The Torch’s top-10 most anticipated albums of 2021

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Kendrick Lamar fans are hopeful and eager for the rapper to release his first album in four years.

Coming off a crazy year, one of the few bright sides of 2020 was the amount of great music that was released. Multiple artists released their much-anticipated albums, such as R&B greats The Weeknd and Jhené Aiko, young hip-hop phenoms Lil Uzi-Vert and Lil Baby, and pop stars such as Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez. 

Overall, 2020 was able to deliver, but it still left music fans wanting for more as many artists went missing this past year, many of whom had promised to release their projects. That being said, that leaves plenty of great music to be released in 2021, some confirmed and some just simple speculations, but either way leaving fans excited to see what is coming their way in the coming months. Here are the ten most anticipated albums we are hoping to hear in 2021.

10. Sza / title to be announced: Since releasing her debut album, Sza has been real subtle when it comes to music. The St. Louis singer-songwriter released her debut studio album, Ctrl, in 2017, becoming an instant hit and topping the Billboard Hot 100 with six of the 14 songs charting. Until 2020, Sza spent most of her time away from music, only making appearances as a feature artist.

In 2020 we got to hear more from Sza as she released two singles that could be lead ups to her following album. Ty Dolla $ign assisted on “Hit Different,” and she released a surprise single “Good Days,” which came out Christmas Day. In an interview with Cosmopolitan the R&B superstar revealed the album will be coming out in 2021 and also put out some details about it. “This album is going to be the s–t that made me feel something in my (heart and gut),” she said. “That’s what’s going to go on the album. I’m making all different types of s–t every day from different places in my spirit.”

9. Roddy Ricch / Love Is Barely Real Anymore: Following his debut album in December 2019, Please Excuse Me For Being Anti-Social, Roddy Ricch established himself as a great in the rap genre. Ricch had one of the biggest rises in the rap game, having his debut album win 2020 BET Awards’ Album of the Year. Ricch’s hit single “The Box” also broke some records itself. “The Box” became one of just 26 songs of all time to spend 11 weeks or more at the top of the Billboard Hot-100. It also accumulated over one billion total streams.

The Compton rapper is now looking to add another hit album to his resume, and many speculate this might be the year we get it. Back in August 2020, on an Instagram live, Ricch stated, “Album coming soon as f–k.” In November of 2020, Ricch posted a tweet which left fans wondering if he had just released the name of his new album, it read: “Love Is Barely Real Anymore… otw.” Ricch has also previously stated he has enough material to drop an album if he wanted to, leaving fans to wonder if this year they will get to listen to some more by the Californian rapper.

8. Justin Bieber / title to be announced: After taking a five year break between his previous two albums, Purpose from 2015 and Changes from 2020, Justin Bieber doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere anytime soon. Since dropping his album in February of 2020, Bieber has been one of the busiest musicians of the moment, releasing singles, music videos, and features. All this activity by Bieber is teasing fans with an upcoming album later this year. 

The pop-star who first blew up at 16 with the hit song “Baby,” has only grown his fan base since. A fan base who will always accept new music and are hopeful they will get some more this year following a statement from the Canadian himself on his Instagram story saying he is “Finishing this album,” while also telling fans to “Stay tuned.”

7. Frank Ocean / album title to be announced: 2020 was a very difficult year for Frank Ocean. The 33-year-old singer was supposed to release a single in February as a lead up to his upcoming album which was supposed to drop in 2020, but due to COVID-19 making it hard for everyone to work and losing his brother in a tragic car accident, Ocean decided to postpone his single and album. “Due to the events of this year, Frank will no longer release the song” stated his management team.

Following the inconveniences of 2020, Ocean’s fans supported him through the tough ride. Now, in 2021, fans are still hopeful for an album release by the Californian singer-songwriter, who hasn’t released an album since 2016. In an interview with W Magazine last year, Ocean stated he wants to approach this next album in a more experimental way: “I’ve been interested in club, and the many different iterations of nightlife for music and songs.”

6. J. Cole / The Fall Off: As J. Cole celebrated his 36th birthday this past January 28th, fans were still waiting for the lyricist’s album, which could be his last. Cole has been dominating the rap game over the past decade and in 2014 become the first rapper ever to go platinum with no features on his album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Cole went on to complete the same feat once more in 2016 with 4 Your Eyez Only.

The North Carolina rapper could possibly be making his exit following his new album, The Fall Off, which has been confirmed and teased by Cole since 2018. In an essay last year titled “The Audacity,” Cole talked about this possibly being the end: “A long term plan of becoming the best rapper I could possibly be before hanging up my jersey, leaving nothing on the table when all was said and done. The seeds for ​The Fall Off were planted.”

When asked about Cole’s exit from the rap game, Olympic Heights sophomore Andrew Goodman stated, “It’s sad to see him go, but he has left behind enough good music for years to come.” As much as I want the album soon, I hope he takes his time with it to make sure he leaves on a high note.”

