18 Hip-Hop Storylines To Watch Out For In 2018
Photo Credit: Laura Alston for Okayplayer
With 2017 in the rearview, @Okayplayer mapped out some possible hip-hop storylines that might play out in the new year. What do you think?
2017 served as a monumental year for music fans and non-music fans alike. With the reality that Donald Trump is still the president of our country, the accused sexual misconduct of Harvey Weinstein began a sickening trend in pop culture, and an absurd race to Mars between Tesla and Boeing even cracked the headlines — it’s probably in everyone’s best interests to stay ahead of the curve at all times.
2017 also marked the sudden return of some of the GOATs, including Eminem, Jay-Z and N.E.R.D. — to name a few. Success-wise, Diddy took the #1 spot (again) on the Forbes Cash Kings list cashing out at over $130 million, Cardi B became the first female solo rapper to top the Billboard Hot 100, and Kendrick Lamar released one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history, with each of the 14 tracks off DAMN. charting the Billboard Hot 100.
And this is to not to forget the never-ending advances in technology and social media. With a plethora of music streaming platforms to choose from, SZA’s stand out CTRL record, “Weekend,” achieved Platinum status — without even being released as a single! How Sway?!
All that to say that as we approach 2018 and all its glory, we’ve kept our eyes ahead for what’s next to be in the mix before the ingredients are even poured. @Okayplayer mapped out 18 storylines that might play out in hip-hop and pop culture this year. Let us know if you agree, disagree or have one to add of your own!
Is Big Sean Finally Coming For Kendrick Lamar’s #1 Spot?
What a time to be a rap fan, right?! It all began back in 2013, when Big Sean released his No I.D.-produced track, “Control,” featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica. It wouldn’t have been a big deal… if K. Dot didn’t annihilate everyone and anyone on his verse (Big Sean included).
Fast forward to Kendrick’s own shit-talking effort, “The Heart Pt. 4,” where he raps, “My fans can't wait for me to son your punk ass and crush your whole lil shit. I'll Big Pun your punk ass you a scared lil bitch. Tip-toeing around my name nigga you lame. And when I get at you homie don't you just tell me you was just playin.”
Now, word on the curb is that Sean threw the pendulum back at the King of Both Coasts on “Big Bidness,” which is from his Metro Boomin-collaborative album, Double Or Nothing. On the song, the Detroit rapper says, “Nobody sonning me / If I am a sun, I’m the one you look up to / Fuck you!”
Pretty strong and direct words from the G.O.O.D. Music lyricist. And it sounds like it is a straight response to what Kung-Fu Kenny said in “The Heart Pt. 4,” so if 2018 isn’t the year these two don’t battle it out and go bar-for-bar then it just might never happen.
Who Will Be 2018’s Most Talked About Hip-Hop Artist?
With the sudden surge of SoundCloud rappers and trap artists, hip-hop as we know it has suddenly transitioned from meaningful storytelling to how many followers you have on Instagram. Luckily for artists like Jay-Z and Kanye West, they don’t have to worry about all that stuff as big balling legends in the game.
But also, this may just be a wake up call to hip-hop fans around the world to not lose sight of the authenticity in music’s leading genre. Maybe (hopefully), artists like GoldLink, who was actually an XXL Freshman back in 2015, will finally get the shine he deserves. Other artists that come to mind include IDK, Big K.R.I.T., Cousin Stizz, Rapsody, and Anderson .Paak
Will one of these artists become the much talked about superstar act of 2018 through delivering lyrics with substance and style? We shall see.
Will Cardi B’s Reign Continue Through The New Year?
Statistics aside, “Bodak Yellow” will forever be a part of the hip-hop culture. This is all part of the plan. Cardi B knew exactly what she had to do to stay relevant — to avoid the “one-hit-wonder” labels. Just months later, Cardi somehow manages to land herself on yet another hit: “No Limit” by G-Eazy featuring herself and A$AP Rocky.
It doesn’t end there. Before the year ended, she joined an all-star bill of artists on “MotorSport”. “I turn Offset on,” hmph, Cardi’s verse still manages to hail over the rest of those featured. And being engaged to Migos member Offset is just another reason for Cardi to remain in the limelight.
Cardi B has surpassed the one-hit-wonder claim, so will she continue to dominate in 2018?
We certainly hope so.
Is Revival Eminem’s Last Album Before He Goes Away?
With Eminem’s rollout of Revival, it was realized that Slim Shady’s marketing was actually a secret plot for his return all along. And yet, when he released “Walk On Water,” which featured Beyoncé, listeners were at a loss for words. Was Eminem going soft on us?
Hell, even if he is, is it that bad? Times have changed. Rap has changed. Becoming emotionally vulnerable is a great move for those who can open up. The sincere question is whether or not fans will accept him for who he is or will he fall victim to the shady and pettiness of the internet.
With a Revival tour in the works, mixed-to-negative reactions over his project fueling the discussion and a new generation removed of Slim Shady’s antics — is this the last hoorah of the Dirty Dozen MC?
