Oscar season is coming up, but the silver screen isn't going to be the only medium that's getting all the attention. Like the movie industry, music has been having an abnormally dry summer when it comes to star power. With fall approaching, long-awaited album releases are on the way.
September has its fair share of heat. They come in clusters after DJ Mustard -- who dominated summer 2014 -- drops '10 Summers' on Sept. 12.
Arguably, the first big release date is today. The most anticipated comes from an R&B star trying to take back his moment after jail time and a rap veteran changing up his lifestyle. Check out some highly anticipated projects below. These albums from Chris Brown, Joell Ortiz and Freeway should be what you're listening to next.
The lengthy buildup and the drama surrounding 'X' has clouded how weak Chris Brown's previous two albums were. 'F.A.M.E.' and 'Fortune' weren't just generally feckless forays into EDM; they had one of the weakest combined Metacritic scores of any artist of Brown's relevancy. Streaks break, though, and 'X' may be the one to do so. With the exception of 'Loyal,' his new string of singles -- 'Fine China,' 'Love More' and 'New Flame' -- feature a comfortable-sounding Chris Brown amidst more traditional R&B production. With that in mind, it would make a good storyline if he finished on a high note, especially after months of legal drama and negative headlines.
5 Reasons to Listen to Chris Brown's 'X' Album
1. Brown has said he intended 'X' to be his last album.
2. At 17 tracks, 'X' is Brown's biggest project.
3. Brandy, who admitted that she was a fan of the singer, is a featured guest. The two collaborated on 'Put It Down' off Brandy's 'Two Eleven' LP and again on 'X;' she's featured on 'Do Better.'
4. Rihanna has been rumored to be the unfaithful subject of the song 'Loyal.' She was also one of the artists Brown was reportedly working with. However, as the tracklist shows, the Bajan beauty has no feature on the LP.
5. The album title comes from quite a bit of numerics. 'X,' the roman numeral for 10, comes from Brown's birthday (May 5; 5+5=10). The original release year of the LP was set to be 2013, being his 10th year in the music industry. And that year he turned 24 (X is the 24th letter of the alphabet).
Watch Chris Brown's 'New Flame' Video Feat. Usher & Rick Ross
'House Slippers' is an oddly lowkey name for an album. The title isn't just for eccentricity though. Joell Ortiz's third solo project reflects his comfort with his lifestyle. Early singles like 'Music Saved My Life' -- where Ortiz personalizes a well-tread topic -- hints that 'House Slippers' may be a success. With his Slaughterhouse brethren being the lone star features, the spotlight will be squarely on Ortiz on this effort.
5 Reasons to Listen to Joell Ortiz's 'House Slippers' Album
1. This is his first solo album in three years. In 2011, he released 'Free Agent.'
2. 'House Slippers' features collaborations with Joe Budden, B.o.B, Maino, Crooked Eye and Royce Da 5'9", among others.
3. Ortiz gave Complex the most simplistic reason behind the album title choice: "I'm at home with this album."
4. The release of this project gives Ortiz the second-highest number of solo albums in the Slaughterhouse collective.
5. The songs on the LP detail his struggles and celebrate the triumphs of his career.
Watch Joell Ortiz's 'House Slippers' Video
Freeway & The Jacka
'Highway Robbery' is one of those albums that traditionalist underground hip-hop fans have been waiting on for an unjustifiably long time. The Philadelphia-Oakland connection was supposed to happen last year, but fans will see if the delay was worth the wait in a couple of days. That's not to say Freeway supporters were completely left to dry, however. Last October, the duo dropped a 27-track mixtape featuring the likes of Freddie Gibbs, Statik Selektah and a few others. 'Highway Robbery' packs more heat with Trae Tha Truth, Cormega and Killer Mike making appearances.
5 Reasons to Listen to Freeway & the Jacka's 'Highway Robbery'
1. Freeway shines brighter on collaborations than when he's flying solo. His time with Roc-A-Fella's State Property and the highly praised 2010 team-up with Jake One in 'The Stimulus Package' are his career peaks.
2. The Philly native has a better batting average than the Jacka when it comes to collaboration projects, but that's mostly because of the project output. The Jacka has at least 32 projects consisting of albums and mixtapes under his belt while Freeway has about half that.
3. The irony of the album's delay is Freeway's efficiency. He recorded his 2011 'Statik-Free' EP with Statik Selektah in 24 hours.
4. Songs like 'On My Toes' is a reminder to listeners to never get too comfortable. "Tryna make a million dollars off of bricks, that's the goal / It's like tryna make a dolla out of 15 cent, holla," Freeway raps.
5. Two lyrical minds are always better than one.
Watch Freeway & the Jacka's 'On My Toes' Video Feat. Dubb 20 & Fam Syrk
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