13 Most Anticipated Hip Hop Albums of 2011

13 Most Anticipated Hip Hop Albums of 2011

Well, it’s been a hell of a year. Seems like a decade ago that we were pining over the cover art of the Jake One and Freeway joint and fawning to see Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli finally reconnect for Revolutions Per Minute. But, 2011 is right around the corner, and that means its time to look ahead. The first quarter of the year always tends to be heavy on really great releases (see above-mentioned records) and can sometimes prove to be more fruitful than the rest of the year combined – hopefully that’s not the case in 2011.

Either way, we’ve heard quite a few rumblings about legendary releases scheduled for next year, and we’re kinda-sorta patiently waiting to see how they turn out. While this list may well be missing what pans out to be the best of the next 12 months, we can only anticipate what we know about. Especially given the independent world’s traditionally short lead times, the fact that we’ve already got a pretty full list says a lot for what we see in store for next year. Who knows? Could even trump 2010.

Without further adieu, aboveGround is proud to present out 13 most anticipated albums for 2011 (and beyond):

13. Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows / Prisoners of Conscious

Release: January 25 (Self-released) / TBA (Unknown)

The great thing about Kweli’s albums are we won’t have to wait long. With Gutter Rainbows scheduled to hit shelves (Duck Down just announced they’ll be doing U.S. physical distribution) on January 25, we’ll be hearing from Kweli in the very-near future. Tack onto that the fact that he’s already got a second release lined up for 2011 (where he gets to air out his beef with the “conscious” label) and he’s definitely got a one-two punch we’ll be looking for.

12. Smif-N-Wessun – Monumental (Prod. Pete Rock)

Release: TBA (Duck Down)

As seems to be the norm for most hotly-anticipated releases, this one has been pushed back. The Pete Rock-laced Smif-N-Wessun reunion that was scheduled for 2010 has been put on the radar for 2011, and judging from the first song (“Prevail” featuring Raekwon), it should be exactly what you’d expect: Pete Rock’s subtle brilliance with abrasive raps provided by Steele and Tek. Perfect.

11. DJ Premier vs. Pete Rock

Release: TBA (Unknown)

Most Anticipated Hip Hop Albums of 2011: DJ Premier vs. Pete RockThey did their show in Japan, and then they said they decided to actually do an album. We don’t know much about the project other than the fact that it’s slated to have six tracks per producer, with each one picking a different artist to grace each of their beats, and they can’t know each-other’s choices. But, we do know one – GZA, who Premier revealed will be one of the MCs he picked for his portion. Just knowing that gives us high hopes, because if Pete Rock is planning to go track-for-track for Premo, he’ll need to bring some rap-tastic friends to keep up with the precedence set by bringing in The Genuis.

10. Random Axe – Random Axe

Release: TBA (Duck Down)

Most Anticipated Albums of 2011: Random AxeAnother hotly-anticipated Duck Down release, another delay. This project (a collaborative album between Sean Price, Guilty Simpson and Black Milk) has had a fistful of technical set backs, from Sean Price Drake-ing all his raps (that is, keeping them in his cell phone) and then switching phones (and forgetting to transfer/save them), to random hard drive crashes. What makes it even worse, though, is that Black Milk’s Album of the Year just reinforced that fact that he’s easily one of the best producers doing it, making us pine for another album full of his work (not to mention Sean P’s lyrical face slaps and Guilty’s gully grumbling). Oh yeah, and ‘Milk even said it was going to drop before 2011. Enough is enough, put that joint out!

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