This year’s music has been great, but a lot of chart-toppers are stand-alone songs. The art of a complete album has been pushed aside for made-for-radio singles. These five albums, ranging in age from 1971 to 2016, hone the art of making solid music through and through.
“Aquemini” by Outkast
“Aquemini” is a fantastic album that is built on continuity and experimental music. The result is a unique mix of brass, piano and rap. The album begs to be listened to from start to finish, as the style of the album is so distinct. Outkast brilliantly superimposes their verses with background singers which both eventually fade into the beat, such as in “Rosa Parks." One of the biggest downfalls of modern music is the constant repetition, however, Outkast uses tracks that easily meet five minutes long without ever feeling repetitive. The brilliance of the album is the versatility of the songs and the departure from the status quo.
“Live in Cook County Jail” by B.B. King
The high energy, real feel of a live album is best felt through this gem from the famous blues guitarist and singer B.B. King. Recorded in 1971, this record is a great album to play from top to bottom. The beauty of the album is the switching between guitar soloing and singing and the way the instrumentals and vocals combine into one strong sound. Also, the bass playing through the album by Wilbert Freeman serves as a strong root for the album's iconic blues style. Overall, it’s a great listen.
“Take Care” by Drake
Drake has become a pop culture phenomenon. His OVO brand is exploding and with his recent release of “Views”, his stardom is only increasing. But his lesser-known albums have not lost relevance. In an early release from 2011, Drake uses a smooth sound to produce some great work. The 20-track album is like a premonition for future fame, especially in “Buried Alive Interlude," which features Kendrick Lamar. Neither Lamar or Drake were near their peak of fame, but they both shine in this song, sharing the mic and signaling their future stardom. The album flows with a mix of Drake's serious side and his more light hearted tunes such as “The Motto” which sparked the use of YOLO for, unfortunately, years to come.
“The Life of Pablo” by Kanye West
I highly suggest listening to West’s latest album. The 20-track album spins and turns as it explores a variety of sounds from gospel motifs to lighthearted jams. This can be seen immediately in the first track, “Ultralight Beam," which is a gospel-influenced song that progresses into a loud ballad at the end. Chance the Rapper’s verse on “Ultralight Beam” screams brilliance as the track transitions into “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1.” In its whole, the album is catchy, thoughtful and keeps the listener's attention from song to song.
“Blue Neighbourhood” by Troye Sivan
The mood of Troye Sivan's debut album puts listeners in a foggy and dream-like state. What stands out about the album is the attention to similarity without being repetitive. The third song, “FOOLS," combines soft techno with classic instruments, creating an interesting sound that showcases Sivan's talent. One of the areas where the album truly shines is in songwriting. Instead of nonsensical verses, Sivan’s songs take a storytelling nature that leads to a sense of continuity in the album. Even with the hooks, Sivan writes in a logical, straightforward manner that everyone can connect to.