It's 2015, and the hip-hop world can barely contain its excitement. After a 2014 that many considered a lackluster one for big albums (particularly compared to the Kanye West / Drake / Wale / Jay Z / Eminem / Pusha T onslaught that made 2013 pack such a punch), plenty of hugely anticipated albums are coming through the pipeline in the next 12 months. Whether it's triumphant returns for the likes of Boosie Badazz, The LOX and Waka Flocka, strong debuts from Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson and Ty Dolla $ign or catalog builders from 50 Cent, Kanye West and Drake, there's plenty to look forward to in the months ahead.

Luckily, XXL has you covered. We dug deep into the status of our most anticipated albums we're looking forward to in the 2015 calendar year, searching for quotes, clues and comment on each and every project. So here it is, at long last: the current status of the most anticipated albums of the year. Enjoy. —Miranda Johnson, Roger Krastz, Emmanuel C.M. and Dan Rys

Related: Here Is The Status Of The 25 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2014
The 25 Most Anticipated Albums For The Second Half Of 2014
XXL’s Most Anticipated Games Of 2015 

anticipated albums 50 cent

ARTIST: 50 Cent
ALBUM TITLE: Street King Immortal
ALBUM #: 6
BEGAN RECORDING: November 2011
BEATS: Boi-1da, Alex da Kid, Symbolyc One, Cardiak, Just Blaze, Hit-Boy, Chase N. Cashe
FEATURES: Chris Brown, Eminem
FYI: With first mentions of the album popping up nearly five years ago, 50 Cent has been teasing this project for several years now. Over the past few years many producers and artists have claimed contribution to the LP. Since 50 has been racking up material for so long, it’s hard to be certain of which collaborations will actually make the cut. Everyone from Soulja Boy to Hit-Boy has spoken on work they’ve contributed to 50’s sixth studio LP, and with G-Unit back and kicking there's plenty to come from the Queens MC in the next few months.
MOVIN' ON UP: Never a dull moment for 50, he brought back G-Unit to release The Beauty Of Independence EP and will be dropping their followup The Beast Is G-Unit sometime this year. Following that, 50 will debut his long anticipated album, Street King Immortal, in the summer. The album includes several featured guests including Eminem and Chris Brown, according to correspondence with Fif's camp.
SALES PITCH: "I try to balance the highlights from the past two records," Fif told the Daily News this month. "To try to create a different style and the story telling."

A$AP Rocky anticipated albums

LABEL: A$AP Worldwide/Polo Grounds/RCA
ALBUM #: 2
BEATS: Curtis Heron, Nez & Rio
FIRST SINGLE: "Multiply," "Pretty Flacko 2"
FYI: It's been two years since Rocky's critically-acclaimed debut album Long.Live.A$AP, but the demand for a new album from A$AP fans is at an all time high after Rocky released the controversial record "Multiply" and the street banger "Pretty Flacko Pt. II" within the last few months. The fashion icon from Harlem promised fans via Twitter more music and the release of his sophomore album in 2015. Joey Fatts told XXL earlier this month that Rocky has 30 tracks done for the LP, so it could be on its way sooner rather than later.
MOVIN' ON UP: "We’re really tryin’ to smash y’all muthafuckas in 2015, man," Rocky told Highsnobiety last November, admittedly before the unexpected and deeply sad death of A$AP Yams this past weekend. "We’re really tryin’ to influence culture and give people a reason to listen to listen to music and enjoy lifestyle. It really don’t take much to be happy in life and we’re trying to show people that shit…I ain’t been happy like this in a while. I ain’t been having this much fun in a while. With this type of energy being invested into my music, the possibilities are endless. It’s like old times…I feel reckless again."

ASAP Ferg anticipated albums

LABEL: RCA/Polo Grounds/A$AP Worldwide
ALBUM #: 2
BEATS: Almost nothing has been released about the album
FYI: Things may be on hold for a little bit for Fergenstein after the tragic death of A$AP Yams over the weekend, but with the release last month of his Ferg Forever mixtape he's not slowing down on the music output. The Mob's second in command will have to wait until after Rocky drops his own sophomore LP, but that doesn't mean we won't see anything from Ferg in 2015, it just means we may have to wait a bit longer.
MOVIN' ON UP: “It’s almost done. I’m just tweaking it right now,” Ferg said of his next LP in October. “I just want to get it in with a couple of more producers that I love, and it seems like the further I get into it I’m just trying to squeeze more magic out of it. So I think I’m just gonna keep going until the label tells me I can’t go on anymore, honestly.”
SALES PITCH: "I can definitely tell you it’s going to be crazy and it’s the new Ferg; it’s not A$AP Ferg, it’s not Trap Lord, it’s Ferg and I’m giving my all and I’m going in," he said, brushing off questions about potential collaborators. "I’m going in deep, like I’m telling true stories and it’s gonna be crazy.”

