The other day, as always, we were checking all the weekly releases and we realized that the list is huger day by day and it’s now pretty difficult to keep up to date on everything. How much music comes out every day? So many! Sometimes, even too much. Well, do not misunderstand, we are not complaining, music is our life and we could not be happier with all this incredible material. But with all of this music, how much is really destined to remain in history and to be remembered over the years? A small amount? None?
Is there too much music? Why?
It has been said that we are living in a golden age of music fandom. With a single click, we can access almost every piece of music ever recorded, and for less than it would cost to hear a single song on a jukebox in 1950.
Streaming has become the primary way we listen to music. In 2016, streaming surpassed both physical media and digital downloads as the largest source of recorded music sales. This is maybe a positive thing, but we’ve begun to feel that our extreme consumption of music, when linked with the unprecedented access supported by new technology, has compromised our ability to process it critically.
A few years ago, we started noticing that our brain was no longer retaining song titles. Sometimes, when we think about an album released a few months earlier we can barely remember the official singles. In the interest of trying to experience it all, we are fast approaching a saturation point that is rendering us numb.
This is what happens when you have too much material, we become indifferent to everything. This makes us remember back in the days when we were kids. We had a PlayStation and two games. We used to spent months and months on those two games! We were exploring every level looking for every detail. We played it and finished it multiple times. Then what happened? It was released a hack that allowed us to play hundreds of games. From that moment, nothing was enjoyed. Each game was opened for about ten minutes. Then? Next! We weren’t even trying to understand how it was, what was behind it, how much we might like it and its value. Sometimes, too much is bad.
This is more or less what happens today with music. It’s Friday, the day of the releases. We have lots of singles and albums to listen to. What do we do? We listen to them without paying too much attention. Those who hit us a little more, we keep them in playlists for a week and then we move on to the next release. It’s a bit sad if we think about it, an artist may have worked on a record for years and we listen to it as we scroll through the Instagram feed. And maybe we also complain about its value, without even trying to analyze it to the fullest.
Why there is so much music? Well, there are several reasons. First of all, it is easier to publish content. Artists don’t necessarily need to have a contract with a label to release a track on Youtube or on Spotify and listeners don’t have to buy records, but can easily find them in the various online streaming platforms. Also, we think it’s pretty clear that on a numerical level, nowadays there are really a lot more artists and aspiring artists. Kids dream of being rappers. They dream of having millions of followers on Instagram. They dream of fame. Maybe, even without really having a real passion for music or culture.
”I don’t even like music”
Blueface in the video.
“I don’t like performing. I don’t like rapping. I do this shit for money”
NBA Youngboy said.
“I like to make money. I don’t really give a fuck of being lyrical. I like to make shit that is gonna make me fucking money. I wanna make money”
Cardi B also said above in the video.
Is still possible to make timeless music?
When we were younger, in the springtime of our teenage youth, every album we bought, downloaded, or borrowed was based on this innate desire to discover a life-altering experience through music. We didn’t have a map directing us, but we knew if we collected enough keys, we would find a door that was once unavailable
There was a door that improved every minute, mood, and moment of our waking day and night. We believe that the feeling these albums produced would never end. But as we got older, we grew further from expecting a song, album, or artist to be the mind-blowing, life-changing experience that would send our spirit on a new course.
People call things classics the day of release as a means of saying, “This album is good, you should listen to it,” because simply saying that will not cut through the noise. People have learned how to scream louder because you have to exaggerate to be heard in social media times. If all albums are instant classics, are any albums instant classics? With the way music is moving now, we see the words “classic” and “timeless” thrown around more than ever. This makes us wonder: can we have timeless music if music is moving so quickly? With everything moving so quickly, do we know what timelessness is anymore?
What do we think? Probably, the idea of the ‘classic’ acclaimed by the whole community and by critics will no longer exist, but every album and project will be timeless on a personal level. The albums will remain etched in people’s minds at an individual level and not at a global one. No record will shake the scene and the world, but it will shake someone. And that someone will remember it for a lifetime.
