Out of any musical genre perhaps none has utilized the tactic of hype and listener anticipation quite like Hip-Hop to its advantage, or some cases even detriment. Like true showmen, rappers and producers oftentimes take to interviews, T.V. spots and even live shows to make grand announcements and hype up fans with news of upcoming releases and future collaborations. However, every so often some of these releases for whatever reason go unreleased, fall through the cracks or are simply never carried through to completion for a variety of reasons. While there been countless shelved, unreleased or downright lost albums from a plethora of Hip-Hop artists over the years; some of these projects have managed to take on a life of their own. With die-hard fans questioning about their statuses and whereabouts for years or even decades at a time. Like Big Foot or The Loch Ness Monster some of these rare and elusive projects have made brief, sporadic appearances; only to mysteriously disappear once more as quickly as they came. While others have remained so rare and untouchable that they have almost become the thing of legends. Below we compiled some of the most highly sought after and discussed projects that have yet to see a proper formal release. With some being relatively new projects while others have been anticipated by fans for years. So let’s take a dive into ten albums we didn’t get in 2018 and probably won’t get any time soon.
NYG’z: Hustlaz Union: Local NYG
DJ Premier has worked with a variety of different talent in his thirty-plus years as a producer working in the music industry. Having produced for some of the biggest names in the genre from The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z, Rakim, and KRS-One; to more obscure underground artists such as Jeru the Damaja, Group Home, O.C., Big Shug, Blaq Poet and many more. Needless to say, from the pinnacle of fame to the darkest, grimiest cellars of the underground; DJ Premier’s production talents seem to know no limits. However, even some die-hard DJ Premier fans might be surprised to find out that there is a long-shelved album Premier has been working on for close to a decade for an obscure duo known as The NYG’z. The NYG’z, originally known as ‘Operation Ratification’, consisting of Panchi (formerly Panchi The Wild Comanchee) and Shabeeno (formerly Suicide the Survivor and later Shiggy Sha) have a long history and friendship going back decades with DJ Premier. The two emcees made their first appearance on the song ‘Rotten Apple’, a track that appeared Guru’s Ill Kid Records compilation album released back in 1995 which featured select tracks from other members of the Gang Starr Foundation. Following their first appearance, Panchi also supplied vocals on Guru’s Jazzmatazz Volume II (The New Reality) for the track ‘Choice of Weapons’ as well as making an appearance for O.C.’s sophomore album Jewelz for the track ‘Win The G’. Conversely Shambeeno also contributed a verse on ‘The Mall’ from Gang Starr’s Moment of Truth album. The duo made their first appearance as The NYG’z on Gang Starr’s final album The Ownerz alongside rapper Hannibal Stax for the track ‘Same Team, No Games’ and eventually in 2007 the NYG’z released their debut album entitled Welcome 2 G-Dom, which featured numerous tracks produced by DJ Premier, and a music video for the album’s lead single ‘Ya Dayz R #’d’ which was also produced by DJ Premier. Several years later in 2010, DJ Premier announced that he would be entirely producing The NYG’z next album tentatively called Hustlaz Union: Local NYG. Since then, over the years Premier has slowly released some of the tracks that were set to have been on the album; such tracks include ‘Policy’ which was featured on the 2010 Year Round Records compilation album Get Use To Us, as well as the single ‘My Influences’ which was featured on the DJ Premier Official Serato Control Vinyl released back in 2014. Likewise, Premier has also played select cuts such as ‘Last Night’ on his weekly XM radio show ‘Live From HeadQCourterz’ which is also coincidentally co-hosted Panchi; whom regularly makes cracks on social media routinely mocking DJ Premier for the amount of time the album has been in the ‘mixing’ stages. Since then an alleged track listing of the album’s songs has also surfaced which suggests that the album’s actual recording sessions are already done, and have possibly been complete for over a decade. DJ Premier has every so often discussed the album on HeadQCourterz, usually to say that the album is still in the mixing stages. However, even if the album were to come out tomorrow the group still faces a long, uphill battle. Seeing how the NYG’z are such a minor group with little in the way of a fanbase or a back catalog (aside from Welcome 2 G-dom and a few sporadic features over the years) to pull from, the group would have a hard time generating buzz even assuming that the near decade-old album still holds up in 2019. Likewise, it’s doubtful that the album would find much success streaming-wise either, considering Premier has all but sabotaged what little minor buzz the album had by delaying its release for close to ten years. While Premier has promised a variety of albums in the past that have never materialized, sadly it appears that after almost ten years Hustlaz Union: Local NYG is likely the closets project fans might ever see getting an actual release. While even that is by no means a guarantee, fans will just have to wait and see if DJ Premier ever decides to release this long lost album.
