Rihanna, TBD (Nov. 21)
Rihanna isn't one for taking breaks. Her sixth and currently untitled album will arrive a year and five days after "Loud," a disc that spawned seven (!) singles. Her first offering is the irresistible "We Found Love," a track set to dominate dance-floors everywhere thanks to touch of electro super-producer Calvin Harris.
Rick Ross, "God Forgives, I Don't" (November)
Rick Ross' ascension to hip-hop's upper echelon has been one of the most fascinating storylines in recent memory. He's as obsessed with hard-sounding consonants and deft wordplay as he is with whipping hard white (read: cocaine), and that makes ignoring his biographical lies a lot easier.
Chris Brown's F.A.M.E. Tour @ 1st Mariner Arena (7 p.m., Sept. 28)
The F.A.M.E. Tour's supporting cast is almost enough to make you forget about the loathsome child who gets top billing. Kelly Rowland is enjoying a second R&B wind thanks to a sexier attitude, T-Pain has more hits than you remember and Tyga has the potential to be Young Money's next cash cow. $39.75-$79.75.
tUne-yArDs @ Ottobar (8 p.m., Oct. 7)
This could be the steal of the season. For the cost of a dinner at Chili's, you can watch Merrill Garbus, aka tUnE-YaRds, perform the vocal acrobatics that made "w h o k i l l" one of the most celebrated albums of the year. If Dirty Projectors' colorful tunes won you over a couple years of ago, Garbus' songs will likely do the same. $12.
Arctic Monkeys @ Rams Head Live (7 p.m., Oct. 15)
Two of indie rock's brightest bands join forces. The Monkeys, once given with the unenvious title of Rock 'n' Roll Saviors, are now merely a very good rock band with smart, biting lyricism and the amps to match. Chicago's Smith Westerns released "Dye It Blonde," one of the year's most lush albums, back in January. $37.
J. Cole @ Baltimore Soundstage (8 p.m., Oct. 20)
Jay-Z's first signee to his Roc Nation imprint comes to town with his first album in hand. "Cole World: The Sideline Story," released this past Tuesday, has some of the most introspective hip-hop songs in years ("Lost Ones" gives both perspectives of an unwanted pregnancy, for example) and the type of rap-pop songs radio needs ("Work Out," "Can't Get Enough" with Trey Songz). $26.
Double Dagger's last show @ Ottobar (9 p.m., Oct. 21)
Another group of Baltimore vets is calling it quits this fall, but Double Dagger's last tour starts and ends in its city. The eight-date final hurrah kicks off at Charm City Art Space (Oct. 12) and ends at the Ottobar. A press release mentions "Awesome Special Guests!" so it seems the group will go out in style. $8.
Odd Future @ Sonar (8 p.m., Oct. 24)
The controversial Los Angeles rap collective sold out Sonar in May, and they're back for Round II. Crew leader Tyler, the Creator gets the press but pay attention to the sideline guys such as Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis. They're skillful MCs, too. $25.
Yelawolf @ Baltimore Soundstage (8 p.m., Oct. 26)
"You'll never see rock 'n' roll do hip-hop like I did," says the long-haired and tatted Yelawolf, one of hip-hop's most gifted newcomers in years, on "Hard White (Up in the Club)." He'll remind you of his boss, Eminem, not because he's white but because of his dazzling double-time rapping ability. Watch his video for "Pop the Trunk" above. Some of the language might be NSFW. $17.50.
Jay-Z & Kanye West's Watch the Throne Tour @ 1st Mariner Arena (7:30 p.m., Nov. 1)
It's our biggest concert of the year, and with good reason: Solo Kanye and Jay gigs are events, but having the two on the same stage is a different beast. The rich, bass-heavy landscapes of "Watch the Throne" will do their best to keep up with the superstars. $49.50-$199.50.
Smokers Club Tour (Curren$y, Method Man, Big K.R.I.T. and more) @ Rams Head Live (7 p.m., Nov. 20)
A pioneering pothead meets the new generation of hip-hop stoners when the Smokers Club Tour comes to Baltimore. Method Man's manic stage presence will play the yin to Curren$y's chilled-out yang. Watch Curren$y join tourmate Big K.R.I.T. for his video for "Moon & Stars (Remix)." Some of the language may be NSFW. $35.
The Bridge's final show @ Rams Head Live (Nov. 23)
The Baltimore scene has taken a lot of sobering hits lately, but the Bridge's farewell gig at Rams Head Live is a celebration of the band's 10 years together. The plan is to play three sets, so no fan's favorite song is missed. $15 advance; $18 day of.