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25 Projects We Need in 2022-01.jpg

2021 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 2022. 

A$AP Rocky

The always elusive A$AP Rocky is a proprietary member of this list. With his last album coming in the form of 2019’s TESTING, and a whole lot of teasing towards his newest, All Smiles being on the way, he’s going through the motions that have long made him a master of the rollout. But no matter when it comes, one thing is for certain: A$AP Rocky’s new album is bound to be experimental, unapologetic, and brimming with the kind of bass-ridden, hard-hitting energy paired perfectly with the crystalline charisma that has made him one of the most dynamic hip-hop stars in history.

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Anderson .Paak

Yes, we know that Anderson .Paak technically dropped in 2021. Silk Sonic is obviously amazing, and no offense to Bruno Mars, but there’s a world full of .Paak fans that are still waiting for a new solo album. His last was Ventura in 2019, and since then, he has delivered us a brace of collaborative collections including a self-titled debut from the Free Nationals. But for more than hip-hop, or funk, or soul, or R&B, or rock, or whatever end of any given spectrum that you try and attach Anderson .Paak’s name to, there is simply music at its broadest definition waiting to see what he does next.

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Ari Lennox

Ari Lennox blessed us all in 2020 with her debut studio album, Shea Butter Baby, and has put together righteous lists of both single releases and featuring verses in the time since, including some stellar performances alongside the rest of the star-studded Dreamville roster. But, with a sound like hers – bleeding with passion and power – it’s only natural that the R&B soulscape wants to see how she’s progressed and how her sound will undoubtedly progress the scene at large. After all, all she’s ever done is push the envelope.

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Brent Faiyaz

The Baltimore born and bred songwriter and vocalist has been painting the underbelly of R&B with a merging of vibrant sensitivity and unapologetic sensuality since her dropped his debut, Sonder Son, and his collaborative debut with producers and DJ’s Dpat and Atu, Into, in the same year. And though the time between 2017 and his acclaimed 2020 album, Fuck The World were spaced apart generously, there’s an uptick in his usually restrained limelight appearances that hopefully point towards something else in the works.

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Bryant Taylorr

Is he a singer who raps, or a rapper who sings? Does it matter? Nashville-native, Bryant Taylorr can do it all, and is a huge reason why the Music City’s hip-hop and soul orbiting undergrounds have been nothing of not explosive over the past few years. With a short project, RARE in 2020 and no collections before that other than 2017 debut, Juice – and with so much of his city embarking on a dynamic schedule of releases – now would be high-time for Taylorr (yes, with two r’s) to pull together an album that can both define Nashville’s year and continue the city’ imminent rise up the ranks.

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Christian Scott

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah hates the term Jazz, and it’s understandable as to why. The name is pejorative, exclusionary, and fails to reflect on the rhythmic roots of interpretive, improvisational instrumentalism. Adjuah, on the other hand, is a masterful modernist at interpretive, improvisational instrumentals, and his 2019 thesis on his intersections with West African rhythms, Ancestral Recall was an eye-opening, and teachable album the wright of which that few in any corner of music can claim to have achieved. With 2020 live album, Axiom coming as his last official collection release, and an unsolidified performance schedule at the hands of a pandemic, here’s to hoping he’s got something else indefinable to share.


East Atlanta’s – Dreamville’s – Olu and Wowgr8’s EARTHGANG are a special duo. The rappers and vocalists have reinvented the hip-hop partnership for a modern era, seamlessly weaving in and out of one another’s verses and hooks, often with other featuring names, for a sound that in one fell swoop calls to mind reminiscence on Outkast while simultaneously reinventing the wheel altogether. Mirrorland in 2019 as well as all of their contributions to Revenge of the Dreamers III. Their East Atlanta collective, Spillage Village’s album, Spillagion in 2020. And hopefully, in 2022, a new album of their own so the world can bask in what hip-hop will one day sound like at the hands of their imminent influence.

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Ella Mai

Ella Mai has already had the kind of pronounced impact on Neo-Soul and R&B that most good artists will boast through a lifetime of work. But Ella Mai is not good. Ella Mai may not even be great. Since the release of her 2018 self-titled debut album, she has been on the path towards status as a melodically infused queen in music whose omnipotence is defined equally by her voice and her poeticism. There’s no denying that it’s been a little while since we’ve heard from the UK soulstress, and no denying either that the world could benefit from a new project from Ella Mai.