action bronson anticipated albums

ARTIST: Action Bronson
ALBUM TITLE: Mr. Wonderful
LABEL: Vice/Atlantic
ALBUM #: 1
DATE: Mar. 24
BEGAN RECORDING: Last year, presumably
BEATS: Mark Ronson, 40, Alchemist, Omen, Party Supplies, 88Keys
FEATURES: Chance The Rapper, Big Body Bes, Meyhem Lauren, Chauncy Sherod, Party Supplies
FIRST SINGLE: "Easy Rider," "A Light In The Addict," "Actin' Crazy"
FYI: With the quality of his mixtapes and EPs over the past three years, it almost feels like Action Bronson is four albums deep already. But Mr. Wonderful will clock in as the first official release for the Queens MC, and he's planning to bring his patented mix of food references, outrageous comparisons and wrestler name drops over his general palette of barely controlled production chaos to stores across the country. If early singles "Easy Rider" and "Actin' Crazy" are any indication, the project will be a major statement for Bronsoliño.
MOVIN' ON UP: "It’s psychedelic. That’s where I’m at. That’s what I’m on," Bronson told XXL back in June. "I’m into heavy duty, psychedelic, foreign music. That’s what I like listening to. A lot of Turkish shit is what I am influenced by. Polish, prog-rock. Traveling and listening to different records that have been done from different places. No rap music. I don’t want to hear any rap. I want to hear just classic music. When you listen to rap, you become a fuckin’ idiot. When you listen to classical music and shit like that, it opens your mind and you start thinking differently. That’s what it is."
SALES PITCH: "The concept behind it is Mr. Wonderful," Bronson said. "You are going to hear how wonderful everything is. Everything is great. My life is beautiful right now. I couldn’t have asked for more. You are gonna hear the joy that I have. It’s very musical. It’s very heartfelt and fun and thoughtful. You are going to cry. You are going to laugh. You are going to shit your pants. All the bodily functions."

"There’s absolutely nothing else in music like the Mr. Wonderful album," said Atlantic VP of A&R Riggs Morales. "I feel its the beginning of the next phase of his creative career."

big sean xxl magazine anticipated albums
Photo Credit: Robert Wunsch

ARTIST: Big Sean
LABEL: GOOD Music/Def Jam Recordings/Roc Nation
ALBUM #: 3
BEATS: DJ Mustard, Kanye West, Key Wane, DJ Dahi
FEATURES: E-40, Lil Wayne, possibly Eminem, Chris Brown, Ariana Grande
FIRST SINGLE: "IDFWU" featuring E-40
FYI: After announcing in Sept. of 2014 his partnership with Roc Nation, the Detroit player released four tracks in anticipation for his third project, which has yet to be titled. Out of the four songs, "IDFWU" was picked up by radio stations across the nation and has become a certified hit for Sean and a great lead up for his forthcoming album. He's been careful about disclosing any details about the LP, but he feels like he's making strides forward. “There’s not a lot of good rap music out there,” he told XXL in our current issue. “So I really feel like there’s big responsibility for me to make good rap music, because there are only a few people that make it. I’m a beast out here. I’m not going to front. When it comes to this rap shit, you really got to be on a high level to fuck with me.”
MOVIN' ON UP: “It’s way darker than anything I’ve ever done, way harder than any album I’ve ever done,” Sean told Highsnobiety in November. “I’m pretty sure you’re going to like this album. The sound of it is definitely better than the mixtapes but it’s more of that type of intensity, high-level raps, and just not giving a fuck and going in.

anticipated albums boosie badazz
Photo Credit: Andrew Link

ARTIST: Boosie Badazz
ALBUM TITLE: Touch Down 2 Cause Hell
LABEL: Atlantic/Trill
ALBUM #: 6 (solo)
DATE: Spring
BEATS: Big K.R.I.T., possibly
FEATURES: Possible features: Jeezy, Yo Gotti, Tyga, Chris Brown
FIRST SINGLE: “She Want Some,” “Heart Of A Lion,” "Crazy"
FYI: It's Boosie, baby, and Touch Down 2 Cause Hell will mark the official retail return of one of the South's biggest presences. While his five years behind bars grew his myth to outsized proportions, this album will truly be the test of how many people are counting on Boosie to deliver on his big comeback. After dropping the teaser mixtape Live From Death Row on Halloween, fans are prepped and ready for what's to come.
MOVIN' ON UP: " There’s no pressure on me," Boosie told us in April. "I could see if I was making the same music that you hear all the time. Then I would have pressure to outdo those people with that kind of music. But I am one of the few that make that real, deep music that touch people’s heart. I kind of feel like I am in my own lane over here, so it’s no pressure for me. All I gotta do is do what I do. I ain’t switching nothing up. I ain’t changing nothing up. I’m just making good music. That’s what always got me to where I am at."
SALES PITCH: In May, Boosie referred to TD2CH as "the best double-disc since [Tupac's] All Eyez On Me.” Ahem. You have our attention.

donnie trumpet chance the rapper anticipated albums

ARTIST: Donnie Trumpet And The Social Experiment
ALBUM #: 1
DATE: Soon
BEATS: The Social Experiment, possibly Rick Rubin
FEATURES: Madonna? Sean Paul? Frank Ocean, Migos and J. Cole? The team has been playing this one close to the chest.
FIRST SINGLE: "Sunday Candy"
FYI: Chance The Rapper has taken a step back since his wildly successful Acid Rap mixtape came out in 2013, with a handful of tracks featuring his new band The Social Experiment leaking out over the past 12 months indicating his new direction. But before his next official project we're getting a separate one credited to Donnie Trumpet, with Chance presumably on vocals throughout. Everything that's come out has sounded extra musical and generally upbeat and positive, presenting an antidote to the socially and politically negative narrative that has existed in this country in the past six months in particular. First single "Sunday Candy" is a prime indicator of that.
MOVIN' ON UP: "It's the first Social Experiment project," Chance said of Surf in a Billboard interview last year. "It's a big step for all of us all putting our heads together and letting Nico [Segal, a.k.a Donnie Trumpet] hold the reigns and carry it. There's a lot of great instrumentation. A lot of input from cool writers. I'm already saying too much."

