I basically cosign the idea that artists these days might be better off just releasing mixtapes and singles, and making guest appearances on other artists’ songs rather than trying to make albums. Although I bet my reasons for agreeing with that strategic plan are different than the ones the author original laid out, namely that Drake and Nicki Minaj have done absolutely fine without releasing albums. As I’ve said, both here and in other venues, I’m not much of an album person. I like some of them, but there are very, very few that I listen to repeatedly and all the way through. Blood on the Tracks, for sure. Stankonia, absolutely. Both of Cee-Lo’s solo albums. But most of the time, I tend to prefer singles. If I find a new one that I like, I can listen to it for a couple of days straight. I realize that’s somewhat unusual. But I also think that most albums don’t remotely rise to the level of Blood on the Tracks. Even Stankonia has filler, most notably the skits that have become an unfortunate, and wasteful, feature of most hip-hop albums and that show little signs of seriously abating.
And we live in an era when the economic model favors singles. If you don’t have to pay for studio time to record twelve tracks that people will buy because they really like three of them, why make the investment in the studio time? Why not concentrate on releasing the couple of tracks that are great, shooting killer videos for them, and selling the hell out of them? Without the pressure to accumulate enough tracks to fill up an album, artists can release material whenever they’ve got good songs, without waiting for it to accumulate or releasing uneven records that taint their legacies. If artists have an album’s worth of good material, nothing prevents them from releasing it, and from making it an unusual event in the music world. Maybe I’m just myopic, or young, or something. But if the age of the album is over, I wouldn’t be devastated.