With the recent release of “Donda (Deluxe)” the night before the 10th anniversary of Drakes seminal “Take Care”, and Keys N Krates “Original Classic”, and “Certified Lover Boy”, I’d like to talk about how people listen to albums- if people still listen to albums front to back in the first place.
Front to back is the key word here. Because as early as 2006, (that I know of) there have been experimentation and possible intentional breaking of that conventional idea. Listening to an album as a general straightforward sense of “Events” that manifest in to “songs” for the listener, with a beginning, middle, and end. With these 3 recent albums, they’ve made it as apparent in your face as possible that these aren’t the only ways to listen. Let’s start with Keys and Krates being the most obvious of the 3.
“Original Classic” starts with the song Crescendo. A crescendo is a peak, a loudest point in the song, so starting an album with a song title like that, which also just builds in to what seems like nothing and the next song acting as if it wasn’t there, it’s the most straight forward message, a cognitive dissonance that causes you to question why is it the first track. As you continue to listen to the album, with Lido Pimenta audibly “introducing” Keys N Krates on the 5th track, illuminates as the album continues with “Pull Up” and in there the specific lyrics “read my mind, and press rewind”. The album ends with “ Is This Yours”, a skit of someone returning “ The Album” to you, “giving back” all point to listening in reverse order, where the beat becomes even more of the focus and the songs have another level of cohesiveness. Though even if you didn’t pick up on that, it would cycle to crescendo that fully let’s the album play, with the next instance being more aware of the album itself.
Donda (Deluxe) takes the idea of front to back and, like the stem players that were sold, encourages you to create your own version of Donda. The deluxe version has pt. 2 versions before the original parts in track listing, with original parts still having changes from the first Donda, and a different order of songs that still feel cohesive. With all those differences, liking some versions from different forms, it encourages you to create your own Playlist, your own version of Donda that would be specific to yourself, how you want to theme and connect songs creating the idea that no two “Donda”s are alike.
Thats two albums with a total of 59 tracks, with duplicate titles, with slight altered audio totaling 3 hours and 59 mins. Thats more than enough to material to make your own “Definitive” version of Donda. Thats permutations and combinations galore.
Then there’s CLB, Certified Lover Boy. While it feels like it’s just a bunch of songs put together, bookended between two fantastic displays of rap, when you hear The Remorse, it talks about reaching back, and when you hear the music, it sounds like it swells backwards. Listening to it in reverse, has a Heros Journey theme to it (much like the controversial 6th Kanye album “Yeezus”). Going through Houston to have “Papi’s Home”, and a celebration of that with “Champagne Poetry”.
Sequencing is important, and these albums show the multi-directionality of albums. Something I heard before was “you decorate space with objects, you decorate time with music”. So go through some of your favorite albums, or albums you didn’t get, and experiment with sequencing, things might get deep. Or… just listen to this week’s MaxedOCR Playlist on instagram @maxedoutcharacterreviews in the bio and find the story itself.