Great Expectations: The RapGenius Guide to Rap Albums in 2013

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We did this list last year and a few things happened that we didn’t anticipate. Things like Flying Lotus rapping and Chief Keef coming back from the dead. Hip hop will continue to spark phenoms we won’t see coming and who can’t be included in lists like these. But I’m still interested in talking about the expectations we have of rappers, especially now, in a year where it made perfect sense to us as editors to include Big K.R.I.T’s Live From The Underground as both one of best and most disappointing albums of 2012’s first half. It was good, but maybe not as good as I thought it would be, but not in the ways I thought. If that makes any sense to you then I think you’ll like this list.

Let’s start with a few things that didn’t happen; the albums that were on the last year’s list that haven’t dropped yet.

Group G: This summer ain’t finna, say “Next summer, I’m finna”

Jay Electronica, Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn): Why can’t we have nice things? Last year I told you that this was the album you could put all of your faith into and now I don’t know what to believe. Since then, Jay has leaked the track listing on Twitter and not much else. This is about as optimistic as I’ll get with this list: I think this album will drop in 2013.

XV, The Kid With The Green Backpack: We really want this to be good. We have XV reasons why we think this will be good.

Asher Roth, Is This Too Orange?: I guess it was too orange, because Roth changed the name of the album (props to Frank Ocean).

50 Cent, Street King Immortal: [editors note: Can we get an intern to care about 50 Cent’s music? It’d be a real time saver. Thanks.]

Group F: Don’t get your hopes up

Dr. Dre, Detox: Scratch that, this is the most optimstic thing I’ll say: I think Detox will drop this year! Nah, it probably won’t. But we did learn from Schoolboy Q that Detox is like a mix away,” so that’s something, right?

Black Star: Yasiin Bey went on the record this year, saying, “Now it feels like the right time for Black Star to come back.” Now I’m a little excited for that.

Q-Tip, The Last Zulu: Tip always takes his time and G.O.O.D. doesn’t rush stuff out—we’ve had to wait for both Big Sean and Pusha T.

Group E: Collaboration albums dropping from the sky

G.O.O.D. Music, Cruel Winter: Cruel Summer was a bit of disappointment, wasn’t it? There’s enough talent on their roster to make this a really good album, but who knows if we’ll ever see it.

J. Cole & Kendrick Lamar: Kendrick said that he doesn’t want a release date for this collab, telling the LA Leakers “We goin' drop that out the sky though. I ain’t gonna give no dates, no nothing. I’m just gonna let it fall.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cx4sGE1U4Qk

Group D: Trained professionals at work, rest assured

Joe Budden, No Love Lost: Best three-word album title by a veteran rapper since Life is Good?

Action Bronson, Saab Stories: I know Bronson isn’t a veteren, but he feels like one with his flow and reliability. I’m expecting to learn at least five new recipes on this album.

The Roots, & Then You Shoot Your Cousin: A. SURE. THING.

Deltron 3030, Deltron Event II: (see above.) Though maybe this one won’t get dropped, you know how it is with collab albums.

AZ, Do or Die 2: The last AZ album. I expect to be saddened.

Jean Grae, Cake or Death: If Jean Grae ever died she’d return like the Phoenix—if Kitty Pryde were on this list I could make another X-Men reference (not sure if her she’s got an album in the works, but that’d be dope).

[side-note: if Jay-z does a thing or if Kanye does a thing or if Eminem drops an album, those albums will be good. also, if Drake does a thing that should be good, but if he does the Aaliyah thing maybe that won’t be so good. Weezy, too. moving on…]

DOOM and Madlib, New Madvillian Album, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, Cocaine Pinanta: Gibbs and DOOM have a bunch of projects in the works (will we ever get to see that DOOM and Ghostface album?), but these Madlib collabs are actually happening. Expect big things from Gibbs and DOOM.

Group C: Expect the Unexpected

Lil B: Protect the BasedGod from your high expectations, he will surprise you.

