Guessing a classic is an impossible science. Sifting through the tangled web of hype and BS record labels pump into the media these days can get even the most jaded music fan gassed-up for an album, only to feel thoroughly disappointed and even a bit cheated when the actual product can’t live up to the hype. But sometimes the stars align; Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III was easily the most hyped album of the past 5-6 years, and it delivered. The trick is to recognize when an artist is truly on a roll, and when an artist has been able to capture the imagination of the public in a way that gives them something akin to a musical Midas touch.
These three albums, I believe, will live up to the hype (and you are all welcome to publicly call me out if I’m wrong). I’ve got a sixth sense about these things, people.
It’s sort of what I do.
Drake’s Thank Me Later
Release Date: June 15, 2010
After scoring multiple radio megahits last year without ever releasing a “proper” album, Drake’s gotta be feeling the pressure with the release of his official debut album looming on the horizon. Can the Toronto-based, Degrassi alum make good on his promise as an artist? Only time will tell. But you’d be remiss to bet against him. All Drake has to do is play to his strengths; introspection, romance, and atmospheric production from Boi-Ida should do the trick. His collabos with Birdman and Young Money have been fun, but I think Drake knows what his fans want from him. As long as he stays true to himself, and tells his story, I think he’ll be fine. And first single “Over” is a monster, as Drake turns a critical eye to the fame and fortune that basically bumrushed him last year, lamenting “I know way too many people here right now that I didn’t know last year/Who the fuck are ya’ll?”. Drake’s appeal is that he’s an everyman, thrust into an extraordinary situation and trying to make sense of it all. If Drake stays grounded and on his A-game, Thank Me Later could be essential.
Release Date: June 22, 2010
If you ask me, last year’s Relapse was an incredible record, but it certainly wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Fashioned as a concept album in which Eminem parallels his real life descent into drug addiction with re-embodying the infamous Slim Shady character, Relapse is as impressive as it is gruesome lyrically. Most fans were simply happy to see the man rhyming again. But the real treat has been Eminem’s post-Relapse work; from annihilating Drake’s “Forever,” delivering a jaw-dropping freestyle on Tim Westwood’s UK-based Radio 1 show, upstaging Weezy on “Drop The World,” and stealing the show on B.O.B.’s fantastic new “Airplanes Pt. II” track, Eminem is a man possessed. In terms of Recovery’s content, Em has been quoted asserting that the album will feature songs of a more personal nature, with less shock antics and more songwriting and storytelling. Add to that news that Shady will be branching out in terms of production this time around (i.e. not just Dre), enlisting the help of Just Blaze, Boi-Ida, Jim Jonsin, DJ Khalil and The Alchemist, and you’ve got an album that is shaping up to be a CLASSIC. I would tell you not to sleep on this one, but something tells me you won’t be able to.
The Dream’s Love King
Release Date: June 22, 2010
At this point in time, it’s safe to say that no one in mainstream R&B is even close to approaching The Dream. Hit after hit, acclaimed album after acclaimed album; The Dream is on fire. And I’m thinking this Atlanta-based, songwriting phenom will be dousing that fire with gasoline when he unveils his third (and potentially final) album, Love King, on the world. Describing the album as “deeper than space” and his best album yet, The Dream certainly has his work cut out for him if he wants to top the brilliance of his previous release, last year’s near-flawless Love vs. Money. But I think he can do it. The first single, the infectious “Love King,” as well as the T.I.-assisted “F.I.L.A.” are already making some waves. “F.I.L.A.” is particularly stunning; combining sexy, Prince-styled funk with mainstream, club-ready Hip Hop better than anybody has since FutureSex/LoveSounds, this track has a left-field, gorgeous piano breakdown halfway through that kills. This is adventurous, musically-rich mainstream R&B at its absolute finest, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
What do you guys think? Will these guys live up to the hype? And what are some albums you’re looking forward to?