As 2018 enters its homestretch holiday season, a few of rap’s late coming albums are its most awaited, with the the most low-key Migos member dropping his first official solo project, Vince Staples teasing something new, and Swizz Beatz making his return after a decade-long hiatus. Action Bronson also threw his hat in the ring after a contentious split from Vice, while Rapper Big Pooh follows up the return of Little Brother with a solo project alongside producer Focus.
With just two months until 2019, there’s less and less time for hip-hop’s biggest stars to sneak in their claims for best of 2018 lists — and ours is coming soon — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of projects to look forward to. On to the weekly preview:
Action Bronson, White Bronco
After unceremoniously dumping his old label partner, Action Bronson decided to go it alone for his first solo full-length since 2015’s Mr. Wonderful (2017’s Blue Chips 7000 was created in collaboration with producer Party Supplies, who also made all the beats on the first two Blue Chips albums). It’s also his fourth studio album overall, which is impressive, considering he’s only been active in the rap game for around a decade. White Bronco won’t stray too far from the formula that made him a fan favorite though; the tracklist includes collaborations from ASAP Rocky and Bronson’s longtime friend/F*ck, That’s Delicious co-star Big Body Bes, along with production credits from Party Supplies, Harry Fraud, and Knxwledge.
Rapper Big Pooh & Focus, RPM
Big Pooh and his longtime cohorts 9th Wonder and Phonte made a big splash earlier this year when they filled in for another group at Art Of Cool Festival in their native North Carolina, but despite the excitement, it seems the trio is sticking to their respective solo hustles. Pooh’s includes this joint effort with beatmaker Focus, best know for his work with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath camp. Focus’ placements include songs for The Game, Busta Rhymes, Schoolboy Q, and Dr. Dre himself on 2015’s Compton. RPM seems especially meaningful for Pooh, who tweeted: “I took some time off from putting out music to focus on management and to get reinspired. @Focus3Dots and I have been talking about making this album for a few years, we finally locked in and got it done. Thank you for pushing me, Focus… thank ya’ll for your patience.”
Swizz Beatz, Poison
Poison has been in the woks for quite some time, as Swizz spent time gestating, beat-battling Just Blaze, and living and touring in South Africa for the last few years. With the help of J. Cole — yes, J. Cole is listed as the executive producer on this album — Swizz narrowed down what was likely a massive collection of songs to just ten — one for every year of his decade-long hiatus. Guests on the album range from Lil Wayne and Young Thug to Kendrick Lamar and Nas, even including some unexpected looks for Jim Jones (“BALLIIINNNN’!”) and UK grime rapper Giggs. With the Lil Wayne-featuring “Pistol On My Side” making the rounds on streaming services, Swizz’ return deserves to receive as much fanfare as possible.
Takeoff, The Last Rocket
The second Migos solo album is finally here. Quavo’s debut felt like an extension of the brand they’ve already established; now it’s time to see if Takeoff can elevate it. With a more truncated expected tracklist, Takeoff’s going to have less space to make his artistic statement, but without a lot of filler, there’s also the potential for a more focused product. His “Last Memory” single shows promise, but if he’s going to live up to the Klay Thompson comparison Quavo made in the wake of Thompson’s incredible 53-point performance recently, he’ll have to be just as efficient, choosing his shots carefully — and making each and every one of them count.
Vince Staples, TBD
The ever-mischevious Long Beach rapper teased … something … on Twitter, tweeting that “New Vince Staples” was on the way and joking that his new project would feature himself — alongside Kamaiyah, Jay Rock, and Tyga. He mentioned “Vince from Poppy” as a character separate from himself, and further elaborated that topics covered would include “Crips, Bloods, Eses, Asians, Dominicans, Puerto Rican’s, White Boys, Jamaicans,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to Game’s “Westside Story,” the single which introduced the then-G-Unit-affliated rapper and put Compton back on the map. Whether Vince comes through with a complete project or just a single, we’re holding out hopes that he brings us all a very California Christmas with more of his acid-tongued, futuristic gangsta funk.