The Most Anticipated Albums of Summer 2013

Find out about the records that will soundtrack your beach parties, barbecues, and lonely forays on the Internet in summer 2013.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Summer begins June 21.

Thankfully, it looks like a big one for hip-hop. Cue Will Smith.

There are plenty of major names with big projects on the way. Meek Mill is looking to reassert his place after last year's under-performing Dreams and Nightmares. Big Sean is looking to follow up his breakout debut and shake the sophomore slump. And of course Juicy J needs that career comeback crown jewel, an album that will help him transcend the status of a legacy artist.

But keep that summer date (again: June 21) in mind while reading our list of the 21 most anticipated records of summer 2013. A few of this year's biggest records will have already dropped—J. ColeKanye WestMac Miller—by the time the season even begins. 

We dare someone not to find something to look forward to in this list.

Click on to find out about the records that will soundtrack your beach parties, barbecues, and lonely forays on the Internet in summer 2013: It's The Most Anticipated Summer Albums of 2013. Should you be interested in a list that skews a bit less towards hip hop, check out Pepsi's Most Anticipated Summer 2013 Albums.

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21. Fabolous, Loso's Way II: Rise To Power

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20. Tech N9ne, Something Else

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19. Ty Dolla Sign, Beach House 2

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18. A$AP Ferg, Trap Lord

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17. Maybach Music Group, Self Made Vol.3

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16. Chief Keef, Bang 2

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15. Ciara, Ciara

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Release Date: 7/5/2013
Label: Epic
Producers: Soundz, Mike Will Made It, Cam Wallace, Rodney Jerkins, Future, The Rockstarz, D'Mile
Guests: Nicki Minaj, Future
Singles: "Body Party," "I'm Out" f/ Nicki Minaj

Two years ago, Ciara asked for a release from her Jive Records contract. She needed to take some time—and she did. Fans were first tantalized last June, when the singer announced that a 2 Chainz-assisted track, "Sweat," would be the album's first single, but the track became a promotional release instead. Fall 2012 was greeted with the release of "Sorry" and "Got Me Good." Neither song made any impact on the Billboard charts, and after Ciara announced there was no release date, it seemed like the entire project would be scrapped.

Now, she's gearing up to drop Ciara on July 5. (It was formerly titled One Woman Army, which is essentially has the same meaning anyway.) 

Fast forward a few months, and Ciara publicly announced she was romantically involved with rapper Future. Then came, "Body Party," the perfectly smooth R&B ballad with a Ghost Town DJ's "My Boo" sample courtesy of producer Mike WiLL Made It. It introduced the '90s jam to an entirely new audience, and ascended to No. 8 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts. Ciara solidified her position in current R&B (and in her relationship with Future) in both the track and its beautifully sensual video. Earlier this month, Ciara dropped "I'm Out" featuring a vicious verse from Nicki Minaj, who will be featured twice on the album.

We're ready for Ciara (it's been a long time coming) but if she has more of this new Ciara in the bag—including Mike WiLL beats, Nicki features, and Future —it's a guaranteed hit. —Lauren Nostro

14. Lil Wayne, Dedication 5

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13. 2 Chainz, TBA

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Release Date: 9/10/2013
Label: Def Jam
Producers: TBA
Guests: TBA
Singles: "Feds Watching" f/ Pharrell

With a number-one debut album already under his belt, it's safe to say the feds aren't the only ones watching as 2 Chainz preps his as-yet-untitled second studio release. The Atlanta rapper has certainly been busy throughout the first half of the year, dropping records alongside Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, and B.o.B, not to mention developing his acting reel. That may explain why he's only dropped one single from an album scheduled to come out September 10. If the rest of his project can match the vibrant ferocity of "Feds Watchng," he'll sidestep the sophomore slump with ease. —Edwin Ortiz

