The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017

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By all measures, 2016 was a bountiful year for music. Stars from every genre—though especially hip-hop—came through with new (and often great) albums, and upandcomers emerged from all corners. There was simply more good new music than there was time to listen to it, at points. All of which would suggest that we’re headed for a drought in 2017; there just can’t possibly be any more to listen to.

But, as we survey the coming year, conventional wisdom appears to be incorrect—or, at the very least, it could be incorrect. There are a ton of albums that are on the horizon: Some with firm release dates, some with growing rumors, and some that are simply a gut feeling. And, looking at it that way, there’s plenty to get excited about this year. These are our most anticipated albums of 2017.

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50. G.O.O.D. Music, ‘Cruel Winter’

I really thought we’d see Cruel Winter after the G.O.O.D. squad dropped pure propane over the summer. “Champions” deserves better than to be a disembodied single with no project to call home. Yet here we are, with, once again, every G.O.O.D. artist seemingly (and understandably) focused on their own solo projects instead. Who even knows where Kanye’s head is at, beyond the fact that he may support the president-elect that his own label president vehemently opposed? Any desire to see a crew project also has to be taken with a grain of salt, given that it will now likely include Tyga.

But I’m still optimistic, because Travis Scott wants to see this happen as much as we do. Give La Flame the keys, let Pusha put the fear of God into everyone for motivation, and this thing just might see the light of day. “Champions” is proof the chemistry is still very much there. —Frazier Tharpe

49. Meek Mill

Meek Mill is at a crossroads. Again. Again again. But really now, it’s, what, the sixth time? The MMG rapper continues to be his own worst enemy. His latest loss is his relationship with Nicki Minaj, the partner who held him down during the lowest point of his career. There’s no official word from either party as to why the breakup occurred. Meek now has to get back to basics with his next project and spit some heat that will make the public somehow forget his long list of recent fails. DC4 was cool, but he needs to come even harder with the next one. Maybe he can even get a Drake feature this time around. —Zach Frydenlund

48. Rick Ross

It’s hard to believe Ricky is already on album nine, but here we are. I’m ready for him to come back with something of Rich Forever proportions—his career needs it, and so does MMG. “Buy Back the Block,” the album’s lead street single, is a grower. After a few listens, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. I wanna hear that Australian model giggle as the keys of a lush J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League beat jingle, though. I want to hear Jay Z get gassed up to deliver another classic guest verse. I want to hear Renzel spitting “Devil in a New Dress”-level cash shit. And in the album lead-up, I want to once again see him hop on the most unassuming pop single out. (“Million Reasons,” anyone?) In Renzel I trust. —Frazier Tharpe

47. Joey Badass

Joey Badass’ acting skills were in the limelight more than his rhymes in 2016, but it feels like that’s about to change, as the Brooklyn rapper readies the proper follow-up to his 2015 debut album, B4.Da.$$. Back in November, he announced A.A.B.A. was delayed for “perfection,” and while he was quiet, musically, last year, fans can take a cue from “Devastated” and “Front & Center” as to what to expect on his sophomore effort. —Edwin Ortiz

46. Charli XCX

Charli XCX seemed like a safe bet for a pop superstar. She’s got the voice, the songwriting chops to hit No. 1 with ease, and the ambition. But, time and time again, she’s proven to be weirder than anyone else who regularly tops the charts. Which makes her music forever worth paying attention to. This time out, she’s teaming up with avant-garde pop masterminds A.G. Cook and Sophie—the latter of whom produced her muscular, underrated Vroom Vroom EP. It’s going to be catchy, it’s going to be strange, and we can’t wait to hear more of it. —Brendan Klinkenberg

45. Kodak Black

With a couple of quality tapes and hit singles (“SKRT” and “Lockjaw”) under his belt, Little Kodak is undeniably making an impact already. He’s a teenage Lil Wayne mixed with Trick Daddy and his South Florida bounce. He hasn’t yet been derailed by brewing legal trouble stemming from an alleged sexual assault—his jail stints are met with #FreeKodak hashtags, and he’s memed to no end. His solo debut is due out this year, and will be scrutinized accordingly.  —Angel Diaz