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Jay Prince

From London comes Jay Prince, and from Jay Prince hopefully comes a new album in 2022. 2018’s CHERISH was one of the most excitingly harmonious works to come out of the year. The same can be said about 2019’s WONDER. And 2020, too, brimmed with a duo of shorts, SOL, VOL. 1 + 2 that continued Prince’s steady ascension as one of the most uniquely well-balanced rappers and singers anywhere in the globe. Hopefully, some silence in his 2021 release schedule hints at something a little larger in the works.

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Jazmine Sullivan

2021 started off to the bang of Jazmine Sullivan’s fiercely feminist drum, Heaux Tales. The EP was her first since 2016’s Reality Show, so to ask for more so soon might seem a little selfish, but she, herself said an album was on the way. So, forgive us Jazmine, but we’re ready for it. If Heaux Tales is any indication, Jazmine Sullivan is musically picking up right where she left off, blaring forceful vocals and a whole lot of thought-provoking dynamism into the soundscape. So, whatever’s next – should it build off of Heaux Tales or not – is bound to change the game even further.


Same conversation, different artist. Just like EARTHGANG, JID hasn’t exactly been absent since his last release, DiCaprio 2 in 2018. But he also hasn’t been nearly as selfish as we want him to be. Truthfully, he hasn’t really released much since his immense contributions to Revenge of the Dreamers lll in 2019. And that project ascended him to the lyrical thrown of hip-hop. So, at whatever time he chooses to drop his next album, it’s perfect timing because the world is bubbling over with anticipation.


Kaytranada’s BUBBA may very well have been the best album of 2019. A stylistically fluid, undeniably dynamic exhibition of his ability to not only produce for anyone and everyone on the planet, but to tie it all together with the steady hand of a house DJ and classical composer blended into one, the album did the impossible by living up to, and ultimately exceeding the musical importance and brash genius of his debut of the same makings, 99.9%. Now a few years later, and an EP at the tail end of 2021, and the world is ready to once again be brought together by the boundary-defying dance party that he ignites.

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Kendrick Lamar

Like a few other names on this list, Kendrick Lamar pretty much lives here. We know it’s selfish of us to ask for an album from one of the greatest to ever do it who has proven time and again that his long bouts of silence are always spent piecing together masterpieces, but we’re asking anyway: hasn’t it been long enough? Whenever it comes, it’ll be perfect, because that’s what music’s most staunch perfectionist has always delivered. We’re just hoping that 2022 is the year that whatever the hell he’s been working on shows up on our doorstep.


The Houston-based trio have quickly become one of the most popular bands in the world, and for good reason. With a sound that defies both genre and epoch with ease, tying together psychedelic rock with a modern funk and Neo-Soul twist theirs is an aesthetic that pleases everyone from headie jam band fanatics to electro kids looking for predominantly instrumentally founded music to be taken in a new direction. 2020’s Mordechai was Khruangbin’s last solo album, and a collaborative EP with Leon Bridges, Texas Sun shot them into the stratosphere in the same year. And now, it’s time for more.

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Kojey Radical

There may not be a more exciting name in hip-hop, in Neo-Soul, and in the grey areas of everything modern, experimental, and vibrantly creative than Kojey Radical. Born and London to Ghanaian roots, the wide-ranging artist is seemingly good at everything. His 2019 album, Cashmere Tears shined a light on his ability to transcend music and cinematography at every scale. And with all signs pointing towards another album this year – one that he’s claiming as his proper debut – 2022 may just belong to Kojey Radical.


There have been few artists during the last half-decade that have undergone more of a musical transformation than the UK’s Mahalia. The soulstress has pipes to spare, effortlessly belting through a Winehouse-reminiscent register tales of love, lust, and loss, and making us all believe that those stories are our own in the process. Her 2016 debut collection was an inspiring collection of diary entries from a teenager just trying to make it in music. Her 2019 debut, LOVE AND COMPROMISE proved her versatility knows no walls. And an expansive collection of multiple takes on one single, Roadside, in 2021 showed it at even greater reach. Hopefully she’s bringing the next stage of evolution into 2022.


