New Music to Expect in 2021
If you’re reading this, you finally made it. The borderline apocalyptic hell that has been 2020 is nearing the end. The year was terrible for an infinite number of reasons, but the music did not disappoint, with several artists showing newfound feelings of vulnerability and genre-bending experimentation. The music of 2020 has been reviewed, dissected, and analyzed several times over at this point, so let’s take a look at what could be in store for 2021.
The most anticipated confirmed release for the new year as of today is Drake’s Certified Lover Boy. Originally slated to be released on New Year’s Day, Drake’s first full length LP in over two years sets lofty expectations for fans. As is the case with any Drake project, Certified Lover Boy will surely put up dominant streaming numbers and produce several viral TikTok dances. Certified Lover Boy is expected sometime in January, with corresponding Nike merch already out now.
Equally hyped is Travis Scott’s follow-up to his monumental opus, Astroworld. On the two year anniversary of Astroworld, Travis posted “see you in Utopia” on several of his social media accounts, later confirming the title and it’s impending release in 2021. In recent weeks, it’s been rumored that Travis has been in Mexico working on the project with Don Toliver, Wondagurl, Hit-Boy, Roddy Ricch, and Kevin Parker. Only time will tell if Utopia will be able to live up to its magnetic predecessor.
2021 could also see follow-up albums from two female artists who dominated the charts and racked up awards with their critically-acclaimed debut projects. I’m talking, of course, about Billie Eilish and Cardi B. Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy were both highly touted albums with a plethora of radio hits and playlist essentials. Both artists released singles in 2020 as fans have been eagerly awaiting new albums – could we see both in 2021?
Surely there will be a few wildcards and unexpected surprises in 2021, none carrying more weight than the impending release of the next Kendrick Lamar project. With three prophetic albums on his résumé, the reclusive Compton rapper is without a doubt the modern conscience of hip-hop. Lamar’s work isn’t just listened to in the car on the way to the store, it’s actively studied at universities around the world and immortalized in libraries. His follow-up to 2017’s DAMN has been highly anticipated, and given the events of 2020, Kendrick will definitely have something to say.
The mystery continues when it comes to releases from other wildcards like Rihanna and SZA. Both have teased new music and expressed a desire to drop new projects, though Rihanna trolled her followers that she’s keeping R9 all to herself. She hasn’t released any solo music since 2016’s ANTI, while SZA released her first solo material in three years with “Hit Different” and “Good Days.” Both singers are widely regarded as icons of their era, and their timely songwriting is sure to be on full display whenever the Queens decide to release new music.
While it’s unlikely we’ll hear all the aforementioned albums next year, 2021 is set up to potentially be a huge year in music. If concerts and festivals come back, we could see several artists making monumental returns with new music and plenty of amazing performances. Thank the universe we’ve reached the end of 2020, here’s hoping better days are ahead and the soundtracks of 2021 deliver a triumphant return to life outside, together.
Dom Maiorca is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from UCLA where he studied Psychology and Film & TV while contributing frequently to The Paper Mixtape, an independent student-run magazine. He loves talking about music and movies and is always looking for new recommendations for both. Some of his favorite artists include Childish Gambino, Toro y Moi, Tyler, the Creator, KAYTRANADA, Gorillaz, and many more.