M.F. Doom & Ghostface Killah: DOOMSTARKS
M.F. DOOM is perhaps one of the most mysterious and polarizing figures in the underground Hip-Hop scene. Reclusive, elusive, yet seemingly always in demand; the peculiar emcee has remained an enigma in Hip-Hop. While 2019 saw DOOM release a full-length collaborative album with Czarface consisting of Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck and Boston based producer/emcee dup 7L & Esoteric in their latest entry Czarface Meets Metal Face; the album is not the only collaboration between M.F. DOOM and the Wu-Tang member fans have been clamoring for. For close to the past fourteen years there have been talks of a Ghostface Killah/M.F. DOOM collaboration album (DOOMSTARKS) which has remained stubbornly elusive since it was first announced. In fact, both emcees have collaborated on multiple occasions since the project was first announced; some even being under the DOOMSTARKS moniker. In 2011 Nature Sounds released a 12″ LP and a limited edition cassette for a track entitled ‘Victory Laps’ which was thought to be the lead single from the DOOMSTARKS album. Several years later a track entitled ‘Lively Hood’ was released as part of the Adult Swim Singles program in 2015 also under the DOOMSTARKS moniker. Later that same year, Ghostface announced in an interview that the DOOMSTARKS album should be expected by February 2016, nearly three years later in 2019 the album has yet to materialize. Unfortunately, like many artists featured on this list, M.F. DOOM appears to be a meticulously slow and perfectionist minded producer; who as noted can take years at a time on projects. Masta Ace reportedly had to wait months just to get a single verse from the elusive artist for his 2012 album MA Doom: Son of Yvonne, an album that utilized beats sourced from the M.F. DOOM’s Special Herbs series. Ace even commented when asked about another potential collaboration with DOOM featuring original production by HipHopDX stating, “You know, it would take a lot ‘cause I move fast and I’m not in the habit of taking three years to complete projects. This project took way longer than it should have taken to come out”. While Masta Ace was eventually able to get his verse from DOOM in time for the project, it’s unclear whether the same will be able to be said regarding DOOMSTARKS. With very little update from either artist on the status of the album in several years, it appears likely that the project has slipped back into developmental hell and it’s anybody’s guess as to whether it will ever actually see the light of day. Having not released a full-length solo project in nearly a decade, the last being 2009’s Born Like This; it remains to be seen whether DOOM is up to the task of working on a full-length project with an emcee of Ghostface’s caliber. While DOOM’s recent collaboration with Czarface last year is a positive sign that he’s taken a proactive approach to producing music as of late, only time will tell if DOOMSTARKS will ever receive its proper release.
(Update #1: On December 31st, 2020 it was announced by the rapper’s family that M.F. DOOM had passed away two months earlier on October 31st. No cause of death was given but, his death was confirmed by both his label and reps. No word has been given if M.F. DOOM was working on any projects prior to his passing or if/when any material will be released posthumously. For all intents and purposes it is assumed that any hopes of seeing a full DOOMSTARKS album are sealed with DOOM’s untimely passing.
