Weekly updates:


8 albums we’re STILL waiting on in 2016

Should we still care about these albums or just write them off as urban myths?

Posted by

Weekly updates

Much has been said about the death of the album in the digital era. But today fans use social media to campaign for ‘event’ albums from infamous artistic procrastinators—and no more than in hip-hop and R&B. When in July 2015 Frank Ocean’s second album didn’t show, as he’d announced, hashtags proliferated. Op-eds and blogs were written about its non-appearance. Oddly, between the end of 2014 and 2015 we finally saw many an elusive album—the Wu-Tang Clan’s A Better Tomorrow, D’Angelo’s Black Messiah (in lieu of James River), and Dr Dre’s Compton: A Soundtrack (over Detox). Even that reclusive UK pop-soulstress Adele said ‘Hello’ with 25. However, 2015’s most mega-hyped albums—from Rihanna, Kanye West, Drake and, yo, Ocean—were inexplicably delayed. Now we have RiRi’s stealth blockbuster ANTI while, on February 11, Yeezy’s Waves (the album formerly known as SWISH, formerly known as So Help Me God) will drop, heralded by a bourgie cinematic experience. Drizzy has confirmed that Views From The 6 will roll out in April. Here we look at some of music’s other seemingly urban myth albums and ask, ‘Should we still care?’.

  • Words: Cyclone Wehner

01. Frank Ocean

There is no album more mythologised in contemporary urban music than Frank Ocean’s Boys Don’t Cry—the sequel to 2012’s modish classic channel ORANGE. Ocean proclaimed the album (and an accompanying zine) would show last July. It didn’t. Ocean first aired a snatch of the ambi-soul Memrise via his Tumblr in late 2014. But fresh details of the LP are scant. Comically, Adele told Rolling Stone, “I’m just fucking waiting for Frank fucking Ocean to come out with his album. It’s taking so fucking long.” Either way, Boys… will have to be magnificent to top David Bowie’s avant-cosmic pyramid Blackstar in those “Best of 2016” lists.

02. Rita Ora

Rita Ora, the British Rihanna, has a huge profile. She has fashion endorsements. She is acting—cameoing in Fifty Shades Of Grey. And she’s judged on the UK’sThe X Factor. But 2012’s debut Ora never came out in the crucial US market, where the Roc Nation singer is perceived as an eternal wannabe (no, we didn’t forget her smash Black Widow with Iggy Azalea). Ora’s more sophisticated sophomore has been consecutively pushed back. Ora cut 2014’s I Will Never Let You Down—so very Whitney Houston—with her then boo Calvin Harris. Alas, her subsequent singles—the latest, the (deep) house Body On Me, with Chris Brown—have floundered. Mind you, she has worked with Prince—important validation… Presently, Ora is seeking contractual release from Roc Nation—gossips blame labelmate Rihanna for undermining her career—which will only delay things further. Ora is losing ground—and respect. She has copped heat from even feminists after being photographed topless by the controversial Terry Richardson for French men’s mag Lui.

03. Missy Elliott

Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott slipped off the radar following 2005’s The Cookbook. The rapper/singer/producer attributed this to her battling Graves’ Disease, a thyroid disorder. But Elliott remains an adored figure in hip-hop and, yes, pop. She made a sensational, if serendipitous, return as Katy Perry’s spesh guest at the 2015 Super Bowl. Elliott closed the year with a tribaldelic party banger, ‘WTF (Where They From)’, produced by, and featuring, Pharrell Williams. The sleekly innovative video – with its quirky marionettes – went viral. An album, with input from Williams and Elliott’s old cohort Timbaland, is progressing. “I want to say [it will be released in] 2016, but I don’t want to give a time,” Elliott told Billboard in November. “Nowadays you say a time, they’ll stone you.” True.

