In November, after about 65 years of delays, the ballyhooed Washington, D.C. rapper Wale finally got around to releasing an album.
You remember hip-hop albums, right? A collection of songs released as a cohesive product, for “purchase” in a “store”? It seems like such an old-fashioned idea, you sometimes wonder why people even bother. And yet, we wait and hope for official records. “An album, it’s kinda like a movie,” one of the artists on this list—guess who—told us last year. “Will Ferrell can do skits on YouTube and put them on his website all day, but there’s something about a movie.”
Some of these artists may be better off waiting to release an official CD, or never releasing one at all. Others are ready for prime time.
1) Drake — The rapping, singing, acting entertainment juggernaut is scheduled to release his debut album this spring. If you’ve heard “Forever”, in which he dominates a track that also features Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Eminem, you already know what the fuss is about.
2) Nicki Minaj — Cartoonishly and unapologetically sexual, she’s like a hip-hop Jessica Rabbit. Her mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty shows promise. Note that she, like Drake, is a member of Lil Wayne’s Young Money crew—a good posse to roll with these days.
3) Rye Rye — The M.I.A.-endorsed Baltimore rap/dance teen queen was gaining momentum for an album rollout before announcing that she’d gotten pregnant. She apparently spent New Year’s at the Delano in Miami, so it’s not like she’s hiding in Lamaze class—hopefully she’s still gonna drop that record.
4) B.O.B. (aka Bobby Ray) — He’s released an absurd amount of mixtapes and is hooked up with T.I.’s Grand Hustle label. Also, he is funny. And rap could always use a few more dudes who don’t take themselves too seriously.
5) J. Cole — If this North Carolina rapper ever releases an album of comparable quality to his mixtape track “Grown Simba”, the record will be worth hearing.
6) Freddie Gibbs — I’m still not 100-percent sold on him, but the dude got a write-up in The New Yorker without an album, which counts for something. Maybe I just haven’t heard all the right songs. He seems to have about a billion.
7) Izza Kizza — We continue to await the Timbaland-inflected debut album from this Valdosta, Ga. star in the making, whose MySpace page is loaded with great songs.