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The 15 Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums of 2016

2015 was a banner year for rap, but something tells us the party ain't over

1 / 15

​Missy Elliott, TBA

Release date: TBD

Last album: July 2005's The Cookbook

Why we’re hyped: It's been over a decade since we were last graced with an album from the legendary MC, and it looks like it will finally happen in 2016. After a huge surprise appearance at Katy Perry's Super Bowl halftime showMissy's comeback is right on track with the super-fly "WTF (Where They From)," which shows that the rapper hasn't lost her ability for clever raps and otherworldly music videos. Missy might be hitting a new peak of creativity and we're so excited to see where she can take it with a full-length. –Jeff Benjamin

2 / 15

Drake, ‘Views from the 6’

Release date: TBD

Last album: 2013's Nothing Was the Same (if we're counting mixtapes, September 2015's Future collaboration What a Time to Be Alive and February '15's If You're Reading This It's Too Late)

Why we’re hyped: Who isn't hyped for the long overdue Views? Since Drake's surprise release of If You're Reading This It's Too Late nearly a year ago, anticipation for another solo project from the Boy has swelled, thanks to "Hotline Bling," What a Time to Be Alive, and a Meek Mill diss track that unexpectedly garnered a GRAMMY nomination. The world has been on the edge of its seat for what seems like an eternity— we are all running through the 6 in our minds, and we're ready for Drizzy to once again prove why he's the biggest force in hip-hop. –Tina Xu

3 / 15

Pusha T, 'King Push – Darkest Before Dawn'

Release date: Spring

Last album: December 2015's King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude

Why we're hyped: The first half of this two-parter rocked us to the core. Pusha's still got tons more of what he's best at—snarling bars on '90s-friendly beats—and he's on an unstoppable roll as the new president of G.O.O.D. Music. There's a good chance The Prelude will still be in heavy rotation whenever the finale hits, which is supposed to be soon. –Zach Dionne

4 / 15

Travi$ Scott, TBA

Release date: TBD

Last album: September 2015's Rodeo

Why we're hyped: You're allowed to sit back for a while after your debut album; you're also allowed to push pause after making a debut as huge and multifaceted as Rodeo. Instead, the super-producer/AutoTune wizard/rapper has already promised, this January, that a new album's on the way. La Flame's hit us with a Weeknd collaboration, a guest spot on a very interesting DJ Mustard cut, and a solo track, "A-Team"—all since New Year's 2016, and all top-grade shit. –Zach Dionne

5 / 15

Lupe Fiasco, 'Drogas' (plus two more)

Release date: TBD

Last album: January 2015's Tetsuo & Youth

Why we're hyped: Lupe was gone for a minute before his excellent fifth album, but he's rejuvenated and ready to drop an album trilogy this year. "#Drogas is up first," he tweeted in December. "Not taking any questions at this time." We'll wait. –Zach Dionne

6 / 15

​Chance the Rapper, TBA

Release date: TBD

Last solo mixtape: 2013's Acid Rap

Why we’re hyped: Chance’s previous mixtape is undeniably one of the greatest mixtapes of the last five years, receiving immense praise from fans and critics alike. Since then, Chance has done nothing but capitalize on his Acid Rap success. In 2015 he contributed to two projects, one with the Based God himself, Lil B (Free), and the other with Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, Surf. He also had one of the dopest verses of the year on Action Bronson’s ‘"Baby Blue." Most recently Chance became the first-ever independent artist to perform on Saturday Night Live; he’s been teasing fans for the last few months by performing new music live and making references to his “third mixtape.” So it’s safe to say we could be getting his follow-up to Acid Rap in 2016, and we cannot wait–Juan Cadavid

7 / 15

M.I.A., 'Matahdatah '

Release date: TBD

Last album: November 2013's Matangi

Why we're hyped: Raising awareness of issues regarding the treatment of refugees, and questioning the powers-that-be at large, have always been a part of the outspoken MC/singer's narrative. Now that the rest of the world is paying attention too—thanks, Donald Trump!—we imagine M.I.A.’s new project will drum up even more social discussion, and give us more of the beats we've always loved. We'll be getting a video to accompany each song on Matahdatah, which means you can expect more incredible clips a la "Borders." –Jeff Benjamin

8 / 15

​Big Sean, TBA

Release date: TBD

Last album: February 2015's Dark Sky Paradise

Why we’re hyped: Detroit's finest blessed us with one of last year's most explosive hip-hop albums, and he has no intentions of slowing down in 2016. As Big Sean boldly declares on "What a Year," his 2015 wrap-up track featuring Pharrell and Detail, "I decided now that every year is our year." The G.O.O.D. Music rapper is confirmed to drop his follow-up LP sometime this year, and expectations are high. There's no title or release details yet, but we fully anticipate a repeat year for Sean. –Tina Xu