Will There Be No End To Music Streaming Platforms In 2018?
Once upon time, an artist’s success was measured by how many CD’s they could sell. Blogs and magazines were still a reliable source of new music and radio stations were still the go-to’s for artists to break their new single. Fast forward through the decade and a never-ending supply of media and technology, we now enter a new era: the streaming era.
At any given moment, anyone can sign up for Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL, SoundCloud, YouTube, Pandora… the list goes on. It’s like asking, which one is better: Hulu or Netflix? Both kick ass.
Kanye West is even rumored to have his own music streaming platform in the works for 2018. Will something like this trump Jay-Z and TIDAL?
Source: The Music
Does 2018 Mark The Return Of Autotune To Prominence?
We’re talking about full-on autotune, y’know, like T-Pain era styled autotune. You cannot forget the greatness of that time. “Bartender,” “Can’t Believe It,” which featured Lil Wayne, “Buy U A Drank,” and our favorite one of them of all: “I’m Sprung”. While purist scold this voice-altering instrument, we’re here to defend its case.
Regardless, the end goal is to make something for the fans to enjoy. An artist like 24Hrs is living proof that autotune is nothing but a tool to enhance one’s God given talents. With acts such as Travis Scott and more still finding usage of the audio augmenting tool, will 2018 mean that someone will be atop the Billboard Hot 100 with an autotune hit?
Will Ty Dolla $ign Finally Get The Recognition He Deserves?
Beach House 3 was one of the best projects to drop in 2017. From “Toot It & Boot It” all the way to “Ex” featuring YG, Ty Dolla $ign somehow has the ability to turn every record into a club-friendly hit. Linking with Fifth Harmony on “Work From Home” also proved to be a win, gaining Ty a loyal fanbase from the pop realm.
This also led to his current relationship with Fifth Harmony member Lauren Jauregui. Still, with trusted sources revealing Ty spends most of his time in the studio, we can only hope and anticipate what 2018 holds.
Photo Credit: Averie Cole for Okayplayer
Will Trap Music & Mumble Rap Continue To Dominate In 2018?
Case in point: Spotify’s Rap Caviar playlist, which has become an entity of its own. The fact that this was originally started by the people has everything to do with its rise in popularity. If you didn’t have Spotify before, you do now and Rap Caviar is now music’s most influential playlist.
At any given time, you have access to 50 of the hottest hip-hop songs out. With millions of followers, Rap Caviar suddenly has the ability to turn SoundCloud rappers into megastars: Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Pump, Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Migos… you get the point.
Will the buying public get tired of the turn up? Or is trap music and mumble rap here to stay for the 21st century?
Photo Credit: Ginny Suss for Okayplayer
Will Drake’s New Music Begin The Decline Of His Career?
Drake stans knew better when a bootleg copy of Scriptures popped up out of nowhere. In fact, Drake knew better, debunking the rumors as quickly as they started. But have no fear. Before the end of the year, we get a mysterious post hinting at an MF Doom collab. The caption reads “Just keep ya eye out like aye aye captain,” followed by a GOAT emoji.
Drake has remained relatively quiet since the release of More Life in March. It’s safe to say that when he’s not touring the world or putting on for his extremely talented OVO roster, he’s probably gearing up for his next release. But will this mark the declining of Aubrey Graham’s place at the top?
As he has said as much in his Hollywood Reporter cover story, Drake has his eyes set back upon Tinsel Town. With a few projects in the works, plus the entertainment industry’s love for Toronto’s charismatic son — whatever this musical effort is it could spell the waning years of Drake’s supremacy atop the Billboard charts.
Source: Vanity Fair
Will Rihanna Connect With Beyoncé To Slay Everyone In 2018?
Rihanna only shows up where she needs to be. Beyond her feature on N.E.R.D.’s first single in 7 years, “Lemons,” Rih’s Fenty line has her giving Diddy a run for his money, with the makeup alone cashing out at over $72 million within the first month of hitting shelves.
Without dismissing Rapsody’s much-deserved success, Rihanna also holds it down as the First Lady of Hov’s Roc Nation. In an effort to “break the internet,” the Bajan belleza could melt entire galaxies in collaborating with Beyoncé for a song of immense proportions. What if these two joined forces? A Riyoncé feature to take millions away from the monotony of the NFL Super Bowl? It could happen, y’know?
As @Badgalriri gears up to take another stab at the big screen in Ocean’s Eight — one can only hope that this Barbados-Houston connection happens in a major super A-lister way.
How Will Legalized Marijuana Affect Hip-Hop?
As more and more states convert to the legalization of marijuana and its medicinal use, this leaves many to speculate where our judicial system stands. In the past, it was not uncommon for rappers to make headlines any time they were caught with any type of cannabis paraphernalia.
In Texas, Paul Wall was charged with a felony for the same amount of marijuana that is now legal in California. With these new laws in place, what happens to all those who were convicted in the past?
On that note, #FreeMeekMill.
Will Sonny Digital’s “Producer’s Union” Be A Reality In 2018?
