2015 gave us the return of Janet Jackson, Jazmine Sullivan, and D’Angelo (okay, that last one was technically late 2014), but the year also brought great music from Leon Bridges, Monica, Tyrese, The Weeknd, Carmen Rodgers, and Kendrick Lamar’sTo Pimp a Butterfly. We were introduced to Kehlani, Alessia Cara, and Bryson Tiller, and reintroduced to Jodeci. There were great mixtapes, singles, tours, reunions, and 32 new Prince albums—maybe not 32, but His Majesty was extremely visible last year. The bar was set pretty high, which gives 2016 a lot to aspire towards, but it could be a landmark year if the following 16 items find their way to us in 2016.
BJ the Chicago Kid began 2016 paying homage to D’Angelo to mark the 16th anniversary of “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”, but longtime (and new) fans are anxiously awaiting his Motown debut, In My Mind, which all we know is “coming soon.”
J.Cole/Kendrick Lamar Collaboration?
The joint album between two emcees who reside near the top of the game has been on the radar for a few years now, but a redacted line from J. Cole’s portion of the duo’s “Black Friday” crossover tracks renewed speculation of a project being released in February. The chances are slim, but any sort of follow-ups to 2014 Forest Hills Drive or To Pimp a Butterfly would be greatly appreciated.
Last June, his Tumblr page indicated a new album to join a magazine release, but we’ve changed calendars and there’s no hint as to when the album (rumored to be titled Boys Don’t Cry) will be released. Ocean’s debut, Channel Orange, was released in 2012 and he’s been fairly silent in the subsequent years.
In 2011, the trio KING took the Internet by storm with their EP The Story and have built a cult following in subsequent years. They sold out shows from coast-to-coast, received a cosign from Prince, and artfully dodged questions about their debut album until it was announced We Are King would be released on February 5th.
The rumored UR has never received a proper release date, but there was buzz around the single “I Don’t Mind.” Then Usher seemed to head in a different direction around last year’s Essence Music Festival, and not long after came the release of “Chains” with Nas. He’s said that he’s close to completing the album and we have to give him the creative space to present us his best, but the time seems just right for Usher’s return.
Kanye West’s ‘Swish’
Whether it’s anticipation or curiosity, Kanye West’s oft-delayed album is on the radar of music lovers, especially after the New Year’s Eve release of “Facts,” which turned quite a few heads.
Missy Elliott’s Return
The breath of fresh air that is “WTF (Where They From)” set the stage for the full-fledged return of the legendary Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott and the massive hit has paved the way for her first album in over ten years. We already know what to expect: energy, crazy rhyme schemes, danceable tracks, and the best videos of the year.
A Floetry Reunion
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 11 years since Natalie Stewart and Marsha Ambrosius last released an album as Floetry. The two have enjoyed success as solo acts, but judging by the sold out shows during last year’s tour, fans are clamoring for a full-length reunion. Will they give it to us?
Brandy is doing her thing on BET with Zoe Ever After, but now is the perfect time for Brandy to make her return to music for her first album since 2012’s Two Eleven.
Maxwell has been teasing fans with the second installment of his purported trilogy for nearly six years now, and there’s still no sign of the album. There was an Instagram post that suggested a winter release, but many of his other pictures find him partying in exotic locales. Perhaps, the upcoming two-night date in New York City with Nas will coincide with a surprise release.
The Return of the Group
In addition to KING, we can expect projects from new acts like XSO, Brotherly Love, and MPRYNT bringing harmony, synchronicity, and a return to the classic sounds many of us were raised on.
Beyoncé/Jay Z Joint Album
Sure, there’s been no tangible evidence of this album and the tour was two summers ago, but it makes sense for both artists at this point of their careers.
The Next Anthony Hamilton Album
Sure, we’ve gotten a kick out of the YouTube videos featuring Hamilton and his background singers added their soulful touches to 2 Chainz, Drake, Rae Sremmurd and more, but it’s been four years since Back to Love and the slept-on Home for the Holidays seemed to wet the palate of Anthony Hamilton fans. There’ve been various Instagram pictures in the studio, so we’re waiting, not-so-patiently.
New Music from Avery*Sunshine
Following an amazing two-year stretch after releasing 2014’s The Sunroom, which featured the phenomenal “Call My Name,” Avery*Sunshine has been working hard in the studio on its follow-up with longtime partner Dana Johnson. Look out for new music very soon.
Drake’s ‘Views from the 6’
This album was rumored to drop all of last year, but Drake dropped two mixtapes (albums?) and managed to deal Meek Mill an L in the process, so the lack of release of a proper album was justifiably forgiven. However, fans of Aubrey Graham have been waiting for this album and seem eager to collect.
The Long-Awaited Lauryn Hill Album
I know, I know, I know. We’ve been waiting nearly twenty years for a proper follow-up to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but she contributed nearly half of Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone, so my hope was rejuvenated. Besides, we did get a D’Angelo album and tour last year.
In addition, 2016 needs to be a year when we preserve and honor our legends before we’re posting “RIP” all over social media. After watching Aretha Franklin’s performance at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, which was closely followed by Natalie Cole’s death, it’s truly time we give those who paved the way their roses while they can still smell them. The best way to do it is to continue making music in their tradition, respect the roads they’ve traveled, and please, stop trying to place titles they’ve earned on others’ heads.
Between rhetoric and reality is where you’ll find Al-Lateef Farmer; Black man, husband, social documentarian, and slinger of Soul by the pound. His brand of social commentary, rooted in independent thought can be found at www.theworldaccording2teef.com and on Twitter @wrldacrdng2teef.