8 artists to watch in 2022

TheGrio lists the most anticipated artists dropping new music in the new year

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With a new year comes new beginnings and possibilities but there’s nothing better to look forward to than new music. 

As a new year dawns we can start to get our ears, bodies, and spirits aligned with fresh sounds from some of our biggest and brightest artists. While release dates are still forthcoming, many of these singers, rappers, and musicians have dropped some hints in 2021 to prep us for the eventual reveal.

TheGrio has chosen these acts to watch out for in 2022:

1. Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar was already of hip-hop’s biggest stars in 2017 when he dropped his fourth album, DAMN. Ever since then, fans have been salivating for his next project. He’s only dropped a handful of guest verses in 2020, and the only ones in 2021 were for his cousin Big Keem’s heralded debut, The Melodic Blue

In August, Kendrick penned a rare social media post, stating that he was working on his next album, which will be his final release on Top Dawg Entertainment, the label that has been his only home. Each album he’s dropped since Section.80 has differed from the last. We can only guess what sound and message Kendrick will be sharing next.

2. Mýa 

It’s been 20 years since Mýa sang and danced her way into our lives. Since then, she’s gifted us hits in pop, R&B and hip-hop with “Lady Marmalade,” “My Love is Like…Woah!,” “Case of the Ex” and “Best of Me Part 2.”

Over the past decade, however, Mýa went independent and hasn’t looked back. Although she dropped the rap-tinged song “Worth It” last year, Mýa told theGrio fans should anticipate a full-length album that she co-wrote with Grammy-nominated production band Louis York. They dropped the lead single, “Space and Time” back in 2020, and the album is seven years in the making.

“So excited to share that with the world because it’s my best work ever, ever,” she told theGrio.

3. Ghostface Killah 

Ghostface Killah is one of, if not the most, consistent MCs of the Wu-Tang Clan. He’s dropped a myriad of critically-acclaimed solo projects over nearly three decades, from Ironman to Czarface Meets Ghostface

In 2020, news broke that Ghostface’s next album, Supreme Clientele 2 would be executive produced by Kanye West and Mike Dean. West is one of the most distinctive producers in hip-hop history, and Dean has been his right hand as a producer, engineer & instrumentalist. With the duo fresh off their Grammy-nominated album Donda, we may get Ghost rhyming over a mixture of trap, drill, soul, and gospel. 

Hopefully, their 2012 collaboration on “New God Flow” is an indication of the greatness to come.

4. Ari Lennox 

It’s been two years since Ari Lennox dropped her stellar debut album, Shea Butter Baby. She kept fans on their toes as she continued to tour and work the festival circuit, keeping them primed for more. However, in 2020, she hinted that her sophomore release wasn’t too far away. 

She posted images of herself in the studio with Missy Elliott, contributed to big releases from Jazmine Sullivan and Summer Walker, then decided to apply “Pressure” to the rest of her peers with a new single and video.

5. Maxwell

Ever since his 1996 debut, Urban Hang Suite, Maxwell has been a driving force behind the evolution and preservation of soul music. The three-time Grammy-winner has been silent since his 2016 release, the second installment of his blackSUMMERS’night trilogy. 

In November, he finally broke his silence. He announced that he was leaving his longtime label Columbia to create Musze, a partnership with BMG. Then he dropped the sensual single “Off” ahead of the final release of his blacksummer’sNIGHT series. Fans will have to keep bumping “Off” as they await a date for the album. 

6. Georgia Anne Muldrow

Female music producers and songwriters don’t get the spotlight they should, even though they give the world great content. Such has been the case with Georgia Anne Muldrow. Over the years, she’s made beats and written for herself and artists like Robert Glasper, Denzel Curry, and Brittany Howard, as well as collaborated with the likes of Erykah Badu, Blood Orange and Mos Def.

Muldrow is incredibly prolific as an artist, releasing five albums in the last four years alone, including 2021’s VWETO III. However, this week she announced via Instagram that she’ll be dropping a collaborative album with Keith Rice under the duo moniker, LilBlackKids. She says the two will be “playing instruments singing rapping and producing funky stuff!!!” Their project, Oct. 31, is set to release on Jan. 2. From the sound of the music from the post, it looks to be a rock-tinged collaboration.

7. LL Cool J 

At age 53, LL Cool J is busier now than when he was a teen rap superstar in the mid-1980s. He’s 13 seasons into his hit CBS series NCIS: Los Angeles, runs a hip-hop Sirius XM Radio outlet, Rock The Bells, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Even with a full schedule, music is still in his heart and he never stopped identifying as an MC. In 2020, LL announced that he was cooking up his next album project, with fellow Queens rap legend Q-Tip overseeing the music as executive producer.

The Tribe Called Quest co-founder executive produced Danny Brown’s last album, 2019’s U Know What I’m Saying? curating producers for a critically-acclaimed project. Q-Tip is likely assembling a dream team of beatmakers, as well as contributing music himself, to match LL’s classic voice and delivery. 

8. Mary J. Blige

MJB season may be upon us already. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul dropped two brand new singles in December; “Good Morning Gorgeous,” a collaboration with H.E.R. and D’Mile, and “Amazing” featuring DJ Khaled.

Blige told Tamron Hall that her forthcoming 2022 album will address her lifelong journey to feel comfortable in her own skin.

“Wait till you hear it, it’s gonna blow everybody’s mind,” Blige told Hall. “And it’s because it’s something I had to do, and something I had to say when I was in my darkest, darkest moments in that life, to build myself up to this person that I can see and accept my nose, accept my eyes, accept my cheeks, accept all the things that I used to hate.”

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