In September 2018, Diplo announced that the next album from Major Lazer, his dancehall-focused side project with Walshy Fire and Ape Drums, would likely be the last. “I think so,” the producer said, “because I got [these] other side projects, like LSD with Sia and Silk City [his duo with Mark Ronson].” But the group will release one more album, Music Is the Weapon, before its cartoon namesake rides off into the technicolor sunset. Recent singles -- May’s soaring anthem “Can’t Take It From Me,” featuring Skip Marley, and June’s “Make It Hot,” a collaboration with Brazilian vocalist Anitta -- hint that the forthcoming LP should sound like classic Caribbean-, South America- and Africa-inspired Major Lazer. (The group recently worked with Shatta Wale and Beyoncé on “ALREADY,” a track from the latter’s The Lion King: The Gift project.)
But expect some fresh influences from the trio’s newest addition, Miami-based producer Ape Drums, who replaced longtime member Jillionaire earlier in 2019. “We all text and talk about the album coming out, talk about ideas of how we’re going to do it,” Ape Drums told Billboard in July. “I’ve been trying to dig deep in my brain every day to come up with new, fresh ideas.” The first official single from Music Is the Weapon drops in early September, with the full project planned for release on Diplo’s Mad Decent label by year’s end. -- KATIE BAIN
It has been 14 years since her last studio album, but affection for Missy Elliott hasn’t waned. In June, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with a ceremony that featured tributes from Lizzo and Michelle Obama; on Aug. 26, she’ll receive the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards. The only person who didn’t get the memo, it seems, was Elliott herself: “For so long I was hesitant to put out music in fear no1 would get it because people said music has changed,” she tweeted last fall. Now, after releasing a handful of singles through the years -- including the Pharrell Williams team-up “WTF” in 2015 -- Elliott has confirmed she’ll release a new body of work by year’s end.
Already she has tweeted about a new track with Lizzo, whose “Tempo” she guested on this year; posted dispatches from the studio with longtime collaborator Timbaland, describing a song called “Summer” as a throwback to their ’90s work; and shared a snippet of a feisty club-banger titled “Cool Off.” But don’t be surprised if she keeps much of the project under wraps until it’s ready. “My fans are crazy ... if you tell them a date, you better stick to it,” she told Billboard last December. “For this album, I’m just trying to make sure I give the best me that I can possibly give.” -- NOLAN FEENEY