Classic Albums Pt. 2

– One of the biggest components of Hip Hop is whether or not the music is influential. People are always talking about the impact that music leaves on the world. Hip Hop’s influence can be seen on tv, in movies, in politics and everything else.  Personally, I think the biggest aspect of music’s influence is within itself, influencing anything from style, to a sound, to an entire genre.  For the sake of argument and to piss off old heads I am not going to talk about some of the usual suspects (you know who they are). This think piece is going to break down some of the newer classics that were made after the year 2000.

Now as a disclaimer I do want people to understand that I do not define all good music as classic. There are plenty of albums that are good that I do not consider to be influential at all, they are simply a good listen. I want to start off by naming Souljaboytellem.com as a classic album. Before you disagree let me explain why. I credit Soulja Boy with innovating the current climate of Hip Hop. Since the release of Souljaboytellem.com, rappers and artists have been creating music that inspire movements all of which have dances to accompany the song. Now I am not giving credit to Soulja Boy for creating this fad in hip hop because he was by far not the first–shouts out to Digital Underground–but before him no one has been able to do what he has done. The album literally changed the sound and course of Hip Hop. Let’s fast forward to 2020, we have the biggest artist putting out music that incorporates dancing like Drake’s “Tootsie Slide” . We have social media outlets whose sole purpose is to create dances based off songs. Now I am not saying these are all quality moves, personally I despise Tik Tok, but they definitely would not be possible without Soulja Boy. With the release of his album and lead single “Crank That”, Soulja was able to literally change the way Hip Hop was consumed.


Now let’s take a look at Finally Rich , an album by Chief Keef. Even though this album did not top charts it still changed the course of hip hop. If you are familiar with today’s music then you will understand that Keef has inspired an entire movement not only in the US but also in the UK. Before Finally Rich, Drill Music was not a popular term by any means. Keef was able to take trap music and conform it to something even grittier. Ten years later and some of the top selling artists are making drill. I mean the number one album in the world right now is Pop Smoke’s drill album Shoot for the Stars; Aim for the Moon. I don’t think that would have been possible without Chief Keef. Even more so he was able to open the door for other other artists coming out of Chicago that were not “Conscience rappers” Not only do we have Kanye, Common, and Lupe Fiasco we now have people like G Herbo and Lil Bibby and Lil Durk, who all are solid artist. I honestly believe that Chief is the “GodFather of Drill”, and that is all thanks to his debut album, Finally Rich.

Let’s go back to 2008, back to a time where music was on the verge of an experimental shift. Kanye’s CLASSIC album 808’s and Heartbreak has just dropped and with it a sound bending genre. Before 2008 most rap music that was being released was gangster rap, but with the release of 808’s the world had its first emo rap album. Kanye’s subject matter on 808’s was very vulnerable, talking about losing his mom, his love and the price of fame. This subject matter was not a new thing at all, but the way it was being told through beat choice and production is what would later be the drive being some of the biggest artists form the last decade. This sound has led to other artists such as Kid Cudi, Drake, LiL Peep and Juice World. In 2018 Kanye West put on a sold out show at the Rose Bowl performing 808s and Heartbreak, ten years after the initial release and the influence is still prevalent.


These are just a few examples of what music should do. If we as fans want to be able to critically claim an album as classic then we should be able to ask ourselves, what has this music influenced. Are we able to listen to something from the last decade and be able to trace its lineage forward to a specific body of work, artist or sound? Labeling an album as a classic is already extremely subjective. People have different preferences and tastes, not to mention that nowadays the ability to even incorporate album sales is not completely accurate, with the ability to bundle sales with merchandise and fake numbers. It is getting so that fans will have to lean heavily on the potential influences to safely distinguish a good album from one that will eventually be timeless… But again this is a discussion piece, these are my thoughts. Please comment and let me know what you think about influence and how it relates to classic albums and what are some of your favorite classics from the last 10 years? Personally the best album of the decade is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, now that is a classic.

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