04. Duffy

Remember Duffy? She was one of the blue-eyed neo-soulsters who emerged post-Amy Winehouse—a “nu-Amy”. The Welsh starlet blew up globally with 2008’s Rockferry—implausibly guided by Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. But, while her peer Adele consolidated her mega-stardom, Duffy’s second outing, Endlessly, flopped big-time. She’d approached ol’ skool producer Albert Hammond (and, on ‘Well, Well, Well’, The Roots’ Questlove)—but the magic evaporated. Duffy, overwhelmed by fame, took a hiatus. She’s dabbled in acting. In the recent Legend, with Tom Hardy portraying both of London’s notorious gangster Kray twins, Duffy channelled singer Timi Yuro—and she contributed songs to the soundtrack, including the original single ‘Whole Lot Of Love’. It’s trademark Duffy. A comeback in 2016?

05. MKS

The Sugababes were the UK’s Destiny’s Child but with more personnel changes and drama. In 2011, founders Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhán Donaghy, no longer in the group, started Mutya Keisha Siobhan (MKS). The music media bugged out—as did fans. MKS aired 2013’s balmy Flatline, produced by indie-type Dev Hynes—hot off his success with Solange’s ‘Losing You’ (MKS also covered Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Swimming Pools’). Peculiarly, the single… flatlined. MKS, who’ve supposedly split from their label Polydor, are tipped to relaunch under their original name. Meanwhile, their contemporaries All Saints have reunited for April’s Red Flag. Have MKS missed the window?

06. Jay Electronica

Jay Electronica is hip-hop’s most baffling artist. So eccentric is the New Orleans rapper/producer that he’s increasingly become as famous for not releasing an album as anything he’s actually released (cue such auspicious songs as ‘Road To Perdition’ with Jay Z and… a sampled Ronald Reagan). He’s an illusionist. Aligned with Roc Nation for six years, Jay’s fabled album, Act II: Patents Of Nobility (The Turn), is, going by his own pronouncements, long complete. But, gigging at New York’s CMJ Music Marathon, Jay joked about “deleting” the LP. The heads have busied themselves forensically examining years of false promises online. Jay should just give it up (the album, that is). This is ludicrous.

07. Lauryn Hill

The Fugees’ charismatic frontwoman Lauryn Hill created a hip-hop soul blueprint with 1998’s The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill—it dominated the Grammys, winning “Album of the Year”. But then things went awry. Hill was sued by collaborators over songwriting credits and grew distrustful of the industry and fame. For 2002’s MTV Unplugged No 2.0, she laid down raw, indignant and preachy new songs on a rudimentary acoustic guitar, bewildering audiences. Hill settled into family life and raising her six children. This domesticity was disrupted when the singer served jailtime for tax evasion. Rumours have abounded about Hill’s mental wellbeing. Yet the now “Ms Lauryn Hill” is actively touring. After sporadically circulating tracks and recording rare collabs over the years, Hill was heavily involved in the recent covers album Nina Revisited… A Tribute To Nina Simone—earning rave reviews (listen to her spectacular ‘Wild Is The Wind’). Producer Phil Nicolo suggested to The Fader that an album is coming. Thrilling us softly?

08. The Avalanches

Dr Dre’s mythic Detox became a joke in hip-hop, some 16 years on. Now it’s talk of a new Avalanches album that sets eyes rolling. The Melbourne posse issued their seminal Since I Left You on Modular Recordings back in 2000. While effusive, the UK media particularly treated The Avalanches as an Antipodean novelty act. Members like cred turntablist Dexter drifted away, The Avalanches’ current incarnation comprising Robbie Chater, Tony Di Blasi and James Dela Cruz. In 2013 they remixed Hunters & Collectors’ ‘Talking To A Stranger’ (chopping it up with Dan Hartman’s disco cheese ‘Relight My Fire’) for the tribute album Crucible. As of late last year Modular was telling us on Facebook to (again) “stand by for news”. Yo, Peter, meet Mr Wolf… But The Avalanches’ sample-heavy style is passé, the mash-up era long over. Unless they radically reinvent themselves on the album (a Danny Brown cameo does sound promising), it’ll only appeal to noughties nostalgics.