There is no doubt that life has presented with *some of the greatest* challenges for all of us in 2020—but for the music industry, it has been a bumper. From BTS’s boundary-breaking Map Of The Soul: 7 and Lady Gaga’s triumphant return with Chromatica, to Ariana Grande’s perfectly timed Positions, music has provided a little light and a lot of comfort during one of the toughest, most tense periods of recent times.
Thankfully, there’s much more to be hopeful about in 2021 and a plethora of new albums on their way, too—here are the nine we’re most excited about.
1. Drake, Certified Lover Boy
During a recent IG Live with his dad Dennis Graham, Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham described his forthcoming album as one that some fans may dislike—just like “they hated on Views”—but insisted that it was “music to evolve to”.
We’re assuming that CLB, due January 2021, will channel the softboy side of Drake—previously seen on Hotline Bling and One Dance—that people love to hate. Indeed, for the video of the album’s lead single, Laugh Now, Cry Later featuring Chicago’s Lil Durk and produced by Cardo, Drizzy pauses playing basketball and generally having a lovely time to have a good old sob. Bless him.
This will be Drake’s sixth album since his 2010 debut Thank Me Later, since which he’s become one of the—if not the—most successful rappers of all time.
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2. Kid Cudi, Man On The Moon III
The third and final part of an album trilogy that began in 2009 with Kid Cudi’s debut Man On The Moon: End Of The Day, followed by 2010’s Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr Rager. It’s taken more than a decade, but MOTM: III is on its way. In October, he dropped this atmospheric teaser for the third instalment, featuring a wistful Cudi smoking whilst bathing in the light of the red planet.
The album will be Mr Mescudi’s first since Kids See Ghosts, his 2018 collaboration with Kanye West, although he has dropped a series of singles this year, including The Adventures of Moon Man & Slim Shady with Eminem. Though there’s no concrete release date yet, Kid Cudi recently tweeted, “New sh*t needs to hit yall list so be ready madness is approaching” with a devil emoji. We’re ready and waiting.
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3. Kanye West, Donda: With Child
Another release that has suffered some setbacks, but now that West isn’t quite so busy perhaps he’ll find time to ready his 10th album. In July, the rapper and 2020 presidential candidate dropped a snippet of a song titled Donda, via Twitter. The track features the voice of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 at the age of 58, reciting the lyrics to KRS-One’s Sound of da Police.
In September, also via Twitter, West previewed Believe What I Say, which samples Lauryn Hill’s Doo-Wop (That Thing). It’s unclear whether Nah Nah Nah featuring DaBaby and 2 Chainz, which West dropped in October to coincide with his election campaign, will be on the album, but we’ll wait and see.
4. Zayn Malik, Better
The new dad and newly mononymous singer released a single, Better, in September fuelling anticipation for a brand-new album. Some think the record could also be called Better, but that’s yet to be confirmed. A statement accompanying the single said: “With total creative rein on his third album, Zayn is making the music he has always wanted to.” The long player follows 2016’s Mind Of Mine and 2018’s Icarus Falls, the two albums Zayn has released since leaving One Direction in March 2015.
5. Rihanna, title TBC
We refuse to give up hope on R9, as fans have dubbed Rihanna’s ninth studio album. We appreciate Rihanna has been a bit busy running her multi-billion Fenty businesses but still, we’d take an EP at this point. Heck, we’d happily have a single right now.
Rumours that her first album since 2016’s Anti will be heavily influenced by reggae (songwriter Skylar Grey recently tweeted a song that she and Diplo apparently made for the record) were confirmed in March of this year, when RiRi spoke to Vogue. However, she also told journalist Afua Hirsch that we shouldn’t hold our collective breath: “I can’t say when I’m going to drop. But I am very aggressively working on music.” While Rihanna aggressively works, we aggressively wait.
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6. Adele, title TBC
Alongside RiRi’s ninth release, Adele’s fourth album is possibly the most eagerly anticipated record in the world right now. It’s been five years since 25 and we were convinced that 2020 would be the year of Adele’s return, but the pandemic had other plans. As early as 2019, Adele apparently told a punter in a New York drag bar that she was “working” on the album and it was reported that she’d been in the studio with John Legend and Raphael Saadiq. At a friend’s wedding in February 2020, Adele told guests to expect an album by September, but then Covid-19 kicked in.
In June, her manager Jonathan Dickins told British trade paper Music Week that the record was indefinitely delayed and would be “ready when it’s ready”. Hopes were raised once more when the Hello singer announced an appearance on Saturday Night Live in October—surely the booking meant she had new music to promote!—before they were swiftly dashed when she told the audience “my album is not finished”.
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