5. Billie Eilish / title to be announced: One of the most successful teenagers of all time, Billie Eilish is ready to add another album to her resume at such a young age. The 19-year-old, five-time Grammy winner first blew up in 2016 with her hit single “Ocean Eyes,” which she wrote when she was just 15. Eilish has only grown from there, being the first artist born in the 2000’s to have a #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 with her song “bad guy.” With over 75 million followers on Instagram, Eilish went live and got them excited as she stated, “I have announcements to make. I got some s**t to put out.”

“Billie Eilish blowing up at 15 and being so successful now at 19 really inspires me,” stated Olympic Heights sophomore Nicole Filippeli. “I’m excited to see what’s to come and what more she will accomplish.”

4. Travis Scott / Utopia: After dropping a project every year for the past seven years, Houston native Travis Scott spent 2020 in an unlikely way. Scott focused on his life outside of music, releasing shoe collaborations with Jordan, clothes from his brand “Cactus Jack,” and even had a McDonalds meal named after him. Scott has become a huge influence amongst the newer generation, having some of the best albums of this past decade, Astroworld from 2018 and Rodeo from 2014, both peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Scott only dropped two singles in 2020, one of them being “Franchise,” a lead up to his new album Utopia. Scott first introduced his new album in the summer of 2020 with an Instagram picture captioned “Utopia” in a tweet the following month. Thanking fans for their support, Scott concluded, “See you in Utopia.” Besides the title being confirmed, a release date for 2021 has also been teased by Scott. As fans continue to support Scott outside of his music, they patiently wait for his fourth studio album to finally drop.

3. Kendrick Lamar / title to be announced: Kendrick Lamar has been arguably the most influential rapper of the past decade. The 13-time Grammy Award winner released two albums this past decade, winning the Grammy’s Album of the Year with 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly. and  2017’s DAMN. After a busy decade earning respect in the rap industry, the Compton rapper ended the decade on a quiet note, not releasing a single song in all of 2020.

Lamar’s gentle exit to the decade leaves fans speculating about a new album to come in 2021. In an interview with Baby Keem for i-D, Lamar showed his mindset when it comes to making music: “I spend the whole year just thinking about how I’m gonna execute a new sound. I can’t do the same thing over and over. I need something to get me excited.” Lamar has also stated he has “new material on the way.” All these speculations leave fans wondering if after four years, we will finally get an album from the California rapper.

2. Rihanna / Balance: It has been nearly five years since we last got a Rihanna album, and she has been teasing fans ever since. The “Umbrella” singer finds herself in a situation being pressured left and right by fans to release her much anticipated album. Rihanna’s last album, ANTI, was a major success, going double-platinum and topping the charts. It included hit songs such as “Work” featuring Drake, and “Love on The Brain.” 

Rihanna has made multiple speculations about her next album, which even had fans thinking it was coming out in 2020. Rihanna is in no rush to release her album though, as she has claimed that she just wants to have fun with her music and do what makes her happy. One of the main reasons Rihanna hasn’t released her album is her desire to portray her music to the world once more; she has stated, “I want to go on tour but I can’t, and now I’m stuck with music that I love.” 

Although not out yet, we know a lot about the Barbados singer’s new album, as she has been teasing it for over three years now. Back in November 2019, on an Instagram post, Rihanna’s caption left fans wondering whether she had just released the title of her new project: “this year has been quite an overwhelming one, and I’m working on that ish called Balance. brb.” Rihanna has also confirmed this will be a reggae album as it “always feels right” for her, and it is in her blood. As to when the album will drop, no one really knows for sure, as fans have been waiting for so long now, but Rihanna made sure to address the situation, as she has said, “It’s probably going to be sooner than fans think,” while also stating, “I’m not just gonna put it out just because people are waiting. It’s taken this long; I’m gonna make it worth it.”

1. Drake / Certified Lover Boy: This pandemic hasn’t stopped Drake from working and putting out projects. Arguably the greatest rapper of this generation, the 6 God had a very successful 2020, releasing mixtapes and hit singles. Drake now focuses on leaving his mark in the new year.

2021 has a lot in store for Drake as he prepares to release his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy, which is supposed to show more of a personal, emotional side. Drake had planned to initially release this album in the summer of 2020. After many months of waiting, fans were getting on Drake for not releasing the anticipated project. On October 24, Drake’s 34th birthday, the rapper, along with his label released a minute-long trailer containing a January release date. 

As we enter March of 2021, fans are wondering whether the “Hotline-Bling” rapper has been lying about the release date once again. After having surgery, Drake went to Instagram to address the situation to his fans, “between surgery and rehab my energy has been dedicated to recovery.” This came to a surprise to many fans as they were worried for the Toronto native. Drake finished his post stating, “CLB won’t be dropping in January,” but while also getting fans excited saying he is “ looking forward to sharing it with you all in 2021.”

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