Fall Music: What's Next in Hip-Hop and R&B?

Drake "takes care" with his sophomore album, Mary J. Blige offers a sequel to My Life and more.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images; Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of Fame;
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

This year has seen the release of major albums from the worlds of hip-hop and R&B -- from neo-soul sister Jill Scott (The Light of the Sun) to rap kings Jay-Z and Kanye West (Watch the Throne). As 2011 heads into the twilight, here are a few more big names with albums on the horizon.

Drake, Take Care (Oct. 24)

The Canadian rapper has been busy this summer releasing singles to promote the follow-up to his platinum-selling debut, Thank Me Later. If the new tracks are any indication, the sophomore album will find the sweater-loving MC delving deeper into the darker side of fame, especially its effects on relationships.

There's "Marvin's Room," a drunk-dial plea delivered over a sparse drumbeat; and "Trust Issues," a gloomy down-tempo number in which the rapper-crooner wishes he could find someone to believe in. On "Free Spirit" (featuring Rick Ross), Drake demands that a lover "tattoo my name on you/So I know it's real." Guess that's one way to deal with trust issues.

Drake, who turns 25 on the album's drop date, says he plans to release a birthday edition that will include songs not available on the original album.

Mary J. Blige, My Life II: The Journey Continues (Act I) (Nov. 21)

The 10th studio album from the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul is a follow up to her breakout sophomore album, My Life. The nine-time Grammy Award winner has always shared her personal struggles throughout her career, and this album sums up what she learned from it all: that life goes on. As Blige explained on Good Morning America, "[1994's My Life] was a very important record because it came from a very dark place where we all needed a lot of help ... but our journey continues because we learn how to weather the storm."

The album comes with a roster of big-time producers -- including Swizz Beatz, Pharrell Williams and Jermaine Dupri -- and has a retro-soul sound, as heard on the latest single, "25/8," an ode to being so deep in love that 24/7 isn't enough time ("I need another hour and a day"). The album features a few collaborations, including Lil Wayne and Diddy, who produced the first My Life.

Although Blige famously declared "no more drama," her life is all about drama these days -- at least on the big screen. Her song "The Living Proof" is featured in the hit movie The Help; she just wrapped up filming Rock of Ages, starring Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones; and she's slated to play music legend Nina Simone in a biopic that's expected to begin shooting later this year.

Monica, New Life (Nov. 8)

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