anticipated albums drake views
Photo: Getty Images

ALBUM TITLE: Views From The 6
LABEL: Cash Money Records/ Young Money Ent.
ALBUM #: 4
DATE: Later this year
BEATS: Unknown, although it is likely that he will turn to his OVO Sound label’s in-house production team consisting of Noah “40” Shebib, Boi-1da, T-Minus, Mike Zombie, and Nineteen85
FYI: Very little is known about Drake’s approaching LP, as he has yet to speak about the project at length. In July, it was reported that Drake would began work on the album following the conclusion of the Drake vs. Wayne tour. A month later in August, part of the album’s title track supposedly leaked. On the song Drake is said to be dishing on his short-lived romance with Rihanna in early 2014. Shortly after his birthday in October, Drake dropped 3 news songs titled "Heat Of The Moment,” “How Bout Now” and "6 God." All three of the songs are rumored to appear on Views From The 6. Drake will also be headlining both Coachella and NYC’s Governors Ball, which leave many to believe the album will arrive sometime in spring.
MOVIN' ON UP: "No status at this point" is the official response from a source inside OVO, which could very well mean anything at this point.
SALES PITCH: "We already got spring 2015 poppin' / PND droppin', Reps-up P droppin' / Majid Jordan droppin', OB droppin' / Not to mention me droppin'" Drake rapped in "0 To 100 / The Catch Up." It might not mean his album will be here in the spring, but it's a warning shot for all those who dare come for the throne.

earl sweatshirt pitchfork festival chicago anticipated albums
Photo Credit: Ryan Gaines

ARTIST: Earl Sweatshirt
ALBUM TITLE: Home Alone With Reggie?
LABEL: Tan Cressida/Columbia Records
ALBUM #: 2
BEATS: Tyler, The Creator, randomblackdude (Earl Sweatshirt), maybe Mac Miller, possibly The Alchemist
FEATURES: Who knows? Possibly Odd Future, maybe Vince Staples if his debut album Doris is anything to go by.
FIRST SINGLE: There's no official single yet, however Earl performed five new songs, including “Faucet” and “Hell,” in Santa Ana, Calif. in December 2014.
FYI: After 2013 acclaimed debut album Doris, the anticipation for Earl Sweatshirt’s sophomore project is high. Information about his next LP has been scarce, however. On Christmas Eve he performed five new songs Santa Ana, Calif. and has been sporadically releasing records online such as “Rats” and “45;” but outside of this Vince Staples tweet from last month—"New Earl Sweatshirt album "Home Alone with Reggie" dropping soon."—nothing has been confirmed.
MOVIN' ON UP:  Via Twitter, Earl confirmed that he has completed his follow-up LP, tweeting, “everyone hassling me about music need to shut the fuck up I been sitting on a completely finished album since June just shut up and wait.”
SALES PITCH:  "I anticipate a loss of fans. I also anticipate gaining some,” said Earl to NME in September 2013 about Doris. ”So. You know. Yeah... I hope I lose you as a fan if you only fuck with me cause i rapped about raping girls when i was 15... I fucking love how it sounds. And uhh. That's what matters... I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you can hear the progression." That progression is what makes Earl Sweatshirts’s sophomore LP so galvanizing.

french montana tiger anticipated albums
Photo Credit: Kid Art

ARTIST: French Montana
ALBUM TITLE: Mac & Cheese: The Album
LABEL: Bad Boy/Interscope/Coke Boys
ALBUM #: 2
DATE: Spring
BEATS: Kanye West, DJ Mustard, The Renegades
FEATURES: Kanye West, Macklemore, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Miguel, Jeremih, Wale, Fabolous, Lil Durk
FIRST SINGLE: "Don't Panic"
FYI: Originally scheduled for a Dec. 16 release, Mac & Cheese: The Album will be the sophomore followup to French's 2013 release Excuse My French. Thus far, Montana has released two singles from the project with the DJ Mustard-produced track "Don't Panic" being well-received by fans and music critics. As we await more rumored singles from the album, French looks to keep the Coke Boys movement alive with his last mixtape, The Appetizer, as well as his usual slew of remix appearances.
MOVIN' ON UP: "I mean, Mac & Cheese is like my baby," French told XXL about the series that started as a mixtape run. "It’s the first [mixtape] I put out right after we did Coke Wave, me and Max B. Mac & Cheese really stands for soulful music. So if you see the title and you’re already a fan of my work, you know I’m coming with epic music."

joey badass anticipated albums

ARTIST: Joey Bada$$
LABEL: Cinematic Music Group/Sony RED
ALBUM #: 1
DATE: Jan. 20
BEATS: Hit-Boy, DJ Premier, Chuck Strangers, Kirk Knight, Freddie Joachim, Statik Selektah, Basquiat, Lee Bannon, J Dilla, The Roots, ASTR, Sam I AM & The Soul Rebels
FEATURES: BJ The Chicago Kid, Raury, Chronixxx, Maverick Sabre, Dyemond Lewis, Action Bronson, Elle Varner and Kiesza
FIRST SINGLE: "Big Dusty" followed by "Christ Conscious," "No. 99," "Curry Chicken," "On & On" and "Teach Me"
FYI: It's been a long time coming, but Joey's debut album is finally here. For a youngster who has been building off mixtapes for two years now, the LP comes on his 20th birthday, meaning there's still plenty to come from the Brooklyn MC and Pro Era chieftain. It's an important landmark and big first step into the mainstream at the same age Nas was when he released Illmatic.
MOVIN' ON UP: "This album is so special to Joey on so many levels," says Cinematic boss Jonny Shipes, who signed Joey in 2013. "I think creatively he had no boundaries or pressure from a label to deliver a specific type of record for radio or the masses. He had complete creative control to do him...Business-wise, Joey has a unique situation and he is not tied to a major label; it's just me and him working towards a common goal. So after this album he is able to weigh out all his options and make the best decision for his career, where most artists are locked into contracts at this point in their career. They must deliver record number two to the label with a hit and all the other typical shit that goes along with signing to a label for the typical five album cycle. Joey is truly independent and can make any move on the chess board we see fit after this album."
SALES PITCH: "I grew up in one of the greatest eras of hip-hop; B.I.G., Jay, Nas, Snoop, Scarface, OutKast," Shipes says. "I know good music, I know classic albums...I can truly say Joey brought me back to that moment in time as far as the quality of the album."

