2018 was an incredibly influential year for music, but now that it’s officially in the past, let’s look towards the future and discuss the 25 projects we need in 2019.
BJ the Chicago Kid has been an underrated legend in the R&B game for upwards of a decade, and it’s high time the underratedaspect be gotten rid of. With a vocal delivery as smooth as butter and a knack for songwriting that rivals any purveyor of love and lust, BJ has over the course of his career released or been a part of some of the most influential slow jams of his time. Without a proper alum since 2016’s In My Mind and without a signature career project, 2019 might as well be the year for his move.
We certainly talk about her enough for most to think her catalogue is stocked full of lengthy, innovative projects, but the UK’s Mahalia has only one album and two EP’s to her name since 2015. Though her debut album, Diary of Me was indicative of a talent on the rise, her releases since the beginning of 2017 have made her one of if not the most exciting artist in all of music. If any vocalist, lyricist, or instrumentalist is primed for a big 2019, Mahalia – as the complete package – is the most anticipated artist of the now.
Good news for fans of the charismatic caricature that is Virginia’s DRAM, the lovable rapper and vocalist has already hinted of a project in the works and is expected in the very near future. His last project, Big Baby DRAM (Deluxe) was put out in 2017 but was only an expansion upon his 2016 debut album under the same name. As Bubble Rap and the positivist movement in hip-hop have continued to take hold, a sophomore album from DRAM – one of the movement’s founding fathers – would be welcome, timely, and of course, just really good, fun-loving music.
With 2017’s Freudian, Daniel Caesar solidified his stance as king of R&B and neo-soul’s young generation. There is no one today with a more impactful, influential position in both burgeoning movements. Though he’s been relatively quiet in the time since, his guest appearances and sole single have been expectedly bold and transcendental musical gems. Collaborations with Jessie Reyez, Peter Cottontale, and Anderson .Paak’s band, The Free Nationals have exhibited his wide-ranging, unfailing delivery. Moving into 2019 with R&B and neo-soul the most quickly-expanding directions in music, a project from Daniel Caesar may very well come to define the moment.
It’s hard to believe that half-a-decade has passed since Casey Veggies got together with Rockie Fresh for one of the most key collaborative mixtapes in recent history, Fresh Veggies. It’s not only the name, the entire project was simply meant to be and helped to usher in the impossible cool of seeming effortlessness in hip-hop. The two have teased a follow-up effort for years and we’ve finally had enough. 2019 needs to be the year that we get Fresh Veggies 2. We’ve earned it, the hip-hop world needs it, and it could come to greatly affect the direction of modern music.
Psychedelic Toronto future R&B duo, Majid Jordan fell out of pattern from their string of 2016-2017 annual album releases with a 2018 that instead boasted only two singles. However, those two tracks, Spirit and All Over You displayed further growth and expectedly experimental decisions that make us confident that if and when another project comes our way in 2019, it’s going to be every bit as intriguing and important on a grand scale as their previous two. Majid Jordan represent a bold, courageous, and wildly inventive side of R&B’s burgeoning tomorrow, so a new project would be key.
SZA isn’t a secret anymore. The TDE songstress has exploded onto the scene over the past few years to grab a top spot in R&B and neo-soul. 2017’s cntrl was one of the most important and influential albums of the past couple years and her collaborative effort on the Black Panther’s All The Stars was one of 2018’s biggest hits. But, with time between projects, relative quietness since her last, and a crown to protect, 2019 could be the year that SZA reemerges and proves to us all why she’s one of the most important vocalists alive.
Of all the workhorses in art and music, Kojey Radical stands alone. The British-Ghanaian singer, songwriter, poet, rapper, producer, designer, videographer, director, and screenwriter saw a 2018 that essentially produced everything expect for an album or project. With a vast collection of singles, music videos, and features, Kojey was seemingly everywhere to be found across the UK’s explosive soundscape, highlighting tracks with fellow British stars on the rise Jay Prince, Mahalia, and Poppy Ajudha amongst others. If by nothing other than his own talent and hard work, 2019 will be his and a project will cement his ownership.