44. Wale, ‘Shine’

Wale seemed poised for a productive 2016 when he announced plans to drop two albums. The D.C. rapper followed through with his mixtape Summer on Sunset, as well as a gold-selling single in “My PYT,” but the biggest moment for him was the birth of his daughter, Zyla. Her presence has refocused Wale’s musical efforts, as evidenced by newer tracks “Black Is Gold” and “Smile,” which have built even more buzz for what he’s about to deliver on Shine. —Edwin Ortiz

43. The xx, ‘I See You’

It’s been four years since the xx—known for their hushed, intimate indie rock—have released a full-length. In that time, though, something exciting happened: The band’s producer, Jamie xx, began releasing loose, dynamic songs, before letting loose an album of his own. Instead of indie rock, In Colour was a vibrant piece of dance music, one of 2015’s best records, and featured a raucous, joyful, and unexpected star turn from Young Thug. From their upcoming release’s first two singles—most notably “On Hold”—it seems the band is working with something new, melding the sounds from their first two albums with Jamie’s ebullient solo production to create something more dynamic than anything they’ve released before. —Brendan Klinkenberg

42. Young M.A

While the jury’s still out about whether Young M.A’s “OOOUUU” “brought New York back,” it was certainly one of the biggest anthems of the year. Though that breakout hit was many listeners’ introduction to the Brooklynite, M.A has been spitting rapid-fire bars for years. With a string of well-received freestyles giving folks the weightier side of her pen game, now is the perfect time for M.A to drop a full-length album on the hungry masses. —khal

41. Lil Wayne, ‘Tha Carter V’

Lil Wayne’s career hangs in the balance in 2017, with no real resolution in sight. Which makes this album all the more anticipated. The recent snippet shared by troll and douchebag Martin Shrkeli sounded good. Wayne can still rap at a high level, as we heard on Solange’s album, so there’s reason not to believe in Tha Carter V. —Zach Frydenlund

40. Earl Sweatshirt

If my jealousy is any indication, one thing I think I know about Earl Sweatshirt is that he’s serious about his words. (“Me and my nibbling conscience” is so perfect it keeps me up at night.) Which means you should take him at his word. On Danny Brown’s “Really Doe,” Earl raps, “I was a liar as a kid, so now I’m honest as fuck.” Then, near the end of his verse, he alludes to his 2015 project I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, flipping the reference to make it sound like his 2017 will be nothing if not in your face: “I wake up early on ’em, gettin’ out the house is a must.” Earl rousing from his chain-smoking self-imposed house arrest to step into the arena is exactly what this nightmare of a year calls for. —Ross Scarano

39. Kelela

Kelela hasn’t missed yet. Her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, and the follow-up EP, Hallucinogen, are both excellent blends of cutting-edge electronica, from producers like Arca and Kingdom, and an R&B vocal style that recalls Aaliyah’s most emphatic moments. Kelela understands her voice and works with the producers who bring out its best qualities. Her lyrics only get sharper, too; Hallucinogen is a bracing, prickly language experience, one that understands desire and abasement. Inside information suggests that her new album will continue to mine the depths of sex, while also incorporating more explicitly political material. She and Solange have been working together—could this full-length project make the sort of splash that A Seat at the Table did? There’s no question that Kelela deserves the recognition. —Ross Scarano

38. Ty Dolla Sign

Despite how fantastic Campaign is, Ty Dolla Sign is steadily insisting that it wasn’t, in fact, the follow-up album to the even better Free TC. Putting aside semantic discussions about the (largely nonexistent) differences between mixtapes and albums, what this means is that Ty thinks he has something better than Campaign in the chamber. If his next project is just as good as that record, we’ll be happy. If it is, like he’s suggesting, better, it could be one of 2017’s best. —Brendan Klinkenberg

37. Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty had a meteoric 2016. It was a true breakout year for the young Atlanta eccentric, one that saw him establish more than just a musical persona—he became, as he would describe it, a “brand.” Still, despite the corporate partnerships with Sprite and Nautica, he is a rapper, and there’s now something riding on his carefree, melodic strain of trap. 2017 will be the year we find out whether Yachty is a new staple of hip-hop or if he is, as so many like to dismiss him, just a fad destined to burn out. His album will be the deciding factor. —Brendan Klinkenberg

36. Future & Young Thug

It’s insane that, in the age of collaboration, Future and Young Thug have only officially released one track together. Of course, the Atlanta heavyweights had some past issues that they’ve thankfully worked through, creating a way for this project to hopefully become a reality. We know very little about the joint tape, but a few cryptic tweets and IG posts have fans monitoring its potential progress closely. Just the thought of Thug and Future trading bars over a Metro Boomin beat has my head ready to explode. —Zach Frydenlund

35. The Internet

On Ego Death, the third album from the Internet, the R&B act reached new heights. In many ways, it felt like the first album for the Odd Future affiliates, the first real show of their abilities as a collective. Its neo-soul sound—and lead singer Syd Tha Kid’s presence as a frontwoman—radiated confidence. Ego Death was the kind of album that signaled maturation, and there’s no reason to believe that they won’t continue their upward trend this year. —Brendan Klinkenberg

34. Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi

Rae Sremmurd discovered a spark to success over the course of their two studio albums; the next test is proving they can do it dolo. Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi both revealed they have been working on solo music in a 2016 interview with Complex, Swaecation and Uncle Jxmmi, respectively. “We definitely got different projects that we’re working on and tweaking,” Lee said. They also made it clear they have no intention for the group to dissolve, but solo projects will no doubt be the perfect opportunity for the brothers to expand their singular style and push their brand forward, post-“Black Beatles.” —Edwin Ortiz

33. Migos, ‘Culture’

Migos have the No. 1 song in the country. Let that sink in. The success of “Bad and Boujee” has brought a new level of appreciation for the trio, especially after Donald Glover’s high praise at the Golden Globes. Everyone loves Migos again, as they should. Their next album, Culture, is as an opportunity for the group to take this momentum and prove that they can kill it with a full-length. —Zach Frydenlund

32. Anderson .Paak

Going on the road with Bruno Mars as he tours his album 24K Magic, Anderson .Paak will have a busy 2017. (Mars has over 100 dates scheduled; it’s unclear at this moment how many of those shows will include .Paak.) But a packed schedule doesn’t seem to be an obstacle to creative output, if .Paak’s 2016 was any indication. He dropped two full-length albums and had a diverse slate of guest appearances. Will his taste of pop stardom at the side of pop-R&B’s premier nostalgist send .Paak in a more radio-friendly direction? Will he explore further the pimp persona of Yes Lawd!? Will he strive for something more ornate and kaleidoscopic than Malibu? Or will Dr. Dre employ him on the next Aftermath project? Only time will tell. —Ross Scarano

31. Future

The most recently released Future songs are “Buy Love” and “That’s a Check.” The former sounds like a music box opened to reveal a bag of molly in place of a slowly spinning ballerina—it’s almost saccharine; Future hasn’t sounded quite like this since “Turn on the Lights” or “I Be U.” Meanwhile, “That’s a Check” is swaggering smooth talk. (One of my favorite things about Future is his insistence on the seductive quality of his language.) What will Future’s 2017 album sound like? Depends on his mood. He records viciously fast. Me, I’m still holding out hope for Future Vandross. —Ross Scarano

30. Haim

Haim‘s 2013 album, Days Are Gone is, I would argue, underrated. It was wildly popular, received a ton of critical acclaim, and catapulted the three sisters and bandmates to levels of popularity that, while not quite Taylor Swiftian, allowed them to hang out with Swift in public and, more importantly, on her Instagram. And yet: Days Are Gone is underrated. It’s pop classicism at its very best, and if the time in between the two records is any indication, Haim are taking their time to do their sophomore effort right. —Brendan Klinkenberg

