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  • Micheal La Shon III

Most Anticipated Albums of 2022

This upcoming year has the potential to be a great year for music. Some artists have been working in the studio and teasing potential projects, and others have straight up confirmed their upcoming albums. The following are my 10 most anticipated albums of 2022.

Honorable Mentions: Saweetie, Paramore, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, & Normani

10. Rihanna - R9

Release Date: To Be Announced

I put Rihanna at #10 simply because we're not sure if she's even going to release the album(s?) this year, if at all. Since releasing her classic 8th album Anti in 2016 and her features the following year, we've only heard RiRi on PartyNextDoor's "Believe It" record for the hook in 2020. Since she's last released music solo, Rihanna has built a makeup/fashion empire , becoming a self-made billionaire along the way. During her Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3, she mentioned how the album would sound, saying, “Whatever you know of Rihanna is not gonna be what you hear. I’m really experimenting, and music is like fashion, you should be able to play.”

Unlike most long awaited albums, the mysterious R9 hasn't had many snippets release either, we heard a short one in 2018, and it's far from likely that the album sounds remotely near the same 4 years later. Rihanna has also mentioned throughout this 6 year saga that she would like to release two albums, one R&B/Pop and one reggae-infused/inspired. Whatever and whenever RiRi decides to return to the music scene, hopefully sometime this year, the world will be welcoming her with open arms.

9. Brent Faiyaz - Wasteland

Release Date: To Be Announced

Brent Faiyaz is on his way to becoming one of male R&B's current pillars, and this next album could cement him there. His Sonder Son debut in 2017 was acclaimed across the genre, and rightfully so, as his voice and beat selection are very unique and fresh to today's landscape of R&B. Since his debut, we've received two EPs, Lost (2018) and Fuck The World (2020), and while they were solid projects, its time for an album. The lead single "Waste Your Time" was immaculate, as Brent linked up with Drake and paid homage to The Neptunes on the single cover art while also getting them to produce the track. We also got the single "MERCEDES" in early December (while everyone assumed it would be the entire album releasing, as Brent had previously posted). Given how good these last two singles were, I don't think much more time will pass before Brent gives us his long awaited sophomore album.

8. Beyoncé - B7

Release Date: To Be Announced

Beyoncé has been involved in rumors about a new solo album for a couple of years now, it being referred to simply as B7. In a recent interview with Harper's Bazaar, Bey had this to say in regards to new music:

"With all the isolation and injustice over the past year, I think we are all ready to escape, travel, love, and laugh again. I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible. I’ve been in the studio for a year and a half. Sometimes it takes a year for me to personally search through thousands of sounds to find just the right kick or snare. One chorus can have up to 200 stacked harmonies. Still, there’s nothing like the amount of love, passion, and healing that I feel in the recording studio. After 31 years, it feels just as exciting as it did when I was nine years old. Yes, the music is coming!"

This statement being directly from her showed me that the music should be coming VERY soon (this interview was published on August 10th of last year). Hopefully we get a new single or two before the summer, but no matter what happens, we will get to hear one of the greatest artists of all-time in a new way this year!

7. Aaliyah - Unstoppable

Release Date: Rumored to be August 25th, the anniversary of her death

Aaliyah hasn't had a full album worth of new material release since 2001, when she dropped her 3rd and final self-titled classic. The amount of time its been plays a huge role in the importance of this album, as there is a generation who doesn't understand or know her music very well. I'm definitely happy about music finally releasing, but I do see the issues with it as it stands.

The lead single "Poison" featuring The Weeknd released on December 17th, and it didn't sound very good in regards to mixing. Aaliyah's vocals were mixed terribly to be completely honest, and the community responded to this accordingly. The vocals were reworked by Mike Dean, but I honestly still feel that they could be better. Another huge issue with this upcoming album is the lack of the estates involvement, As Aaliyah's uncle, Barry Hankerson, is still in charge of her catalog. He spoke with Billboard and said, "We hope they’re happy. Our door and our phone is always available if there are any comments they’d like to make about anything. We’re open to that. I don’t really know who runs that entity, but I’m not hostile at all. Anything that’s connected to Aaliyah in a positive way, we are open to be involved with and do whatever we can do. We hope it’s profitable for them. We hope that the public enjoys what we’ve done so that the estate can accomplish whatever their goals are. I just hope that out of the very terrible thing that happened to my niece that people can heal. That people can look at all the good things and not just the controversial things that may encompass their thinking. I’m not angry with anybody."

Seeing Hankerson speak on things in this way after 20 years is so odd in my opinion, and it makes me side eye everyone involved. If there was never any type of bad blood (or there isn't on his end), what took so long to get new music together to be released, or to get sample clearances? However, worrying too much about the past will make us lose focus on the now.

The issue with now is the fact that this upcoming album is set to have way too many male features, despite Aaliyah inspiring a generation of women. Yes, Drake and Chris brown have used Aaliyah's music and it would make perfect sense for them to be on the album (Chris Brown is said to be on a Timbaland produced record, via Hankerson), but having Future on an Aaliyah album when there are women like Jhené Aiko, HER, Sevyn and others who truly deserve to be a part of this history. I haven't heard anything about Missy Elliottt's potential involvement, but that speaks to my point as well. Yes, Hankerson said that Aaliyah loved Snoop and that's why he's gonna be on the album, but no disrespect to Uncle Snoop, this isn't the time for that. The women in R&B currently are heavily influenced by the sound Aaliyah, Missy, Timbaland & Static Major (another name I haven't heard involved, even thought it'd be posthumously) helped create, and to miss the opportunity to make this a MOMENT in music would be one of the biggest misses in recent memory, especially given how long it took to get to this point. I'm definitely happy about the upcoming album, Aaliyah is my personal favorite female artist, but if they don't do it correctly, there's going to be huge backlash, and rightfully so.