juicy j anticipated albums

ALBUM TITLE: Pure THC: The Hustle Continues
LABEL: Columbia
ALBUM #: 4 (solo)
BEATS: Mike WiLL Made It, Dr. Luke, 808 Mafia, Cirkut and Crazy Mike
FEATURES: Nicki Minaj, Lil Bibby and Young Thug, Future, Ferg. Juicy later mentioned a possible Ty Dolla $ign feature.
FYI: Fans were hoping to get the follow-up album to Juicy J’s Stay Trippy in 2014. A year later, Pure THC: The Hustle Continues looks to finally be on the way. The LP is still highly coveted and the Three 6 Mafia member is building an impressive solo career. The turn up king is looking to add another win to his belt.
MOVIN' ON UP:  “It’s going to be still me, but it’s like me as a CEO. Me as a boss,” Juicy said about the album in January to XXL. “I’ve been doing this for years. Now, I’m just going to express and show people and tell people about my life, what I’ve been going through from back in the day until now, to me getting a second go around in this music. Mixed with a little bit of my party life. I can’t forget about my party life. It’s going to be more serious about coming up in the game. You know, how a person can make it out here. It’s a lot of people hustling out here trying to figure out ways to make it. I come straight from nothing. I’m gonna talk about that. Just a lot of personal stuff. From an artist standpoint to a CEO standpoint.”
SALES PITCH: “Just let a person know what it is,” Juicy said last January when we asked him about this album. “I’m still gonna do my ratchet turn up cause that’s my life. Everything I’m talking about is my life. I kick it a little bit. But, at the end of the day on the business side, I handle business… The name of the album is called The Hustle ContinuesTHC. You know what THC is. The Hustle Continues. Pimp THC. Purp, you feel me? The hustle continues. I am going to keep on working. It ain’t over yet. I did that. I got more to talk about. I got more stuff in my life that people need to hear and situations that I have been through.”

kanye west anticipated albums

ARTIST: Kanye West
LABEL: Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella
ALBUM #: 7
DATE: N/A, but soon
BEATS: Kanye West, presumably; Young Chop, possibly, probably Rick Rubin and Q-Tip, maybe Evian Christ
FEATURES: Paul McCartney? Theophilus London? Travi$ Scott? Rihanna? French Montana? The fact is, Kanye has been recording for so long that there's no way of knowing how this one will turn out.
FIRST SINGLE: "Only One"? It's unclear if the track will make the final cut, but it was a strong introduction to 2015.
FYI: No one really knows which direction Kanye will head in with this new project, his seventh solo studio album in the past 11 years. After Yeezus, any and all doors are open to him, and it feels as if it wouldn't be a surprise to see him go in any direction. But there's a feeling that 'Ye will revert to his hip-hop roots, following the formula he laid out with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy following in the footsteps of the edgy 808s And Heartbreak. And if "Only One," the Paul McCartney-assisted ode to this mother and daughter, is any indication, we might get a different Kanye emotionally as well.
MOVIN' ON UP: What will it sound like? Only Seth Rogen knows, apparently. "This album is different," G.O.O.D. Music's Malik Yusef said back in October. "It’s like a pair of Timberlands; like how Timberlands are not quite leather and not quite suede. It’s not the smooth, slick Chicago music sound we have right now and it’s not the ruggedness of just ‘hip-hop hip-hop hip-hop.’"
SALES PITCH: "It sounds incredible," Def Jam boss Steve Bartels told Billboard in October. "He's focused, energetic, happy and making unbelievably great music. Kanye always wants to make sure that when it actually arrives it's at the best possible place it could be, that the first song is as big as the last. He's the absolute bar of perfection in terms of that."

kendrick lamar anticipated albums
Photo Credit: Tom Medvedich

ARTIST: Kendrick Lamar
LABEL: TDE/Interscope/Aftermath
ALBUM #: 2
DATE: First half of 2015
BEATS: Presumably Dr. Dre will be involved in this one
FEATURES: Kendrick has been performing with Jay Rock a lot, but outside of cameos from Ronald Isley and George Clinton in the music video for "i"—as well as Thundercat and Terrace Martin assisting his Colbert Report performance—nothing has been confirmed.
FYI: It's hard to think of a more highly anticipated album than the followup to Kendrick's classic debut good kid, m.A.A.d city. Fans have thought it would be here by now, particularly with the release of the high-energy, positive single "i" back in TK, but there's been little to no information on release dates or followup singles.
MOVIN' ON UP: "What’s crazy to me is that I feel the same energy now that I felt before my first album," Kendrick wrote in his current XXL cover story. "I know there’s lot of pressure for me on this new album but it don’t necessarily scare me. It’s almost confirmation, like, go in there and challenge yourself just the same way you challenged yourself the first time."