From Sonny Digital’s loud and proud call for a Producer’s Union to Metro Boomin’s Twitter rant calling out APG, it’s been time for producers to receive the credit they deserve. It makes sense. The beat is the foundation for every hit record.
The issue became even more apparent when French Montana was hounded for forgetting the name of the producers responsible for his hit single, “Unforgettable,” featuring Swae Lee. While this gave 1Mind, 3 kids from Indiana the exposure they needed, it served as a wakeup call to the music industry as a whole.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Lozovsky for BFA
Will SZA’s Successful Year Continue Into The New Year?
Yes. CTRL is a masterpiece. With songs like “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott, “Supermodel,” “Broken Clocks,” “Drew Barrymore”... where has TDE been hiding her? In fact, SZA herself isn’t sure how she got to the top. While it’s hard to believe, she is just your average girl from St. Louis.
SZA closed out the year with an impressive nationwide tour, a musical guest slot on the still popular Saturday Night Live and a funkier-than-a-mosquito remix to “The Weekend” with Calvin Harris. With a fresh 365 on the board, the clamor for more SZA is as palpable as it is bankable. Will she go the Solange route and tour on CTRL for another year?
Or will she up the ante on her position as a role model for all females with a new project that continues her successful status? Can’t wait to see…
How Will XXXTENTACION’s Criminality Affect His Hip-Hop Career?
It’s safe to say that XXX is one of the most controversial artist to come out of 2017. It all started when the Florida rapper took to social media to diss Drake. Now, at 5.1 million followers on Instagram, the king of post-and-delete has fans and music industry execs alike wondering about his claim to fame.
XXX still carries the weight of a pretend suicide stunt and charges of sexual assault, yet continues to manage to preserve his cult fanbase. For the rest of us, we’re still not convinced. Does XXX deserve a second chance? Is jail going to snap some sense into him? Or will the bad boy image imbue his career with rock star like proportions?
Does 2018 Mean We’ll Get A Trippie Redd / Lil Wayne / Drake Collab?
Trippie Redd’s popularity comes with creating his own lane within hip-hop. By combining the genres of R&B, rap, rock, and pop alike, his song, “Rack City/Love Scars 2,” sits high with views over 12 million and (counting). So, all in all, it sounds like the future is bright for the 18-year-old out of Canton, Ohio.
Which could explain why fans were left in a frenzy when Trippie took to social media to tease an upcoming collab with Drizzy in the works. But it doesn’t end there. More recently, Redd was sighted in the studio with his favorite rapper of all-time: Lil Wayne.
If (and when) we get these three together on a track, it’ll be #YoungMoolah2018 for sure.
Source: The Late Show
Does Macklemore Get His Black Pass Back In 2018?
With the announcement of Macklemore’s co-headlining summer tour with Kesha, we can’t help but wonder about his stance in the rap game. While one can only dream of a world that doesn’t see color, we’ll never forget that pivotal moment when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis somehow beat out Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Drake for “Best Rap Album” at the 2014 Grammys.
Fast forward three years, and it seems as if all is forgiven for Macklemore. His songs still chart and demand for tickets are high. Does this mean we’ll see the rest of the (black) hip-hop game do the same and re-embrace the Seattle superstar? He might not be nominated for an award this year, but he also never submitted for consideration. Will this atonement be enough to get his same love from black people back? 2018 is a good enough time to find out.
Will Ad-Libs Kill Hip-Hop As We Know It?
Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia” had the world Milly Rocking their way through 2017 in epic fashion. A sure contender for top five songs of the year, one question remains: Can Carti actually rap? The release of his self-titled album certainly did not help his case, with the majority of critics concluding it was nothing more than an instrumental tape with ad-libs.
Such is the case with other rappers who popularized “mumble rap” (see: Migos, Lil Uzi Vert) and made money off it in a major way. As we step further into 2018, more and more rappers are using a catchy ad-lib and hook to skyrocket to stardom and fame. But at what cost? Will this new wave spell the end of hope for hip-hop?
Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer
Will 2018 Mark The Return Of Kanye West?
It’s not like Kanye Tudda ever left, y’know? While ‘Ye does an excellent job of staying low-key, the media still manages to plug the icon into its headlines. Recently, Kanye West jumped out during Kid Cudi’s set in Chicago to perform for the first time in a year. This fueled rumors of the two working on a joint project even further.
The G.O.O.D. Music CEO also reached out to Jay-Z to mend their relationship. What if there was a Watch the Throne sequel in the works? Hell, even if a snippet were to leak that would start a fervor unlike anything that anyone else (even Chance the Rapper) could create. Regardless of what is and what isn’t, if there’s no tunes from the Chicago legend, we can at least bank on some new Yeezys to rock for summer ‘18.
ShirleyJu is a Los Angeles-based writer who grew up in the Bay Area. She lives, breathes, and sleeps hip-hop, and is literally on top of new music the moment it is released. If there’s a show in L.A., you can find her there. Follow the latest on her fomoblog.com and on Twitter @shirju.