Originals

22 Albums Okayplayer Can’t Wait to Hear in 2022

This year, new albums from artists like Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Freddie Gibbs, and Normani are expected to drop. Here are the most anticipated albums of 2022.

If 2021 proved anything, it’s that planning is a practice of our pre-pandemic lives. And with a new COVID-19 variant putting up record numbers across the globe, it seems the release calendar is damn-near the only thing we can count on the health of in 2022. 

Luckily, there are plenty of artists ensuring the vitality of this year’s rotations. Some are readying their second, or even third, drop since we all went into on-again-off-again hiding. So to keep you grounded, we’ve done our best to compile a list of the projects that we know are on the way in 2022, as well as the ones we’ve been waiting on since well before Omarion had to distinguish himself from a potentially fatal strain of the virus.

Scroll on for a scan of the most anticipated confirmed and long-rumored albums of 2022.

Earl Sweatshirt

Title: SICK!
Release Date: January 14, 2022

Earl Sweatshirt is set to deliver his fifth studio album this Friday. Source: Youtube

Just over two years (depending on whether you count the deluxe edition) since the release of FEET OF CLAY, Earl Sweatshirt is set to deliver his fifth studio album this Friday. Led by a trio of reflective singles and quite a bit of guest-work in the years between drops, SICK! will be a welcomed full-length return from the LA rapper. You can pre-order your digital copy of SICK! today ahead of the album’s official release.

EARTHGANG

Title: Ghetto Gods
Release Date: January 28, 2022

EARTHGANG is set to release their sophomore album, Ghetto Gods, in just a few weeks. Photo Credit: EARTHGANG press

Following a streak of one-off singles and tributes to luminary R&B figures, EARTHGANG is set to release their sophomore album, Ghetto Gods, in just a few weeks. The project was announced late last year with a trailer narrated by fellow ATLian, 2Chainz (who is also set to release a new album by the end of the month.) “American Horror Story,” a stirringly soulful lead single from the duo marked a first glimpse at the album. Hear it below and hold tight for the release of Ghetto Gods in the weeks to come.

Aaliyah

Title: Unstoppable
Release Date: January 2022

The first posthumous Aaliyah album will, in fact, be released at some point this month. Photo Credit: Sal Idriss/Redferns

After decades of setbacks, it appears the first posthumous Aaliyah album will, in fact, be released at some point this month. Though he was careful not to reveal a precise release date, the late singer’s uncle Barry Hankerson (who is also administering her estate) confirmed the album, Unstoppable, would arrive in January with features from Snoop Dogg, Future, Ne-Yo, and Drake (but suspiciously no one who actually worked with her when she was alive.) “Poison,” the first single and proof-of-concept for the album, is a duet of sorts with The Weeknd. Hear it below.

2 Chainz

Title: Dope Don’t Sell Itself
Release Date: January 2022

2 Chainz is saying that his upcoming album, Dope Don’t Sell, will be his final trap album. Source: Youtube

2 Chainz will be getting his year started with Dope Don’t Sell Itself, which he claims to be his final trap album. You read that right. The man who once referred to himself as “Trap-a-Velli” is hanging up the trilling hi-hats and booming low-ends for something he hasn’t quite articulated just yet. But a preview of his “new and exotic” phase may have come in the way of his latest single, “Million Dollars Worth of Game,” which was released last week (hear it below.) A firm date of release has yet to be revealed, but it shouldn’t be too long now.

Saba

Title: Few Good Things
Release Date: February 4, 2022

Based on the two lead-up singles, “Fearmonger” and “Stop That,” Saba’s next chapter will be a dynamic one. Photo Credit: C.T. Robert

Nearing four years since his breakout album, Care For Me, Saba is set to return with his third studio outing, Few Good Things, next month. Based on the two lead-up singles, “Fearmonger” and “Stop That,” the Chicago rapper’s next chapter will be a dynamic one, equally comfortable rhyming over icy loops and bright funky vamps.

Robert Glasper

Title: Black Radio 3
Release Date: February 25, 2022

Robert Glasper’s third installment of Black Radio is finally just around the corner. Photo of Artist by Mancy Gant.

Robert Glasper‘s third installment of Black Radio is finally just around the corner. Initially announced in early 2021 with the single “Better Than I Imagined,” the album is now three previews deep and already has one of the most impressive guest lists one could conjure. With the release of “Black Superhero,” Glasper adds Killer Mike, Big K.R.I.T., and BJ The Chicago Kid to a sequence that will also feature H.E.R., Meshell Ndegeocello, Tiffany Gouché, and D Smoke. Hear the latest single from Black Radio 3 below and pre-order your copy of the album today in a number of vinyl packages.