Mos Def & Talib Kweli (as Black Star): Black Star II
Hip-Hop heads got quite a shock at the top of 2018 when Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) abruptly announced during a show that he and long-time friend/collaborator Talib Kweli would reunite to record to a follow-up to their classic 1998 debut effort Black Star. Conversely, Yasiin Bey also tacked on that producer Madlib would be the album’s sole contributing producer this time around for the iconic album’s follow-up. While fans were needless to say ecstatic about the news, the initial buzz was quickly doused with cold water when Talib Kweli quickly rebuked Yasiin Bey’s claim that a collaborative album was in the works. According to Kweli, while a potential Black Star sequel with contributions from Madlib had been discussed in the past; there were no current plans or any album being worked on at the moment. In fact, according to Kweli, the Brooklyn emcee learned of the news regarding the album the same as everybody else through the internet. The album’s rash announcement, unfortunately, doesn’t come as a surprise seeing as Yasiin Bey has had a penchant for making claims and grand announcements very abruptly, only to double back or contradict them later on. For example, back in 2016 shortly after releasing his Tidal exclusive album December 99th with Chicago producer Ferrari Sheppard, Yasiin Bey quickly announced that he would shortly thereafter retire from performing or producing music. Now, nearly three years later and still regularly performing; Bey’s false claim of early retirement has been all but debunked. Yasiin Bey’s track record does not stop there either, however. Several years ago Yasiin Bey also announced that a collaboration with producer Mannie Fresh was in the works. As of this publication, there has been no current update on the status or the future of that album. Much to fans dismay it seems that Black Star II is yet another product of Yasiin Bey’s habit to speak about potential ideas out loud, rather than tangible projects that are actually in the works. Likewise, given Madlib’s slow and meticulous nature it’s debatable how long it would take another Black Star project to potentially be released even if recording started tomorrow. Fans will recall the years-long wait for the Madlib helmed Freddie Gibbs project Piñata to finally be released after years of delays. While the status of Black Star II is unknown at this moment, given the lack of updates from Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli it’s safe to assume that this is one project we won’t likely get in 2019 or any other time in the near future.
Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar & ScHoolBoy Q: The Black Hippy Album
In the year 2019 Hip-Hop groups, duos and crews are becoming an increasingly rare act to find that unfortunately seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. As the ability to make and share one’s own music becomes easier and easier and artists opt to perform as solo acts right from the jump; the notion of the traditional rap group such as Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest or Wu-Tang Clan is increasingly becoming an antiquated institution. However, one group to emerge in recent years has managed to capture the public’s attention not only due to its occasional lack of material, but the sheer amount of fame and star power embodied by its members. That group, of course, is the South Central L.A. based supergroup Black Hippy. First formed in 2009, Black Hippy consists of West Coast rappers Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and ScHoolboy Q and was founded after all of its members had signed to the indie record label, Carson-based Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). Even though Black Hippy has yet to release a full-length project as a group, all of the group’s members are frequent collaborators, regularly appearing and contributing to one another’s respective solo projects. Among other tracks such notable cuts the group has appeared together on include, Jay Rock’s ‘Say Wassup’ and ‘Vice City’, Ab-Soul’s ‘Black Lip Bastard (Remix)’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘The Recipe (Remix)’ and ‘Swimming Pools (Remix)’ as well as a remixed version of ScHoolBoy Q’s ‘THat Part’. Likewise, the group also appeared together for the TDE Cypher at the 2013 BET awards. Since then there have been rumors circulating of potential Back Hippy album for years. In a 2014 interview with Billboard Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and label founder Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith said there was talk of a debut album from Black Hippy to potentially be released in 2014; this however never materialized. As time has progressed recent transgressions have not bode well for fans hoping to finally hear a full-length effort for the supergroup. In a 2016 interview with HotNewHipHop ScHoolboy Q cited the individual group member’s ever-expanding solo careers as huge factor as to why plans for an album never seem to fall into place stating, “Everybody in they own creative space now, back in the day we used to always be together all the time”. Ab-Soul however, had a very different jaded response when asked about the group’s status. During a Twitter Q&A session, Ab-Soul responded to question regarding the potential for a Black Hippy album saying, “Stop asking me that. Fuck Black Hippy”. While conflicting responses from various group members given in sporadic interviews can be hard to comb through, it’s highly likely that a combination of scheduling, conflicts, creative differences, and competing egos are likely the main culprits standing in the way of a full-length Black Hippy album for now. While fans may possibly get a full-length LP in future once the solo careers of each respective member slow down, for now, it appears fans will just have to settle for past songs and whatever one-off posse cuts that may come in the future.
