Watch out for these hip-hop, R&B and pop hits

The year 2019 gave audiences award-winning albums like Billie Eilish’s debut “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” Tyler, the Creator’s “IGOR” and Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You.” With 2019 being such a significant year in music, many wonder what the characteristic sounds of 2020 will be.

The year may have only just begun, but 2020 is already starting to show its potential as more artists announce their newest albums. Here is a comprehensive list of some of the biggest pop, R&B and hip-hop albums to be released in 2020, along with comments from Georgia State students. 

Starting with pop albums, Halsey released her third album “Manic” on Jan. 10. Coming off of the high from winning the “Favorite Song – Pop/Rock” category in the American Music Awards, many had high expectations for the album. 

Rawiya Kameir from Pitchfork magazine praises the autobiographical nature of the album, saying that continuing in that direction could provide many artistic opportunities. But Kameir criticizes the album’s sound for overpowering the lyrical potential. 

“Sadly, some of the album’s most compelling moments are overpowered by the tedium of modern pop,” Kameir wrote. 

On Jan. 31, Kesha released her newest album “High Road.” Recorded for four years, fans eagerly awaited the album since her previous release of “Rainbow” that highlighted self-acceptance and women’s empowerment. 

Georgia State student and Kesha fan Gavin Hall spoke about the nostalgia he felt when listening to the album for the first time.

“The release of Kesha’s ‘High Road’ album takes me back to the Kesha I grew up listening to in the late 2000s,” Hall said. “Her newest album takes a turn back to her (seemingly) carefree days. I am really happy that she can go back to expressing her true self through her music again.”

Other pop albums to expect in 2020 include the 1975’s “Notes on a Conditional Form,” The album will be released on April 24 after being pushed back from a February release. This was to accommodate the time needed to release the album on vinyl.

Lana Del Rey’s “White Hot Forever” is also scheduled for release in 2020, with no exact date confirmed as of yet. After the praised release of “Norman F—ing Rockwell!”, Del Rey announced that yet another album was on the way next year. 

As for R&B, a few artists have announced their upcoming album releases for the year. SZA announced her newest album in the latter half of 2019. The title of the album has yet to be confirmed, but fans are excited nonetheless. 

Georgia State student Xavier Adams speaks about his expectations for the new album. 

“On ‘Ctrl,’ she was able to sing about modern approaches to love with tracks like ‘The Weekend’ and ‘Doves in the Wind,’” Adams said. “Hopefully, her follow-up eludes the sophomore slump and expounds upon her confessional lyricism with a more stripped-down production.”

Normani announced in September 2019 that she was in the studio recording her debut solo album for a 2020 release. The former Fifth Harmony member has stunned audiences with her solo performances, and many fans are eager for the album release. 

“[Normani] has shown an ability to capture a throwback spirit with her video and song ‘Motivation’ while holding her own on songs with Sam Smith and Megan Thee Stallion,” Adams said. “For her debut album, hopefully, she’ll break further away from Fifth Harmony’s shadow and show that her commanding performance at the VMAs was no fluke.”

The Weeknd announced his newest album on Feb. 13, releasing photographs that Rolling Stone magazine noted were reminiscent of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

[The Weeknd is] ready to drop an album after dropping ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Heartless,’” Adams said. “It’s likely to be more upbeat than 2018’s ‘My Dear Melancholy’ and feature some disco influences.”

This year will have a substantial influence from hip-hop as countless artists have already announced new album releases.

Migos announced the release of “Culture III” during a Twitter Q&A in March 2018. The album was initially supposed to drop in 2019. The group opted to delay the album for a 2020 release. 

Adams noted some improvements that he hopes to see from the new album, coming off of the release of the previous “Culture II.” 

“Hopefully, ‘Culture III’ has fewer tracks to allow them to focus more on the noteworthy hooks and flow that made their debut irresistible,” he said.

Adams also commented on possible improvements for Megan Thee Stallion’s new album, which was announced in October 2019

“It [could] also be interesting to see if she can add some emotional songs as well to avoid the criticism fellow breakout star DaBaby gets for his songs ‘all sounding the same,’” he said.

  1. Cole’s new album “The Fall Off” is also set for a 2020 release date after being announced in November 2019.

Georgia State student Morgan Phillips is a long-time J. Cole fan who has followed his music since she was in middle school. She appreciates Cole’s willingness to speak about issues in the black community while also creating unique and uplifting beats. 

“In ‘KOD,’ he definitely had more radio and high-energy songs rather than slower tunes like in ‘4 Your Eyez Only,’” Phillips said. “In this new album, I expect to see more of the prophet/storyteller side of Cole with some fast songs that will end up on the radio. But I know, whatever it is, it will be great.”

Adams is also excited for the release and hopes to see Cole experiment with his alter ego KiLL Edward as well as featuring more special guests. 

Drake has also teased the possibility of a 2020 album release with many fans speculating that it will be a follow up to “What A Time To Be Alive,” his collaborative album with Future. 

Adams is hoping for the possibility of the album being more conceptual.

“Maybe making a concept album will allow him to venture into discussing personal stories, not pertaining to relationships or fighting for his spot in the rap game,” he said.

Atlanta native Lil Baby announced his second album “My Turn” on the first day of the new year, which will be released this Friday.

“As one of many rappers to emerge out of Atlanta in the last three years, Lil Baby has made his mark in top tier collabs with other artists — Drake, Young Thug, Gunna. Hopefully, his next project continues his hot streak,” Adams said. 

The sheer number of projected album releases this year can be daunting, but the sounds of 2020 are sure to impress fans and solidify the year’s place in music history.