Ghostface Killah

Title: Supreme Clientele 2
Release Date: February 2022

Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele 2 will be executive produced by Kanye West and Mike Dean. Photo Credit: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Late last year, Ghostface Killah offered an all-caps update on the long-awaited sequel to his classic sophomore album, Supreme Clientele. On Reddit, of all places, Ghost claimed his next project was not only arriving in February of this year, but it would be executive produced by Kanye West and Mike Dean, a pair of elite beatmakers he hadn’t worked with in over a decade. Now, it’s unclear whether this will go the way of the mythical DOOMSTARKS album, but we could be looking at a full-chested return of Ghostdini next month. Suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Phife Dawg

Title: Forever
Release Date: March 22, 2022

Six years in the making, the posthumous Phife Dawg album, Forever, will finally arrive this spring. Photo Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Six years in the making, the posthumous Phife Dawg album, Forever, will finally arrive this spring on the anniversary of the late A Tribe Called Quest co-frontman’s death. Though it was technically announced just weeks after Phife’s death, the features and production for the project have been closely guarded ever since. The campaign for the album began with the release of the J Dilla-helmed “Nutshell” all the way back in 2016. It will presumably appear on Forever alongside the recently unveiled sequel and a collaboration with Dilla’s little brother, Illa J.

Normani

Title: TBA
Release Date: Summer 2022

Normani’s new album will be worth the wait. Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 3 Presented by Amazon Prime Video

The long and winding road to Normani‘s debut album has been filled with teases and top-shelf remixes. But there is an end in sight. Not long after the release of her latest single, “Wild Side” (which was recently treated to a stellar recalibration by Kaytranada) the singer offered a needed and necessary update on the still-untitled project. “I wanna tell you that summer is gonna be lit,” she told Entertainment Tonight. And if the loosies keep to their current rate and quality, it’ll be well worth the wait.

Kendrick Lamar

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

And while nothing’s confirmed until there’s an official announcement, it certainly seems Kendrick Lamar’s final TDE album will be arriving imminently. Photo Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Rap’s prodigal son has been hinting at his return for the better part of the last year. There have been leaks, parting words for his longtime label, Top Dawg Entertainment, and even a few callouts by way of a handful of appearances on Baby Keem‘s new album, The Melodic Blue. Hell, there’s even a suspected countdown to the project, pointing to an early February arrival (just in time to see him line up with Dr. Dre at the Super Bowl halftime show.) And while nothing’s confirmed until there’s an official announcement, it certainly seems Kendrick Lamar‘s final TDE album will be arriving imminently. But we’ll just have to keep to the holding pattern until further notice.

SZA

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

SZA has dropped three loosies last year on a spare Soundcloud account, leading to a viral run for two of them on TikTok, Source: Youtube

Another Top Dawg staple taking their time to craft their next project, SZA is making sure no detail goes overlooked for her sophomore album. But that hasn’t stopped her from scoring some of the biggest hits of the last two years, both on her own with “Good Days” and alongside Doja Cat on their smash collaboration “Kiss Me More.” Recently, SZA has been letting the fans steer her release schedule. The singer dropped three loosies last year on a spare Soundcloud account, leading to a viral run for two of them on TikTok, which led to an official release of “I Hate U,” complete with a Lakeith Stanfield-starring visual. All of which is to say, SZA is clearly in a crowd-pleasing stretch. And the call for her CTRL follow-up has never been louder.

Freddie Gibbs

Title: SSS (Soul Sold Separately)
Release Date: TBA

Freddie Gibbs is working with Pharrell, Kaytranada, Boi 1da, Jake One, DJ Paul and the Justice League on his upcoming album. Photo Credit: James “JMP” Pereira

For Freddie Gibbs, helming a follow-up to projects as unanimously heralded as Bandana and Alfredo isn’t a matter of how, but when. After lighting up the last year with some steel-toed one-offs, the Gary rapper seems primed for a victory lap. And instead of picking a single producer, Gibbs is bringing out the cavalry, tapping not just Madlib or Alchemist for Soul Sold Separately, but also Pharrell, Kaytranada, Boi 1da, Jake One, DJ Paul and the Justice League on his next project. The guest features for the album have yet to be announced, but like the release date for SSS, all will be revealed in time. Like, any moment now.

Danny Brown

Title: Quaranta
Release Date: TBA

Danny Brown said his album is completed and getting mixed by Top Dawg’s resident engineer MixedByAli. Photo Credit: Xavi Torrent/WireImage

Danny Brown capped last year with a bombshell reveal. According to the Detroit rapper’s interview with Anthony Fantano, a new album isn’t just in the works, but is already completed and getting mixed by Top Dawg’s resident engineer MixedByAli. Brown wouldn’t get into too many specifics, but he did let the title slip. It’s called Quaranta (as in Italian for “40”) and while it won’t feature any more work with Q-Tip (per his stellar 2019 album, uknowwhatimsayin) it will reportedly feature at least one reunion with The Alchemist. As for a release date, that’s anyone’s guess. But it seems you can expect far sooner than later.