DJ Premier: The Final Posthumous Gang Starr Album
Another DJ Premier helmed project to make this list is the often rumored final posthumous Gang Starr album. Announced shortly after Guru’s untimely passing in 2010 after slipping into a coma following a heart attack as a result of treatment for Multiple myeloma, a rare cancer that affects blood plasma cells. The album itself was rumored to be a posthumous Gang Starr CD/DVD project comprised of vocals from Guru’s unreleased catalog and accompanied by all-new, original production supplied by DJ Premier; which would effectively serve as the duo’s final album. However, in the nine years since Guru’s passing virtually zero progress has been made on the album, with only vague, brief exchanges in occasional interviews with Premier serving as the only updates. Over the years very little has been divulged on the current status of the album. Fans got what was perhaps the most straight forward update from DJ Premier in June of 2017 when he explained in an interview conducted by Genius that the rights to Guru’s unreleased music were tied up in legal limbo between his former label and family estate. In that interview, Premier stated, “there’s a lot of factors that go with that, when its the right time, its the right time—you have to deal with the estate, you have to deal with the family, there’s a whole bunch of things that are involved—there’s just little steps that need to be taken, don’t count it out. It just takes a little bit of time to get all of that organized”. While Premier has maintained a good relationship with Guru’s family, even if the rights to the late emcees’ music were fully acquired tomorrow, given Premier’s busy touring schedule and notorious nature for meticulous production and long incubation periods on albums, it’s questionable when or if an album would ever materialize at all. Likewise, fans would have to ask themselves, if this is how they would want the Gang Starr legacy to come to an end? Unlike other posthumous albums like A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, which was produced with the input and participation of group member Phife Dawg prior to his passing in 2016; a final Gang Starr album would have zero input from Guru himself and essentially be an album of second-rate, unreleased Guru vocals remixed by DJ Premier. Premier has stated in the past that during the recording of all prior Gang Starr albums Guru selected all of the album’s song titles beforehand and had Premier produce them based on how he felt they should sound by the name of their titles. Obviously, this and other nuances that made Gang Starr albums unique and memorable simply cannot be replicated without Guru’s involvement and would make the album a well-intentioned but vain attempt to re-create a genuine Gang Starr album. While it’s unfortunate that DJ Premier and Guru were not on good speaking terms during the final years of his life and were unable to patch things up prior to Guru’s death; perhaps it may be best to simply leave good enough alone. With a legacy of six classic albums spanning nearly fifteen years to their name and ending on a high note in 2003 with their final album The Ownerz, perhaps it may be best to let the Gang Starr legacy stand as it is and let it rest ‘above the clouds’.
(Update #1): In September 2019, DJ Premier announced the return of Gang Starr with the group’s first single since 2003, “Family and Loyalty,” featuring J. Cole. On October 18th, 2019 DJ Premier unveiled another new song, “Bad Name”, and officially announced that Gang Starr would release their first (and presumably final) album in six-teen years, entitled One of the Best Yet featuring posthumous unreleased vocals from late MC Guru. The six-teen track album is available to now pre-order, & will feature guest appearances from Gang Starr Foundation alumni Big Shug, Jeru the Damaja. Group Home, along with M.O.P., Freddie Foxxx, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, Royce Da 5’9”, Nitty Scott and Ne-Yo. The album is set for release on November 1st, 2019.
(Update #2): You can read our album review of One Of The Best Yet here.
