From Joey Bada$$ to Skyzoo & Torae, 5 Anticipated NYC Albums of 2013Posted by Dharmic X on 01/29/13 | Filed under Top Stories, Opinion
New York City, long considered the epicenter of hip-hop, has “fallen off.” Or that’s what the critics, DJs, and “tastemakers” have been saying year after year. Active hip-hop listeners understand that in 2012, the New York City rap scene was as vibrant as it’s ever been. Nas overcame his personal demons to release a well-received album in "Life is Good". Action Bronson took the rap game by storm with two mixtapes that delivered him an album deal with Warner Brothers. The Beast Coast movement roared into prominence by the end of the year.
With that said, 2013 is gearing up to be perhaps an even bigger year for the Mecca as a whole. With that said, these are the five albums* that I’m looking out for with much anticipation.
*Note: These are all albums where no singles have been released thus far. For an album on the verge of release, there is Ill Bill’s "The Grimy Awards", which is shaping up to be a top album of the year. Three tracks have already come out, including two from last year.
1. Torae & Skyzoo - "Barrel Brothers"
This has been an album that boom-bap hip-hop enthusiasts have been craving for nearly five years now. Skyzoo and Torae, both Brooklyn-based hard body lyricists, have been steadily putting out material, oftentimes pairing up with each other for a song or two. After shooting down talks of a collaboration album for a couple of years, the two have finally confirmed that 2013 will be the year that the two come together to put together a full body of work.
If previous collaborations and projects can serve as a benchmark for what to expect, there should be a lot of heavyweight production (think Primo, 9th Wonder, !llmind, Pete Rock, etc.) and impeccable lyricism. Both emcees play off of each other extremely well, and already have the type of camaraderie to make this a truly special release. This will be tough to pass up on.
2. Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs - Title TBD
Meyhem Lauren established himself as a ferocious rhymer last year, releasing two solid projects ("Respect the Fly Shit" and "Mandatory Brunch Meetings") and featuring on projects for both the Alchemist and Action Bronson. For 2013, the Outdoorsman member has plans to put out three albums. While projects with Queens OG J-Love and the legendary Buckwild will certainly satisfy the palates of raw rap lovers, it is the collaboration with DJ Muggs (of Cypress Hill and Soul Assassins fame) that I believe has the potential to be something special.
Muggs has proven to have an ear for what is popular at the time (he just put out an incredible EDM album, what is classic and what works for individual artists. The hope is that Muggs will take Meyhem out of his element a bit and really challenge him to create concepts and records that are more than just spontaneous free verses cobbled together. This could be the album that really puts the Polo aficionado over the top.
3. Joey Bada$$ - Title TBD
2012 was the coming out party for Joey Bada$$. A star was born with the release of “Survival Tactics”, and by the end of the year, the release of "PEEP: The aPROcalypse" had everyone checking for the whole Pro Era movement.
Now it’s time for a full body of work that showcases the spectrum of what Joey Bada$$ stands for as an artist.
"1999" was an appetite-whetter, and Joey has already started 2013 off with a bang by releasing his collaboration with DJ Premier. This will be his first foray into using original production, and it is the sound of the album that could dictate which direction his future his heading in. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how the death of longtime friend Capital Steez influences his writing. This has the potential to affect Joey adversely, causing him to diminish output, but it also has the potential to spark really heartfelt, timeless music.
PS: As for the rest of Pro Era, at this point the only living member of the crew to release a complete solo project is Joey, with Steez having put out two mixtapes in 2012. Who will be the next to emerge as a solo act? My guess is that it will be CJ Fly, who received a significant boost by featuring on “Hard Knock” and proving himself.
4. Soul Khan & J57 - Title TBD
At this point, Soul Khan has managed to emerge from the stereotype that has plagued countless battle rappers trying to have their music taken seriously. Last year he released two dope EPs, including December’s "Psalm" which was a very emotion-driven record that seemed more left-field than anything he had released thus far.
Much like the rest of his Brown Bag All Star collective, he has a plethora of material dropping in 2013, but it is the release of his upcoming album that should be the most anticipated. His debut album, Soul Like Khan, was released for free, and so this is the first time Khan will be putting out a project in a more traditional format. Expect a lot of dense, conceptual material on this release, with the crisp, knocking drums that J57 has made his name on.
PS: There is a ton of solo material coming out from the rest of the Brown Bag crew in 2013. Koncept’s "Malt Disney" is just another example that comes to mind. But the big release to keep an eye out for is the full length group release, which seems to be almost finished. After dropping two EPs in 2012, this album seems to be going for the jugular.
5. YC The Cynic - Title TBD
The Bronx’s YC the Cynic can really fucking rhyme. Homeboy Sandman declared him to be “one of hip-hop’s brightest young phenoms”, lavish praise from one of the best emcees really putting on for New York City right now. YC’s creative output was light in 2012, releasing only one EP and a handful of really dope feature verses. But this only means that he’s been hard at work crafting his next release, crossing every T and dotting every I.
YC has been tight lipped about details for this upcoming project, but judging from his talent and the names of some of the people he has collaborated with in the past, hip-hop fans who have yet to check him out should definitely keep YC on their radar, because this has the potential to be a very big and successful year for him.
Honorable Mention: Noah Caine "Rookie Season"
Here’s one more name: Noah Caine. He’s from Southside Jamaica, Queens, and he is a pure lyricist at heart. “The Genesis”, off his mixtape The Preseason, embodies the core of what Noah represents as an artist, an energetic rhymer with a ton of talent and a unique vision. The "Rookie Season" is gearing up to be a project that takes this identity and brings it to the next level.