What the Game’s Been Missing

D’Angelo’s back in the studio, Alicia Keys is off maternity leave, and Adele is turning 23. Will 2012 bring some new music from some of soul’s heavyweights? Here’s a list of who we’re hoping to see bring the heat this year.

Maxwell

It has been three years since the first of his BLACKSummersnight trilogy was released, and we’re long overdue for the “SUMMER” portion. It’s a little cold now, but can Maxwell bring the heat later this year? He’s got no choice to release this since he promised three albums, but here’s hoping he won’t take another eight-year hiatus like he did between his third and fourth albums.

D’Angelo

Speaking of hiatuses, it has now been officially more than a decade since we’ve heard from the guy often credited with kicking off the neo-soul movement. In recent years, D’Angelo has made more headlines for being inside jail cells rather than studios, but curiosity about new music reached a fever pitch when Roots drummer ?uestlove began spilling details about the singer’s project. First, there was that ominous tweet about being in the studio at midnight. Then Quest told Billboard that D was in the home stretch. Earlier last month, D’Angelo’s cover of “Black Hole Sun” hit the web. All signs point to an album this year.

Adele

OK, so 19 was her first, and 21 was her second. If the British songbird is sticking to the age theme, shouldn’t we get 23 this year? She dominated the Billboard charts last year and, from a label standpoint, it only makes sense to keep the train chugging along. Adele has had some personal struggles – a strain on her vocal chords nearly took her out the game. But she has said in interviews that she’s interested in exploring new genres, not to mention being spotted with a new guy on her arm. A sweep at this year’s Grammys plus some inspiration from new love could be just the momentum she needs to put out something new.

Ja Rule and Ashanti

Ashanti has been quietly making moves under the radar, forming her own record label, touring with famed songwriter David Foster and continuing to write new music. Last month, her new single “The Woman You Love” hit radio. As much as we love Ashanti solo, there’s something missing without her partner in crime. When Spotify users started circulating a “best of Ja Rule” playlist in January, it reminded us about all the hits they churned out back in the Murder Inc. days. If Brandy and Monica can come together after 14 years and Mystikal can land a record deal, there’s hope that these two can hit the studio for just one more track.

Alicia Keys

Sometimes taking a break for motherhood can stifle a singer’s career (see: Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera) but we have no doubt this won’t be an issue for Keys, a new mom and a newlywed. Keys has been in this for a decade and has weathered every change in musical taste with each outing. After songs of angst, loneliness, and heartbreak like “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart,” “Karma,” and her signature “Fallin’,” we’re anxious to see what influence a new marriage and baby has on her future offerings.

Dr. Dre

Is Detox coming out?  Every once in a while we have some conflicting reports about whether the long-awaited LP – which outpaces everyone we’ve listed so far – is actually being released. We know Dre has been in studios in Detroit and L.A., and we’ve even heard some leaks performed by Eminem that are allegedly for the album. Nelly tweeted a photo of him and the West Coast legend in a studio earlier this year, but maybe they were just hanging out? Who knows?

–Aaron Foley

 

 



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