What a year in hip-hop 2022 has already been. This year started with a bang thanks to new album releases from Gunna (DS4EVER), Cordae (From A Bird’s Eye View), and Earl Sweatshirt (Sick!). As the year continued, the big-name releases picked up momentum, with new albums from Saba (Few Good Things), 2 Chainz (Dope Don’t Sell Itself), $not (Ethereal), Big KRIT (Digital Roses Don’t Die), Earthgang (Ghetto Gods), and Conway The Machine (God Don’t Make Mistakes). That momentum has carried over into the beginning of spring, with King Von (What It Means To Be King), BabyTron (Megatron), Lil Durk (7220), Fly Anakin (Frank), Phife Dawg (Forever), Denzel Curry (Melt My Eyez, See Your Future), Buddy (Superghetto), and Latto (777) all contributing to the absolute mayhem that marked the first quarter of rap releases.
All that, and we still haven’t heard from heavy-hitters like JID, Kendrick Lamar, or Nicki Minaj, although increased activity from two of the three suggests that new albums may very well be dropping soon. For now, we’ll just focus on the albums we know are dropping (or have dropped — April 8 turned out to be a monster release day as well). And look, there’s no accounting for taste or surprise releases; your underground fave may not appear here but that doesn’t mean we aren’t always looking out to be pleasantly shocked by a relative newcomer or dark horse viral popup. Here are the most anticipated hip-hop albums of spring 2020.
Coi Leray — Trendsetter
The 2021 XXL Freshman had a stellar year in the wake of her breakout track, “No More Parties.” Following up with strong viral faves like “Twinnem” and “Blick Blick,” Coi proved she’s no one-hit-wonder. Trendsetter looks to bring some color and life to the rap game, bending the genre’s established tropes and throwing expectations for female rappers completely out the window.
Dreezy & Hit-Boy — Hit Girl
As the Chicago veteran — yes, she’s a vet, as she first emerged during the drill rap explosion of 2012 — aims to make her resurgence, she’s picked the perfect partner. Hit-Boy managed to jumpstart the career of rap icon Nas; if anyone can help Dreezy with her relaunch, it’s him. They’ve already made significant headway to that effect with the slick comeback singles “COVID Flow Freestyle” and “They Not Ready,” and honestly, no one could be happier about this than me.
Fivio Foreign — B.I.B.L.E.
When Pop Smoke was killed in 2020, the torch of the oncoming New York drill wave, seemingly passed to Fivio — Pop’s closest collaborator — by default. At times, it seemed uncertain whether he was ready for it, or whether he even wanted it. Yet, in the year and change since, we’ve seen Fivio take some laudable leaps as an artist. His notoriety has certainly increased as well, resulting in collaborations with big names like Kanye West and Nicki Minaj. If nothing else, it’ll be interesting to see what he does with it and whether he can blow some fresh wind into the movement’s flagging sails on B.I.B.L.E.
Jack Harlow — Come Home The Kids Miss You
Harlow’s new album’s title may be a mouthful, but the cocky Louisvillain has certainly earned some latitude to take a few left turns. Just check out “Nail Tech” and “First Class,” which have been stark departures from the upbeat, syllable-a-second breakout single “What’s Poppin’.” Jack promises more introspective material on his latest, but as it turns out, he’s not above relishing in his newfound success either.
Leikeli47 — Shape Up
Listen, the time is certainly ripe for the masked menace to make her long-awaited return. It has been nearly four years since her last album, Acrylic, and to be honest, the rap game has desperately needed a jolt of her fresh perspectives on New York City’s eclectic musical melange of styles and scenes. An MC’s MC, Leikeli has never been afraid to take big risks musically and who knows — maybe this time, the world will actually be ready for them.
Mount Westmore — TBA
The California supergroup consisting of E-40, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Too Short couldn’t have come together at a better time. All four rappers are independent and all four have been around the block a few times since they all emerged in the late-80s/early-90s. They’ve got the experience and wisdom of age, but also share a youthful enthusiasm for hip-hop and rap, and from the two singles they’ve released so far, they clearly enjoy working together and inspire each other in a way that has them all sounding more engaged than ever.
Pusha T — It’s Almost Dry
Once again, it’s time to see how many ways Pusha can make the same material sound brand new all over again. If anyone’s up to the challenge, it’s the guy who managed to sneak a cocaine reference into a fast-food jingle and unearthed a near-decade-old beat from 88 Keys’ stores. He even got Jay-Z to rap like he means it again. Push’s last effort, 2018’s Daytona, was universally acclaimed; could it be he has another consensus critical favorite up his sleeve?
Vince Staples — Ramona Park Broke My Heart
In all his years in the rap game, the Long Beach rapper has been a contrarian, an iconoclast, and someone who was singularly disinterested in the trappings of fame, let alone being a working musician aspiring to it. For the first time, it seems like he’s letting his guard down, demystifying his biography, and actually making music for the masses to enjoy. When Earl Sweatshirt did it, we got Sick! When Vince does it, we just might get another masterpiece.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.