Like a few other names on this list, asking for more music – more insight, more knowledge, more truth, and more energy – from who might be considered modern hip-hop’s most prophetically poetic rapper, is unwise. But Noname’s music is just that important to the world. And the world – whether it knows it or not – needs the Chicago lyricist more than ever. So does hip-hop at large. Her penned contributions alone are enough to act as a reset button for the game, and her when socially skewing provocations are brought into focus, too, everyone is better off for it.


Raveena’s debut album, Lucid, came out in 2019. Though undeniably one of the most immersive and contemplative albums from that year, held together with explorations on emotional sensitivity, feminine strength, and vocal submersion, we’re all due for another energy reset from the New York soulstress’s rangy aesthetic. In a recent documentary, she hinted at an album not only in the works, put most certainly on the way, so here’s to hoping that it lands this year.

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Ravyn Lenae

Ravyn Lenae dropped her Crush EP – spearheaded by lights out 2017 single, Sticky – in 2018, and R&B was shaken to its core. The Chicago R&B magnate made an impression that is still being felt throughout the scene in beyond years later. But we’re all ready for more. With a silky range and an undeniably fun-loving knack at weaving the good vibes and addicting melodies into her music, 2022 seems like the perfect year for a Ravyn Lenae dance party. She’s been incredibly out of the limelight for years, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed.


What more is there to say? We know you’re busy, Rihanna. Between launching one of the most successful campaigns in recent fashion (and frankly, performance) history through Fenti and its surrounding fashion shows, subsequently approaching the billionaire marker, and following through on what seemed like a collective wish by dating A$AP Rocky, perhaps the R&B and hip-hop transcendent queen forgot about R&B and hip-hop. ANTI – her last album – came out in 2016, and though it indisputably holds up today as one of the most powerful and addicting projects to help bring R&B and hip-hop into the pop sphere in recent years, just imagine how powerful a new Rihanna album would be.

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Sabrina Claudio

Sabrina Claudio just has one of those voices that you can’t get out of your head. Defined by an utter smoothness and immersive emotionality that can’t really be compared, hers is an addition to R&B that confidently sent it askew since she first came on the scene with 2017 debut, About Time. Her 2019 follow-up, Truth Is, was truthfully another masterful composition. But since, aside from a Christmas collection and an extended version of her debut album, she’s been MIA ever since. Maybe 2022 is the year she finds all of our soundwaves again.


With an incredibly intentional pace of releases, allowing for the exhibitions of his intermittent growth to ascend him to the top of R&B music, Inglewood’s SiR is one of the most unique and ubiquitous artists in music today. Project after project, and album after album – all of which have belonged on any respectful curation of projects defining any given year – led to 2019’s Chasing Summer. And with 2022 upon us, the TDE crooner is due up for another reminder of why, like Kendrick and SZA both on this list – his name belongs next to theirs.


It’s almost indisputable that no one in music has a more unique sound and a more profound impact than St. Louis wordsmith, Smino. The rapper, vocalist, and all-around transcendentalist of our expectations on hip-hop and beyond has been steadily releasing some of the most curiously genius music for years. With a few singles and a smattering of features since his last album, NOIR, dropped in 2018, it’s high time for one of the hardest working names in hip-hop to pull another indefinable masterpiece into focus.


There are few in music whose impact on music has happened through, well… less music. SZA has been a figure on the scene since before her crystalline register earned her a spot on the Top Dawg Entertainment roster. Instead, in 2014, she changed the game with Z. And in 2017, she solidified her position at the top of R&B with the masterpiece that is Ctrl. But in the years since, relative silence minus a few singles and features here and there. But with the majesty of I Hate U and Good Days over the last couple of years to pair with an abundance of music fit for the golden screen, she’s certainly got something on the way. Let’s just hope it’s coming soon.

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Tobi Lou

Chicago’s Tobi Lou burst onto the scene in 2016 when an explosion of bubbly, fun-loving hip-pop singles introduced his art-school charisma to a scene constantly in search for something new. In 2019, the Chicago bubble rapper released his debut album, Live on Ice that captured his goofy demeanor and insane prolificity to the tune of a marathonic 21-track tape. And in 2022, we can only hope that he’s fine-tuning his craft and working towards a sophomore project perhaps more refined in scope, but every bit as charming as everything he’s been building towards for years.

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