29. Desiigner, ‘The Life of Desiigner’

Some thought Desiigner would be a run-of-the-mill one-hit wonder, destined to fall off quickly after the meteoric success of “Panda.” As we all quickly learned, though, there’s nothing typical or ordinary about Desiigner. The G.O.O.D. Music rapper followed up “Panda” with “Tiimmy Turner,” a much stranger song that nonetheless hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’s reportedly hard at work on his debut album, and with most of the Future comparisons played out at this point, the naysaying has been replaced by a genuine interest in what he’s cooking up—especially if G.O.O.D. Music family like Pusha T and Kanye West are in the mix. —Zach Frydenlund

28. 2 Chainz, ‘Pretty Girls Like Trap Music’

The game counted the Necklace Don out once again, and he hit us with not one but three projects in 2016, none of them identical, all as fire as they are underrated. For some reason, 2 Chainz had to remind everyone he’s very good at rapping. Now, with showouts like “Big Amount” and “Champions” under his Louis belt, it’s time to cement the comeback with an official album: Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. With Bieber on a track and a head start for best project title of the year, he’s already done half the work. Who else in the game is filling the demographic void for people who wear PJs to Ruth’s Chris? —Frazier Tharpe

27. 21 Savage

I was just listening to a recent EP from suicideyear, who has worked with Yung Lean, and outthepound, a producer from New Orleans who plays with trap and bounce. Listening to the spare collection of beats on Brothers, the skeletal percussion and hazy vaporwave soundscapes, it occurred to me that 21 Savage could rap over this. Could sound great over this, in fact. His 2016 full-length project with Metro Boomin, Savage Mode, makes a disorienting but beguiling case for meditative violence. It also makes the case that you could put 21 on some seriously weird beats and he could pull it off. His new album likely won’t sound like vaporwave trap. But he’s probably the only rapper on this list who could make that record slap if he did. —Ross Scarano

26. Kehlani, ‘SweetSexySavage’

Since her 2014 mixtape, Cloud 9, Kehlani has been an artist to watch. But last year, the Bay Area singer took her buzz to a new level with the release of You Should Be Here, which earned her a Grammy nomination. She’s a special talent, making the kind of personal music that speaks to her fans as much as it functions as a therapeutic release for her. She went through a tough year, one shaped by a string of personal hardships (she was hospitalized for an apparent suicide attempt back in March), so I’m interested in how those experiences affected or influenced her debut, SweetSexySavage, out at the end of this month. By the sounds of singles like “Advice,” “Distraction,” and the Dev Hynes-favorite “Undercover,” we’re in for a great album. —Karizza Sanchez

25. Syd Tha Kid, ‘Fin’

Five days before Christmas, Syd Tha Kid, leader of the Internet, announced that she’d finished work on her solo debut. During an episode of OTHERtone, the Beats 1 radio show hosted by Pharrell and Scott Vener, Syd said this project would be “a lot more mainstream” than Ego Death, the Internet’s 2015 album of smooth, sometimes sprawling R&B. Perhaps her solo project will sound more like her recent song “Nothin,” with producer Kingdom (the club mix, specifically). “All About Me,” the first single, released just today, certainly has more in common with someone like Kingdom than the more analog sound of Ego Death. But regardless, as long as Syd’s sweet vocals and sensibilities are present on this new album, it should be great. —Ross Scarano

24. Vince Staples

Vince Staples may only be 23, but his sharp lyrical commentary speaks to an individual wise beyond his years. His 2016 EP, Prima Donna, offered a preview of his progress since his impressive debut studio release, Summertime ’06, and he’ll look to continue that upward trajectory with its proper follow-up. While Staples has yet to reveal a release date, his Life Aquatic Tour begins in late February, which would obviously be prime time to drop all the heat he’s been cooking up in the studio. —Edwin Ortiz

