hmv.com previews... - December 31, 2015

hmv.com presents… 70 Albums to get you excited for 2016! #2 Hip-Hop & R&B
by Tom
Tom
by Tom hmv London, Bio hmv.com Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

hmv.com presents… 70 Albums to get you excited for 2016! #2 Hip-Hop & R&B

2015 was a brilliant year for albums, but 2016 is going to be even better and we're going to prove it. Over the seven days we're going to be previewing 70 albums, most will definitely come out, some probably will, and some we really hope finally see the light of day (we’re looking at you Tool…). 

We continue today with hip-hop and R&B...

 

Iggy Azalea

 

A little background…

It's been an up-and-down couple of years for rapper Iggy Azalea since her debut album, The New Classic, dropped in 2014 amidst a wave of hype. Since then, she's had a string of hit singles including 'Fancy', her collaboration with Charli XCX, as well as appearing in the seventh instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise, plus she's even launched a range of footwear with Steve Madden. On the flip side, she's had to postpone – then cancel – her Great Escape Tour, endure accusations of everything from cultural appropriation to having a ghostwriter and been involved in a long-running Twitter beef with Azalea Banks. (Then again, who hasn't?)

Despite all the negatives though, she began work on her sophomore album in the spring and announced its release in October.

 

What's it called?

It'll be called Digital Distortion

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

Probably not, going on current available evidence, but she said back in August that she had six songs  already done (having scrapped a bunch of tracks and started again), although said that there may only be 10 tracks altogether. She's mentioned a new single coming early next year as a lead-off from the new album, plus various other snippets of info via Twitter, but there's not been much in the way of a description, so we'll have to wait and see.

 

Who's producing it? Any big-name guests?

This is all yet to be revealed, but one person who definitely won't be involved is TI. Azalea had been something of a protege of TI's in her early career, but the rapper moved to disassociate himself with the Australian after she was involved in yet another feud, this time with A Tribe Called Quest legend Q-Tip, who is pretty much royalty in the hip-hop world.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

It looks pretty nailed-on, but there's no official release date as yet so watch this space.




Kanye West

 

A little background...

As quite possibly the busiest man in hip-hop, in the couple of years that have passed since he released Yeezus, Kanye has become a dad again, designed clothes for Adidas and featured on tracks from a bunch of different artists including The game and Vic Mensa, as well as collaborations with Rihanna and Paul McCartney. He started talking up a new album early in 2015, premiering a new track 'All Day' at the BRIT Awards and releasing several new tracks in the weeks and months that followed, even offering a title for the new LP, So Help Me God. Then it went quiet for a bit – by his standards at least – before he announced that he;d changed his mind on the title and that it would probably be ready later than anticipated.

 

What's it called?

The new album will be called Swish – or at least that's what it's called right now, though even Kanye has admitted he might change his mind again.

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

This is Kanye we're talking about, so who knows? The stylistic gap between early albums like College Dropout and later ones like Yeezus is a large one, and being Kanye it's difficult to predict what it will sound like. He has described it as being “like a sonic painting” and says it's “getting better every day”, but beyond that he's not giving much away.

 

Who's producing it? Any big-name guests?

A handful of collaborators have been mooted over the last, including Theophilus London, Sia and the aforementioned Mr. McCartney, but all these were a while back now and with Kanye having changed titles, he may have had a wider change of heart about the record's direction, so it's difficult to know if these will all still feature. In terms of producers, you can bet he'll be handling a lot of that himself, but other names like Burial have also been mentioned along the way.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

Given that everyone thought it would definitely be this year, it seems unthinkable that it won't arrive at some point in 2016, but there's still no release date at the time of writing.

 

 

Frank Ocean

 

A little background...

Fans of Frank Ocean have been eagerly awaiting a new album since not long after his debut channel ORANGE dropped in 2011 and earlier this year it looked like they might finally be getting one, with Ocean himself saying it would drop in July. Then July came and went, with no new album appearing and no reason given as to why, leading fans to question what was going on. Even Adele was moved to complain to Rolling Stone that “it's taking so f***ing long.” Adele said that. Next we'll have The Avalanches complaining...

Anyway, the situation got even stranger when a couple of months passed and his website began redirecting to another site asking for a password, which nobody knew. Then he pulled out of a performance at FYF Fest without giving a reason, with a press release saying only that he had decided to cancel the performance “on his own terms.” Did we imagine the whole thing?

 

What's it called?

It's called Boys Don't Cry. At least we think it is...

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

The only track we've heard recently is 'Wise Man', which appeared at the end of the film Southpaw this year, but that turned out to be an older recording. There has been some interesting speculation that there might be a retro vibe to the new album. These were fuelled by some posts on Ocean's instagram account earlier this year, where he was pictured wearing a jacket with an image of Television's Marquee Moon emblazoned across his chest, plus he's cited the Beatles as an influence and done some collaborations with Brian Wilson. He's also rumoured to have recorded the album at Abbey Road. Beyond that though, we really don't know what to expect.