The world needs a new Rihanna album, and it doesn’t even matter what form it takes. The wide-ranging talent spans R&B, hip-hop, and even occasionally reggae and wraps it in the massive bow of internationally acclaimed pop. If there were ever three stylings buzzing as we head into 2019, the music she can bring into this world – at the scale she can deliver – is necessary. Plus, we know a new Rihanna album will bring with it a collection of starry collaborations in tow. At the end of the day, it would just be a banger, and there’s no doubt about it.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, Schoolboy Q’s 2016 album, Blank Face paled in comparison to any of his prior work. But we know he has more to offer. The TDE star who, like most of the superstar label other than SiR and Jay Rock, took the year to focus on the Black Panther soundtrack, is due for another production. But when it comes, expect it to be a marathon, star-studded project. All of his previous albums have come in around an hour and have no shortage of feature artists. 2019 would be the perfect year for Q to reemerge.
It’s selfish of us to even ask for another project from Qveen Herby – the reinvented Karmin frontwoman who has put out four short projects over the past couple of years – but what we want is an album. A debut album to be specific. The multi-talented singer, rapper, and songwriter has exploded onto the scene and has quickly become an icon musically, fashionably, and as a positivist, self-loving role model. Qveen Herby is primed to take the world by storm and has all the star power and creative direction to become one of the biggest names in music.
We’ve needed the next series in Isaiah Rashad’s lyrically-prolific, flow-specific hip-hop for years. Again, another TDE star is due up for something big in 2019, and considering how much his 2016 sophomore project, The Sun’s Tirade, shot him into the stratosphere, his first album as a true and dominant figure of the hip-hop limelight is bound to be something big. Plus, the TDE cosign naturally brings with it a long list of collaborations from music’s best, so we’re looking forward to a massive joint effort and a long, lyrical, and innovative delivery from the long-overdue Rashad.
In 2015, Atlanta’s collaborative hip-hop group, Two-9 dropped their innovative, acclaimed debut project, B4FRVR and the world, just like they had predicted, went f***ing crazy. Their sophomore project however, FRVR, failed to live up the hype, the critical acclaim, or the public reaction. As the entire crew has moved into individual careers, some of their core, unique ability to collaborate seemed pushed aside. But with 2019, Two-9 is due for another project and the sophomore slump is hopefully behind them. As one of the premier hip-hop collectives that the young generation has to offer, another smash album would be huge for music.
There are few if any artists in music today with a more low-key yet fervent grip on music’s direction. Much more than a producer and much like the next generation’s James Blake, Toronto’s quiet wunderkind, River Tiber is one of the most important musical minds today. The young transcendentalist leads a career defined by mystery and experimentalism both at a scale rarely achieved. And yet, his music and each and every artist he collaborates with fluidly direct the future of music’s course. Without a project since his 2016 debut Indigo, and for the first time really existing as a figure in the limelight, an album from River Tiber could be one of the most artistically important of the year.
The world needs a debut full-length album from Raveena. The New York lovechild and peaceful soul is even more well-delineated by the peace in her soulful voice. Her music is some of the most uniquely listenable and undeniably inventive in the international neo-soul scene, and an explosion in her following over the past year has left her primed to take the world by storm with the aid of a long-awaited and sure-to-be-beautiful debut album. Also, as first and foremost a social, spiritual leader, such a project would be about much more than music.
If there has been a developing concept worth watching as 2018 ends and 2019 begins, it’s the new project from acclaimed, award-winning songwriter Sterling Fox, Baby FuzZ. As a timely and musically-transformative thesis on the state of American failure, Baby FuzZ is merging folk and mellow pop music with an important study on American culture from a particularly humorous and satirical point of view. Needless to say, the project is shaping up to be a socio-political masterpiece with musical experimentation bold and beautiful to match. As it turns into a debut project, the messages are bound to become more obvious and well-rounded.
