#15: Yeasayer Odd Blood

RELEASE DATE? First Half of 2010
WHAT WE KNOW: Their 2007 debut put this Brooklyn crew on the indie map, but their stock rose last year thanks to work on the Bat For Lashes album and a high-profile performance at the Guggenheim. Fortunately (for us, anyway), their sophomore LP Odd Blood leaked back in December, and it's pretty clear that they have the talent to back up the hype. No matter what your normal listening habits are, we guarantee you'll fuck with their irresistible mix of psychedelic electro-rock. Odd Blood is definitely worth picking up when the official version drops next month.

#14: J. Cole TBD

RELEASE DATE? Late Spring/Summer 2010
WHAT WE KNOW: Roc Nation's marque act has been busy since dropping his mixtape The Warm Up this past summer; between promoting his "Lights Please" single, touring with Jay-Z on the Blueprint 3 tour, making records with vets like Reflection Eternal and Mos Def, and stealing the show on Wale's "Beautiful Bliss." His debut will feature production from himself, No I.D., and his characteristic deep, hard-hitting rhymes. Pictures recently surfaced of him working with Pharrell. Cole's rhymes over Skateboard P beats? Yessir, indeed.

#13: T.I. TBD

RELEASE DATE? First Half of 2010
WHAT WE KNOW: The high-drama of T.I.'s legal troubles over the last few years were played out perfectly in the music (and marketing) of his last album Paper Trail, an introspective step forward that hinted at the next phase in Tip's career. He toned down the tough-talk, completely removing any references to guns, and remarkably, it worked—Paper Trail was Tip's most commercially successful album to date, and one of his best. Producer Jim Jonsin recently revealed that Tip is working on the follow-up while staying in a halfway house, and we have no doubt that he'll be coming back with a bang...just not from a gun.

#12: Jay Electronica Act II: Patents of Nobility

RELEASE DATE? First Quarter
PRODUCERS/COLLABORATORS: Just Blaze, Nas, Mos Def, Eminem (rumored)
WHAT WE KNOW: He's dropped only two songs in the last 12 months, but we can't front, they're good enough that we're literally chomping at the bit waiting for more. Long teased, Act II is something between an EP, a mixtape and a video art project, but will certainly be a compelling piece of rarely heard lyricism. Add to that the best beats Just Blaze can craft, and appearances by Nas and Mos Def (and possibly even Eminem... to hear Jay tell it, at least), and you have an effort that should occupy real rap fans' iPod's for the rest of the year.

#11: Lupe Fiasco Lasers

RELEASE DATE? First Half of 2010
WHAT WE KNOW: Lupe keeps getting better and better and all signs point to Lasers being his best full-length to date. There aren't a lot of hard facts about the effort available, but his mixtape Enemy of the State proves his lyrics are better than they've ever been, and between his Twilight joint and his Japanese Cartoon material it's clear that his palatte is expanding with his ear. An early single "Shining Down" leaked last summer, and now it seems another leak called "I'm Beaming" is getting a proper single release.


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