kid cudi anticipated albums

ARTIST: Kid Cudi
LABEL: Wicked Awesome Records/Republic Records
ALBUM #: 5
BEATS: Jean-Baptiste, Dot da Genius, Emile, Kid Cudi, Plain Pat
FYI: It’s been five years since Kid Cudi released Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager. Since then, Cudi has released a rock album (WZRD in 2012), Indicud in 2013 and Satellite Flight: The Journey To Mother Moon, which serves as a bridge between Indicud and Man On The Moon III. MOTM3 serves as the conclusion of the three part series.
MOVIN' ON UP: "You’ll see it coming from a person who is looking at things from a more mature mindset, with more understanding and growth,” Kid Cudi told Music Connection in November 2013. “I want people to be able to put this album on at different points in their lives and grow with me. This series was meant to show me grow as a man and it would not be right to do MOTM III and have me talking about driving drunk. I didn’t want people to listen and feel like, 'Oh he’s giving us a lesson,' rather than be entertained, but I’m not condoning that shit, that’s not cool. When I’m singing about driving drunk on 'Pursuit Of Happiness' on MOTM, you may remember that it was a nightmare. It was meant to be scary, the craziness, the fact that this person chooses to look for happiness in substances; and that’s scary, that’s a terrible combination, that’s a terrible way to go about things."
SALES PITCH: Cudi went on a Twitter rant about the current state of hip-hop music and explained why he’s not impressed by the mediocrity that’s being broadcasted through our airwaves. “Rap music is a hustle I respect, But we need more people approaching it like an artform w some peace of mind,” said the Cleveland MC.

lil wayne carter v anticipated albums

ARTIST: Lil Wayne
LABEL: Cash Money/Young Money
ALBUM #: 11
DATE: First Quarter
BEATS:  Fabian [Marascuillo], DVLP, Infamous, Boi-1da, Vinylz, Lee Majors, Mannie Fresh
FEATURES: Drake, Christina Millian, Possibly Kendrick Lamar
FIRST SINGLE: "Believe Me," "Krazy," "Grindin," "Start A Fire"
FYI: With Lil Wayne recently unveiling that he wants to split with his home label of the past 17 years, Cash Money, there has been much drama surrounding this project. The first single, “Believe Me,” was released in May, in preparation for the album’s initial Oct. 28th launch. However, as the album was pushed back, the LP has yet to receive a release date and information regarding the project is pretty much up in the air.
MOVIN' ON UP: "I'm approaching it like it is my last project," Wayne said in March, throwing fuel on the fire of the anticipation. "I think that's why it's a lot different than everything else, I think that's why the grind is different, that's why I'm working harder. I'm approaching it a whole lot different; I'm approaching it as if I don't have tomorrow."
SALES PITCH: "[Y]ou have to want to improve," Weezy told XXL in our August/September cover story. "But I also don’t look back at what I’ve done because I’ll try to match it, and I don’t want to do that. I just try to do better. Whereas if I go back to it, my mind will instinctively try to repeat it, and I never want to repeat myself."

anticipated albums the lox

ALBUM TITLE: We Are The Streets 2
ALBUM #: 3
DATE: 2015
FEATURES: Unclear, but think New York
FYI: It's been 15 years since We Are The Streets blessed New York City with another ferocious crew, and the LOX have been busy lately with EPs and mixtapes heralding their return. But the sequel to their iconic 2000 LP will be the big moment for Jadakiss, Sheek and Styles as they triumphantly return to a city that needs them.
MOVIN' ON UP: All three are scheduled to release solo albums this year as well, but the crew album will be the big focus. "Everybody smiles and laughs when they ask that question," Sheek told XXL in November about the album's release date. "That shit is like a myth, but it’s coming in 2015.
SALES PITCH: "It comes with a code. The LOX over everything," Styles said. "This is a brotherhood and it’s bigger than the music. It’s like the army, the mob, a sports team—team first."

lupe fiasco anticipated albums

ARTIST: Lupe Fiasco
ALBUM TITLE: Tetsuo & Youth
LABEL: 1st & 15th Entertainment/Atlantic
ALBUM #: 5
DATE: Jan. 20
BEATS: DJ Dahi, S1 & Vohn Beatz, MoeZ'art, Marcus Stephens, DJ Simonsayz, The Buchanans, M-Phazes
FEATURES: Trae Tha Truth, Ab-Soul, Nikki Jean, Glasses Malone, Guy Sebastian, Ayesha Jaco, Troi, Terrace Martin, Billy Blue, Buk Of Psychodrama, Trouble, Fam Lay, Crystal Torres and Ty Dolla $ign
FIRST SINGLE: ”Deliver,” “Adoration Of The Magi,” "Madonna (And Other Mothers In The Hood)” and “Mural
FYI: Lupe Fiasco's follow-up to 2012's Food & Liquor II is set to finally drop on Jan. 20 after some help from Anonymous. Tetsuo & Youth will be Lupe’s last album released through Atlantic Records, something he’s probably ecstatic about as he’s been essentially at war with the label since 2009 after the messy release of Lasers. His singles such as ”Deliver” have been both powerful and aesthetically pleasing. However, over the past few weeks it seems the Chicago MC has been making more headlines because of his Twitter spats rather than his music. If he does disappear after Tetsuo & Youth, it will be a shame because the “Kick Push” rapper is one of the most talented MCs in hip-hop today.
MOVIN' ON UP: "For some people it's gonna be a shock, because there are no politics on the record. Consciously, there are no politics on the record," Lupe told Rolling Stone. "If you want to hear my political spiel or some psuedo-intellectual Lupe, go listen to Food & Liquor II. From here on out, I'm just making music."
SALES PITCH: “From an artistic level of learning how to work with words and understanding words, 'Deliver' is like the most prominent example because that's the record that's out now,” said Lupe to Billboard. “But when you get into the rest of the body of the album, it's even deeper. It's taken to extremes on certain songs where it kind of takes 10, 15, 20 listens to really pick up on what the song is saying... There are songs on the album that have five narratives at the same time.”