23. ASAP Rocky

For my money, ASAP Rocky had the best album of 2015. All three of his solo projects are great, but the psychedelic direction he took on At. Long. Last. ASAP. was next-level, successfully fusing London rock-star vibes with the ASAP Mob aesthetic. Since then, the Mob’s brand and Rocky’s position as its fearless leader have only grown. With AWGE about to take off, Rocky’s third studio album will have be a project strong enough to anchor his squad as they solidify themselves as a creative company. Meanwhile, he’s been spotted with the random but oh-so-interesting likes of Lenny Kravitz and Jim Jonsin (“Lollipop,” “Whatever You Like”). I’m 100 percent confident he’s got another face-melter of “LPFJ2” proportions in the stash. —Frazier Tharpe

22. Lorde

It’s a little nuts to think that Lorde put out her incredibly insightful debut studio album, Pure Heroine, when she was just 17. Don’t let the overwhelming success of “Royals” (an earworm, but an overplayed earworm) water down the album—listening to Pure Heroine years later, it remains a wistful, mature, and empowering experience. If you were a teen girl listening to this album, you’d want to follow Lorde anywhere. Hell, even as an adult, I want to. Her ability to connect with people of all ages has generated intense excitement for a new album, as we’ve received small scraps of information from Lorde on social media. On her 20th birthday, Lorde wrote a note on Facebook about how she’s always been obsessed with adolescence and how this record is about throwing dinner parties and having long conversations—hallmarks of adulthood that she didn’t realize she was living until she was in it. She ended the note with, “I am about to show you the new world.” As the kids say, Let’s fucking go.Kerensa Cadenas

21. Kamaiyah

With 2016 seeing Kamaiyah ascend to the throne of one of the best currently in the west with her debut mixtape, A Good Night in the Ghetto, it only makes sense that all heads would be locked on the Oakland-based rapper’s album. With her ability to weave street tales with banging clapbacks to the fuccbois of the world, she’s set to continue proving that the West Coast is truly the best coast. —khal

20. SZA

SZA’s latest project may be her last, as she explained to Complex’s Karizza Sanchez in November. Which means it needs to count. Based on the experiences surrounding the creation of the album—death, grief, anger—there’s no question it will punch you in the stomach with feeling. She’s spent time with Frank Ocean and James Fauntleroy, too. This as-yet-untitled LP has all the potential in the world, and it will only be bittersweet if it is her swan song. —Ross Scarano

19. Lil Uzi Vert

Of the biggest rappers who had breakout years in 2016—Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, and Lil Uzi Vert—it often seems like Vert has the most potential for true stardom. He has charisma by the bucketload, is amassing high-profile co-signs seemingly every day (Wiz Khalifa being the latest), and is capable of writing colorful, charming trap songs with enough consistency that it feels like a matter of time before we see him make a break towards the top of the charts (not including his contribution to current No. 1 “Bad and Boujee”). Now that he has three projects under his belt, all eyes are going to be on his studio debut when it drops early this year. —Brendan Klinkenberg

18. Pusha T, ‘King Push’

I don’t envy President Push’s job of wrangling all of the outsized egos associated with G.O.O.D. Music. But if there’s one project he can make sure comes in on time, it’s his own. There’s no extra reason not to anticipate this, because the beauty of Pusha Ton is you know exactly what you’re going to get: premium-level bars about bricks over exquisite, menacing production. He pulled 48 bars of Jigga-era mean-mugging from Jay Z last summer, and dropped a fitting, sparse companion to “Numbers on the Board” with “H.G.T.V.” When the album does come, will it include some less-than-subliminal bars for everyone’s favorite confrontational Canadian? It will be a must-listen, regardless. —Frazier Tharpe

