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Albums 2012: Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj + More to Look for

There are a lot of things to look forward to in 2012: Dr. Dre’s Coachella appearance, the first photos of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s baby, Blue Ivy, and the impending doom coinciding with this year’s winter solstice. But before the world implodes into a fiery oblivion, several rap and R&B artists will make an attempt at what could be, according to the Mayans, their swan song. OK, that may be dramatically pushing it.

The BoomBox has compiled a list of 10 albums that we anticipate to make a big bang in 2012. While there are many albums we are looking forward to this year — Dr. Dre’s ridiculously long-overdue ‘Detox’ included — we are giving love first to the albums with solid album titles and release dates. Consider it a reverse year-end, best-of list and enjoy.

John Shearer, WireImage

10. ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded,’ Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj‘s debut LP, ‘Pink Friday,’ birthed seven hit singles, soared to No. 1 on the charts and was crowned platinum six weeks after its November 2010 release — then double-platinum in December 2011. The first round of accolades ignite high expectations for Minaj’s follow-up ‘Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded’ — which takes its name from Minaj’s alter ego Roman Zolanski. The Queen Barbie has already dropped two high-octane singles from the album — ‘Roman in Moscow,’ ‘Stupid Hoe’ — promising her legion of Barbies — the pet name she calls her fans — a return to her brash mixtape roots. ‘Roman Reloaded’ drops Valentine’s Day aka Romantime’s Day.

Angela Weiss, WireImage

9. ‘New Life,’ Monica
A lot has happened to Monica since the release of her 2010 album ‘Still Standing.’ There was her secret marriage to NBA player Shannon Brown, followed by a move to RCA Records and a gig mentoring on NBC’s ‘The Voice.’ So, it makes sense the R&B singer is calling her seventh studio album, ‘New Life.’ While she’s crafting the effort, she’s also recording with ‘The Boy Is Mine’ collaborator Brandy. Could a feature on the new LP be in the works? For now, two singles from the often pushed back album have been released — the Missy Elliott-produced ‘Anything (to Find You)’ featuring Rick Ross and the more recent ‘Until It’s Gone.’ ‘New Life’ drops on Feb. 21.

Jeff Fusco, Getty Images

8. ‘We Sell Drugs Too,’ Goodie Mob
It’s been eight years since this sect of Atlanta’s Dungeon Family crew released an album, and in that time, the group’s standout crooner Cee Lo has made quite a solo name for himself. Along with Khujo, Big Gipp and T-Mo, Cee Lo has already logged in studio hours for Goodie Mob‘s fifth album, reportedly titled ‘We Sell Drugs Too.’ The LP was expected to drop last year, but never surfaced. The group, however, did get to flex their performance skills at the 2011 Soul Train Awards, proving they still have what it takes to command audiences. With the ‘F— You’ crooner done promoting 2010′s ‘The Lady Killer’ album, hopefully the GM project will make its way to the frontlines just as the “Dirty South” hip-hop they coined makes its sweet return to hip-hop glory.

Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images

7. ‘Knees & Elbows,’ Willow Smith
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s baby girl Willow found her own spotlight thanks to the explosive, pre-teen-friendly single ‘Whip My Hair.’ Rihanna comparisons, a contract with Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation label, two tracks — ’21st Century Girl’ and the Nicki Minaj-assisted ‘Fireball,’ which spawned a video directed by Hype Williams — followed. With a year gone by since ‘Whip My Hair’ went platinum, the self-professed “leader of the new school” is gearing up for her debut album ‘Knees & Elbows,’ intended for a 2012 release. While the youngest Smith and her label remain hush-hush on the details, one can only keep their fingers crossed that the Fresh Prince will step up to the mic for a feature or two to bring this thing full circle.

Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

6. ‘Live From the Underground,’ Big K.R.I.T.
Mississippi native Big K.R.I.T. drops his major label debut for Def Jam this year. Titled ‘Live From the Underground,’ the LP, entirely self-produced, comes on the heels of two hyped mixtapes: 2010′s ‘K.R.I.T. Wuz Here’ and 2011′s ‘returnof4eva.’ The latter tape produced the neo-southern-rap anthem ‘Country S— (Remix)’ featuring Ludacris and Bun B and paved the way for Big Krizzle’s collaboration with T.I. on the ATL rapper’s first post-prison track, ‘I’m Flexin’.’ Fans can get a taste of ‘Live From the Underground’ thanks to the prematurely released bouncy single ‘Money on the Floor.’ But before he gives us the full effort, he’ll release his ’4EvaNADay’ mixtape, what he touts as a “concept project” — in February.

Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images

5. ‘God Forgives, I Don’t,’ Rick Ross
No one has unabashedly embraced the big money, fancy cars, bitches and hoe’s hip-hop lifestyle in the past few years like Rick Ross. Rozay’s 2010 album ‘Teflon Don’ was crowned No. 1 on The BoomBox’s 2010 year-end list thanks to boisterous, headstrong singles like ‘Aston Martin Music’ and ‘B.M.F.’ where he compared himself to the notorious Black Mafia Family druglord Big Meech. After holding us over in 2011, with the debut compilation from his rap label Maybach Music Group, the Bawse has already rung in the new year with his new mixtape ‘Rich Forever,’ which serves as a warm-up to his fifth studio album, ‘God Forgives, I Don’t.’ Two songs off ‘GFID’ — ‘You the Boss’ featuring Nicki Minaj and ‘I Love My Bitches’ — have already found their way to ears, suggesting this album may be steering towards more radio-friendly beats.

Gary Miller, FilmMagic

4. ‘Master of My Make Believe,’ Santigold
Santigold bridged the gap between indie and mainstream hip-hop with her — sort-of — self-titled debut, ‘Santogold.’ After a lawsuit filed by entertainer Santo Gold forced the Philly MC to change her name to Santigold, little has been heard from the ‘L.E.S. Artistes’ singer. There have been scarce collaborations with the Beastie Boys, Drake, RZA, M.I.A., Bassment Jaxx and she appeared on the Fat Boy Slim and David Byrne concept album ‘Here Lies Love.’ That’s not much considering it’s been four years since her debut dropped. Her sophomore album, ‘Master of My Make Believe,’ is due out later this year, and we’re hoping it’s been worth the wait.

David Livingston, Getty Images

3. Busta Rhymes, ‘E.L.E (Extinction Level Event)2: End of the World’
Hip-hop’s resident motormouth Busta Rhymes helped propel Chris Brown‘s ‘Look at Me Now’ to the top of the charts last year. After announcing he was the newest member of Birdman and Lil Wayne‘s Cash Money/Young Money imprint, Rhymes had the favor returned with Breezy jumping on ‘Why Stop Now?’ which picks up pretty much where the labyrinth rap of ‘Look At Me Now’ left off. The rapper, who turns 40 in May, has plans to release his ninth album this year on the new label. Originally tilted ‘The Chemo,’ Busa Buss changed his mind, opting for the more P.C. title ‘E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event) 2: End of the World,’ a nod to his 1998 album ‘E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front.’

Roger Kisby, Getty Images

2. ‘Good Kid in a Mad City,’ Kendrick Lamar
The year 2012 is already being coined as Kendrick Lamar‘s takeover. In 2011, the Compton-raised rapper released his critically-lauded mixtape-turned-digi-album ‘Section .80′ — a conceptual throwback to Lamar’s come-up thanks to tracks like ‘A.D.H.D.’ and the J. Cole-produced ‘HiiiPower.’ Lamar’s nonchalant and emo-driven delivery helps ease the tension on songs detailing the hard-knock lifestyle. Lamar has a lengthy resume when it comes to guest features, so it’s likely many rappers will return the favor on his own album, dubbed ‘Good Kid in a Mad City.’ Rumors are swirling that everyone from Dr. Dre to The Neptunes and DJ Quik will make their way into the liner notes.

Eric Ryan, Getty Images

1. ‘G.O.O.D. Music: The Album,’ G.O.O.D. Music Artists
Unlike some of his other Twitter tirades, Kanye West kept it simple and under 30 characters last October, when he posted “GOODMUSIC.THE.ALBUM.SPRING2012.” This will be the first compilation from West’s label, which calls home to many of the R&B and rap game’s prized stars. Among those expected to appear on the tracklist are Kid Cudi, CyHi da Prynce, John Legend, Common, Pusha T, Big Sean and Mr. Hudson. In December, Big Sean told MTV the project was “almost done” and Weezy reportedly sampled some tracks off the album while DJing at a London nightclub last month. With anything Kanye touching turning into gold, this album is sure to make a huge splash went it lands upon eager ears.

Watch ‘Kanye West’s Twitter Marathon’

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Kanye West's Twitter Marathon

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