Having said that, with the expectation of seeing in 20 years what we will remember from this historical period, looking back, there are certainly many records that we still remember and that have made the history of the genre. Below you can find a list of albums that every fan of the genre must have listened to.
Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
The Notorious B.I.G. made a big splash on the scene with his classic debut single Party & Bullshit. Expectations were high for his full-length debut album and boy did he deliver with Ready To Die.
One of the most naturally gifted emcees and storytellers in the Hip Hop game ever, everything came together for him on this album. Excellent production throughout with Biggie’s simultaneously brash and vulnerable lyrics to top off the banging instrumentals.
Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill
Cypress Hill’s highly original debut record. DJ Muggs’ funk-laced and bass-heavy production filled with creative sampling, combined with the typical voices of emcees Sen Dog and especially B-Real, created Cypress Hill’s instantly recognizable, signature sound.
The Fugees – The Score
A great commercial as well as a critical success, The Score was a massive improvement on The Fugees‘ enjoyable but somewhat uneven Blunted On Reality debut album. The Score is a timeless and flawless masterpiece and paved the way for Lauryn Hill‘s monumental solo debut The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.
DMX – It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot
This is DMX at the top of his game: introspective, hardcore, and emotional at the same time. He would never top or even equal this album, even though the follow-up Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood, which came out later in this same year, was a pretty good album as well.
Dr. Dre – The Chronic
Has there ever been a more influential album in Hip Hop? Dr. Dre‘s production on this album is just incredible. Often imitated, never duplicated. It also showed us the full potential of Hip Hop’s next superstar, a young Snoop Dogg. Along with lyrics from a host of other talented rappers and Dr. Dre himself, The Chronic is filled with the ‘standard’ gangsta themes, the difference from most of the others is that on this album it sounds amazingly good. An all-time fan favorite to this day, The Chronic will forever be remembered as one of Hip Hop’s most influential and important albums.
Kanye West – The College Dropout
Whatever you think about later-Kanye, his seminal debut album is a true classic. Having already earned respect by producing for others he exploded on the scene in 2004 with his first album. The College Dropout is unique and musically diverse, and very listenable, even though Kanye isn’t the best rapper ever and even if the album has too many skits and a few filler songs: always a risk on a 75-minute album.
Jay-Z – The Blueprint
In his long career, Hip Hop’s biggest businessman Jay-Z dropped a bunch of fantastic albums, but he released the album of his career in 2001 with The Blueprint. Jay-Z’s most complete album since his debut Reasonable Doubt and one he would not be able to top with later releases. The Blueprint should be rightfully regarded as one of Hip Hop’s greatest albums.
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton
This album was a game-changer; for better or for worse. One of the first real ‘gangsta rap’ albums, and one of the most successful, going multi-platinum without any radio play. It influenced and changed the direction of Hip Hop, producing countless gun-toting clones for decades to come. The difference between all the clones and this album is the originality and authenticity of Straight Outta Compton; combined with the revolutionary & flawless production of Dr. Dre and the raw energy & at the time shocking lyrical imagery of Ice Cube, MC Ren & Eazy E.
Nas – Illmatic
One of the very best Hip Hop albums in history, period. A young and hungry, insanely talented emcee comes together with some of the finest producers in the game, who all bring their best work. No skits, no fillers. Just nine 5-star tracks that combine into a fundamental work that will forever be glorified as one of the most important releases in Hip Hop ever. A monumental masterpiece.
Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
What can be said about this seminal album that hasn’t been said a thousand times over already? One of the most innovative, groundbreaking, influential and important Hip Hop albums EVER. New York’s answer to Dr. Dre’s worldshaking The Chronic of the year previous.
Run DMC – Raising Hell
One of the first mega-sellers in Hip Hop and the album that would cement the status of Run DMC as the most important Hip Hop act of that time period. A brilliant album, with the perfect interplay between Jam Master Jay (one of the first great all-around DJ’s in the game) and the back-and-forth rhyming of DMC and Run.