17. Sampha, ‘Process’

Sampha can make a thug cry. As durag capes flap in the wind, tears fall on tracksuits and trainers on the streets of the UK and beyond. He has that effect. From his early collaborations with SBTRKT and Jessie Ware to his most recent ones with Solange and Kanye West, his sulky voice, entrancing production, and gut-wrenching lyrics have left fans wanting seconds and thirds of his unique sound. Process, dropping on Feb. 3, can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, play “Timmy’s Prayer” and hope she takes your piece-of-shit ass back. —Angel Diaz

16. Kanye West & Drake

The album that seems too good to be true just might actually happen. At least that’s how it seemed throughout much of 2016, when Kanye dropped several big hints, culminating in a double-whammy in August: “Are you ready for this album?” he asked at OVO Fest, standing alongside Drake. “I wasn’t talking about Pablo; I wasn’t talking about VIEWS!” Days later, a mysterious billboard rose above the streets of L.A., emblazoned with the logos of OVO and G.O.O.D. Music and the words “Calabasas is the new Abu Dhabi.” But ominously, the steady stream of hints stopped when Kanye was hospitalized in December following weeks of erratic behavior. He’s out now, but who knows where his head is at? And by all accounts, Drake is focused on his seemingly imminent More Life project. Getting these two giants on the same page, in the same studio, and in the same head space was probably already difficult enough. Still, we’re optimistic that this album could happen at some point in 2017. Both stars had up-and-down 2016s, leaving their fanbases wondering what’s next. A Watch the Throne-style, conversation-dominating blockbuster collaboration would be the perfect answer. —Alex Gale

15. Eminem

“Don’t worry I’m working on an album!” Eminem tweeted back in October. The song he released with that tweet, the seven-plus-minute, mostly acapella “Campaign Speech,” met mixed reviews, but it showed Em could still rap his ass off, and could still shock and offend listeners (to the detriment of the song, in this case). The stakes are high for Em to shake off the rust and deliver on this album—he’s several years and dozens of songs removed from his untouchable early 2000s peak. But as long as it includes at least one jaw-dropping “Rap God” standout moment, his legacy will be just fine. —Alex Gale

14. Childish Gambino & Chance the Rapper

This project has been on our collective radars since Donald Glover revealed he and Chance had plans to do something together back in 2014. Nearly three years have passed, and both artists have gone on to further their success and reach—Glover with Atlanta and “Awaken, My Love!” and Chance with Coloring Book—but the idea of a collaborative project between them still burns bright, especially with Chance once again teasing its existence at the top of 2017. At this point, we’d be just happy with a single track. For now, we’ll let our imaginations run wild on what a Chance x Childish EP would sound like. —Edwin Ortiz

13. Drake, ‘More Life’

Drake’s More Life album (or playlist, if you prefer) was supposed to drop in December, but the 6 God apparently had some cleaning up to do before the release. With no current date set, Drake has been steadily posting pictures from the studio, and a number of rumored guest features have popped up. There’s Bryson Tiller, Young Thug, and, of course, J. Lo, who has been linked to Drake in some capacity this year. We still don’t know why Drake is calling More Life a playlist, but that mystery is helping drive the hype of the project, which is already high. Because, well, it’s Drake. —Zach Frydenlund

12. Travis Scott, ‘Astroworld’

Simply put: Travis Scott dropped a top-five album last year. You could go as high as the top three, in my personal opinion. Birds was the kind of project that makes whatever he decides to put out next an easy candidate for Drop Everything You’re Doing and Listen. Factor in that, before Birds even dropped, Flame was already excitedly talking about its follow-up, Astroworld. Emboldened by delivering an album that silences the detractors, Travis is surely creating something explosive. —Frazier Tharpe

11. Young Thug, ‘Hy!£UN35’

Young Thug had an incredible 2016. He’s long been the creative center of rap, essentially creating a new offshoot of the genre to occupy himself, but last year was when things started to feel cohesive. Slime Season 3 was Thug at his most vital—a bizarre, furious exercise in creating the kind of songs that only he can make. And its foil, Jeffery, was a beautiful, fun album—uniquely Thug, but also able to make the unlikely case that Thug is capable of writing number-one hits. A lot of number-one hits. If Jeffery can marry the two sides of himself he showed us last year, 2017 could be the year he proves himself as one of the undisputed greats. —Brendan Klinkenberg

