New year, new rap shit. Hip-hop is flush with blossoming new acts from one corner of the map to another, but there’s also a middle class of slightly-new-but-not-really artists who’ve been quiet for a minute. This list, minus one exception, is a quick look at some of those rappers and what we can expect from them in 2015.
Don’t see an album or artist you’re fiending for? Hit the comments below and let us know who we should keep an eye out for in the new year. These are the Five Most Anticipated Rap Albums of 2015.
1. Earl Sweatshirt – TBD (Columbia)
Hailed as the most technically intricate rapper out of Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt was quieter than a mouse in the year following his debut LP, Doris. At the end of 2014, he quietly released a short song with Alchemist which sounded better than a whole lotta rap music from last year. Every now and then, Earl will tweet about how next level his music is, but we don’t want to hear that shit anymore. Just give us the album. We already know we aren’t getting that EarlWolf project, and surely young Sweatshirt is taking his time to perfect this next LP. We just have a feeling it’s gonna be better than Doris.
2. Boldy James – Trapper’s Alley 2 (Mass Appeal)
Boldy James has been one of our favorites since his first Trapper’s Alley tape in 2011. He’s since signed to Mass Appeal Records, where his sophomore album is set to drop later this year. Trapper’s Alley 2 doesn’t look to be that LP, but it is dropping February 27, and it apparently boasts features from Nas, Kevin Gates, and others.
We haven’t heard much from Boldy since his dope debut album My 1st Chemistry Set, save a couple stray singles, but we want to hear Boldy get back with Alchemist and Chuck Inglish. With the right production, James is one of the most powerful MCs out.
3. Danny Brown – TBD (Fool’s Gold)
Danny Brown’s Old was one of the best albums of 2013, but he fell back after that to stack bread on tour and work on his next, as-of-now untitled tour. Recently, he told Triple J that he’s been recording with SKYWLKR, Paul White, and Alchemist for the upcoming LP, and he’s also got a collaboration with The Avalanches in the can.
Listening to the above freestyle, though, indicates that Danny might be getting deeper than ever before on his new material. “Born with the blood of an enraged salve, caught fucking master wifey and got hung that day,” he spits over Earl Sweatshirt’s “Chum.” “That’s why I fuck these white bitches like it’s payback.” Danny’s always been a personal MC, but if he starts talking history like that, he’s gonna surprise a lot of people who think he’s all “Dip.”
4. Grande Marshall – My Brother’s Keeper (Fool’s Gold)
Another one of our longtime favorites, Grande Marshall made one of the most emotional rap projects in recent years with 2012’s 800. His next project, though, seemed like more of an indulgence on his part, as Mugga Man put hefty sheen over the more personal content from his debut. The beats and flows were slick as ever, but it didn’t have the same weight as that first one. My Brother’s Keeper looks to be different.
“Pull Up’s Theme” (above) was one of the best songs from last year as Grande fed wisdom to hustlers and dreamers alike. His recent Twitter scuffle with Lupe Fiasco brought him closer to the spotlight, but Marshall could probably give a fuck about Loopy. He’s sticking to his core team of sound-bending producers (Ben Pramuk, Sam Greens, Noah Breakfast, and Grave Goods) for My Brother’s Keeper, and Grande’s mic presence plus those wholly unique beatmakers means MBK is about to be a problem.
5. Jay 305 – Taking All Bets (Interscope)
We’ve already extolled the virtues of Jay 305, and his recent appearance on songs with YG (“Blame It On The Streets”) and DJ Mustard (“Ghetto Tales”) have made more people warm up to the recent OpM (Dom Kennedy’s label) signee. It is strange, though, how the kid got signed to Interscope with only two songs available on iTunes. It makes us think Archie Davis (Interscope A&R) heard some shit that made him sign Jay 305 with the quickness. Judging by what little material Jay has out there right now, we’re gonna assume Archie made the right gamble. We’re copping Taking All Bets off the strength as soon as it drops.