 

Who's producing it? Any big name guests?

As with everything else about this record, there's very little to go on, but several rumours have surfaced over the past year, with Rick Rubin being mentioned in connection with the new album. Pedro Winter, head of Ed Banger Records and former Daft Punk manager, also hinted that Sebastian had been doing some work with Ocean.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

We hope so, but nobody's saying anything.

 

 

Drake

 

A little background...

Drake has has a fairly prolific 2015, having surprise-released a new album entitled If You're Reading This It's Too Late, as well as a mixtape with Future called What A Time To Be Alive. He had been talking up a another new album since early 2015 but it hasn't emerged yet, maybe because he's been busy getting involved in a high-profile beef with Meek Mill. The rapper released a diss track called 'I Wanna Know' in which he accused Drizzy of having a ghostwriter handling all his lyrics, so Drake responded with not one but two diss tracks of his own, 'Back to Back' and 'Charged Up'. On top of that he's also released 'Hotline Bling', accompanied by one of the most-viewed videos of the year. So now we're looking at a new album early next year.

 

What's it called?

It's called Views From The 6.

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

From the handful of snippets Drake has teased in recent weeks, we're not looking at anything radically new. They have been very short though, so we're only going on what we've heard, which isn't much.

 

Who's producing it? Any special guests?

There's been nothing officially confirmed on that front, but it's probable that Noah “40” Shebib will be involved on the production. Same goes for the guest artists, if there are any, but we're fairly sure these won't include Meek Mill.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

We're pretty sure we'll see this early in 2016, maybe even January, but there's no official date yet.



Santigold

 

A little background...

Since releasing her second album Master of My Make-Believe in 2012, Santi White, aka Santigold, has been busying herself making contributions to soundtracks, including Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Paper Towns, as well as touring and releasing 'Kickin' Down the Doors', a track inspired by last year's World Cup. More recently though she announced a new album is coming early next year and premiered a new track 'Can't Get Enough of Myself'.

 

What's it called?

It's called 99¢.

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

Santigold is one of those artists in the vein of M.I.A. where there are so many stylistic at work it's difficult to pigeonhole her sound. That's by no means a bad thing, but it does make it quite difficult to define what a radical change might constitute. Still, if the new track is anything to go by, there's nothing too unexpected going on and it's a very summery sounding track to release in the middle of winter, with a shuffling rhythm and blue-eyed melodies.

 

Who's producing it? Any special guests?

Dave Sitek, who worked on her last album, returns to make a production contribution, but she's also worked with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, Hit-Boy and Zeds Dead, among several others. As gar as guest appearances go, there are only two, in the form of B.C. And iLoveMakonnen.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

It's scheduled for release on January 22nd. 

 



M.I.A.

 

A little background...

Of all the albums we've had the pleasure of reviewing since our website relaunched in 2013, M.I.A.'s last offering, Matangi, has undoubtedly been one of the most confounding; difficult to describe, let alone categorise, its frenetic, almost schizophrenic nature is as baffling as it is brilliant. So it was with more than a little excitement that we received the video for her long-delayed project Broader than a Border, which dropped in July and featured the track 'Warriors' from Matangi, as well as a new track 'Swords', which is set to feature on her next album. In November, the second new track 'Borders' premiered online, complete with a video depicting the plight of refugees.

 

What's it called?

It's going to be called Matahdatah.

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

The 'Broader than a Border' video seems to indicate a transition, given that it includes a track from Matangi and one from Matahdatah, and the latter 'Swords' is in a similar vein. 'Borders' on the other hand is less frenetic than the tracks on the previous album, so while it's not what you'd call a radical change, the newest track does represent a stylistic shift of sorts.

 

Who's producing it? Any special guests?

M.I.A. has always taken a pretty D.I.Y. approach to making her music and is very hands-on with the production side of things, but there will be some collaborators on Matahdatah, including Blaqstarr, the rapper she signed to her N.E.E.T Recordings imprint, and dubstep supremo Skrillex. Beyond that though there are no further details and a track list has yet to be released at the time of writing.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

It certainly looks like this one will happen, although there's no release date as yet, but we'd expect it to appear in the first half of 2016.



Rita Ora

 

A little background...

Rita Ora's 2012 debut album, Ora, feels like a distant memory and fans are no doubt beginning to wonder if we'll ever see a second album from the singer. There are various reasons behind the delay, although most of these have been disputed by one party or another, so it's difficult to know what the truth is behind the lack of a follow-up. Originally, her sophomore album was slated for a release in late 2014, but after her split from former boyfriend Calvin Harris, who had contributed a number of tracks to the new record, the Scottish DJ reportedly refused to let her release any of the tracks he'd worked on. Ora has disputed that this was the reason for the delay, but more recently Ora has begun legal proceedings against her label, Jay-Z's Roc Nation, to try and leave her contract with them. One source has claimed that she has recorded “three album's worth” of material, but at the time of writing it's unclear how far along the project is.

