With the musical event we just had 2 days ago with D’Angelo the question I have for you Mogul is, are albums still important? If I would have asked this question a week ago I would have expected many people to have responded with a resounding no. But after seeing the buzz that D’Angelo has with Black Messiah I am not so sure what the consensus will be.
I grew up in an era where albums made or broke artist. I remember heading to record stores and buying an album or tape and rushing home to throw it on the stereo. It was a major event for me and my crew. However nowadays it seems like albums are not so much of a big deal. Could it be the way the industry is set up that makes albums less important to us?
Think about it, unless an artist has a special stipulation on their album you can go to iTunes, Amazon and download whatever single you want off the album. Most consumers just pick and choose what they want these days disregarding the entire vision of an artist. Where in the 70’s and 80’s the vision of an artist was the most important thing. That is why Black Messiah is important.
With an album like Black Messiah listeners get a presentation in every sense of the word. From the artwork, to the liner notes this project screams album without screaming album. You get an album that has to be played from front to back on several occasions just to get the vibe of it. Downloading one or two “singles” will not do this any justice. Black Messiah not only doesn’t sound like any other album released since ……Voodoo, it also reeks of “play me again and again to get the entire meaning!” Most of today’s music you can run through and get everything that was meant to be taken away from it in one sitting, but not this joint. In fact, the vocals alone beg for years and years of deciphering just what the hell D is saying?
However, when you look at most albums that have dropped over the past ten years the value of the projects just doesn’t stack up anymore. Instead of complete visions you now have compilations where the album sounds like a collection of singles instead of one cohesive project. You can look at any hip hop/r&b album these days and find that out of 13 songs you will find 10 different producers. Whatever happened to the Mama Said Knock You Outs where Marly Marl did the whole album? Or Thriller with Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton handled the bulk of the project. Those days are a thing of the past, we know have artist looking for the top 5 hottest producers in the game to lace them with a track, the result you have an album that doesn’t flow well as a unit leaving the consumer only downloading the song or two that they actually like.
So that brings me back to the question of….. Are albums still important? Can an artist still find a way to make their project so important that the masses download it (legally or illegally) or buy a physical copy? Throughout the day Sunday and Monday Twitter, blogs, and Facebook went crazy at the fact that D’Angelo dropped his album. True some of that hype was based on the fact that the masses have not heard from D in 15 years, but regardless of that fact it was an event. Just like last winter the surprise Beyonce album was an event, or the Watch The Throne album, or Magna Carta Holy Grail, or Taylor Swift. It seems like if you make an album and find a unique way to market it, it will become an event.
Hopefully, with the current album releases and the inspiration that society is giving us more artists will go back to creating albums that are events once again. We need more Stevies, Michaels, Jimis, Beatles’, and D’Angelos who create more albums that actually have the masses buzzing.
The Chairman of the Board * Spanish Jose taught him how to get the money cats owed him * He also loves to write, create fly tshirts, and smoke cigars * When he is not in the UML office he can be seen being Cool @ ClassiclyCool.Tumblr.com *