2022 was one of the greatest years in music to date — in close competition with 2016 and 2018. After two years in COVID-19 — a time in which many artists withheld from releasing music due to touring constraints — every notable musician finally felt ready to come out of hibernation to share with the public what they had been working on. 2022 brought us albums from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Beyoncé and two outstanding Drake albums. As nearly every artist dropped memorable, high-quality music last year, 2023 is bound to be a slower year. Nevertheless, here are some of the most exciting projects to look forward to that are either confirmed or speculated to be released.
Travis Scott — “Utopia”
It has been over four years since we last received a solo album from Travis Scott. In 2018, following the release of the masterpiece “ASTROWORLD,” Scott had the world in a chokehold. Through his imaginative psychedelic sound and otherworldly live performances, he became an idol and a hero for countless individuals who began to dress like him, behave like him and follow his every move. Since then, however, aside from an array of features, five singles and a collaborative EP with his labelmates, we have yet to receive his newest record “UTOPIA,” which he first teased back in 2020. While a nearly five-year hiatus would ordinarily eliminate the hype surrounding most artists’ works, “UTOPIA” remains one of the highest anticipated albums we have ever experienced. Based on social media teasers, billboard sightings that say “Looking for Utopia?” and his Las Vegas residency “Road to Utopia” that just concluded, one can surmise that the album is as close as it has ever been. If his 2021 single “MAFIA” is any indication of the quality, atmosphere and concept that “UTOPIA” will consist of, we should expect yet another classic added to Scott’s flawless discography.
Playboi Carti — “Music”
While Playboi Carti has not released any solo music and has remained hidden from the public eye since his 2020 LP “Whole Lotta Red,” his influence on the music industry is more profound and noticeable than it perhaps ever has been. The dark, sinister aesthetic and aggressive rock/hip-hop fusion that was considered blasphemous and bizarre upon the release of his last album has now inspired a new wave of rappers who have tried to mimic this sound in his absence. Since the fall of 2021, Playboi Carti has been teasing his new album — first called “NARCISSIST” but now rumored to be titled the most uncreative and depthless name imaginable, “Music.” As he has maintained a mysterious, unpredictable profile throughout this album’s rollout, it remains unclear what sound this new album will tackle. In the closing weeks of 2022, Playboi Carti ended a months-long social media hiatus to post a cover artwork and tweet “love all my supporters, it’s time.” Therefore, we can expect the King Vamp to be releasing new music that will set 2023 off to a roaring start.
J. Cole — “It’s A Boy”
J. Cole’s last album, 2021’s “The Off-Season,” came and went, a project that contained quality music but was far less interesting and potent than what we have come to expect from one of the signature voices of this generation. This was disappointing, as at his true form, Cole’s lyricism, delivery and production are unmatched, and produced some of the greatest albums of the 2010s (“2014 Forest Hills Drive” & “4 Your Eyez Only”). This year, he is seemingly gearing up to release a new project titled “It’s A Boy,” which one can only hope will be remembered as one of the first classic projects of this decade as well. On Jan. 2, Cole cleared his entire Instagram page, one of the oldest tricks in the book used by artists to indicate that new music is on the way. Therefore, as the rollout has seemingly begun, fans should expect Cole to reestablish his position as one of the only legitimate contenders for a seat on hip-hop’s throne.
Gunna — TBA
Out of the gate, 2022 was shaping up to be a year dominated by Atlanta-rapper Gunna. He released one of the best albums of the year in the first week of January and invented a new slang word — “P” — that was impossible to escape on social media. However, as quickly as it is given to you, it can be taken away even quicker. In a matter of days, Gunna went from meeting with fashion elites in Italy and performing in front of an electric Binghamton University crowd to being hit with RICO charges and facing decades in prison for his affiliation with the YSL gang. In mid-December, after seven months in prison, he copped a plea and was set free, ending his worries about serving the enormous sentence that typically comes with such charges. As his supporters stood by his side and relentlessly begged for his release for months, Gunna owes his fanbase a new album to reward their loyalty and once again kickstart the unstoppable momentum he was in the midst of before his arrest.
Metro Boomin Collab Album with Mystery Artist
After a four-year absence, Metro Boomin returned in November 2022 with a solo album, “Heroes & Villains,” a masterfully curated, dynamic and refreshing project packed to the brim with some of the biggest names in music. Despite this album being less than three months old, Metro has already started to tease an upcoming collaborative record that is releasing in 2023. In an interview, he stated that it is “one of the biggest things out of this generation for sure,” starting speculations that the mystery artist is one of the A-list collaborators that Metro has extensively worked with in his catalog. Of these collaborators, the most likely seems to be Future or Drake — both iconic duos that have produced some of the best work in each of their respective careers. Whoever the unknown rapper may be, new music from Metro Boomin always promises to top the charts and have a direct impact on the ever-evolving sound of hip-hop music.
Frank Ocean — TBA
There are few albums that are as heavily desired yet mysterious as Frank Ocean’s third studio album. His combination of heavenly vocals, unique melodies and deep lyrics distinguish him as a musical talent that cannot be replicated nor mimicked by any other artist. As nearly seven years have passed since his last release, some fans have begun to accept that their dream of hearing new Frank Ocean music may never come to fruition. However, as the quest for information about this new album has felt like an endless trek through a desert without water, any glimpse of promising news can feel like stumbling across an oasis. This news comes in the announcement that Frank will be headlining at Coachella in April, his first live performance since March 2019. As artists typically come back to the spotlight to perform at festivals only when they are ready to unveil new music, it seems unlikely that this set will consist of seven-year-old songs. Furthermore, it has been reported that he has been shopping his new album to record labels with a sound that shifts away from his signature R&B sound to one that is inspired by house music. While there has not been any concrete news about this album from Frank Ocean himself, it seems as though 2023 is the best chance that we have had at finally getting a new project.
Other Notable Releases:
Drake — “Scary Hours 3” (Unconfirmed)
Don Toliver — “LoveSick”
Anderson Paak Solo Album or NxWorries Album
Daniel Caesar — TBA
Lil Uzi Vert — “Pink Tape”
A$AP Rocky — “Don’t Be Dumb”
Chance The Rapper — “Star Line Gallery”
Destroy Lonely & Ken Carson — TBA