and R&B albums of the year – Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. and SZA’s CTRL”
7 Travis Scott, Astroworld
Through his intense live shows - the night show is truly a one of a kind experience -, Travis Scott has garnered a crazed fan base and, despite teasing these fans for over a year, it appears that we are no closer to any official announcements regarding the release of his third album, Astroworld. In December, he surprised fans with his long-awaited collaborative album with Quavo, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho. However ,it was disappointing and surprisingly lacked chemistry. Travis is still one of the most creative and influential artists in the culture so I can’t wait to hear what he does with his upcoming solo material.
6 A$AP Rocky
Although he appeared on multiple features in 2017, including A$AP Mob’s collaboration Cozy Tapes, Vol. 2: Too Cozy, the lack of solo material from A$AP Rocky, the leader of the Mob, is bordering on the ridiculous now. He has left fans completely in the dark, with little more than the promise of ‘experimental sounds’ and a few Instagram snippets from the album to go by. For A$AP, music has seemingly taken a backseat to his other interests high-fashion and acting. It will be interesting to hear if he can reach the heights of his stellar previous albums.
5 Post Malone, Beerbongs & Bentleys
Post Malone’s debut album, Stoney, which was released in December 2016, unfortunately flew under the radar. This was perhaps due to a lack of promotion or the fact that it dropped on the same day as J.Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only. With ‘rockstar’, his 21 Savage assisted tune, dominating the charts and breaking the record for the longest time spent at number one on Spotify, Post has disproved all the haters that were convinced he would be a one-hit wonder after his breakout single ‘White Iverson’. His eclectic style is apparent throughout all his projects; I’m excited to hear how he crafts this upcoming release.
4 Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper dominated 2016 and has since held the position of hip-hop’s golden child. He deservedly won three awards at the 2017 Grammys and he could seemingly do no wrong. However, the murmurs of discontent have been bubbling under the surface in the culture and Chance has found himself having to deny rumours of being an ‘industry plant’ and defend his claims of being independent. Chance has the potential to grab the hip-hop throne therefore it makes his follow up to Coloring Book even more crucial.
“Chance has found himself having to deny rumours of being an ‘industry plant’ and defend his claims of being independent”
3 Kanye West, Turbo Grafx 16
We still haven’t heard from Kanye West since the cancellation of the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour and his well-documented mental breakdown, following his wife, Kim Kardashian’s, traumatic robbery at gunpoint in Paris. However, Kanye’s legacy affords him the luxury of always making the list of most anticipated hip-hop albums for any given year. Kanye first announced Turbo Grafx 16 in one of his infamous Twitter rants, shortly after his last release, The Life of Pablo in February 2016. Almost two years later, and there has still been no indication of what this album will sound like or what we should expect. Fans can at least look forward to an explosive response to Jay Z, with whom Kanye has an ongoing feud and who mentioned him on ‘Kill Jay Z’, the intro track from 4:44.
2 Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj is at a pivotal point in her career. Outside of her core fans (or ‘Barbz’), the wider hip-hop community seems to have had enough of her dominance in rap. She hasn’t dropped an album since 2014’s The Pinkprint and Remy Ma successfully won their beef in February. Nicki’s lacklustre response to Remy left her position as the Queen of rap looking extremely fragile. Despite killing several features this year (‘MotorSport’ and ‘Rake It Up’ come to mind), Nicki’s solo efforts have completely missed the mark. Fans are tired of hearing her repeat her favourite bar, “these bitches is my sons”, and even drawing for the Drake plus Lil Wayne combo feature (or the Young Money care package) couldn’t stop her single, ‘No Frauds’, from flopping. The meteoric rise of Cardi B’s rap career in the last year is further cause for Nicki to be concerned. In order for her to cement her position as the Queen of rap, it is imperative that Nicki delivers with this upcoming album.
1 Cardi B
In two years, Cardi B has transitioned from stripper to reality TV star to the first female rapper to claim the top spot on the Hot 100 chart since Lauryn Hill in 1998. Cardi has taken the music industry by storm and her hilarious social media antics have endeared her to fans across the world. The success of her breakout single, ‘Bodak Yellow’, naturally led to the inevitable question of whether she would be able to follow it up. She answered this question by becoming the first female rapper to simultaneously land her first three entries in the top ten of the Hot 100 (‘Bodak Yellow’, ‘MotorSport’ and ‘No Limit’). Cardi first announced that her debut album would be released last October but, with her buzz still growing at feverish pace, she took the wise decision to delay its relase. 2018 is the time for Cardi to drop her major label debut album.
“The success of breakout single, ‘Bodak Yellow’, led to the inevitable question of whether she would be able to follow it up”
I’m intrigued to hear what a Cardi B album sounds like and to see how she handles the pressure and weight of expectation on her shoulders. Due to the unfortunate reality of misogyny in hip-hop, Cardi B’s music has been directly compared to Nicki Minaj’s and the industry has effectively manufactured a feud between these women. Although this Cardi album will be a clear indication of whether she can succeed Nicki as the resident Queen of hip-hop, it is important for hip-hop fans and general lovers of the culture to remember that these artists should be celebrated in their own right. Despite the fact that the supposed female rap beef is entertaining and adds drama to the situation, pitting these artists against each other is something we should condemn as society.