I wasn't lying when I told you I was anticipating Big K.R.I.T's Cadillactica more than any other album this year. But thinking over that statement, it made me realize that I have no real idea what the album landscape looks like outside of Krizzleville. With the first half of 2014 relatively light in the album department (Oxymoron and Mastermind are the only two "blockbusters" that really come to mind, and Mastermind essentially flopped), I'm hoping the back half of 2014 will be filled with more LP's than a hipster's record collection. So just what can we expect?
I think it's best to look at this in three categories: blockbuster releases, under the radar albums, and albums that might drop, but probably won't, but maybe they will, but also totally don't hold your breath. With delays and random surprise albums, there's just no way of tell if and when an album will (or won't) drop until it's actually in your headphones. Now that our public service announcement is out of the way, let's get to the albums.
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter V
Two years ago this would have been a rock/pop opera about lean with enough pussy talk to make Tom Jones jealous and I wouldn't have cared for one second, but with releases like Believe Me, Krazy and D'usse, something unexpected happened; Lil Wayne is rapping like Lil Wayne again. I repeat Lil Wayne is rapping like Lil Wayne again. I'm still very, very skeptical (it's been a long time since The Drought 3), but so far, the fifth installment of the Carter series is shaping up nicely. I'm still taking a wait and see approach though, mostly because I still remember when this happened.
Release Date: "Carter V is coming soon. When? I don't know. Don't ask me. Don't ask me why it's taking so long. I don't know. I've just been chilling. I don't know." - Lil Wayne
Nicki Minaj - The Pink Print
For the record, I don't personally care about this album in the least. However, like her YMCMB boss, Nicki is also getting back to the rappidy raps, so maybe it'll be a pleasant surprise. However, I'm even more skeptical of her than I am of Wayne. At one point Weezy was my favorite emcee, where as with Nicki, I can count the number of her songs I like by on two fingers (Starships is NOT one of em). This album is almost guaranteed to move huge numbers and you can make the case she's "back," but, like Wayne, proceed with caution.
Release Date: "Nowadays, in this era, people want things so quickly...We're never in the moment, ever...So, I don't want them to think about the release date. I want them thinking about the music." - Nicki Minaj
K.R.I.T - Cadillactica
Finally, a big album, all but set in stone, that I am truly excited for. I really hope that this is the full-length that propels K.R.I.T into elite status. I think he is right up there with Kendrick and has the potential to be just as well received by the mainstream and hip-hop heads alike, but he has yet to have that epic, smash body of work (or even "hit"). He is off to a good start with Mt. Olympus, but Pay Attention wasn't my favorite, so we'll see. Will Cadillactica prove to be Big K.R.I.T's GKMC? Can't wait.
Release Date: TBD
Wiz Khalifa - Blacc Hollywood
Full disclosure, Nathan made me do this one. Essentially this album is already out (see 28 Grams). If you've heard one Wiz song you heard 'em all. Yawn. I might check out Nicki's album before Wiz'.
Release Date: August 19.
Nathan Responds: You seem to have confused being an average fan with being a professional. If it's anything like "We Dem Boyz" there's a good chance this body of work will be hard to listen to, but Wiz is still more than popular enough for his upcoming album to warrant a mention. Never question my authority again, I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!!!
Under The Radar Albums
Logic - TBD
With no "official" singles, no official date, and no official title, it might seem preemptive to put this album on our list, but I trust my fellow DMV-er. Plus, with releases like Alright, Logic is steady keeping busy. I'm still bumping his 2013 tape, Welcome To Forever. I'd go so far as to say this is one of the most anticipated debut albums in recent memory. It's hard to believe Logic doesn't have an album out already because he has such a vast and passionate fanbase. From gritty, raw hip-hop to radio ready bangers, Logic can do it all and this formal debut should be a great one. I'm pretty fucking excited.
Release Date: TBD
Statik Selektah - What Goes Around
Speaking of Logic, you may have seen heard his work on this single from Statik's new album, What Goes Around. If them major label, radio-ready albums aren't your speed than this is the album to look forward to you. Like Wiz, you know exactly what you are going to get, but unlike Wiz it's, you know, quality hip-hop. Of all the big June 18 releases from last year, Statik's might have been the best. Sure, it wasn't as popular as Yeezus, but I listen to it more now than I do any of those other albums. Statik makes pure, unadulterated, timeless hip-hop and I can always use more of that.
Release Date: August 19
Jhene Aiko - Souled Out
My wife. My muse. My one true love. I've been really looking forward to this album. Not just because I can't get enough of her sound, but because once she's done recording the album, we'll finally have time for that date she promised me. On the real, though, I think Jhene has the potential to become one of the bigger names in R&B, and this record should help her get there.
Release Date: August 25 (reportedly)
Bishop Nehru x Doom - Nehruvian DOOM
DOOM and I could do a collabo album and it would be dope, so DOOM with someone who can actually rap is guaranteed dopeness. A true hip-hop head's album.
Release Date: September 23
Albums That Might Drop But Probably Won't But Maybe Will
Drake - Views From the 6
Of all the albums that are up in the air for a '14 release, I'd put money on this one to actually drop. Where the other guys have been more or less silent, Drake has been a consistent force this year. It seems like every month he'll drop one or two songs that proceed to break the internet. Kanye, zero releases. Kendrick, zero releases. Drake, makes up 25% of our most popular features of the year. He reportedly hasn't recorded the album yet, but a December release could still be in the cards.
Release Date: TBD
Kanye - TBD
Kanye has been quiet...too quiet. Maybe a Beyonce-esque surprise album is in the works? After all, he did say, "I got a new song that's so good that the album has to be balanced against it," but given his well-chronicled perfectionism, don't hold your breath. If a 2014 album happens, though, the internet might legitimately break.
Kendrick Lamar - TBD
I have no fucking clue. It's been rumored for a while that he will drop an album this year, but there has been no real word on anything yet. TDE has had a big year already with Isaiah, ScHoolboy, Ab-Soul, and SZA, so I could see it. My only reservation is that following up GKMC is no easy task, and in interviews Kendrick's made clear that he's taking his time.
Release Date: TBD
Jay Electronica - Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn)
I'm grasping here. My only reason for including this album is the fact that he's been popping up more and more, but he has done that every so often for years now, and then he will vanish and people forget. Rap Game Bigfoot.
Release Date: “I promise you its coming this year and I’m about to heat the game up and charge the particles so high." - Jay Electronica
Dr. Dre - Detox
So there you have it, get out your calendars and start planning out the rest of the year accordingly. And, of course, we didn't outline every notable album and every notable maybe-album, so be sure to hit the comments below with the projects that you're eagerly awaiting. With a little luck, maybe 2014 can still end up being as good of a year for dope albums as 2013.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]