TRACE 2010

Whatever happened to the music of yesteryear? 2009 gave us some of the most memorable tracks and a few fresh faces crossed over from starlets to overnight fame monsters. But then there are those faces that nearly vanished from our minds. The Gorillaz, anyone? Some hip-hop major leaguers are back along with a ton of other rappers—some of them who have never even had a first record—crash landing on our list this year. Here is the Part 1 of the most anticipated albums of 2010!

1. TBA

Brace yourselves. OutKast, P-Funk’s hip-hop star child, has returned from the debris of pop superstardom to deliver more of the expansive funk-soul LSD jungle rap that saturated their landmark “Stankonia!” Nearly three years ago, the show biz circuit sat back in awe as prayers of a follow-up to their musical film “Idlewild” went unanswered. Now, the iconic duo is coming back with a vengeance with Big Boi’s “Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty” in March, a currently untitled André 3000 project later in the year and the seventh OutKast album to close out 2010. Excited?

2. The Carter IV
Lil Wayne

Many critics felt that Lil Wayne’s less-memorable seventh album “Rebirth” was going to be a tour de force. How could he possibly top “Tha Carter III,” now hyped as a hip-hop iconoclast of sorts? He certainly wasn’t going to top it by making a ‘solid’ rock album. Working alongside Deezle, Wayne has fans raving with his “Drop the World” single opposite rap fountainhead Eminem which is guaranteed to blow up radio in the coming months. But his eighth solo album has many on edge: Will “Tha Carter IV” be a white-hot tour de force or will it have us heading for the hills? Mostly, when Lil Wayne gets out… will he update the record for a more socially conscious take? We don’t know, but we hear ice cracking.

3. TBA
Kanye West

After a troubled 2009, there is a lot of buzz generating around the follow-up of the chilling sci-fi rap robo-R&B Auto-Tune roman à clef “808s & Heartbreak.” Coming a long way from his landmark debut “The College Dropout,” Kanye West introduced a stark aperçus on his last effort that ignited interests in baroque pop and arena rock among the average street tune aficionada, delivering the cri du cœur for the Auto-Tune age, seen by some as an exhausting pop radio fetish. Recording in seclusion in Hawaiian studios, no doubt his next album will be a huge step in a new direction full of superb sing-in-the-shower hooks, snazzy one-liners and acrobatic hooks. To assist him are his in-house GOOD Music vanity label regulars Consequence, Common, Kid Cudi, Mr. Hudson, No I.D., Tony Williams and MC wunderkind Drake. This time, West is out for blood.

4. Thank Me Later

If Robin, the boy wonder were a hip-hop artist, he’d probably be Drake. So far gone are the days when Canadian leading man would-be Aubrey Drake Graham charmed audiences as an artistic wheelchair bound b-ball MVP in the teen soap opera cult hit “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” His now classic mixtape “So Far Gone” made him an overnight celeb with hits “Best I Ever Had” and “Forever” and now he’s suiting up for battle with his first full-length album “Thank Me Later,” with cameos from 40, Boi-1da, The-Dream, Jay-Z, Kanye West, hip-hop sensei Lil Wayne and chanteuse Sade. Determined that he will not be the post-noughties Lil Wayne ersatz, he’s stepping out in a big way. Determined to be great, Drake may very well trump his sensei’s hand.

5. Raymond V. Raymond

With the title of his sixth album somewhat referencing the Dustin Hoffman/Meryl Streep film classic Kramer V. Kramer, newly-divorced R&B crooner Usher Raymond is back to reclaim his throne. With the sensational “Papers” in heavy radio rotation, expect a pat on the back for pop’s favorite pop-and-locker.

6. Battle of The Sexes

The concept: love and relationships. Atlanta rapper Ludacris is back with former DTP home girl Shawnna, Monica, Lil’ Kim and future rap star Nicki Minaj for a battle royale that will be a staple everywhere—from the club to office.

7. TBA
Keri Hilson

Look forward to a May release from “Knock You Down” starlet Keri Hilson, who is looking to follow-up her stellar “In a Perfect World” debut. Interscope urban music boss Dj Mormile says producers Danjahandz, Polow da Don and Timbaland are already back to the drawing board, as Black Eyed Peas’ frontman Will.I.Am and up-and-coming songwriter Jeff Bhasker have also signed on. Without a shadow of a doubt, a new single is expected to hit radio in March.

