By Nadeska Alexis
2011 was a monster year for hip-hop, thanks to a list of releases that offered up a little bit of something for everyone. Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne album was an event onto itself and it was still topped by Tha Carter IV just a few weeks later. MMG’s Self-Made Vol 1. made plenty of noise (especially on Friday nights), then Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 brought a welcome change of pace. Name-dropping is impolite, but the fall was almost overwhelming with new projects from J.Cole, Wale, Drake, Yelawolf and finally, in the last two months, Young Jeezy, The Roots and Common. That said, 2012 shouldn’t be too disappointing. Look out for debut albums from Big K.R.I.T. and Pusha T, sophomore LPs from Nicki Minaj and Big Sean, plus T.I.’s first post-prison release. A Jay-Z solo album and Watch the Throne part two are possible as well–Hov said so himself.
»Rick Ross: God Forgives, I Don’t
After dominating the radio and clubs with hits from Maybach Music Group’s Self Made Vol. 1 this summer, Rick Ross began to prep his fifth studio album God Forgives, I Don’t for an end of year release. When he suffered from two seizures in October, Rozay took some time off to get his strength back and confirmed that the album would be delayed as a result. The Miami native has since been back on the road, hitting stages and continuing to work on God Forgives, I Don’t. The album will drop at the top of 2012, and it will be preceded by a new mixtape.
»Nicki Minaj: Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Nicki Minaj released her debut album Pink Friday in November 2010, but singles like “Super Bass” took on a life of their own in 2011, climbing the charts, inspiring viral videos and attracting an unlikely set of stars like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. Minaj’s sophomore LP Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is set to debut on Valentine’s Day 2012 and if the recent singles “Roman in Moscow” and “Stupid H–” are any indication of what fans should expect, then unhinged bars, manic flows and general mayhem—courtesy of Minaj’s alter-ego Roman Zolanski—will dominate this project.
»G.O.O.D. Music: Untitled
Kanye West is recruiting his entire G.O.O.D. Music squad for a compilation album that will undoubtedly be one of the biggest releases of 2012. Big Sean and Pusha T are already confirmed to appear on the project, which will likely feature other artists such as John Legend and Kid Cudi. In November Pusha T confirmed that he had already recorded multiple tracks for the album, telling MTV News, “The beats are there and they’re laid out but the finished product still has to go through the Kanye West wizardry wall. I’ve recorded four songs for the G.O.O.D. Music album, and hopefully there will be a couple more. I know me and [Big] Sean should definitely be on two songs together, if not more.” According to Pusha, all parties involved have been recording their respective contributions in New York.
»T.I.: Trouble Man
T.I. was released from an 11-month prison sentence in September and he wasted no time getting back to work. His seventh album No Mercy was released during his time behind bars and although it debuted on the charts, the Atlanta rapper is determined to put 100% into his latest project Trouble Man. Just a few weeks after his homecoming Tip had already recorded 50 new songs for the album, leaving him to narrow down the final contenders. The album’s first three singles “Pyro,” “Flexin’” and “Here Ye, Hear Ye” have already been released and fans will have a chance to hear the full project early next year. Before that, expect a new mixtape from T.I. on New Year’s Day.
Following the Shady 2.0 Bet cypher where Slaughterhouse assisted Eminem in shutting things down, anticipation continued to build for the long-delayed album from Royce Da 5’9, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, and Crooked I. Late in November, after performing a sold out show at NYC’s Highline Ballroom, Budden told MTV News that the album was “ninety five percent done,” adding, “I’m hoping the first single will come in January or December, but naturally Eminem would have the last word on that.” According to Budden, his Feature Presentation EP will be followed by the Slaughterhouse album and then a solo LP via E1 Records.
»Big K.R.I.T: Live from the Underground
Big K.R.I.T. has already established himself as a talented lyricist and producer with the release of his popular mixtapes K.R.I.T Wuz Here and Return of 4Eva, but the Mississippi native will finally drop his Def Jam debut in 2012. Live from the Underground was originally scheduled to debut on September 27, but due to his busy schedule—which has included producing for T.I.’s Trouble Man and rapping on The Roots’ undun—the anticipated LP has been delayed. K.R.I.T. has confirmed that he will self-produce many of the tracks on the album and maintains that he will not rush the release in order to craft a project that is entirely up to his standards.
»Pusha T: Untitled
After releasing four albums with his brother Malice as a part of the Clipse, Pusha T will finally release his debut studio album in 2012. This year the G.O.O.D Music rapper dropped his mixtape Fear of God, and later re-released it as Fear of God II: Let Us Pray for retail. Pusha is still promoting the EP by releasing more videos in the coming weeks but he’s also hard at work on his first full-length studio project. Kanye West is serving as executive producer of the album, while the Virginia rapper collaborates with other beatmakers that include No I.D. and The Neptunes. In late November he told MTV News that more than six songs had already been recorded for the LP.
»Jay-Z (and Kanye West): Untitled
Jay and Ye put on one of the year’s most spectacular road shows in support of their first joint album Watch the Throne, and according to Hov, in 2012 fans can likely expect him to drop his 12th solo album and another Throne project. In a December interview with MTV News, Jay hinted at both projects, adding that the potential for release depends on when his current tour with Kanye West wraps up. We’ll take both albums–please.
Big Sean released three volumes of his Finally Famous mixtape series between 2007 and 2010, before the Detroit rapper was able to put out his studio debut Finally Famous in June. The album featured heavy production from No I.D. and features that included Lupe Fiasco, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Pusha T, John Legend and, of course, Kanye West on the single “Marvin & Chardonnay.” Sean is currently in the midst of touring, but he’s confirmed that his sophomore album will arrive in 2012, after he drops the mixtape Finally Famous Over Everything, and secures his verses on the anticipated G.O.O.D. Music album.
Meek Mill returned to Philadelphia in October for his first performance at the annual Powerhouse concert, since he secured a new deal with Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. His hometown crowd went crazy for hits like “I’ma Boss” from Self-Made Vol 1. and Dreamchasers’ singles like “House Party.” He’s currently at work on his debut studio album, which he says will arrive by the summer. “You can expect real hip-hop from me: spit, versatility,” he told MTV News in November. “It ain’t about quantity, it’s about quality. I like to take my time, put out good records, pick good beats, pick good features. Rick Ross has already called it “a classic.”
*There are rumblings that in 2012 we can also expect solo albums from Outkast’s Andre 3000 (who hasn’t dropped an LP since 2006’s Idlewild) and Big Boi (who dropped Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty in 2010), but we don’t like to get our hopes up. New releases from Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator (and Frank Ocean) are also on our radar.