J. Cole

Title: The Fall Off
Release Date: TBA

Signs seem to show J. Cole will release an album this year. Source: Youtube

Last year, even before he released The Off Season, J.Cole made it clear the current phase of his career could very likely be the last. In an interview with Slam, the North Carolina rapper dubbed it “The Fall Off Era.” And though he was seemingly more than comfortable calling it, he doesn’t appear to be there just yet. In fact, just a few months after the release of his latest album, Cole was back at it with a new single, “Heaven’s EP,” leaving some to suspect we might just have another project on our hands.

Koffee

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

Koffee broke out with the hit “Toast” in 2019. Source: Youtube

Like several artists on this list, Koffee has managed to captivate the attention of a global audience even without a full-length to their name. But by the end of 2022, that will no longer be the case. In October, the Jamaican singer, who broke out with the hit “Toast” in 2019, announced her debut album would land this year with the arrival of another earworming single in “West Indies” (hear it below.) There’s no date on the project yet, but it’s already one of the year’s most coveted drops.

Leikeli47

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

Leikeli47 is one of the most dynamic rappers in hip-hop. Source: Youtube

Leikeli47 was suspiciously quiet in 2021. In the year prior, the Flatbush rapper shared just one song. Fast forward to 2022, the arrival of her explosive new song “Chitty Bang” in the first week of the year signals we may have reached an exciting new frontier for one of the most dynamic rappers in hip-hop.

Joey Badass

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

Joey Badass has his sights set on this year for a follow-up to his 2017 album, ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. Photo Credit: Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images

It’s been a cool five years since the last studio album from Joey Badass. The years since have been filled with small-screen roles, loosies, and most recently, the three-track The Light EP. But now it seems the Brooklyn rapper has his sights set on this year for a follow-up to his 2017 album, ALL AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. And according to Joey himself, we could be getting our first glimpse of it as soon as this Friday, as the rapper tweeted the date along with two covers for a song or album called “The Revenge” earlier this week.

Tems

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

Tems confirmed she was working on something “extra special” for her first full-length studio album. Source: Instagram

Tems had one of the most miraculous years of any artist in 2021. After joining forces with Wizkid on what was inarguably the song of last summer, the “Essence” singer delivered a placeholder in her If Orange Was a Place EP. But 2022 won’t pass without a debut album proper. The Nigerian singer confirmed she was working on something “extra special” for her first full-length studio album.

Rosalía

Title: Motomami
Release Date: TBA

Rosalía will be delivering a follow-up to her Grammy-winning 2018 album, El Mal Querer this year. Photo Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/WireImage

Coming off a streak of high-profile collaborations, Rosalía will be delivering a follow-up to her Grammy-winning 2018 album, El Mal Querer this year. No firm date yet, but the campaign is well underway with the project’s first single, “LA FAMA,” which arrived with a piercing visual and an assist from The Weeknd.

Lucky Daye

Title: Candy Drip
Release Date: TBA

Though he’s yet to put it on the calendar, the NOLA-born R&B star claims we can expect his second project for Keep Cool to arrive at the “top of 2022.” Photo Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

With a sleek title track in rotation — and a supporting tour already in the book — Lucky Daye has all the pieces in place for the arrival of his sophomore album, Candy Drip. Though he’s yet to put it on the calendar, the NOLA-born R&B star claims we can expect his second project for Keep Cool to arrive at the “top of 2022.” Hear the album’s lead single below and keep an ear to the ground for updates on the release.

Orion Sun

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

Last year, Orion Sun signaled a new project could very well be in the works with the release of the tender, yet sturdy, new single, “concrete.” Photo Credit: Orion Sun

Back in 2020, Orion Sun delivered not one, but two, of the year’s most hypnotizing projects with A Collection of Fleeting Moments and Daydreams and Hold Space For Me. The time since has been fairly quiet save for a few features and a remix. But in quarter four of 2021, the singer and producer signaled a new project could very well be in the works with the release of the tender, yet sturdy, new single, “concrete.” Time will tell, though.

Armani Caesar

Title: TBA
Release Date: TBA

A sophomore project from the First Lady of Griselda could be right around the corner. Photo Credit: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Armani Caesar entered 2020 as Griselda’s unsung and mostly unseen hero. Then came The Liz, a polished and cohesive debut album for the northern New York squad that made it clear she was ready for the spotlight. And if we’re to take recent dispatches from the label’s go-to producer, Camouflage Monk, for his word, a sophomore project from the First Lady of Griselda could be right around the corner.

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Banner Graphic: Pope Phoenix

zo

Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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