Few made a bigger splash into the 2018 international grey area of music’s indefinability than Yaeji. The rapper and DJ of all things brashly experimental, bizarre, Korean-influenced, and impossibly addicting popped as her 2017 EP, EP2 gained serious traction and shot her into the limelight. But, still without a proper full-length album and constantly expanding artistically, Yaeji is set to have an even bigger 2019. Her international fan base is equally inter-stylistic, granting her boundless range and limitless growth in popularity and creativity. Can’t wait to see what’s to come.
Glass Animals – one of the most sought aftert bands in all of music, have never failed to deliver anything but defining, inexplicable, experimental projects. Their debut album, ZABA was released in 2014 to acclaim and widespread influence across the electronically- inspired pop sector of music and their 2016 sophomore album, How To Be A Human Being did the same even while taking a wildly different direction. With a silent 2018, Glass Animals missed the opportunity to continue a streak of releases every two years, only building the expectations for something more in 2019.
PARTYNEXTDOOR has been missing in action since the release of 2017’s short project, Seven Days, and 2016’s explosively popular, P3. His silence has been interesting considering much of the experimental hip-hop and R&B scene that we’re seeing today was so obviously influenced by his work. Hopefully, the break means that something more – and something more innovative, experimental, and eventually influential – has been being perfected behind Toronto’s closed doors. Stepping out of the shadows and giving the world another project wouldn’t just be huge for PND, but huge for music and its future directions.
James Blake has been teasing us lately – much like he’s teased the world through his entire mysterious career – with the release of something big. Music’s quiet, impossibly talented mad man is always difficult to predict, but never fails in delivering music that defines the direction of its own future. Surrounded by a well-connected, supportive, loving circle of creative geniuses, a project from James Blake would be much like a project from all of music’s elite. And for that reason, amongst the fact that we simply want to see what he’s been working on lately, a 2019 album from one of this generation’s most established creative geniuses is necessary.
The Free Nationals have long lived just behind the curtain of fame with their drummer / frontman, Anderson .Paak exploding onto the scene as a pseudo-solo artist over the past three years. But, with his continued growth has also come their continued exposure and a stream of artists are lining up to work with them. If Daniel Caesar’s collaborative effort with the band, Beauty & Essex, proves anything, it’s that a full-length debut album from The Free Nationals headlining music’s best vocalist would become a defining work of jazz, funk, neo-soul, and R&B the likes of which we’re yet to receive in the modern era.
Skepta is Skepta and that’s reason enough for us to want a new project from the godfather of grime himself. Even though he hasn’t put together a full-length project since 2016’s Konichiwa, he’s seemingly everywhere all the time collaborating with and appearing next to every big name in hip-hop and rap across the world. That being said, as the soundscape of UK music has drastically changed since the release of Konichiwa, the world is interested in seeing what he can being to the table that prove him still an influential and necessary force not only on London, but on the entire world of music.
In the world of mellow pop, bedroom pop, DIY, and left-of-center futurist Americana, there is no artist with more unanswered intrigue than Still Woozy. The experimentalist, transcendentalist, and master of grey area indefinability has nothing but positivity and bold differentiation to bring to music. But, with only a handful of single releases through his young career, a proper project is bound to manifest this year and bring Still Woozy into the bizarre, emerging limelight of artists that never thought they’d make it out of their parent’s basement. A new era of pop is upon us and Still Woozy is a major player.
Another young British force of futurist waves, Little Simz has established herself one of the key forces in lyrically-prolific hip-hop music. Coming in at an impossibly young age, her catalogue is massive and honestly unapparelled in the arena of female UK rappers. But, that being said, Little Simz has left us without a project for more than a year – a long stretch for her prolific canon – and 2019, with all of the bubbling excitement and influential explosion we’re seeing in the UK right now, is the perfect year for her to release something new.
Jvck James is one of the most exciting young talents in music. And though no artists need be defined by their age, he’s only 19 and that’s insane. With a soulful range as powerful as anyone else making romantically in-tune hits, an ability to drop bars as clean and wordy as the work of any of his countrymen, and bubbly production as bold as anyone in music, the young UK multi-dimensionalist is headed to the top of international music. 2019 is the year for his debut and the year that we’ll really see him step out into the limelight with his one-of-a-kind sound in tow.