mac miller anticipated albums
Photo: Getty Images

ARTIST: Mac Miller
LABEL: REMember Music/Warner
ALBUM #: 3
BEGAN RECORDING:  Presumably 2014
BEATS: Larry Fisherman (Mac Miller), I.D. Labs, Clams Casino
FYI: After leaving Rostrum Records, Mac Miller brought over his REMember Music imprint to Warner Bros Records. The partnership was huge, with the deal rumored to be worth some $10 million dollars. After releasing his sophomore album Watching Movies With The Sound Off—selling more than 100K in its first week—the Pittsburgh native has continued to build a solid fanbase, but is aiming even higher with his Warner partnership.
MOVIN' ON UP: “I have four albums done right now,” Miller said to MTV a year ago, which is what makes us believe an album is on its way sooner rather than later. “Not done, but four albums that have a foundation and that have at least seven songs to each of ‘em…The other one just kind of like was like an accident. The one that I think is actually going to be the next Mac Miller album. It was like an accident, which is dope. But you know I’m just—I’ma make music and I’m gonna capture every aspect of being a human being. That’s really all I’m trying to do.”
SALES PITCH: “I'm always working on shit,” Mac Miller told XXL back in May 2014. “If people actually knew what happened here, it's amazing. Everybody around me loves every kind of music, and that's everybody. The types of songs that are on my computer, it's anything. And that's what it fuckin' should be, bro."

macklemore ryan lewis anticipated albums

ARTIST: Macklemore
ALBUM #: 2
BEATS: Ryan Lewis
FYI: There's not much known about this album other than it's coming in 2015, but there's a lot riding on what it will contain. Macklemore has largely kept his head down and flown under the radar since beating out Kendrick Lamar for the Best Rap Album Grammy Award in early 2014, and therefore avoided much of the scathing criticism raining down on another successful white rapper, Iggy Azalea, in the past few months (he did, however, emerge to tactfully discuss cultural appropriation in hip-hop with Hot 97 last month). But a new project will more than likely put Macklemore and his DJ/producer sidekick Ryan Lewis squarely back in the sights of hip-hop, with the pop-leaning duo attempting to sustain the over the top success of their debut LP The Heist. Any way you cut it, the album will make waves.
MOVIN' ON UP: They've been careful to reveal too much other than that the album is in the works. “We’ve been working very, very hard,” Macklemore said in an interview in August. “Ryan’s got some flames.”

anticipated albums meek mill dreams nightmares

ARTIST: Meek Mill
ALBUM TITLE: Dreams Worth More Than Money
LABEL: MMG/Atlantic
ALBUM #: 2
BEATS: DJ Mustard, Key Wane
FEATURES: Paloma Ford, A$AP Ferg, Ty Dolla $ign, Jay Z, Nas, Rick Ross, Migos, Big Sean
FIRST SINGLE: "I Don't Know," "Off The Corner"
FYI: This LP was originally set to be released on Sept. 9, 2014, but was pushed back due to Meek Mill’s recent 4 month jail bid. Meek has already released two singles from the project, first proceeding with “Off The Corner” featuring Rick Ross then “I Don’t Know,” featuring his Dream Chaser label signee Paloma Ford. Meek has teased several other records supposedly on the LP which feature Chris Brown, Big Sean, A$AP Ferg, French Montana, Nipsey Hussle, Ne-Yo, Rita Ora and others, but an official tracklist hasn't been released.
MOVIN' ON UP: "In true MMG fashion, Meek has dedicated himself to perfecting his sophomore project and it is only right that it should be rolled out exceptionally well," Rick Ross said in a statement following Meek's jail bid in September.
SALES PITCH: "I wanted to go with the title because I just felt like when I first came into the game I was just hustling and trying to make a lot of money," Meek told XXL in July. "And now since I got on and made some money, I feel like rapping was always my dream, really. So I just really wanna pursue that over really being about money now. When I first came out, my concern was mainly about getting my family off the streets, changing my way of living so I wouldn’t have to do the things I used to have to do. Now that I’ve changed all that, now it’s just about the sport all over again. I feel like I’m on the corner battling the cyphers [but] not for money, it's for the fun, it's for the competition."

nas def jam anticipated albums

LABEL: Def Jam
ALBUM #: 14
BEATS: J Dilla
FIRST SINGLE: "The Season"?
FYI: The Godson of rap looks to follow up his success from his previous 2012 album, Life Is Good, with his new project this year, and although Nas has remained low key about the album's details, his last track which dropped in Oct. 2014 and featured production from the late J Dilla served as a great warm up record for the return of Escobar season in 2015. He's been working with his new roster of artists at Mass Appeal Records in the past few months, but he's also got one last album left on his Def Jam deal before he officially jumps ship, and it seems that will be coming soon. Until then, we'll have to rely on his guest appearances on remixes like ScHoolboy Q's "Studio" to get by.
MOVIN' ON UP: The Queensbridge MC has kept things unusually quiet for now, instead letting the focus settle on the 20th anniversary of Illmatic, a celebration that lasted nearly the entire year. So it was little surprise that his management had two words to say about the new album: "No comment."

anticipated albums nipsey hussle
Photo Credit: Jorge Peniche

ARTIST: Nipsey Hu$$le
ALBUM TITLE: Victory Lap
LABEL: Independent
ALBUM #: 1
BEGAN RECORDING: 2012 at least
BEATS: 9th Wonder, 1500 Or Nothin, The Futuristics
FEATURES: Possibly none
FYI: Nipsey has been talking about Victory Lap for some time now, repeatedly pushing it back in favor of experimental pay model projects like he used for his Crenshaw mixtape or his "album before the album" Mailbox Money, which he released during the holidays.
MOVIN' ON UP: Nipsey's management confirmed that the album will double as the third installment in Nipsey's Marathon series, and with the L.A. rapper widely considered one of the nicest in the game, there's no telling what type of alchemy he could cook up on an official debut release. “Man, it’s epic, you know what I’m saying? It’s dope,” he told XXL in May. “I ain’t competing with nobody, I ain’t tryna sound like nothing, I’m just tryna make the best Nipsey Hu$$le album, and I’m feeling real great about what we got right now.”
SALES PITCH: "I got a ton of artists I’m fans of and I fuck with, but just what I’ve been having to say, I need three verses to say it. I think that’s one of the distinguishing factors [of Victory Lap] so far," Neighborhood Nip said. "But I’m on some rap shit, I’m on some hip-hop, street shit, fully. That’s what I want the album to sound like.”