10. Big Sean, ‘I Decided’

Full disclosure: I’ve heard a rough cut of this album, and it’s very good. With each project, Sean becomes a better rapper—more focused, more in control, less prone to corny clunkers. I Decided is a concept album about how certain decisions send ripples through the whole of your life, but Sean doesn’t let the story overshadow the sheer fun and enjoyment of many of these songs. The features are kept to a minimum, which provides a counterbalance to how ambitious the project is in other ways. “Moves” and “Bounce Back” are good, but you haven’t heard the best songs. Stay tuned. —Ross Scarano

9. Rihanna

While the best-of album lists of many outlets didn’t reflect it, Rihanna’s Anti was high-key one of the best of 2016. With the massive hit “Work” rubbing elbows with 2016 staples like “Needed Me,” “Kiss It Better,” and “Woo,” RiRi showed that she can be completely against the pop scene while also creating some of the year’s illest pop anthems. Maybe if (when?) she drops the follow-up, the world will actually give her her props. —khal

8. Beyonce & Jay Z

Cut it out like you’re not curious AF to hear this. First of all, accusations of Jay and Bey’s studio chemistry not being quite as fruitful as their IRL relationship are greatly exaggerated. Between “Crazy in Love,” “Drunk in Love,” “Upgrade U,” and the underrated “Part II,” there are more hits than misses. And more so, coming off the streak of her self-titled album and Lemonade, do you really think B’s going to put her name on a dud filled with “Hollywoods”?

But it’s the content that fuels the anticipation here. These two don’t give a damn about interviews anymore, and, honestly, sometimes Lemonade plays more like a vengeful troll on gossip media than it does an autobiography revolving around a relationship in turmoil. Imagine the type of Becky witch hunt bait to be found on a project pairing the couple together—which is to say, imagine how hard the sequel to “Sorry” will bang. This is gonna be audio couples therapy, scored to the sounds of secret weapons Detail and Hit-Boy. It’s going to be explosive. It’s going to be Mr. and Mrs. Smith on wax. Proof: My favorite Twitter account (bc they’re oh so shady) hinted at a song completing the trilogy—”Fuck Love”—and an accompanying visual. It’s already lit…whenever they decide to put it out. —Frazier Tharpe

7. André 3000

Rumor has it that André 3000 has been spending more and more time in New York—a quick Twitter search backs this up—and that he’s in the city because he’s pursuing new solo material in earnest. He’s been working with rising rap act Divine Council, and word is, they’ve invigorated his interest in music. Certainly he was unusually prolific in 2016, appearing on projects from Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, Travis Scott, A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, and Solange. With each passing year, The Love Below reveals itself to be more and more crucial to understanding the evolution of black pop. A new album from André would be a revelation. Imagine the next chapter of “A Life in the Day of Benjamin André.” —Ross Scarano

6. Nicki Minaj

It’s been three years since The Pinkprint, the best Nicki Minaj album to date. That album was fueled, in part, by her split with Safaree, so it’s not inconceivable that the end of her two-year relationship with Meek Mill could give her more material for a classic. Fans are surely expecting bars, bars, and, yes, more bars from Minaj, with smart, concise snapping like on her “Black Beatles” remix. And for the pop lovers, super producer London On Da Track hinted back in August that he was working with Minaj on fire radio records. She’s covering all her bases. —Zach Frydenlund

5. Taylor Swift

The internet took a collective swing at Taylor Swift when it was reported (in the wake of relationship rumors with Drake, no less) that her next album would be a mix of hip-hop and R&B. It’s understandable that people would be dismissive of this at first blush, but, if I’m being completely honest with myself, as long as she’s not rapping, that situation sounds like absolute fire. TSwift hit new heights on her last full-length, and if bangers like “Blank Space” are anything to go by, I’m here for her next one. —Brendan Klinkenberg

4. Chance the Rapper

In 2016, Chance the Rapper put out Coloring Book (an album of the year candidate), released the best verse of the year (and his career), reached a completely new level of fame (he performed on SNL twice in one year), and received critical accolades that put him in the conversation with the best out (SEVEN Grammy nominations, without a label). By all measures, we shouldn’t expect more from him at the moment. And yet.

