2014 is upon us, and with it many promises and predictions from rappers and producers alike. While last year may have been the year that most of the heavyweights weighed in—Drake, Jay Z, Kanye West, Eminem—this year the hip-hop world seems, if possible, even more excited to see what's coming up. Will Rick Ross' Mastermind live up to the hype? Will OutKast really get back together, and if so, will it involve new music? Will Kanye and Kendrick really drop new albums? And will Lil Boosie finally see freedom this February? There are a lot of questions, and a lot of anxious fans waiting to see what will and what won't happen. With all that in mind, XXL has compiled a list of the 15 things—albums, events, business moves and the rest—that we're looking forward to in 2014. Nothing will be the same. 

Rick Ross

Rick Ross' Mastermind
Projected Release Date: Top Of The Year

Ross' sixth solo album has been in the works for a while, with an initial release date of December 17 proving too soon for the Maybach head honcho. But the release of the single "Devil Is A Lie" featuring Jay Z caught the hip-hop world's attention, and the remix to "No Games" announced that Mastermind would be coming top of the year. Ross is still reportedly in the studio putting the "finishing touches" on the album, and other details of the tracklist, guest features, and overall vibe remain up in the air. But Ross has repeatedly said he's aiming to feed the streets, and if "Devil Is A Lie" is any indication, he'll be doing exactly that.


Future's Honest
Projected Release Date: Top Of The Year

Honest, the followup to Future's 2012 debut Pluto, has likewise been in the works for some time, and also experienced a pushback from its original release date of November 26. But while promoting the album in November, Future Hendrix unveiled a number of the features that are scheduled to appear on the project, with Miley Cyrus, Mike WiLL Made It, and, maybe most exciting, both Nicki Minaj and André 3000. With Three Stacks gearing up for an OutKast reunion, and Future coming from the Dungeon Family, that collab should be fascinating. We'll be waiting on that.


Beats Music

Beats is bringing their own twist to the music streaming world, and its launch is now imminent. CEO Ian Rogers announced on his blog late last year that the service would be launching in the United States this month, with the headphone giants securing a number of major licensing deals with record labels. With Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor on board as creative director and the combined power of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine guiding the launch, it's sure to be one of the most talked-about industry events of the year. Add that to the audio quality revolution Dre and Iovine have been spearheading for years now, and it's bound to sound fantastic, at the very least.

Lil Boosie

Lil Boosie's Release From Prison
Projected Release Date: February 16

Boosie's been in jail since 2009 on drug charges, but now he's finally set to come home. According to his brother, Boosie has completed a number of classes and programs that will expedite his release, and he'll be out by February 16 if all goes well. As for the music? Boosie's apparently written over 600 songs since he's been locked up, and he's got a welcoming committee that includes Rick Ross and former collaborators Webbie and Mouse On Tha Track ready to welcome him home and collaborate with him. Boosie Bad Azz might yet get a second chance at this whole music thing.

schoolboy q album release

ScHoolboy Q's Oxymoron
Projected Release Date: February 25

We've been waiting for this one for so long that it made our 35 Most Anticipated Albums list last year, but now Oxymoron finally has a release date and a handful of poppin' singles that have whetted the appetites of Q's legion of fans. Somehow, TDE didn't release a single project in 2013—Kendrick's "Control" verse made it almost unnecessary—but that's poised to change this year, with CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Griffith plotting to drop six albums, one for each member of the team. Easily one of the most anticipated of the year, again.


YG's Def Jam Debut, My Krazy Life
Projected Release Date: March 18

YG has already had huge success with his "My Hitta" song featuring Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan, and the album to back up the single is hot on its heels. With a March release date and features from Drake, Game, and Ty Dolla $ign and executive production from Jeezy, it's set to be one of the West Coast's biggest albums in a while.


XXL Freshmen

It's almost here, and it's about to be bigger than ever. Who will make the cover this year? Can it possibly be a better class than the one of 2013? What does the next wave of hip-hop talent have in store for the coming year? A lot of questions, and a lot of answers on the way. We're excited. You are too.

