- Ian Heft
Scheduled, Announced, and Speculated - New Music in 2021
Cover Art: Sophie Cheng
In recent years, I started keeping track of music released during each calendar year. While I tend to not enjoy the radio-friendly pop songs that usually top the charts, there are many artists in the genres of hip-hop, rock, R&B, and alternative that I follow for new releases. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I’ve made a habit of checking for new releases weekly. And while the rollout of albums throughout the first three months of 2021 has been slow, there are a number of highly anticipated projects which have yet to be released. Here are some of the ones that I am most excited about.
McCartney III Imagined, Paul McCartney, April 16th
As I wrote in my “Top 10 Albums of 2020, Ranked” article, McCartney III was a very pleasant surprise from the 78-year old former Beatle. After hearing he planned to release a remixed version of the album, I was instantly intrigued. Phoebe Bridgers, Anderson. Paak, and Beck with Macca? Sign me up. While past attempts by McCartney to keep up with the times have faltered (see 2015’s FourFiveSeconds with Rihanna and Kanye West), McCartney III Imagined will be a release to look out for.
Rock Candy Sweet, Lana Del Rey, June 1st
Just a day after releasing Chemtrails Over the Country Club, Del Rey announced her next LP, Rock Candy Sweet. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of Chemtrails on its first listen, I still have high hopes for her forthcoming record. Hopefully the singer-songwriter can bring back the luster which made 2019’s Norman Fucking Rockwell such a great album.
Certified Lover Boy, Drake, TBA
Three years ago, Drake dropped the EP Scary Hours, featuring tracks such as “God’s Plan” and “Diplomatic Immunity.” Months later, he released his most recent studio album, Scorpion. If the past is any indication, it seems evident that a new Drake album is coming soon, after the March 2021 release of Scary Hours 2. Originally due for release in summer 2020 and later postponed to January 2021 (although details still have yet to be shared on his upcoming work’s release date), Certified Lover Boy will be the latest addition to the Toronto rapper’s impressive discography.
Utopia, Travis Scott, TBA
It has been two and a half years since Travis Scott released the uber-popular Astroworld, an album that propelled him to the top of the rap game. Recent social media posts have hinted at Utopia, Astroworld’s sequel, coming in 2021. Hopefully, Travis will continue to evolve his style, after mediocre contributions to the group LP Jackboys.
Donda, Kanye West, TBA
While he technically announced the release of this album last summer, Kanye has missed a handful of release dates for his tenth solo LP, tentatively titled Donda. At this point, any information about the release date or style of the album is pure speculation. However, following his divorce from Kim Kardashian, we could see the emotional side of the Chicago rapper that previously shined on 2008’s 808s and Heartbreak.
Untitled, Lorde, TBA
It remains hard to believe that after two terrific albums and years out of the spotlight, the New Zealand singer-songwriter is just 24 years old. In fact, if you google Lorde, the first two suggested questions are “Did Lorde quit music?” and “Did Lorde die?” Fortunately, we know the latter isn’t the case, and according to recent reports, we know the former isn’t as well. Lorde has reportedly begun recording for and has a title for her third album, but further information remains scarce.
Untitled, Kendrick Lamar, TBA
Few artists in history have a three-album stretch that matches Kendrick Lamar. After all, 2012’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly, and 2017’s DAMN were each all fantastic projects in their own unique ways. However, since his 2018 contributions to the Black Panther soundtrack, K Dot has been largely MIA. Hopefully, 2021 will be the year he exits his exile and blesses us with new music.
Untitled, Frank Ocean, TBA
Similar to Kendrick, Ocean has remained out of the spotlight for the last few years, aside from a few singles released in 2019 and 2020. While those releases were solid, no news on an upcoming album has followed. If and when he drops, Frank Ocean will undoubtedly command the spotlight once again. After all, there is nothing quite like listening to a Frank Ocean album.
Other artists who will hopefully release new music
Rihanna, Freddie Gibbs, JID, Vampire Weekend, Brockhampton, Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, and countless others