J. Cole & Kendrick Lamar: The J. Cole/Kendrick Lamar Collaborative Album
As two of the biggest names to rise to prominence in the last decade, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are easily some of the most talked-about and respected relative new-comers to the rap game. Riding off the initial endorsements of Hip-Hop heavyweights early on in their careers (Dr. Dre and Jay-Z respectively) the two figures have not only branched out and crafted a lane of their own for themselves; they’ve each forged unique and dynamic identities which have respectively earned them the statuses of being two of the most creative and in-demand artists in the industry. This all being said, since the two first worked together on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘HiiiPoWeR’ off his debut LP Section 8.0 back in 2011, murmurings of a potential collaborative LP between the two emcees have cropped up periodically over the past eight years every time one releases a project. In 2015, the two emcees surprised fans after they released a song entitled ‘Black Friday’ where the two traded verses over one another’s beats. With Kendrick Lamar rapping over J. Cole’s ‘A Tale of 2 Citiez’ and J. Cole delivering a rebuttal by emceeing over Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’. Alas, every time rumors and teases such as these hinting at a collaborative record begin to re-circulate, they eventually are extinguished as soon as they were ignited. Leaving fans waiting for the next time one of the artists releases a new project. The Kendrick Lamar/J. Cole album is perhaps the most elusive project to be chronicled on this list, seeing how it is one of the few to be actually acknowledged by one of the artists to be unlikely to ever be released. In May 2018, in an interview with radio personality Angie Martinez, J. Cole himself spoke on the unlikelihood of the album coming out saying, “We just did a few songs. Like, we did a bunch of ideas. Put it like that. It was nothing like, you wouldn’t call it an album”. Cole also went on to say, “It’s not like it’s something that’s actively happening. Not because it’s never gonna happen. Just because, like… it’s not right now, and I don’t like teasing or playing the game ’cause this has been going on for a minute”. So with all this said, given the two artists’ hectic touring schedules, and continually diverging directions musically, it seems increasingly unlikely that the two emcees will ever set aside enough time to lock into a full-length collaborative effort anytime in the near future. While it would be a Hip-Hop head’s match made in heaven; with both emcee’s profile’s growing larger with every passing year, only time will tell if these two lyrical titans will ever truly come together and work on a full-length project with one another.
Capital STEEZ: King Capital
Perhaps no album has been so precariously close, yet so far away as King Capital, the final posthumous album from the late Pro-Era emcee Capital STEEZ. Announced shortly after his death on Christmas Eve, 2012 after tragically taking his own life; close friend and Pro-Era leader Joey Bada$$ announced that a compilation album containing all of STEEZ’ final, unreleased music would be released by the end of the following year (then 2013). Ever since then for close to the past seven years the album has been trapped, frozen in developmental hell, with only the occasional update from Joey Bada$$ on the status of the album. While the Pro-Era leader has dropped vague but hopeful updates sporadically over the past several years, little tangible progress has been inferred on the over the status of King’s Capital and its tentative release date. While everything from sample clearance issues to label politics has been blamed for the album’s delay, fans got perhaps their most direct and straight forward update in July of 2018 when Joey Bada$$ took to social media to give an update on the status of the troubled album’s release. In a lengthy social media post regarding the album’s status Joey Bada$$ gave a candid explanation for the album’s delay stating, “Been waiting to answer this for a minute. You guys have to understand, I am not the one who is holding back the release of King Capital and I never have been. No moves can be made on that without his mother (the estate) having the proper things in order. They are still figuring it out with their lawyer. I’m sorry guys, if it were up to me it would be out a long time ago. I do not own Capital Steez’s music and I never did. I hope this is enough for you guys to stop spamming everything I do with ‘drop King Capital’… If I could I would. There’s nothing I want more than the project to be out and for his name to rest in PEACE. Please understand that. You want info on King Capital find a way to contact his mother. She is the only one from his family that knows the current status of its release”. Joey Bada$$ also experienced difficulties with STEEZ’ family earlier last year when members of the late rapper’s family announced that they were boycotting ‘STEEZ Day’, an annual festival Joey Bada$$ started in Brooklyn with the intent to provide financial support for the family; which has now only cast more doubt on the fate of the project’s release. As of now, the future status of King Capital and whether there will be a STEEZ Day 2019 remains to be seen. At the end of the day perhaps shelving the project altogether might ultimately be the best move for both parties and fans alike. It’s debatable how much material a nine-teen-year-old Capital STEEZ could have recorded prior to his unfortunate passing, while the quality of said material is another discussion altogether. Likewise, one has to ask how much demand could there possibly be for a Capital STEEZ album nearly seven years after the young artist’s passing? While a release in the one to two-year window following STEEZ’ death would have been ideal, a seven-year absence would be a hard sell even from a well known, previously established artist. Given STEEZ’ loyal, but very niche fan base; sadly one has to wonder if the reward of finally releasing an album would even outweigh the trouble of the financial and emotional anguish suffered by those involved at this point? As of now, it appears that both fans and colleagues alike will have to wait and see if Capital STEEZ’ final music ever sees the light of day.
