Best Bets: 2008 Album Preview

There's a wealth of highly anticipated albums heading into stores in 2008 and Billboard has the lowdown of 20 you should check out, from the Mars Volta and Mariah Carey to Nas.

What's the biz to do when the top-selling album of 2007 was a Christmas project, and the second-best was a soundtrack to a teen-themed Disney movie? Superstars underperformed, and not enough up-and-comers took their commercial fortunes to the proverbial next level. Still, there's a wealth of highly anticipated albums heading into stores in 2008 and Billboard has the lowdown of which ones you should check out, from the Mars Volta to Mariah Carey to Nas.

February

Janet Jackson
"Discipline"
(Island, Feb. 26)

After a nearly 10-year stint at Virgin, Janet Jackson is starting fresh with boyfriend/Island Urban Music president Jermaine Dupri by her side. Island Def Jam chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid is personally steering her project, with assistance from Rodney Jerkins (on the single "Feedback"), Ne-Yo, Stargate, Tricky Stewart and the-Dream. "I never had to tell them, 'No, this is what it should be,'" says Jackson of her collaborators. "I felt like they really did their homework and whatever they felt a Janet song was -- rock, pop or urban -- they hit it right on the nose."
Artist Discography.

Erykah Badu
"Nu AmErykah"
(Universal Motown, Feb. 26)

Breaking a five-year hiatus, Badu is set to return with "Nu AmErykah," which she says was inspired by her two children and the direction of contemporary American culture. "The first half of the album speaks to my creative interpretation of Francis Ford Coppola's 'Koyaanisqatsi,' and the second half is more traditional," she says. Working with producers Sa-Ra, Kareem Riggins, Mike Chavarria, Madlib, Bilal and the late J Dilla, Badu crafted 18 tracks of funky, 808 bassline-driven R&B music, which will be spread across two separately sold discs. The 9th Wonder-produced "Honey" is the first single and is climbing Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and "Soldier 7" may be the second.
Artist Discography.

Lil Wayne
"Tha Carter III"
(Cash Money, February)

Widespread leaks forced the rapper to move this project from last fall to February. Wayne has collaborated with everyone from Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado to Kanye West and the Game, but it's unclear what exactly will wind up on the finished project. "I did ask for a list of the songs that were leaked, so I can throw some new joints on there," he says. "I switched the beat up to a lot of them, because the rap is already out there and everybody loves the song, whatever the song shall be."
Artist Discography.

Nas
"Nigger"
(The Jones Experience/Def Jam, February)

Never one to back down from a challenge, Nas is moving forward with the controversial title of this album, originally expected in December. With production from DJ Toomp, Jermaine Dupri and Sean "Diddy" Combs' Hitmen crew, the rapper pulls no punches on tracks like "You're a Nigger Too" and "The Fear." "There's a fun level to the album," he told MTV. "There's an attractive, sexy, aspect to it; a stylish aspect, a flashy aspect. It takes negatives and makes them good."
Artist Discography.

NEXT: Albums coming in March, April and beyond.


Excerpted and expanded from an article that ran in the January 5, 2008 issue of Billboard magazine. Subscribers can read the issue's content online via Billboard.biz.

Click here to check out releases for March and beyond!

Single copies of the issue can be ordered via Orderbillboard.com.