What’s the hardest thing to do in rap? A hit record? Please, it seems that anyone with a cute gimmick can get one of those. Get a platinum album? Nope. Even with the decline in album sales, every year someone is bound to sell a million records. Get 5 Mics or win a Grammy? No and no. This thing is so hard to do that it’s only been attempted a handful of times and most have failed. When the Wu-Tang Clan and Jay-Z both failed to accomplish this feat in their respective primes, it tells you how tough this really is. It’s so rare that it falls below many people’s radar…
I’m talking about the Double Album.
Making a great double album has for some reason, proven to be a low point for many artists’ catalogues. Even those who’ve created classic albums dropped the ball when they’ve attempted to put two discs together at one time. Every time that a double album is announced, the buzz is almost instantaneous. Months of anticipation builds until you finally get the album and 60 to 90 minutes later – disappointment. This disappointment usually falls into one of two categories, bad songs and boredom.
How many times have you said, “man, if dude would have just took these 5 songs of disc 1 and these 7 off disc 2, this album would be a classic.” How many people created their own personal playlist for Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse”? Hindsight was definitely 20/20 as you secretly wished that Nas would have just picked the best 12 songs for “Street’s Disciple” and scrapped the rest. It’s still a mystery why such great artists can make several great albums but when they attempt to fill two discs at one time, horrible songs always seem to end up on the list.
Additionally, a lot of these double albums feel long. Too many mediocre songs cause boredom and you’ll have trouble finishing the album. The entire second disc on Wu-Tang’s “Forever” is a complete blur after “Triumph”. The sheer monotony just puts you to sleep and you end up skipping over songs. I recently listened to Bone Thugs’ “The Art of War” and I realized that there were actually some pretty decent songs that I completely blanked on. It was like I was hearing them for the first time. Listeners have a short attention span and trying to keep them consistently bumping over a span of 20-plus songs is very difficult.
Nas and Jay-Z both said that having a double album on your resume is required if you want to be considered one of the best. Unfortunately, those albums were low points in their respective careers. They were right about one thing; the Double Album is Hip-Hop’s secret litmus test for a rapper’s greatness. The Double Album shows a rapper’s ability to be versatile, consistent, creative and show a strong control over his craft. You have to have all of these things to not only to keep your audience awake, but to make them hit the repeat button. With such a daunting task, it should be no surprise that the only two artists to come up with classic double albums are Biggie and 2Pac.
So to current stars such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Kanye, and Weezy, the challenge is in front of you. Are you up for it?
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