pharrell pusha t anticipated albums

LABEL: GOOD Music/Re-Up/Def Jam
ALBUM #: 2 (solo)
DATE: Spring
BEATS: The Neptunes, Kanye West, Nottz, Needlz, Dom $olo, Hudson Mohawke, Baauer
FEATURES: N/A, though 2013's My Name Is My Name was so feature-heavy that he may dial it back this time.
FIRST SINGLE: "Lunch Money"
FYI: It was announced in Dec. of 2013 that Pusha T would link up with The Neptunes in Jan. 2014 for the start of Pusha's sophomore solo album, King Push. Images circled around the web of the VA natives in the studio recording music together that was supposed to release last year. However, fans did get a track from Pusha in the fourth quarter of 2014 that was unintentionally released with "Lunch Money," which can only mean that the King Push album could potentially drop within the months to come. Either way, linking Pusha and Pharrell back together after six years would be magic.
MOVIN' ON UP: "I’m going for album of the year, man, that’s it; straight up, lyric-driven of course," Push told XXL back in August. "I feel like My Name Is My Name was very stripped down—on purpose— because I just felt like people weren’t rapping enough for my taste. I didn’t want to be in that category and I wanted to show people this is what I’m about. I want to infuse more elements of music into King Push; paint the pictures and smash them with the lyrics."
SALES PITCH: “It’s amazing," Push told Rolling Stone in December. "I feel like the sound will be second to none. And of course you already know the raps will be smacking people all left and right. I’ve been working on it constantly.”

wu-tang clan raekwon anticipated albums
Photo Credit: Lauren Gesswein

ARTIST: Raekwon
ALBUM TITLE: F.I.L.A. (Fly International Luxurious Art)
LABEL: Ice H2O Records
ALBUM #: 6 (solo)
DATE: April
BEATS: Jerry Wonda, Roadsart
FEATURES: Snoop Dogg, Akon, Estelle, Melanie Fiona
FIRST SINGLE: "Call Of Duty” featuring Akon
FYI: The long-delayed project has had several release dates, with the Chef most recently telling XXL that it was on its way in April. Originally scheduled for Sept. 16, Rae made the gracious decision to push back his own album for the sake of Wu-Tang's A Better Tomorrow, and instead released a mixtape of throwback cuts in October. Because the project has been in the works for so long it's hard to tell which tracks that have seeped out in recent months will actually make the final cut, but it's likely that Rae will look to put the album out before the 20th anniversary of his debut solo classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx comes around in August.
MOVIN' ON UP: “My thing is just to make a great body of work, and this one is very authentic; it’s today and yesterday all in one, and you gonna feel good about hearing a real good hip-hop album with a great MC on top of it,” Rae told XXL in June ahead of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. “My thing is to just give quality, prestigious hip-hop all the time, which you expect from me, and more of what’s going on today.”
SALES PITCH: “This album I got to say, it’s one of my top works today,” Rae told GQ back in July. Sounds good to us.

Snoop Dogg Pharrell collaborations beautiful

ARTIST: Snoop Dogg
LABEL: Columbia/i am OTHER
ALBUM #: 13
DATE: March
BEATS: Pharrell, completely
FEATURES: Stevie Wonder, Charlie Wilson
FIRST SINGLE: "Peaches N Cream"
FYI: We know what a Snoop and Pharrell collab can sound like, and it usually sounds like success. If recent victories are anything to go by, it could be another great installment in the discographies of two of the best to ever do it. We still haven't heard the first single, said to be called "Peaches N Cream," but the way Snoop operates it could come at any time now.
MOVIN' ON UP: “It’s a great record me and Pharrell did from top to bottom," Snoop said in September. "It feels good and I’m happy to be back in the studio working with one of my favorite producers and homeboys.”
SALES PITCH: “It’s different—it’s completely different than anything we’ve ever done," said the Doggfather. "It feels good, sounds good, looks good.”

anticipated albums ty dolla sign
Photo Credit: Jory Lee Cordy

ARTIST: Ty Dolla $ign
LABEL: Atlantic
ALBUM #: 1
DATE: Spring
BEATS: DJ Mustard presumably, probably Ty himself, D.R.U.G.S.
FEATURES: YG, Wale, Wiz Khalifa, R. Kelly, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj
FYI: Ty first spoke about the album in early 2014 prior to being placed on XXL’s 2014 Freshmen cover. He spoke about a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, saying, “It's like an anthem for L.A. It's gonna be crazy... Kendrick is the homie and I hope I can get on his new project." In August of 2014, he told XXL that he was recording heavily while on the road at The Under The Influence Tour with Wiz Khalifa. He also told Music Times in December that the album would be centered around his brother’s case. "It's for a purpose," Ty said. "He's locked up for something that he didn't do."
MOVIN' ON UP: "It’s going to be a movie dedicated to my little brother," Ty told XXL in October. "I’m like 10 songs in. I’m excited as fuck."
SALES PITCH: "Just good music, some Taylor Gang, Pushaz Ink shit," Ty said when asked what could be expected. "I got a song with Kendrick on there. My little brother Big TC, Wale; of course I’m going to get Wiz Khalifa, YG and everybody else. I got to be my brother’s keeper."

