Isaiah Rashad — The House Is Burning
It’s been five years since Isaiah Rashad’s last album. The Sun’s Tirade, his 2016 official debut album, solidified him as hip-hop’s everyman champion in the wake of 2014’s acclaimed Cilvia Demo. Then, while fans wondered about new music, Rashad’s personal life fell apart. He was broke, perpetually drunk, aimless, and in a creative rut. A 2019 trip to rehab spurred a fresh start, and in January 2020, work officially began on The House Is Burning. Throughout the tumult, a devoted fanbase stayed hungry, and the Chattanooga native’s third full-length project for Top Dawg delivers on its lofty expectations as one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Hypnotic, syrupy, allusive, jazzy, meditative—The House Is Burning packs the spectrum of Southern rap into a 16-track late-night cruise soundtrack.
Sarkodie — No Pressure
Few artists command such admiration from their fanbase as Sarkodie. The beloved Ghana rap superstar returns with No Pressure, his sixth album and the follow-up to 2019’s relationship-focused Black Love. The album moves from triumphant to celebratory, and Sarkodie sounds assured as ever, delivering his forceful blend of English and his native Twi. Fellow Ghanaians Medikal, Kwesi Arthur, DarkoVibes, MOGmusic, and Benerl feature alongside big names from across Africa (Harmonize, Cassper Nyovest, Oxlade) and beyond (Wale, Giggs, Vic Mensa).
Amindi — nice
After experiencing sudden success with her single “Pine & Ginger” in 2017, Amindi took some time to recalibrate her artistry. nice is her official reintroduction after last year’s collection of demos, minztape, and it’s the most authentic representation of her sound and influences. Her effortless charm unfurls across a hazy set of soulful, bluesy R&B. The eight-track project mines self-love and confidence, and despite a runtime under 20 minutes, it comfortably builds its own evocative world.
Tink — Heat of the Moment
Tink has been remarkably consistent over the last few years as an independent force since breaking from her previous label situation. Heat of the Moment, the Chicago singer and rapper’s fifth project since 2018, is executive produced by Hitmaka. Led by the warm, bouncy Yung Bleu collab “Selfish,” the album is full of steamy, intoxicating R&B and features Davido, Jeremih, and Kodak Black.
Cookiee Kawaii — Vanice
Cookiee Kawaii helped refocus the national spotlight on Jersey club music when her 2019 single “Vibe (If I Back It Up)” went viral. Much more than a viral moment, the New Jersey artist is a veteran of the genre, having released music since 2011, and has followed up the success of “Vibe” with several sultry, dancefloor-ready releases. Vanice, her 16-track debut album, is executive produced by house icon Junior Sanchez and features standout single “Relax Your Mind.”