A majority of the US may still be suffering from a polar vortex but for Christian rap, things are just starting to warm up. January concluded with major album drops from Eric Heron, J. Crum, Jerry Manna, and Steven Malcolm, while CJ King and Young C both released stellar projects at the top of this month.
Note: The titles are not final and subject to change. Artists may/may not choose to release projects at a different date or year as circumstances arise.
Aaron Cole – (TBA)
Aaron Cole practically gifted us two projects last year in the form of Virginia Boy and Cole Season (don’t forget the inordinate number of features he put out as well) but he shows no sign of slowing down. Understandably, he’s kept coy about specifics for his debut album, with only cryptic tweets and ephemeral Instagram live sessions being proof that he’s working on it. No release date is set but if his music from last year is any indication, this will be well worth the wait. Plus with a tobyMac co-sign, what more do you need to get hyped?
Derek Minor – By Any Means
2019 will mark the end of many franchises from Star Wars to The Avengers but the “final installment” we’re looking forward to the most is By Any Means which will conclude Derek Minor’s ground-breaking Up Up and Away series. Every installment has stood on its own as a unique body of work while all managing to connect narratively (guided by the phrase: Your soul must fly high above the trap by any means). After The Trap made many top 10 Christian rap project lists last year, there’s no doubt the finale will be just as, if not more, exceptional.
HeeSun Lee – Flying Cars
From sci-fi evoking cover art (Blade Runner 2049 vibes) to its title, you’d be forgiven for thinking that HeeSun Lee’s follow up to Beauty for Ashes would skew more conceptual as opposed to being more grounded like in previous releases. But HeeSun’s bristling bars throughout the first single are proof that while she clearly dreams for a better “Future” she isn’t pulling any punches about the work that needs to be done to get there. On March 8th listeners will finally be able to step in her musical “ride” and see where she lands.
KB – (TBA)
KB is one of the most merciless artists in Christian rap in that he always drops snippets for unreleased music before the teased songs then vanish to the sunken place. You almost wish he would not tease that “new music is coming” because the joy of expectation pales in comparison to the demand for immediate satisfaction. He promised in his Spotify year in review that he would drop “much more” than just three singles and a handful of features this year. Let’s hope he makes good on that promise.
Paul Russell – (TBA)
Ruslan’s verses on Via Text and his chemistry with Kings Dreams newest signee was impressive, but we’d be lying if we left the project not wanting more Paul Russell. Russell’s smooth vocals interspersed with gruff yet playful raps were testaments not only to his versatility but his unique outlook and perspective on life and faith. Recent live streams have shown Paul to be working hard on his solo release and he even teased a new song.
Reconcile – Streets Don’t Love You 2
Streets Don’t Love You You was one of those albums in 2017 that you could not just listen through once then get on with your day. It is music that sticks to your ribs and reverberates off your eardrums weeks after you have heard it. The surprise sequel will not be an easy listen (a Reconcile project never is) but we’re eager to see how he will continue to bring divine to the destitute through his music.
Rockstar JT – Streets Signed Me Vol. 2
“Drip Bayless” featuring Aha Gazelle & Parris Chariz is the first single and dropped today. What more needs to be said? The track flares with energy and you cannot help but root for Rockstar JT as he holds his own against some of hip-hop’s best. This is somewhat of a rebirth for JT after he released and then took down “Subway.” With renewed perspective and vision, Streets Signed Me Vol. 2 looks to be a revealing insight into how he has matured since the first installment.
Social Club Misfits – Mood
Social Club Misfits took the phrase “kill your darlings” to a whole new level when they announced that they had deleted an entire album (America’s Sweetheart) and were starting from the ground up for their fourth release under Capitol Records. But on the altar of that sacrifice came the crucible in the form of Mood, the first presumably of many projects to come out of a sporadic three-day recording session. With a new single “Everytime” dropping on February 15th, let’s see what exactly Fern and Marty made that was good enough to scrap a whole project.
Swoope – (TBA)
Swoope teased that a second full-length project would come at the end of 2018 yet December came and passed with no new music. We can only take this to mean that he was perfecting and fine-tuning his follow-up to Sonshine, making a most likely already good album a great one. His recently released “No Traffic” single is filled with many truth bombs but also a promise: “Yeah my last album was great / But I got the best on the way.”
Tony Tillman – (TBA)
This man has not dropped a project since 2015! He’s been keeping fans at bay with several singles and features but it is long overdue for the Camden rapper to give a new lyrical feast for fans to chew through. Thankfully a prophetic tweet by Doc Watson confirms that we won’t have to wait too much longer: Tillman will be dropping in the first quarter of 2019.
Wande – (TBA)
No gas, Wande delivered the best features of 2018, from electrifying CASS’ “Nothin’ to Somethin” record to Not Klyde’s breakout hit “She Got Aesthetic.” Her singles though few and far between were likewise great trailers for the main event: a debut project. She’s a Rapzilla Freshmen to boot, so we are anticipating a good year.
1k Phew – What’s Understood
1k Phew has been quite munificent in dropping teasers and updates for his official debut album under Reach Records (the re-release of Never Too Late doesn’t count). An absolutely stacked tracklist and various promos about the album’s concept silences the doubters who thought Phew’s “church gon wild” mantra would not mesh well with Reach’s aesthetic. It is confirmed for a February 15th drop so it will not be long before we get to hear what he and Ace Harris have been cooking.