tyga gold album anticipated albums

ALBUM TITLE: The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty
LABEL: Last Kings/Independent
ALBUM #: 4
DATE: Jan. 27
BEATS: SAP, Kanye West, Mike Dean, Jess Jackson, Maejor
FEATURES: Lil Wayne, Young Thug
FIRST SINGLE: “Wait For A Minute" “Hookah” “Make It Work” “40 Mill
FYI: What a tumultuous few months it’s been for Tyga. In October 2014, T-Raww voiced his frustrations with Cash money on Twitter, threatening to even leak The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty himself. Things escalated after Tyga was interviewed by Vibe and said he doesn’t like Drake or Nicki Minaj, which then started the subliminal jab match between Drizzy and the West Coast rapper. Plus allegedly getting kicked off Nicki Minaj’s “Truffle Butter,” a cut off of The Pinkprint. Earlier this year, a snippet of a Drake song entitled “All White,” which was supposed to feature Tyga, was released; the track uses the same exact beat and the same exact Drake verse that is on what is now “Truffle Butter.” However, amidst the chaos, it appears The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty will be released on Jan. 27 independently off his Last Kings imprint.
MOVIN' ON UP:  “This new album, this shit is raw,” said Tyga to XXL back in December 2013. “I don’t want to give away too many ideas, man. This shit is gonna be crazy. But it’s not like the Careless World album. It’s still story-based, but the tempo is going to be faster. It’s going to hit you harder. I called it nighttime music. Two, three in the morning, you are driving by yourself. That’s the type of music I like."
SALES PITCH: “It’s gonna be more, kinda how like Careless World, my first album, was… It’s way less commercial,” Tyga said to L.A.’s Power 106 last fall. “I felt like Hotel California was more commercial and I made more radio-type records. This album is straight rap.”

waka flocka flame anticipated albums
Photo: Getty Images

ARTIST: Waka Flocka Flame
ALBUM TITLE: Flockaveli 2
LABEL: E1/Brick Squad Monopoly
ALBUM #: 3
DATE: First quarter, presumably
BEATS: 808 Mafia, Lex Luger, Mike Will Made-It, Black Metaphor
FYI: It's been three years since the last solo release from Waka Flocka, but the 28-year-old has kept himself busy in the music industry by bringing his high energy and lyrics to the EDM scene. As Waka successfully crosses over to new genres of music, his 2014 scheduled release of Flockavelli 2 is still highly anticipated by hip-hop fans. Waka has even announced that he will drop a full EDM album entitled Turn Up God in the near future.
MOVIN' ON UP: "In the past two years Waka has engaged fans all over the world," says Brick Bronson, CEO of 36 Brickhouse. "From keynote participation in festivals that streamline music to the masses both young and old throughout European markets, Waka has truly become a global icon with fans from the Atlanta cityscape all the way to the shoreline of Sofia Bulgaria. The far stretch of his influence is well beyond measure. It is without a shadow of a doubt, in my humble opinion, that Flockaveli 2 is among the most anticipated albums of our new year."
SALES PITCH: Further, from Bronson: "His process has been one of growth and structure, allowing his patience to become his persistence. He has a clear and concise focus that supports his ever forward direction and the authentic growth of an artist that will be celebrated in his own respect for many years to come."

anticipated albums wale album about nothing

ALBUM TITLE: The Album About Nothing
LABEL: MMG/Atlantic
ALBUM #: 3
DATE: Mar. 31
FEATURES: Jeremih, Jerry Seinfeld, Usher
FYI: A follow-up to his 2008 effort, The Mixtape About Nothing, with this album, Wale revives the heavy Seinfeld influence seen on previous projects. Aside from the album’s first single, “The Body,” featuring Jeremih, very little has been uncovered about the album, except for the fact that the DMV rhymer has been cutting tracks with Jerry Seinfeld on narration.
MOVIN' ON UP: "It's super personal," Wale said to about the LP. "It's like a journal that my whole lifestyle is based around. Before, with my music, I was like the point guard with all the handles. Now I'm just taking it straight to the cup. I'm not moon walking to get from point A to point B. I'm running from point A and through point B. You guys are going to hear what I'm saying. I'm going to be as transparent as I can be."
SALES PITCH: "I made all these songs for my core fans," he continued in the same interview. "I got some joints that came from me asking fans things. I might be at the show and invite some fans backstage and ask them what they like about my music and why they like it. What do they want to hear? The resounding consensus has been they want to know more about me the person. A lot of my songs have been about me seeing stuff that's happened to others. Now I'm telling them what's happened to me.

yo gotti anticipated albums

ARTIST: Yo Gotti
ALBUM TITLE: The Art Of Hustle
ALBUM #: 3
DATE: First Quarter
BEATS: Non-Stop, possibly DJ Mustard
FEATURES: Lil Wayne, Ludacris
FIRST SINGLE: “Errrbody”
FYI: Gotti signed a label deal for himself and his CMG label to Epic Records and released his breakout LP, I Am, in November 2013. Now the Memphis product—fresh off touring with Wayne and Drake—is ready to teach fans the art of hustling; the Sun Tzu of the rap game.
MOVIN’ ON UP: “I wanna get deeper, you know, let people know where I come from,” Gotti told XXL last fall. “What it was like growing up, the house, the women that was there, my aunties and everybody being in the streets, the downfall to it, them going through their prison time, federal prison time, getting back out and being hustlers in different forms. And all the valuable lessons and shit I learned from watching them and being in the streets myself and going through my own [situation]. So I want it to be a story on this album."
SALES PITCH: “I think growing is learning and I feel like I learn stuff every day,” said the Memphis MC about the difference this time around. “Whether it's in the studio, a better way to be productive, whether it's going on a big tour and watching the artists who [are] performing and I'm tryna figure out what other elements I can add to my production or things like that. I think I grew all the way around.”

More From XXL