8. blackSUMMERS’night

Women, get ready to coo. There is no info on the man who bought us the apologetically subterranean “Embrya” and “Now”, but he is back again to continue with part two of his twisted nerve love-gone-awry trilogy that started with last summer’s “BLACKsummers’night.” Looking to possibly top his last effort, expect a few tearjerkers, a few quiet storm baby-making slow jams, and some R&B boogie-down gems. On recent Twitter posts, the neo-soul pioneer expressed great joy after receiving Sade’s latest effort “Solider of Love.” Maybe we’ll hear a few songs that were inspired by the smoky-voiced chanteuse.

9. TBA
Nicki Minaj

Dubbed the next Queen Bee by the New York Times, or the Cindy Sherman of rap—the mixed raced bling-bling chameleon can switch from Lil’ Kim’s black Marilyn Monroe streets-and-sheets shtick to Chaka Kahn’s warrior woman without batting an eyelash. With high expectations due in part to her mixtapes “Sucka Free” and “Beam Me Up,” this Polow Da Don /JR Rotem / Young Money effort is the most buzzed-about female rap album in the last half decade.

10. TBA
Janet Jackson

Dance pop diva Janet Jackson is back in full effect this year and already planning a European tour! Album collaborations with producer Rodney Jerkins and ex-flame Jermaine Dupri have already been discussed. With a track titled “Nothing” on the Tyler Perry film Why Did I Get Married Too? as well as a 2010 Haiti relief remake opposite Michael Jackson in “We Are The World,” Janet Jackson will be ever more present in the coming months!

11. New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh
Erykah Badu

She’s Back! After she gave us a sip of honey with 2008’s “New Amerykah Part I: 4th World War,” the queen of neo-soul returns with a new record dropping on March 30th. Soul Sister No.1 collaborates with The Roots’ ?uestlove on her fifth album and samples hip-hop icon The Notorious B.I.G. Then she flips her afro and throws in 9th Wonder, James Poyser, Madlib and Sa-Ra to give an off-the-cuff record that continues her trials-and-tribulations new America trilogy.

12. The Believer

Common—the Chi-town Nas who gave us chin-stroking hip-hop milestones “Can I Borrow a Dollar?,” “Be,” “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Resurrection” and “Finding Forever”—is back to blow minds again with his common sense surrealism! With the creolized ragga rubber beats that fused the futurist hip house after party shin dig that was “Universal Mind Control,” it’s no wonder why he went with a complete Kanye West / No I.D. produced album. What are we expecting? Magic; pure and simple.

13. Rumored Title: Honey Bee

The R&B songbird diva extradonaire that is Beyoncé broke a Grammy record with her ever-popular “I Am… Sasha Fierce” studio album and introduced new genres into her expansive go-go funk repertoire that ventured into electro-dance and europop. Taking off six months to “recharge her batteries,” the prima donna has been working at break-neck fembot pace and will be back with shiny metallic drum dance numbers and sweeping ballads soon enough. Just you wait.

14. TBA
Jennifer Hudson

Label czar Clive Davis, who is Sony’s Chief Creative Officer, told sources that Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson was back and is pickier of her song-selection than ever. The starlet with the big-voiced gospel wail is ready for her spotlight after having her first child with her fiancée Daniel David Otunga. If you don’t believe it, YouTube Michael Jackson’s memorial tribute or her performance of the National Anthem at the 2009 Superbowl.

15. Thug Motivation 103
Young Jeezy

How do you remain one of the most talked about men in music without promoting an album? Ask Young Jeezy. He landed on Rihanna and Jay-Z tracks left and right and supported artists like Soulja Boy on the “America’s Most Wanted” tour. Now he’s back with a fourth album. With two highly regarded tracks on the internet—“I Got This (Don’t Worry)” and “Scared Money” featuring Lil Wayne, he’s sure to release a spot-on hit. Also rumored to make appearances are Kanye West, Drumma Boy and Tha Bizness.

To be continued…

Written by Marcus Scott

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