12. Joey Bada$$, Summer Knights

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11. Juicy J, Stay Trippy

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Release Date: August
Label: Taylor Gang/Columbia
Producers: Lex Luger, Sonny Digital, Mike Will Made It, Dr. Luke, Illangelo, Juicy J, Crazy Mike
Guests: Wiz Khalifa, The Weeknd, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Project Pat, Maejor Ali, Young Jeezy,Big Sean
Singles: "Bandz A Make Her Dance" f/ Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, "Show Out" f/ Big Sean and Young Jeezy

Juicy is the father of so many rappers' styles that he could bow out gracefully right now and still get maximum respect. But like the song says, "Juicy J cain't." That's why "Bands A Make Her Dance" is still a strip-club staple a full year after its release. After winning an Oscar with Three Six Mafia, after starring in an MTV reality show, after turning 38, after doing all the things that would normally signal the end of a rapper's relevance, the fact that Juicy J is still making essential, undeniable, uncompromising rap music at this stage of his career is nothing short of phenomenal. Expect more of the same from his album Stay Trippy—hard-hitting and outrageously raw club records about sex and drugs and all the ratchet things we've always loved about Juicy. One of the stand-out cuts features Wiz Khalifa and Chris Brown (rapping!) Say no to that? We cain't. —Rob Kenner

10. El-P & Killer Mike, Run The Jewels

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9. Meek Mill, Dreamchasers 3

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8. Wale, The Gifted

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Release Date: 6/25/2013
Label: Maybach Music Group/Atlantic
Producers: Kelson Camp, Tone P, Stokely, Sam Dew, Travis Scott
Guests: Sam Dew, Meek Mill, CeeLo Green, Yo Gotti, Lyfe Jennings, Nicki Minaj, Juicy J, Rihanna, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz, Jerry Seinfeld, Tiara Thomas
Singles: "Bad" f/ Tiara Thomas, "Bad (Remix)" f/ Rihanna, "LoveHate Thing" "Rotation" f/ Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz

There's a fine line between the definitions of "ambitious" and "gifted" in Merriam Webster's dictionary, and Wale is certainly walking it with a defiant swagger. As he previously told MTV of his upcoming album, "Let's let the music talk, because I ain't about to come here and tell y'all exactly how I feel no more." Cue the genesis of The Gifted, which stands to be Wale's most successful release to date.

The album boasts features from MMG cohorts Rick Ross and Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna, but Wale will unquestionably be the star of his own show here. The D.C. rapper has already hit introspective gold with the soulful flare of "LoveHate Thing," and similarly takes flight as he jet sets with the winner's circle of Wiz Khalifa and 2 Chainz on "Rotation." Come June 25, I Am Gifted will likely be thrown into the rap album discussion still marinating after June 18. Still not convinced? He's got Jerry Seinfeld on his album. We rest our case. —Edwin Ortiz

7. ScHoolboy Q, OxyMoron

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Release Date: TBA
Label: Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope Records
Producers: Boi-1da, The Alchemist, Pharrell, The Maven Boys
Guests: Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, A$AP Rocky, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, His daughter Joy
Singles: "Collard Greens" f/ Kendrick Lamar, "Hell of a Night", "Yay Yay"

Does TDE have another star on its roster? When Kendrick Lamar hit the scene, he certainly had a fanbase, but he didn't prove himself to non-believers until he unleashed his paradigm-shifting debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city.

ScHoolboy is in a similar situation; he's built an audience with his independent releases (if you haven't already, be sure to peep last year's Habits & Contradictions) and we're beginning to wonder if he can make the leap into stardom as well. The good news is, his first two singles, "Yay Yay" and "Collard Greens," both show that ScHoolboy isn't going to compromise his style any time soon, even he can't get true radio hits.