 

What's it called?

We've no idea.

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

It's difficult to know, but it seems unlikely; even taking the split with Harris into account, there's not a huge stylistic difference between the Harris-produced 2014 single 'I Will Never Let You Down' and the more recent tracks like 'Poison'.

 

Who's producing it? Any special guests?

The single featuring Chris Brown, 'Body On Me', is likely to feature, and Jess Glynne has confirmed that she and Ora have written some tracks together for the new album. Ora also revealed that she's been working with Major Lazer for the new album, but that's all we know so far.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

Well, that's a tricky one. She seems to think it's ready to go, announcing in September that the album would be released in November, but as yet it hasn't materialised and launching a lawsuit against your record label probably isn't the best way to speed things up. The legal action could potentially drag on and even if she is successful in severing ties with Roc Nation, it's hard to imagine they would let her walk out with the master tapes. We hope for her sake the issues can be resolved, but it doesn't look too good as things stand.




 

Beyonce

 

A little background...

Beyonce's last album dropped two years ago, without any warning whatsoever and with each and every track accompanied by a music video, starting a trend for surprise releases that has seen artists like U2 and Drake suddenly unleash new records on an unsuspecting public. Columbia records boss stated earlier this year that a follow-up could arrive “late 2015 or early 2016”, so it seems likely we'll be getting one soon and as recently as December 'Queen Bey' was reportedly filming a new video in New Orleans, but there's been no official word on a release date yet. Could she be planning another sneak attack?

 

What's it called?

There's no word on a title yet either.

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

Given her recent history of playing her cards close to her chest, it's difficult to know what it will sound like, but we don't anticipate anything so radical as to alienate her considerable fanbase.

 

Who's producing it? Any special guests?

We know that Sia has written some tracks for the new record and producer Deputy confirmed that he has submitted a track the she liked, but it's not clear whether or not that will end up on the album. The singer also added a couple of pics to her Instagram account featuring Cara Delevigne and producer D.R.A.M., which suggests they are also involved in some capacity. The rest is guesswork really.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

It seems likely given the comments earlier this year from the Columbia boss and it does seem like activity has been ramping up in the last few months. We'll have to wait and see, but we reckon this will arrive early in 2016.



Bruno Mars

 

A little background...

It's been nearly four years since Bruno Mars released his second album, the well-received Unorthodox Jukebox. Since then he's featured on a single by Mark Ronson ('Uptown Funk' – it wasn't a big deal, you probably missed it) and performed at the 2014 Superbowl's halftime show, amongst other things. Rumours started circulating that he was in the studio early in 2015, although most of these stemmed from the fake news site MediaMass, so the only real info we've had on the possibility of a new album came from the aforementioned Mr. Ronson, and even that only went as far as saying he was hoping to hook up with Mars to make some new music “soon”. That was back in May, but it's been all quiet on the album front ever since.



What's it called?

At this stage, we can't even confirm if it exists, let alone what it's called. Sorry about that...

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

If Mark Ronson is involved, it's easy to imagine the duo trying to replicate the success of 'Uptown Funk', but since there has been no word from the Mars camp and nothing new since that single, we'd only be speculating.

 

Who's producing it? Any special guests?

See above.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

It seems like we're due a new album, doesn't it? But in the absence of any concrete news on the subject we'll have to settle for saying “we hope so”.

 



Wiz Khalifa

 

A little background...

In the two and a bit years since his last studio album Blacc Holywood, Wiz Khalifa has put out his twelfth mixtape 28 Grams , as well as several of his 'weed mixes', as well as an EP with Ty Dolla $ign and a track called 'See You Again', the latter as a tribute to the late Fast & Furious star Paul Walker. In November he confirmed that his next album would arrive in 2016 and would be a sequel of sorts to his 2011 LP Rolling Papers.

 

What's it called?

It's called Rolling Papers 2: The Weed Album

 

Any radical changes in sound planned?

Wiz hasn't said too much about the direction of the new album so far, but we don't anticipate anything too radical and, if anything, the fact he's basically making a sequel to an album he released over four years ago might point to a slightly retro approach.

 

Who's producing it? Any special guests?

We know that he's worked with The Weeknd on at least one track and he's also previewed a track produced by TM-88, but beyond that no details have been announced as yet.

 

Will it really come out this year? And when?

Although there's no release date yet, many expected the new album to drop in 2015 and Wiz has confirmed it will be happening, so barring any major rethinks it looks very likely, we're just not sure when.

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