There is no doubt that 2019 was packed with a plethora of strong rap releases—especially from some of the game’s most promising newcomers. Artists like 2019 XXL Freshman DaBaby and Megan Thee Stallion proved they could show up and show out all in the same 12-month window. And although there was enough substantial music to carry listeners well into this next decade, there are obviously projects pending that fans and critics are craving in 2020.

In 2017 and 2018, some of the genre’s biggest stars dropped studio albums that frankly needed a few years to breathe, which means if these artists follow a natural release cycle, fans should be expecting a brand new album from the likes of mega stars like Cardi B and Drake this very year. Often times in rap, it’s a bright idea not to consistently flood the streets with copious amounts of music in order to give fans a chance to miss them, but there comes a point when new releases are just so anxiously anticipated.

Aside from a handful of seemingly concrete album announcements, there's serious speculation revolving around J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar dropping albums, which would singlehandedly make 2020 a defining year for hip-hop. Not to mention hungry rookies looking to keep the momentum going and even some of the genre’s elder statesman getting back on the mic in attempts to seal their own legacies.

That said, everyone knows firm release dates and rap music don’t necessarily go hand in hand. There's a long history of promised albums that took years to come or inevitably got shelved, never to see the light of day. So while there are definitely anticipated albums everyone and their mom would kill to hear, nothing in this game is ever promised. Fingers crossed, though.

Check out XXL’s look at this year’s most anticipated hip-hop albums.

See 35 of the Most Anticipated Hip-Hop Albums of 2020

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