Looking ahead at what’s shaping up to be a major year in hip-hop
With the new year comes a fresh calendar of new releases. After a somewhat quiet 2023, some of rap’s biggest names and hottest upcoming talent are poised to drop in 2024. Listeners who lamented last year’s paltry offering of blockbuster rap albums will be comforted to know that this year is already shaping up to be a major one. Artists like Playboi Carti, who appears to be shaking off the mysterious lore in favor of new music, as well as 21 Savage, who surprised fans this week with an album announcement and video featuring Donald Glover, are already prepping major releases, and a quick peek at the social feeds of some of the biggest names in the genre suggest similar plans on the horizon. From A$AP Rocky to Future, and Ice Spice, these are the rap albums we’re most excited to hear in 2024.
Don’t Be Dumb, the long-awaited follow-up to A$AP Rocky’s 2018 album Pressing has supposedly been in the works for several years. In October, he told Dazed “I’ve been really experimenting as usual, and what I like about this is it feels like my best work yet.” This was after he dropped the single “Our De$tiny,” featuring Playboi Carti, with a beat from the buzzing New York producer Evilgiane, as well as the single “D.M.B.,” in 2022. The latter professes his adoration for his partner Rihanna in the way one imagines only Rocky can. The 35-year-old rapper has become a father in the years since his last release, and we imagine this next album will give us a peek into what fatherhood has taught Rocky. Perhaps he’ll follow the trend of rap’s other recent dads and share a verse with his son RZA.
Recently, Future cleared all of the posts on his Instagram, indicating something imminent. The rapper’s been teasing a joint project with Metro Boomin for several months, and Metro himself has confirmed, posting a flick in the studio with Future in September. The pair have undeniable chemistry, having linked up on several of Future’s biggest hits such as “Mask Off,” and the Drake-assisted “Jumpman.” A joint project in 2024 would be the first collaboration between the two Atlanta rap titans since 2017’s Hndrxx. Just before Christmas, Future and Metro both shared notes teasing new music on Instagram, so it’s surely just a matter of time before we get what’s sure to be one of the biggest rap albums of the year.
Carti’s been teasing his third studio album I Am Music with a surprisingly smooth rollout of singles and music videos, including the Travis Scott-assisted “Backrooms” which dropped on New Year’s Day. So far, his new sound appears to depart from the vamp aesthetic he launched with 2020’s Whole Lotta Red, aligning somewhat with the early 2000s resurgence in the air, except from the vantage point of aughts-era Atlanta rap. His mostly young, mostly internet-savvy fanbase has expressed nothing but approval thus far and Carti’s new album is poised to be one of the first major rap releases of the year. After the genre’s drop in the charts in 2023, Carti could dispel much of the discourse around rap’s supposed loss of mainstream influence.
Last year Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar teamed up to surprise drop their collaborative track “The Hillbillies,” featuring a stuttering, infectious beat courtesy of Evilgiane, and a continuation of Kendrick’s playful streak alongside Keem (Who can forget “Top o’ the Morning”). The duo would go on to perform at Tyler, the Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw under the name The Hillbillies, a fact they slightly teased in the song’s music video. For all of this, one would hope a full project from the pair would materialize or, perhaps, a follow-up to Keem’s 2021 debut The Melodic Blue. The rapper recently released a visual accompaniment to the project, perhaps setting the stage for a new chapter.
Megan Thee Stallion
Last October, Megan Thee Stallion announced that her next album would be released independently and that she was no longer signed to any label. Not long after, she released the searing and confessional “Cobra,” a single that quickly consumed media discourse as it dealt so openly with mental health. Meg’s also been busy elevating her acting chops, as she’s set to star in the Safdie brothers’ upcoming Netflix film. She’s also set to play a handful of festivals this summer, which could mean that sometime this year, we’ll get to hear Meg’s first release as an independent artist.
Lil Yachty’s Concrete label continues to become a formidable force within the rap industry. Late last year, one of his signees, Karrahbooo quickly became an artist to watch with the release of a string of impressive freestyles which quickly took hold of social media. The Atlanta rapper’s laid-back, rhythmic flow, has a mesmerizing quality to it, not unlike Veezee or Icewear Vezzo. In December she released the single “Running Late,” carrying on the success of her viral freestyles. The song is proof that Karrahbooo is the real deal and that she’s just getting started. Hopefully this year listeners get to hear a full project.
Not a lot of artists can say they had a better year than Lil Yachty who, after a left-turn experimental album in Let’s Start Here, continued to keep his foot on the gas in terms of rap releases, dropping a bevy of loosies that could have made for at least a short EP. Yachty’s been outspoken about what he sees as a somewhat stale landscape in hip-hop all while he continues to release music from some of the genre’s brightest young acts and consistently go viral with his own tracks. If 2023 meant Yachty got his experimental rock aspirations out of his system, then perhaps 2024 might deliver Yachty’s answer to his critiques of the genre. If anyone was going to infuse the genre with something new, why not Yachty?
Flo Milli’s new album Fine Ho, Stay was initially slated for a release sometime last year, but as each announced release date came and went, it appeared that the final part of the Alabama-born rapper’s trilogy of wonderfully titled projects had been delayed. The wait has surely only heightened the anticipation. Flo Milli’s 2022 release You Still Here, Ho?, was a welcome jolt of energy thanks to Flo’s dynamic flow and slick songwriting. In December, she dropped the scorching hot “Never Lose Me,” which quickly became an online sensation, and she even dropped an alternate version featuring Lil Yachty. If Flo Milli’s smoothly confident flow on the track is any indication, her next release is sure to make a mark.
So far Ice Spice’s meteoric rise since 2022 has unfolded with tasteful precision. The Bronx-born rapper has so far dominated every major holiday from Halloween to Christmas, and New Year’s, managing to hit just the right note on social media. Last year, she dropped an expanded version of her debut EP Like…? featuring the bonafide hit “Deli.” This year, she’s already started teasing new music with a snippet earlier this month accompanied by a meme that read: “Think You the Shit, Bitch! You Not Even the Fart,” which happens to be the lyrics in the still unreleased track. It could very well have been an announcement from an artist in album mode. If Ice Spice’s track record is any indication, we’ll know soon enough.
Following the release of his album For All The Dogs last fall, Drake said in an interview that he was taking some time away from music to focus on his health. He made it all of a few weeks before dropping a new set of top-shelf tough guy raps in the form of the For All The Dogs “Scary Hours” edition. The move is to be expected from the endlessly prolific rapper, who managed to drop a new album or collaboration basically every year since 2020. While he could very well be laying low, building his house in Houston all year, one can never be too careful. A Six God release is almost always lurking just around the corner.