Mr Muthafuckin' eXquire: The Man in the High Castle had some older stuff, but the Power and Passion EP showed where eXquire is going. It’s got the line “Shout out my nigga God/ He a real ass nigga” which is my bar of the year. His ear for beats bodes well for his major label debut.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEizosP6PJU

Logic: I’ve missed out on Logic. I watched one of his videos so I would have something to say here. He seems really marketable and he shouted out Mac Miller. He should do well. (Leave a comment on where I should start with his work).

Greedhead, Lakutis, 3 Sea Shells/ Le1f album/ Big Baby Ghandi album: Das Racist broke up, but there’s a ton of stuff coming from the Greedhead label next year.

Gilbere Forte, Pray: It’s the soundtrack to a short film and the only real comparison you could give for that is My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy. That is a good comparison.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm8E4jKbpek

Gunplay, Medellín: Even after “Cartoon and Cereal” and “Bible on the Dash” people are still sleeping on Gunplay. I don’t expect them to do that next year.

Lupe Fiasco, Food and Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 2: Food and Liquor 2: The Great… Part 1 was better than Lasers but I’m still not sure what this album will look like. I’m interested into how the fallout of “Bitch Bad”/Boycott Spin will effect his music—can we have conscious-Lupe and Enemy of the State-Lupe at the same time? Can we get The Cool 2 or Enemy of the State 2 instead?

Tyler, The Creator, Wolf: As with Goblin, news about this album has been kept under wraps. (All the production was done in-house so nothing is gonna leak). Does it have to be better than Goblin?

Group B: Show and Prove

Kid Cudi, Indicud: After WZRD and Man on the Moon II, we still haven’t had a great Cudi releases since A Kid Named Cudi. Indicud looks promising.

Pusha T, My Name is My Name: Pusha T is a veteran who has spent the last year rapping his head off like he has something to prove. He was the MVP of Cruel Summer and I can’t wait for this one.

J. Cole, Born Sinner: The goal is pretty simple for Cole: make a better album than Sideline Story. Cole has the skills to make a classic, so I guess we’ll see.

Childish Gambino: Gambino and Ludwig are back in the studio. Royalty was a step in the right direction, balancing his insular rhymes through collaborating with other rappers. Maybe the downside of that is Danny Brown, Ab-Soul, and Nipsey Hustle are tough acts to follow. But “Shoulda Known” is hands down one of his best tracks and his verse on the B.E.T Cypher showcased his humor without the hashtags.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=DyX4I-8lbSc

A$AP Rocky, Long.Live.A$AP: This is the “too big to fail” record of the year. Though it might be the most anticipated record of 2013, I don’t think Rocky has much to lose here. He doesn’t have the lyricist pressure that Cole or K.R.I.T. had, he just has to make good songs and pick great beats—something he’s done before.

Big Sean, Hall of Fame: Ohgawd… BOI.

Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Tastes: Kanye called her the future of the music, so, you know, should be pretty easy to live up to that.

Group A: If this isn’t great, we’re all fucked

Angel Haze: Only question marks are the beats/what a radio single from Haze will sound like. Otherwise, this should be pretty unfuckwidable.

Schoolboy Q: Habits and Contradictions was great and his best friend putting out a classic will push him to do even better. (Here’s a good place to note that I haven’t heard anything about Ab-Soul’s follow up to the super-slept-on Control System, or else he’d be up here too).

Future, Future Hendrix: YOU LEAVE ME NO CHOICE, TALKING TONY MONTANA.

Earl Sweatshirt, Doris: Exhibit A!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCbWLSZrZfw

[side-note: before we get to end, I’m gonna say that I don’t think Trinidad James will drop an album next year, just using Rocky and Banks as examples of major labels moving slowly these days. he’d be in Group C. so would Joey Bada$$, but I haven’t heard anything about his album either. also, you could probably do a whole list of independent releases. also, Michael Bivens from New Edition needs to drop an album.]

Danny Brown, ODB: XXX had the range of two albums and he did so many features this year that he didn’t need to drop a mixtape. Will ODB be really good? Shimmy shimmy, CHECK!