Chance is a productive guy. In December, he dropped a completely unexpected Christmas album with Jeremih, seemingly just for fun. In 2015, he helped put together Surf, the collaborative album from his crew, the Social Experiment, seemingly just to put his friends (and grandma) on. Now, in an interview with BBC1’s DJ Semtex, Chance is talking about his debut album: “I don’t know exactly the format every time when I’m making something, but a lot of times, I have an idea, and I think what I’m working on right now is an album.”

What an album means after a “mixtape” as fully realized Coloring Book is a mystery. After he proved himself to be one of the best doing it last year, we can’t wait to find out what Chance has in store next. —Brendan Klinkenberg

3. Kendrick Lamar

Of all the albums on this list, Kendrick Lamar’s is the one to bet on as an instant classic. By that impossibly high watermark, he hasn’t failed yet. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, his Joycean exploration of a day in the life of Kendrick Lamar, was one of the most technically impressive and deeply felt debuts this side of IllmaticTo Pimp a Butterfly was a furious, ambitious, and unflinching exercise in experimentation that somehow topped its predecessor. At this point in his career, Kendrick is something that only the best artists ever are: utterly unpredictable. There’s no telling what he has in store for his next album, but it would be foolish to expect anything less than greatness. He’s earned that. —Brendan Klinkenberg

2. Jay Z

“This is where De Niro would be, if he ain’t turn back.” Jay Z used Neil McCauley’s inability to let sleeping dogs lie to explain his own lofty position as the unmitigated GOAT on Watch the Throne, his last great Long Player. (I’m ignoring the caveat that Hov did indeed turn back, back in 2006.) Now, though, as Jigga surveys the game from those spaces just beyond the rest of civilization, the specter of Vincent Hanna bears down on him. The heat around the corner is a rap game that is, at times, more insolent than deferential toward his legacy, a community that treats his business endeavors as a punchline, and a celebrity gossip machine that thinks of him as a cad. A new Jay Z album isn’t inherently important on the basis of something as silly as “responding” to Lemonade, though. It’s about meeting his wife and his peers who have managed to make urgent art (Tribe, Nas, Ye) past their imperial phases. It’s about reassertion. We need one last, critically acclaimed score before the GOAT can finally fade to black. Does Hova still have the juice? Real ones know he never lost it. —Frazier Tharpe

1. Kanye West, ‘Turbo Grafx 16’

More so than many artists, Kanye West’s music doesn’t exist in a vacuum, divorced from his IRL behavior. It’s perhaps impossible to make the argument that it does not matter what color his hair is, how unrelatable his rants have become, or who he’s being photographed with. And yet, if a Kanye album is even vaguely on the horizon, it is without a doubt anticipated.

Kanye has an album’s worth of material based on the last few months of 2016 alone. Kim’s robbery. An involuntary hospitalization. A political endorsement that seems to betray everything he’s stood for—on and off wax. The last time Kanye West receded from the spotlight with the world unsure of his abilities and state of mind, he returned with what he now refers to as a “backhanded apology” and what approximately 98 percent of us consider to be his best album. Whether Yeezy actually believes he has anything to apologize for this time around is the question.

His next album will be the most heavily scrutinized of his career. It has the ability to retroactively affect his catalog, reshape his entire legacy, and change how we listen to Kanye from here on out. Everyone will be waiting to listen—and pass judgment. —Frazier Tharpe