Question is, can he craft a masterful album like Kendrick did? Action Bronson hilariously joked on Vine that Groovy Q just chants in front of the mirror, "Gotta be better than Kendrick!" But what if Q can will that into reality? —Insanul Ahmed

6. Big Sean, Hall of Fame

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Release Date: TBA
Label: G.O.O.D Music
Producers: Kanye West, Da Internz, Hit-Boy, Key Wane, No I.D., Young Chop, DJ Camper, DJ Mano
Guests: Kanye West, Nas, Tyga, Common, Jhene Aiko
Singles: "Guap," "Switch Up" f/ Common

An invisible understudy when he joined the house that 'Ye built, Big Sean has since grown into the crown jewel of the G.O.O.D. Music roster. While his 2011 debut Finally Famous capitalized on his "charismatic-ass" style, Sean's eyes are now set to bigger endeavors with Hall of Fame. His latest records, "Guap" and "Switch Up," have followed suit.

He was recently seen in the studio with fellow Detroit star Eminem, which has only expanded anticipation for his sophomore album, though it's unclear if their work together will make the album. While a platinum plaque would be nice for Hall of Fame, he'll happily settle for a place amongst the legends come release date. —Edwin Ortiz

5. Pusha T, My Name Is My Name

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Release Date: 7/16/2013
Label: G.O.O.D Music/Def Jam
Producers: Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Rico Beats, Nottz, Don Cannon, Swizz Beats, Hudson Mohawke
Guests: Future, The-Dream, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Rick Ross
Singles: "Numbers on the Board"

"This is the end for all my unrecognized greatness."

Pusha T delivered this brash statement on "My God," the lead track from his first solo mixtape, Fear Of God. Two years and two projects later, he seems poised to flood the streets with the arrogant drug-dealer music he's excelled at making for over a decade. Considering the inspiration for the title of his debut solo album, My Name Is My Name, Pusha has no room to disappoint; any aficionado of The Wire will tell you it would be sacrilege to name a project after one of the show's best moments and underdeliver.

But will it live up to the expectations? Pusha T doesn't lack the confidence or ability to come through in the clutch. The disarming, off-kilter "Numbers On The Board" promises that Pusha's first album on G.O.O.D. Music should strike a nerve with fans the same way Marlo Stanfield's bone-chilling speech did with fans of David Simon's masterpiece. —Julian Kimble

4. Danny Brown, Old

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3. The Weeknd, Kiss Land

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Release Date: TBA
Label: Universal/Republic
Producers: Silkky Johnson
Guests: TBA
Singles: "Kiss Land"

The mystery is gone. The hype-storm has calmed. Three mixtapes and a vinyl re-release in, and Abel Tesfaye has gone from shielding his identity at all costs to living a life of pseudo-anonymity—or as close to anonymity as you can get while still selling out shows.

Though he remains interview-averse and camera-shy, his music is as visceral as ever, and we couldn't be more excited to see what he has in store with his debut full-length, Kiss Land. The album's title track was released last month: all breathy vocals, Castlevania keys, and synths that sound like the noises your old TV made when you put your ear too close to the screen. It's just the sort of mood music for black nights we've come to expect from Tesfaye. If the rest of the album maintains that same feel of drunken confessions made underneath the glow of halogen lights, we should be anticipating a new R&B classic, and all the hype will have been worth it. —Nathan Susman

2. Jay-Z, TBA

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1. Drake, Nothing Was The Same

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Release Date: August 2013
Label: YMCMB
Producers: Noah "40" Shebib, Boi-1da, Mike Zombie
Guests: Jhene Aiko
Singles: "Started From The Bottom"

On "Crew Love" from Take Care, Drake declared, "I think I like who I'm becoming." We did too. At this point, he's fully cemented into who he is. You can tell on his songs: He sounds more comfortable and confident than ever before. That's why we're looking for Drake to continue to delve into his sound and take greater control of his narrative on Nothing Was The Same. He's been relatively quiet recently, but he really set the year off right right with "Started From The Bottom" and "5 AM In Toronto." His latest offerings on "Girls Love Beyonce" and DJ Khaled's, "No New Friends" haven't been as successful or well-received, but either way, comeback season is in the air, and you know we all miss the mean meme lyrics. —Insanul Ahmed

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