Bangers are abundant, as by the stardom bestowed on DJ Mustard and Lex Lugers of this world, but complete body of work are few and far in between.
The cohesion of songs in an album is pivotal in the listener’s ear as sometimes, the music is played through a space where tranquility and passing time or even a thought seeking process is needed thus the chosen album is to set the mood.
If there’s one thing that supersedes the quality of the song, is the quality of the cohesion of songs. A lot of the current hip hop albums lack that cohesion. That seamless listen from start to finish. That get lost in the music or lose your mind to the music, whichever fits you, cohesion.
Lets take an album that is not even hip hop for example purposes, Fresh House Flava 4. The album is a beauty. How the songs, all by various DJs and producers, smoothly mix into one another and transcends you to a happy state of totally forgetting that your iPod has a skip button.
Yes its unfair that I used a house compilation as an example but that’s the epitome of cohesion. As different as Nick Holder – Summer Daze is to Afro Medusa – Pasilda, they are in the same album and you press play on track 1 and it goes on smoothly til the CD ends.
Back to hip hop, such albums are few in the current state of SA hip hop. We have hot songs, definitely, but the only thing that sets us apart from the compilation series Now (whatever number they on) is, its one person’s album with a lot of hot songs randomly mashed together and called an album.
Admittedly, the business side of it makes sense. You have single worthy songs that will tear up a club on any given weekend and those can be sold separately thus income comes in nevertheless but for the listener, its as confusing as a DJ who is playing rubbish with tracks almost seeming like they are rushed and are played at random or shuffle.
Picking a favorite song off an album is easy and easier when the whole album sounds disjointed. There are a few albums that you would play from start to finish, without rushing to get to your favorite track. The types of albums that when you play in your car, you oblivious to traffic because you want to hear it to the last chord.
Of course not every album is a classic but the one thing that all albums should have, is being listener friendly. Each bought album is given at least one start to finish play. Scrutinizing the work and looking for synchronization. If your tracks are random recordings, it taints the whole album.
I believe artists shouldn’t only listen to how beautiful the songs are mastered but also, almost equically pivotal, is how the songs interlock together. That’s the studio engineer and the artist working together so that the final product, regardless of the quality of the music within, its at least a great listening pleasure.
In reality, non cohesive albums don’t have longevity. Their classic status diminishes every time you skip half the album to your favorite track then second favorite and then decide you’d rather listen to talk radio. Bad quality or not properly mastered albums are a pain to listen to but randomly selected, looking – for – hit after hit albums, are just as painful to listen to. There’s no direction, just jumping up and down to every track.
A story album has cohesion as the story is linear but that is also dependent on the caliber of the MC in question. At least, have a theme to your album. And please, stick to it.
Written by Siphiwe Zwane Jnr. ( @SDotJR_ )