Immortal Technique: The Middle Passage
If any album out of all the projects detailed deserves a place on this list, none has done more to earn its status than Immortal Technique’s The Middle Passage. Initially announced all the way back in 2004, in the liner notes of Immortal Technique’s sophomore album Revolutionary Vol. 2. Allegedly rumored to boast the production credits of DJ Premier, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Ali Shaheed Muhammad amongst others, the album has gained the reputation of being one of the most highly anticipated Underground Hip-Hop albums of all time. However, after fifteen years of hints, teases, and delay after delay after delay the album has practically reached ‘Detox’ levels of both frustration and anticipation amongst fans and Underground Hip-Hop heads alike. Of course, this isn’t the first time Immortal Technique fans have been forced to endure long wait times to hear new music. Technique’s last full-length project The Martyr, which dropped almost eight years ago in 2011 was the last time fans received a complete album’s worth of new material from the Harlem emcee. Needless to say, a lot has happened in the world since Immortal Technique last graced the mic. From the Ferguson and Baltimore uprisings to the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, the rise of violent ‘Alt-Right’, white supremacists and other far-right domestic terrorists, the 2016 presidential election and subsequent disaster of electing Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency. With all these and countless other micro-aggressions, the Harlem spitter who’s fashioned a career out of speaking his mind and never hesitating to heavily infuse politics and social commentary into his music has no shortage of material and real-world inspiration to go off of in a future solo album. Word from Immortal Technique has been sparse, aside from the occasional vague update on social media or interjection in interviews giving unspecified times (such as ‘a summer release’ or ‘end of the year’) little in the way on concrete proof has been offered on the current status and progression of the album which has persisted into the new year. The Middle Passage may not be the most popular prospective album to potentially come out in 2019 or anytime in the near future. But, when all is said and done it may arguably be the one the world needs to hear the most right now.
Nas & DJ Premier: The Nas & DJ Premier Collaborative Album
DJ Premier has made quite a number of appearances on our list, as one of the most prolific and respected producers in the genre, it’s no surprise that many fans take his words at face value when talk of a potential new album is discussed. However, out of all the projects detailed here, there is one album featured on this list that has practically become the talk of legends amongst many of the most avid Hip-Hop heads. That project in question is, of course, the mythical, and stubbornly elusive Nas/DJ Premier collaboration album. As easily two of the most iconic emcees and producers in the genre, both having produced some of the most beloved New York Hip-Hop ever to grace the airwaves together; a full-length project between the two is needless to say a Hip-Hop head’s match made in heaven. First discussed back in 2006, during an interview with the now-defunct Scratch Magazine; DJ Premier had then stated that Nas had approached him with the interest of working on an entire LP between the two. In the interview, Premier stated, “Nas approached me about doing a whole album for him over a year ago, and I said, ‘I’m down, just holla at me when you’re ready’”. Ever since then, for close to the past thirteen years Premier has every so often teased and fed fans ever so small glimmers of hope in sporadic interviews and occasionally on his Sirius-XM satellite radio show ‘Live From HeadQCourterz’. These updates usually come in the form of very generic and vague responses such as, ‘whenever Nas is ready, I’m ready’; which effectively puts the ball squarely in Nas’ court to take action on initiating the album. This sentiment, however, doesn’t bode well for Nas fans hoping to hear a full LP produced by the legendary producer. Seeing how Nas and DJ Premier haven’t worked together on an official album since Stillmatic back in 2002. (the DJ Premier remix of the 2008 Kanye West single ‘Classic’ featuring Nas doesn’t count). In fact, the Queensbridge emcee has hardly worked with any producer from his early years in quite some time. The closets thing fans ever quite got to a reunion with Nas’ early collaborators was when long-time friend and former mentor Large Professor made a cameo appearance for the track ‘Locomotive’ on Nas’ 2012 LP Life Is Good. However, that brief appearance from Large Pro was just merely a spoken word contribution, with no actual lyrical or production credits made by the Queens producer throughout the rest of the album. Judging by Nas’ recent production choices post Stillmatic, by all accounts it seems that Nas wants little to nothing to do with any of the producers or team that helped craft the sonic tapestries of his iconic early LPs. Likewise, given the amount of projects DJ Premier has promised in the past (not including the aforementioned NYGz and Gang Starr albums mentioned on this list) it’s debatable as to how soon, the public would realistically see a Nas and DJ Premier collaboration ever tangibly manifest itself. While a Nas and DJ Premier album would be quite a spectacle to see, especially given Premier’s success with the PRyme album series with Detroit emcee Royce Da 5’9; once again showing his knack for locking in with solo artists to do full-length projects. For now, Hip-Hop heads will simply have to use their imaginations and wait and hope that someday this collaboration of epic proportions eventually comes to fruition.