6. SZA - Title Uknown

Release Date: To Be Announced

SZA has become one of female R&B's pillars over the past 4 years. Her debut album was a classic, as CTRL had multiple hits, sold very well, and made an impact on young black women everywhere. The yet-titled sophomore album has been talked about for a couple of years now, and has included the infamous "they won't let me release" or "its the label" antics in regards to singles during this time as well. SZA also had to fight to keep her voice, as an vocal injury caused a career scare.

However, lead singles did finally release, and "Hit Different" and "Good Days" have expectations sky high for the album, as has SZA's great feature run over the last year. Top Dawg Entertainment is losing Kendrick Lamar after his next project, and I believe that SZA is going to be one of the artists that step up to become a face of the label after his departure.

5. Ari Lennox - Title Unknown

Release Date: To Be Announced

I've already said that Ari Lennox is a generational talent in R&B (read the article on pressure for more on that), but with that being said, her sophomore album (if we get it) is going to be one for the ages. She already debuted with a classic giving us Shea Butter Baby in 2019, and after her lead single "Pressure" last year included Jermaine Dupri, Johnta Austin & Bryan Michael Cox on the credits, its clear that Ari is going to step it up a notch. I feel that this could be a top album of the decade if and when it releases, Ari Lennox isn't an artist that I'd worry about when it comes to expectations.

On the flip side, Ari Lennox recently was on Instagram live and said that her next album could be her last. We seen her mention retirement before, as she said she was quitting music after her loss at the Soul Train Awards (she should've won the award 100%). Ari was also wrongfully arrested in Amsterdam recently (thankfully she's now free) and all of that emotion could've possibly played a role in her explanations on that live. I completely understand wanting to leave the industry, given the toxicity and lack of respect for black women in a genre that they help carry, I just love her music so much that I wouldn't want her to leave, especially so quickly.

4. Cordae - From A Bird's Eye View

Release Date: January 14th

Cordae became a rising name in hip-hop after releasing his critically acclaimed and Grammy nominated debut album, The Lost Boy, in 2019. Though he didn't win the award, Cordae has been making moves to build on the strong foundation he set. He separated himself from YBN by dropping the prefix from his name in 2020, and briefly spoke on it with Elliott Wilson, saying, “Like, I think the world of them cats. Sometimes as friends, you grow apart and you have different visions for what you wanna do and that’s okay, there’s no love lost. Like I said, I think the world of them niggas. I love my nigga Jay to death and yeah, that’s just that really.”

Since going fully on his own, Cordae has released a strong 4-track EP with Just Until... and has also been on a plethora of singles. His most recent single, "Sinister" with Lil' Wayne is a great showcase of his skill, going back and forth with one of the greatest to ever do it. Cordae is setting the stage for a potential classic sophomore album.

3. The Weeknd - dawn FM

Release Date: January 7th

The Weeknd gave a huge announcement on Monday, saying that his 5th studio album would be releasing on Friday. People that are involved on the project include the legendary Quincy Jones, Lil' Wayne, and even Jim Carrey. The dramatic teaser trailer that we received Tuesday showed us both an aged Abel and the one we're used to seeing, and I'm interested in the concept of the album. The Weeknd gave the world a Billboard record smasher with After Hours, and it doesn't look like he plans to slow down anytime soon.

2. Chris Brown - Breezy

Release Date: To Be Announced

Chris Brown is a living legend and one of the greatest artists of our time, and his 10th studio album is on the way. He announced the Breezy album in 2020,. but late last year he said that he would finally begin "Breezy Season" in January, and the first single from the upcoming album "Iffy" will release on January 14th. Brown has also stated that in order to stay true to his debut album and "keep it classic", he would have the same amount of songs on Breezy that he did on the timeless self-titled debut. His last album, Indigo (the album of the year in 2019 in my opinion), was a 33-track album (45 tracks on the deluxe), and Heartbreak On. A Full Moon was a 45-track mega album. Dropping Breezy to 18 tracks had mixed reviews the past couple of days, and Chris is still asking what his fans want. Whether you think he should release another long album or keep it concise, the new era begins next Friday, and an artist of his caliber is bound to deliver.

1. Kendrick Lamar - Title Unknown (Possibly titled Oklama)

Release Date: To Be Announced

This is the most anticipated album of the year in my opinion. It's officially year 5 since the release of K. Dot's DAMN. album, from which he became the first hip-hop artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music. He'd been off the grid for a couple of years until his recent feature on Baby Keem's "Family Ties", a record where Kendrick referred to himself as the GOAT and for the game to watch out. In August last year, he announced that his upcoming album would be his last on Top Dawg Entertainment, marking an end to their now 17 year relationship. This album isn't his last (as far as we know), but it is the end of an era. Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all-time, scratch that, ARTISTS of all-time, and anytime he's gearing up to drop, the world is ready to listen.

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