Right now, the release heavy June 18 – with Mac, Cole and Kanye – and the ensuing madness for Magna Carta seem ages ago but those were a few of the bigger releases we’ll see this year. Toss in Wale’s Gifted, Juicy J’s Stay Trippy, Big Sean’s HOF and Wayne’s D5 and we have a who’s who in Hip-Hop stocking store shelves and earbuds for all the warmer months. But what’s left to look forward to if all of the bigger names have already made their mark?
Don’t worry. Major labels won’t let the fourth quarter slide by without giving music fans a little more to listen to (and buy, of course). There are also a few freebies in the form of mixtapes and “street albums” left to be released, too. For our part, we went with quick roundup of staff picks for what could be the best of the best for the remainder of the calendar year.
Photo: Alosh Bennett/Flicker
Hopsin – Knock Madness
The whole Funk Volume train’s been gaining steam since Dizzy began his ascent, but now its head honcho Hopsin’s turn at bat. Knock Madness has suffered many pushbacks, and Hop finally has his opportunity to prove to the world that he’s still the best rapper on his label. But more importantly, he needs to use the album as a means to to show that his gimmicks and contact lenses don’t define him as an artist. Pressure often pushes people to the height of their abilities, and hopefully that’ll stay true with Hopsin. — Raj
Vic Mensa – Innanettape
Vic Mensa has been on the most underrated tear of anyone in 2013. His verse on “Cocoa Butter Kisses” is unmatched and he’s been a monster pretty much all year. We’ve heard a few leaks from his tape due out later this month, and they’ve been stellar. With buddy Chance The Rapper dropping Acid Rap earlier this year and now Mensa’s project, Chicago has a hell of a dynamic duo on its hands. — David
Drake – Nothing Was The Same
The last line from 2011’s Take Care was, “My junior and senior will only get meaner…” With NWTS available via a Google search near you and in stores next Tuesday, the only question now is whether or not the album lives up to his own prophecy. Pending it does, Wheelchair J will boast yet another accomplishment on his mantle that could net another Grammy and more bragging rights amongst a group of peers he’s managing to separate himself from with each verse. One thing is definite, however. There is no bigger current lightening rod in rap than Drake. He’s loved, he’s hated, but more than anything else, he’s polarizing. — Tinsley
Nesby Phips – Simply Phips
Nesby Phips is the real deal. Phips may be best known for his production for lifelong friend Curren$y, Wiz, Wayne, Mack Maine, etc., but he’s also one of my favorite rappers. Phips’s Hollygrove Ain’t Enough was hands-down my favorite mixtape from last year, so this fall’s Simply Phips album has the potential to be something serious. Nesby’s worldly, metaphysical sound/production + heavy Hollygrove New Orleans drawl = perfection. — Holly H
The Internet – Feel Good
We don’t get heavy winters in Tennessee. Oftentimes cold but never messy or snowy. But if we do, I’m planning on playing The Internet’s Feel Good on repeat to provide warmth. Besides calling on Chad Hugo for production, Syd the Kyd and Matt Martian expanded the band, adding in Syd’s old friends, Patrick Paige II (bass), Christopher Allan Smith (drums), and Tay Walker (keys), and the expansion adds even more color to their sound, as heard on “Dontcha” and “Partners In Crime Part Two.” So as the leaves begin to fall and the temps change, expect Feel Good to keep everybody warm.
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Bleached blonde hair? Check.
Annoying single that I’ll talk myself into later? Check.
Possibly back to using hardcore drugs? Check.
I’m all in for this Marshall Mathers LP 2, whether I like it or not. And he’s probably going to win his sixth rap album of the year Grammy, whether you like it or not.
Phreshy Duzit – Detrooklyn
After buzzing the project for about a year with quality tracks and videos, Phreshy is almost ready to unleash his Detrooklyn LP sometime later this year. With no release date as of yet, he assures us his the coming of age narrative is almost nearing its completion point and I imagine the wait will prove worthwhile. — Jim Deuce
Danny Brown – Old
Danny Brown has done a great job of keeping his name in circulation since XXX, despite a slow trickle of material. Right now, Danny has the general public’s attention thanks to great features, an awesome single (“Grown Up”) and some scandalous behavior. The focus means its to capitalize with Old, which logic dictates will be awesome. I’m looking forward to whatever drug-fueled, left-field experiments that the Detroit emcee has concocted over the last couple of years. — AJ
Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
Even though the tracklist is feature heavy, My Name Is My Name has been a long time coming. Most people aren’t expecting him to ignite the same excitement or chemistry found on a Clipse record with any of his guests, but with all that is G.O.O.D. being disposable to him, there is no reason not to look forward to Pusha T’s solo effort. — Julie J.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Last time Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire dropped an album, they surprised a majority of the public by winning Album of the Year at the Grammys. So when it was announced that on October 28th they’ll be releasing a follow-up titled Reflektor, you can imagine that the entire music industry got on their toes. As much as a banger their last release was, I can only imagine what the eclectic band has in store for us this year. — Dr HipHop
Dom Kennedy – Get Home Safely
Memorial Day Weekend came and went. We waited. LeBron won another chip. We waited some more. Block party speakers rattled the ground in our old neighborhoods. Burnt hot dogs and homemade potato salad filled our bellies. Day parties took place on every available rooftop of our cities. And still, we waited. Dom Kennedy let us go the whole summer without a soundtrack. Now that the days are shorter, and the nights cooler, how will he tailor his sound and vibe for the fall and winter to come? I can’t wait to find out. — Greg Whitt