Jay Electronica: Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn)
It’s an understatement to say that every aforementioned project compiled on this list has its one unique and distinct stories, histories and attributes. With some not officially confirmed, others comprised of music from artists who have long since passed and some even being in developmental hell for decades. While all of these details and nuances are a testament to the frustrating and fickle nature of the music industry with that said; at least every artist on this list can say that they have released at least one official project or album in some capacity at one point during the course of their careers. That is, however, with the one lone exception of New Orleans emcee Jay Electronica. Having never released a full-length complete project or album once since rising to popularity; perhaps no artist in the genre has been so highly touted and eagerly praised by Hip-Hop fans with so little work, next to nothing catalog, not even so much as a complete mixtape or EP to back it up and justify such hype. Jay Electronica first began gaining significant attention after releasing ‘Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)’, a fifteen-minute track of continuous music, without drums; utilizing a sample Jon Brion’s soundtrack from the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on his MySpace back in 2007. Following this initial track, Jay Electronica released two more singles entitled ‘Exhibit A (Transformations)’ and ‘Exhibit C’ which were both produced by producer Just Blaze. In 2010 it was announced that Jay Electronica had signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation; and in July 2011 Jay Electronica posted via his Twitter in since-deleted tweets that his debut album, Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn), was complete. Eight years later the New Orleans emcee has yet to release his full-length debut album, and has only released a scant amount of singles and appeared on a handful of sporadic features as fans have tentatively waited for close to a decade for a full-length release. In 2017, the reclusive emcee sat down for a rare interview with Billboard, when pressed about the stars of the album he offered this response; “When it’s ready, when it’s ready. It don’t matter if Donald Trump say, “Put the album out.” Maybe if Minister [Louis] Farrakhan said put the album out then maybe I might go home tonight and throw something together and put it out.—When it’s finished. When it’s something that I’m pleased with because regardless of the six billion people on planet Earth, even if I put something out and the whole six billion say it’s absolutely beautiful and I don’t feel okay with it, I’m the one that carries that. I have to be at a place where I’m pleased with the offering. So, it will come — it’s coming soon. Slowly but surely”. During the same interview, Jay Electronica made further responses questioning the status of the album’s tentative release stating, “an album is a false concept anyway. An album is something that was created by corporations as a product to make money. People have been making music, doing plays and telling stories around fires for trillions of years. I like albums but I’m not too really handcuffed to the concept of that”. Having remained in developmental hell for close to a decade, with no real tentative release date and now concrete confirmation that Jay Electronica isn’t even bound to the notion of releasing a full-length album at all; its debatable when, if ever the public will get a chance to hear Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn). With that said, its an understatement to say that the initial buzz that surrounded Jay Electronica’s mysterious and rapid rise to prominence in the first several years of his relevancy have mostly dissipated. Even if Jay Electronica were to release his debut album with the full force of Jay-Z and the label behind him, most casual music listeners are likely unaware of his scant singles and sporadic features; while most hardcore fans and Hip-Hop heads have likely moved on or simply no longer care after nearly a decade of waiting. While most albums compiled on our list have been held back due to legal issues, sample clearances, scheduling conflicts, fights between artists and even death; Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn) appears to be the only project whose sole obstacle to its own release is the artist themselves. Which is why Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn) is an album that we may not get in 2019 or 2119 for that matter.
(Update #1): On March 13th, 2020, Jay Electronica released his long-awaited debut album entitled A Written Testimony as an exclusive release on the streaming service Tidal. The release comes after an announcement Jay Electronica made on Twitter on February 7th, that the album would be out “in 40 days”. You can read our review of A Written Testimony here.