There are many things you can say about 2020, but I think we can all collectively agree that we were all relieved when the year came to an end. For some music fans whose favorite artists didn't make good on their promises to release music or pushed back release dates, 2021 couldn't come soon enough.
In the mix for 2021's highly anticipated album releases are some of the industry's biggest names like Rihanna, Drake, Travis Scott, Migos, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole. With these projects on the horizon, 2021 is shaping up to be worth the hype.
Below we take a closer look at some of the albums we're looking forward to the most in the coming year.
Travis Scott, Utopia
Since dropping his explosive 2018 album, Astroworld, Travis Scott hasn't slowed down one bit. From ridiculous collabs to out-of-this-world virtual performances, and even larger hits, all this momentum clearly meant he had an album on the way.
In a new interview with i-D, La Flame offered up some insight on the rumored project. “I never tell people this, and I’m probably going to keep it a secret still, but I’m working with some new people and I’m just trying to expand the sound,” Scott said. “I’ve been making beats again, rapping on my own beats, just putting everything together and trying to grow it really. That’s been one of the most fun things about working on this album. I’m evolving, collaborating with new people, delivering a whole new sound, a whole new range.”
The rapper also revealed quarantine made him "way more productive" and promised that an album is "coming soon."
In August, Scott first confirmed the forthcoming album when he wrote a letter celebrating the two-year anniversary of Astroworld, which he ended with: "See you in Utopia." This prompted fans to believe the new album title is Utopia. The rapper added to the buzz and confirmed a 2021 release date when he sent out handwritten notes to radio DJs across the country thanking them for their support. “Thank you again! For all of the support and see you guys in 2021 in Utopia!!” Travis wrote.
Travis Scott & Kid Cudi, The Scotts
Travis Scott has more than one record on the way. In an interview with GQ, the rapper confirmed that he has been working on a joint album with his idol Kid Cudi. Fans have been calling for a Travis Scott x Kid Cudi project ever since the duo released "The Scotts" back in April.
While both Scott and Cudi have been tight-lipped on the release date, expect the album to break the internet sometime next year.
Drake, Certified Lover Boy
Drake kept fans on the edge of their seats all summer long waiting on the release of his next album. The hype only grew as more details surrounding Certified Lover Boy began to materialize – the name itself suggests we will be getting some emotional-Drake tunes. And CLB's lead single "Laugh Now Cry Later," featuring Lil Durk, confirmed that this is going to be a certified classic.
Drake has been deliberately teasing the album, dropping everything from merch to an ominous trailer. Given that this will be his sixth studio album and the number is very sentimental for the 6 God, trust that we will be in for a treat.
Certified Lover Boy was scheduled to drop in January 2021, but due to a knee injury, he decided to push back the album with no release date in sight.
“I was planning to release my album this month but between surgery and rehab my energy has been dedicated to recovery,” Drake wrote on his story. “I’m blessed to be back on my feet feeling great and focused on the album, but CLB won’t be dropping in January.”
Kendrick Lamar, Untitled Album
Kendrick Lamar fans have been speculating on his next album since he dropped the Pulitzer Prize-winning DAMN. back in 2017. Since then, three long years have passed and Kenny has been keeping a frustratingly low profile. But in 2020, while remaining low-key, Lamar has also given us some of the biggest clues that a project is on the way.
In January, former Billboard editorial director Bill Werde revealed that sources close to the rapper told him that K. Dot's upcoming LP was in the finishing stages and it would be rock-influenced. Then in a subsequent interview, Lamar confirmed a "new sound."
The strongest indicator that a Kendrick Lamar album is imminent came in September when he was seen filming a music video. While there's no set release date, here's to hoping the album finally materializes in 2021.
Perhaps the only person who has kept her fans waiting longer than Kenny is Rihanna. Yes, she's busy running an empire and living her best life, but the trolling has gotten out of hand. It's been four long years without a Rihanna album, but two even more painful years of the Bajan artist teasing us.
The one thing we know about the singer's ninth studio album – speculatively dubbed R9 – is that it is definitely on the way. RiRi has confirmed as much in countless interviews – "It's going to be worth it," she promised last July – and industry insiders like Pharrell Williams, Shaggy, and Skylar Grey have validated her claims.
What can we expect from R9? According to the Badgal herself and song snippets that have found their way to the internet, this project will be very reggae-inspired. And when will we hear said album? To be fair, she's been teasing it since 2018, occasionally suggesting that the album is complete and that the drop is imminent, so here's to hoping 2021 will be our lucky year.
Migos, Culture III
With their aptly-titled 2017 sophomore album, Culture, Migos changed the game. In 2018, Culture II inspired career-changing success for the Atlanta trio, and not soon after the supergroup revealed they were on to the next one: Culture III.
While it was previously teased for 2020, on Kevin Durant's ETCs podcast Quavo revealed that the album had been pushed back due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that it will be releasing in the new year instead.
J. Cole, The Off Season, It’s A Boy & The Fall Off
J. Cole ended a relatively quiet year career-wise with some drama. Taking to Instagram, the rapper teased not only three upcoming albums but also his impending retirement.
While fans have been anxiously waiting on his highly-anticipated The Fall Off album, Cole revealed he's got two other "Fall Off-era" albums to drop ahead of it: The Off Season and It’s A Boy. However, the news felt bitter sweet, as the caption revealed he's ready to quit the rap game once these projects are out. “I still got some goals I gotta check off for’ I scram…” he wrote.
Young Thug, Slime Language 2
While Young Thug's comments have been getting more traction than his music lately, expect that to change soon. Thugger had fans' hearts racing when he announced in December 2020 that his YSL label compilation would be returning for a second edition in 2021.
Thug and his label artists have been steadily teasing the album all year. However, Thug adorably confirmed Slime Language 2 with assistance from his daughter Mari Mego. Taking to IG live, the rapper validated the eight-year-old's musical ambitions by announcing that she would make her YSL debut on the imminent album. "I was just calling to congratulate you that you made Slime Language 2. You’re on the album,” he told her.
The Weeknd, Untitled Album
In a recent interview with tmrw magazine, the singer revealed how the cancellation of his planned tour and 2020's sociopolitical environment made him refocus his efforts on the After Hours followup. "I have been more inspired and creative during the pandemic than I might normally be while on the road… The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the tensions of the election have mostly created a sense of gratitude for what I have and closeness with the people near me,” he said.
Meek Mill, Untitled Album
Aside from a light Quarantine Pack EP, Meek Mill has been relatively quiet since his well-received 2018 album Championships. While he's been dedicating most of his time to social justice and fighting for prison reform, the Philly rapper hasn't forgotten about music.
In October, Mill revealed to a fan on Twitter that his next studio album was arriving before the end of 2020. While that wasn't exactly the case, the rapper has been spotted shooting music videos in and around Philadelphia, so it's clear new music is definitely on the way.
Pusha T, Untitled Album
Pusha T is officially in album mode. In December 2020, Push’s manager Steven Victor revealed some interesting details about the rapper's upcoming project: it will be produced by a joint effort of Kanye West and The Neptunes. With those superproducers in tow, the album is sure to be a hit.
Victor also pointed out that Pusha T has not put any features on the record yet, meaning that his 2019 song with Lauryn Hill “Coming Home” and “Sociopath” featuring Kash Doll will not be included on the record.