Pharrell and Pusha

Pusha T's new collaborations with The Neptunes
Projected Release Date: 2014

Pusha T wasted no time hopping back in the studio, this time with The Neptunes (the sonic backdrop behind Clipse's iconic music last decade) to recapture some of the magic the duo made with him and his brother No Malice. With My Name Is My Name praised as one of the best albums of 2013, King Push—the tentative title of this upcoming project—has high expectations. But when leaving your hopes in the hands of Push and Pharrell, good things usually come your way.


OutKast's Reunion
Release Dates: Summer 2014

Is it true? It certainly seems like it. Big Boi and André 3000 are going to be hitting the festival circuit, with a possible summer tour in tow as well. But OutKast getting back together for a tour would be one thing, and a new album from the duo would be a hell of another. Will they or won't they? Or will we be blessed with an André solo album instead? The questions linger, and the anticipation builds.


Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V
Projected Release Date: 2014

Tha Carter V is on the way, and with it might be the end of Lil Wayne's rap career (or so he claims). Speculation has been building since October, and with a two year layoff since Tha Carter IV, it's time for the fifth installment to come to light. But will it be the final hurrah of Weezy's long career? He's only 31 years old, younger than Jay Z when he first announced his own retirement (and we all know how that turned out). Young Carter might not be done just yet.

Jay Z

The Year's Business Innovations

Jay Z's new rules changed the game for hip-hop in 2013. Nipsey Hu$$le's $100 Crenshaw mixtape re-imagined what an independent artist could accomplish with the right team and a die-hard fan base around him. Nas got into publishing, and Nicki Minaj made the fourth-most amount of money of any rapper in 2013, and she didn't even put out any music. What innovations and changes are around the corner? What walls will be broken down this year? Time will tell, but we'll stay tuned.

run the jewels

Run The Jewels 2
Projected Release Date: 2014

Is anyone out there having more fun than El-P and Killer Mike? The Run The Jewels cohorts are poised to bring their flavor of hip-hop back to the masses this year with the followup to last year's highly-regarded RTJ album, with a second one slated for 2014. In addition to Mike's R.A.P. Music and El-P's Cancer For Cure in 2012, this duo is enjoying a vein of success that's richer than many rappers' entire careers. Keep the good music flowing.


Gucci Mane's Court Cases

Gucci was in the headlines an awful lot this year, and not usually for the best reasons. He's staring down the barrel of a potential 20-year prison sentence on federal gun charges, not to mention civil suits against former longtime collaborators Zaytoven, OJ Da Juiceman and Waka Flocka Flame. He's admitted to a lean addiction, and is spending time in rehab to try and get his life back together after a semi-insane, three-day long Twitter rant. What could possibly happen in 2014 that hasn't already happened to him? I'm sure Gucci will find a way to hold our attention one way or the other, and his court cases might just be the ones that captivate us the most.


A New Kanye West Album
Projected Release Date: Unknown

2013 was the year Yeezus rose again, but in 2014 we may see the return of Kanye West. Speaking at Art Basel toward the end of the year, Kanye said that his next album may be stripped all the way down to eight songs, even fewer than the 10-track Yeezus. "It's just reducing down the amount of information that you need," he said. "People say a design is the point where you can't take anything else away. [Yeezus] was very, very designed." With Q-Tip on board to help produce the project, there's no telling which musical direction Kanye may turn to. But one thing is for sure—it's bound to catch our attention.


A sophomore album from Kendrick Lamar
Projected Release Date: Fourth Quarter

Kendrick Lamar spit one verse of very real consequence in 2013, and he spoke louder than some entire albums. But his "Control" verse served to overshadow the fact that TDE didn't drop an album the entire calendar year. That'll change, with six projects due in 2014, including a new album from K. Dot. He's already said he'd be getting into the studio in January—he was spotted in the studio with Alchemist already—and people are wondering what he could possibly do to follow up good kid, m.A.A.d. city. King Kendrick may be coming to take his crown before the end of the year.

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