9 / 15

​Danny Brown, TBA

Release date: Late 2016

Last album: October 2013's Old

Why we’re hyped: It’s been two years and some change since the Motor City MC dropped his third album: Old was well-received by critics, debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 and made numerous best-of-2013 lists. Brown has one of the most distinct voices and personalities in all of hip-hop and is extremely versatile lyrically, from insane sex lines to sobering accounts of his lean addiction. Some feel hip-hop's becoming a bit stagnant these days, so a new Danny Brown project, which he's stated on many occasions is ahead of schedule, should freshen things up. –Juan Cadavid

10 / 15

Azealia Banks, 'Business & Pleasure'

Release date: TBD

Last album: November 2014's Broke with Expensive Taste

Why we're hyped: No matter what questionable (and usefully provocative) fuckery the "212" rapper gets up to in real life, Azealia's still one of the genre's shining beacons musically. Her surprise-dropped debut was avidly omnivorous, her recent hometown concert a transcendent show-stopper. A contract evidently has her barred from releasing music until March 2016, so expect fire around then. –Zach Dionne

11 / 15

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, TBA

Release Date: TBD

Last Album: October 2012’s The Heist

Why We’re Hyped: The Seattle rapper-producer duo conquered pop radio on their first try, and the recent single “Downtown” was welcomed into the Top 20 last fall. MacklemoreRyan Lewis know how to cater to the masses on their own terms, and Album No. 2 has fans excited to return to the thrift shop. –Jason Lipshutz

12 / 15

Kanye West, 'Swish'

Release date: February 11

Last album: June 2013's Yeezus

Why we're hyped: Honestly, this is like the third time we've put Swish on a time-based "most-anticipated albums" list. But 'Ye's got 12 months to make it happen, and he's already taken longer since Yeezus than he ever has between albums. Almost all the seven songs we've heard so far have been fantastic (you not so much, "FACTS"), and interviews have proven Yeezy hasn't lost his edge or brilliance. We need SwishUpdate: It's coming! For sure! Check out the Ty Dolla $ign–featuring "Real Friends" and a snippet of the Kendrick Lamar–assisted "No More Parties in LA" above. Then hit the complete guide to Swish to hear the other seven maybe-album-bound cuts that've come out so far. –Zach Dionne

13 / 15

Future, TBA

Release date: TBD

Last album: July 2015's Dirty Sprite 2 (in the mixtape department, September 2015's Drake collaboration What a Time to Be Alive)

Why we're hyped: After putting out six projects in less than 18 months, Future's absence since September has been deafening. He may not keep pace in 2016, but there's no chance he doesn't have at least a couple rounds in the chamber. Whatever's next—teased projects include Ape Shit with Mike WiLL Made-It, Beast Mode 2 with Zaytoven, Monster 2 with his usual ATL suspects—is going to be a must-hear. Will Future fall off? (No.) Will he evolve to the next phase? (Maybe.) Will he quit the Ciara-dragging? (God please.) –Zach Dionne

14 / 15

Wiz Khalifa, ‘Rolling Papers 2: The Weed Album’

Release Date: TBD

Last Album: August 2014’s Blacc Hollywood

Why We’re Hyped: The sequel to Khalifa’s 2011 breakthrough album has an awesome title, is coming off of a tsunami of “See You Again” success and follows three albums from the Pittsburgh native that impressively stand the test of time. Based on the recent Cabin Fever 3 mixtape, Wiz hasn’t lost a step. –Jason Lipshutz

15 / 15

Iggy Azalea, ‘Digital Distortion’

Release Date: Spring

Last Album: April 2014’s The New Classic

Why We’re Hyped: Iggy finally made good on the promise of her mixtapes with The New Classic, which boasted two smash hits (“Fancy” and “Black Widow”) and made the Australian rapper a star. Pressure’s on for the follow-up, which will be led by the single “Team,” but underestimate Ms. Azalea at your own risk. –Jason Lipshutz

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Photo of the day

Apr 2: Basket-Bros

Currently on his 'The Man of the Woods' tourJustin Timberlake brought out a special guest for his Cleveland show. LeBron James surprised concertgoers by showing up alongside Timberlake and taking a shot on stage. On Friday, the singer was also seen cheering on LeBron during the Pelicans and Cavaliers game. James gave a shout out on Instagram, "My brother @justintimberlake showed up and showed out last night at the Q! One of the greatest to ever do it in my lifetime and still going strong."