One of the biggest highlights that can come along with the dawn of a new year is the promise of fresh music from some of our favorite artists.
2023 is already shaping up to be one for the books, with heavyweights like new age rap king J. Cole making a comeback following the chart-topping success of his 2021 LP, The Off-Season. There’s also widespread fanfare surrounding the upcoming last two parts of Beyoncé’s planned album trilogy for Renaissance — part 1 was the talk of 2022! — and finally new music from fellow pop queen Rihanna after a whopping seven-year hiatus.
Get ready to press play, people!
Music by Black musicians holds a stronger level of cultural significance, particularly because it got many of us through some rough patches in history as a race in this country. Although contemporary music has changed in lyrical content and overall message over time, one thing that’s remained constant is that we’ve come to define what pop music sounds like. Of the current chart-toppers on the Billboard Hot 100 (week of Jan. 14), six out of the top 10 slots are held by Black artists. On the Billboard 200 chart for albums, four are in the top 10, with alt-R&B sensation SZA currently cemented at #1 for the fourth week in a row with her new album, SOS.
In hopes that 2023 will be just as good to us as 2022 was on a musical front, we put together some of the most anticipated projects we know of so far in the world of Black music. Some LPs are confirmed, with fans already counting down the days until release, meanwhile others are still in “TBD” status awaiting the green light. Either way, these melanated musicians have some heat in store for the new year that is sure to be a treat for the culture.
Take a look at 10 upcoming albums by Black musicians that we are most excited to hear in 2023. Let us know if we missed others on the horizon worth checking for as well:
1. J. Cole, ‘It’s A Boy’
Fatherhood and a great year alongside his Dreamville comrades has given Cole lots to talk about. We can’t wait to hear the bars!
2. A$AP Rocky, ‘Don’t Be Dumb’
His blossoming relationship with Rihanna, a wild year of legal troubles and becoming a dad for the first time in the past year alone are just some of the reasons why Rocky might just be releasing the best project of his career.
3. Janet Jackson, TBD
A recently-announced tour and personal promise of new music — not to mention the 30th anniversary of janet.! — means we are in for a huge treat this year when it comes to Miss Jackson.
4. Jay-Z, TBD joint album with Beyoncé as THE CARTERS
Many rumors are suggesting that one of the albums in Beyoncé’s Renaissance rollout will be yet another project by THE CARTERS, her collaborative musical duo alongside husband Jay-Z. Following the Black excellence of “MOOD 4 EVA” back in 2019, we’re long overdue for a family reunion from these two right about now.
5. LL Cool J, TBD
The rap icon announced at his Rock The Bells Festival last year that new music executive produced by Q-Tip was on the way. Given the victory lap that 2022 was for LL Cool J, we’re absolutely ready for a comeback by a certified GOAT.
6. Travis Scott, ‘Utopia’
Hate him or love him, Travis Scott has a story to tell that could possibly lead to his vindication following the November 2021 Astroworld tragedy. It’s worth hearing what he has to say from an artistic perspective, right?
7. Alicia Keys, TBD
After last year’s release of the deluxe edition to her 2021 album Keys, the GRAMMY-winning vocalist officially became an independent artist free from RCA. To see an artist of her stature going the independent route makes for promising potential to do things on her own terms.
8. Frank Ocean, TBD
With his headlining Coachella set just a few months away, now would be the perfect time for Frank to officially stop torturing fans and drop new music. It’s been 7 years, bro!
9. Beyoncé, ‘RENAISSANCE: act II’ (and ‘RENAISSANCE: act III’)
After seeing what she did with part 1, all eyes are on King Bey to come back around even harder for parts 2 and 3. We like to party!
10. Rihanna, TBD
Her upcoming 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance is a dead ringer that new music is on the way. Still, let’s hope Rih sticks to the schedule for all of our sakes — fingers crossed!