Dr. Dre returns this week with his first full length in 16 years, Compton: A Soundtrack. And the end of last year, D’Angelo put a stop to the world’s 14 years of pining and dropped his sonic masterpiece Black Messiah. Are we satisfied? Nope. Instead, each release just refreshes that corner of our mind—you know the one, back right corner? dusted with cobwebs?—where we’ve tucked away promises of new work from various artists over the years. Here are eight more albums we’re still hoping to hear.
Opera Noir, Timbaland
In 2013 when he was touring with Jay Z, rapper-turned-heavyweight-producer Timbaland announced his fourth full length. He even dropped the collection’s lead single, “Know Bout Me.” But then…nothing. Well, not nothing. He co-produced just about all of Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience as well as most of Jay Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail, and “Drunk in Love” and “Partition” off Beyonce, and worked on Fox’s Empire—but released no new Timbaland material. Yet.
As of last summer he was still touting the collection. In an interview with Rolling Stone he said, “This is my Purple Rain solo album that I’m going to put out…It’s my grand finale. It’s my voila. This is why you call me Timbaland. This is why you say I’m the greatest who ever did it.”
Detox and The Planets, Dr. Dre
Dre will make good on a promise he made publicly earlier this year when he drops Compton on Friday, but he’s strewn two other albums along the side of the road since 1999 when he released 2001. After scaling to the top of the music world by the early ’00s — he debuted Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP in 1999, and produced Em’s diamond-certified The Marshall Mathews LP and Xzibit’s platinum Restless in 2000 for his own label Aftermath Entertainment — he began touting Detox. Calling the record his third and final album, anticipation peaked early. Ten years and dozens of producers, interviews, and updates later, anticipation grew stale. But when whispers of a release cropped up, so too did the frenzy. But when Dre announced Compton on his Beats 1 radio show, he said that Detox would never be released. “It just wasn’t good,” Dre said. “I don’t think I did a good enough job, and I couldn’t do that to my fans, and I couldn’t do that to myself, to be perfectly honest with you. I just wasn’t feeling it.”
A decade into the wait for Detox, Dre gave an interview to Vibe and said he was working on another album, called The Planets. “An instrumental album is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” he said at the time. ” I have the ideas for it. I want to call it The Planets. I don’t even know if I should be saying this, but f–k it. [Laughs.] It’s just my interpretation of what each planet sounds like.” Detox may be formally scrapped, but we’re still burning a candle for The Planets…
Songs from the Black Hole, Weezer
The ’90s alt-rock darlings debuted in 1994 and soon after, details of their science fiction rock opera (!) follow-up began emerging: It would express lead singer Rivers Cuomo’s mixed feelings about musical success…it was set in 2126 and followed the explorations of the spaceship Betsy II (named for Weezer’s tour bus)…it had six characters—they were voiced by Weezer’s Cuomo, Brian Bell, and Matt Sharp along with Rachel Haden of That Dog, Joan Wasser of the Dambuilders, and Karl Koch. Black Hole was recorded in 1994, but in 1995 when Cuomo was recuperating from extensive leg surgery he enrolled in Harvard and his songwriting followed him to a darker direction. Black Hole was now “too whimsical,” he said, and was left on the cutting room floor.
In its stead, they released Pinkerton in 1996 and shortly after Cuomo suffered a massive breakdown (you can read about his distaste for the collection in EW‘s 2001 interview with the lead singer). The album still exists—some of the tracks were released in Cuomo’s Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo—but we’re still dying to hear it as it was originally intended.
Untitled, Ms. Lauryn Hill
This year Hill contributed six songs to a Nina Simone tribute album that accompanied Netflix’s documentary on the legendary singer. (Check out her Jimmy Fallon performance of “Feeling Good”). But that is not enough to satiate Hill fans or her label. Hill has to put out more music. Literally. She signed a $1 million deal with Sony in 2013 that clearly stipulates she will release an album. Very little (read: no) details as to when her own full original full length will drop, but when she originally signed Sony’s dotted line she posted a note on her Tumblr promising she had already begun work on the collection…
Untitled, The Wrens
Twelve years, a phone book’s worth of promises, and even photographic proof that an album has indeed been completed, we’re still waiting for The Wrens’ follow-up to 2003’s defining The Meadowlands. The band announced and began recording the collection a full five years ago, but the most recent update, delivered on the group’s Facebook page, says the project’s been mastered and sequenced though singer Charles Bissell hadn’t been able to listen to it yet. The Meadowlands is the group’s third full length and it came seven years after their also excellent sophomore collection, Secaucus. A far cry, sonically and thematically, from the almost-ecstatic Secaucus, it was melancholic, depressing, and defeatist, but beautifully so. Where the quartet are now—sonically and/or thematically—remains to be seen…
Swift & Changeable, Ghostface Killah and MF DOOM
The two MCs announced they’d release a collaborative album in 2006. It was supposed to drop the next year and was suspected to be called Swift & Changeable. They’d teamed up before on DOOM’s “Angelz,” and the idea of a full length featuring Ghostface’s rapid fire, compulsive storytelling and the gooey aesthetic of MF DOOM seemed too good to be true. Which is not to say it’s been hard to find either artist since. Ghostface has released six solo full lengths and three collaborative albums. DOOM has also hardly been idle, releasing one solo album, one EP, and two collaboration albums. In 2011 Ghostface said he was waiting on material from MF DOOM to finish the album but then last year said in a Reddit AMA session that the collection was coming in 2015, so we’re still hoping for it.
I/O, Peter Gabriel
Gabriel’s 2002 album Up took a notorious 10 years to complete, and his follow-up, I/O, has also become a long-gestating affair. The former Genesis frontman began touting the collection shortly after Up came out, and said he had enough material at the time for two albums, promising that I/O would drop some 18 months later. In the 13 years since, he has released tracks here and there, toured extensively, and re-recorded a bunch of the album’s intended songs. Most recently, in an interview with Rolling Stone, things weren’t looking great for finding I/O on the (digital) shelves anytime soon. “Well, I don’t know now,” he said as to whether the music he’s currently working on is going to be served on I/O. “I’ve had that title out there for a while,” he said, noting that Tinariwen is stylized as +IO:I, using the Tifinagh alphabet. “So I thought, Oh well, keep my big mouth shut next time.”