Short albums are good
Today, Future and Meek Mill both dropped surprise releases. The novelty of the surprise release has somewhat worn off; Beyonce and Jay-Z’s Everything Is Love came out less than a month ago, and has already been surpassed in the cultural conversation. But even more played out is the Long Ass Album, which require full and focused listening, and subsequently the preparation of a thesis statement for your social media following or couch critic friends.
Future’s Beastmode 2, however, is only 31 minutes long, while Meek Mill’s Legends of the Summer is a mere 13 minutes. Future clings to his all caps titles and catchy choruses. Meek sticks to his post-jail narrative and constant Philly references. Each one is an artistically safe bet, but that’s why they’re enjoyable. Neither tries too hard to woo you, nor do they grow too dull in the middle. Neither demands a Google Calendar appointment to get through the whole thing, something more works could strive for in an era where there is just so, so much available, and less time to sit around waiting for something to get good.
If you really have a lengthy masterpiece in you, then go for it, but that’s often not the case. Rae Sremmurd’s May release, SR3MM, is a testament to how far from sanity we’ve strayed — the album has 3 discs, that total 1 hour and 41 minutes altogether. Drake enacted a similar strategy with the A-side, B-side situation on Scorpion, comprising 90 minutes. In the past, Future actually tried to hit us with a double whammy by releasing two separate albums within a week of each other last year. Both did well, but this round he decided to spare us the frazzled and time consuming listening patterns that these kind of releases induce. Kanye caught onto this early; G.O.O.D Music put out exclusively 7 track albums in the past few months, all of which I was able to get through without feeling like an out of shape marathon runner.
When I think about the poor fools who sat through Chris Brown’s 45 track Heartbreak on a Full Moon, I genuinely feel a little bad for them. We shouldn’t have to work this hard to decipher if our favorite artists are still doing the damn thing. All of these antics feel like bad cover-ups for a lack of creativity. Maybe it’s mostly a symptom of the current chart rules, which prioritize streaming numbers and thus incentivize artists to record longer records to go to No. 1, a deeply cynical calculation. But creatively speaking, throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks isn’t at all brave. Today, Future and Meek Mill figured it out.