It’s been quite the decade in music. Just to put it in perspective, Kanye West started the decade with what is widely considered to be the best album of the last ten years, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. We’re now wrapping this decade with JESUS IS KING, Sunday Services, no more secular music and a silver-painted Kanye West performing opera. We’ve seen some things. A lot of things.
I consider myself a power consumer of music. I probably consume above and beyond what is considered ‘normal’. By no means do I think I am a music critic nor do my hours of consumption signal anything about how cultured my tastes are. That said, I’m in the know and I tend to be aware of trends, releases and updates.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480.0"]<img src="http://126.96.36.199/content/images/2019/12/230b0-giphy.gif" alt=" ^^Perpetually on the hunt for new music " /> ^^Perpetually on the hunt for new music [/caption]
While Kanye West has been on his own personal journey in these last ten years, my consumption patterns have also changed. I think we have Spotify to thank for that. iTunes unbundled the single from the album. For 99 cents, you could purchase a single song off the album instead of listening to the full album. It incentivized the everyday consumer to buy the ‘hits’ and not the entire album - diminishing the intrinsic artistic value of what an album represents as a holisitc piece of art, a story with a beginning, middle and end. Yes, this is a generalization, but it’s also the truth. We could name the hit song on the radio, but couldn’t name the album it was on. I was one of those people - I knew the single, but not the album.
Interestingly enough, it was Spotify that brought me back to consuming full albums. When price stopped being a problem and I could stream whatever I wanted and have access to infinite albums, it weirdly made me want to slow down. I didn’t just want to listen to the hits. I listened to whatever I wanted. I didn’t have to pick and choose. I could have both a breadth of artists I loved and depth in their albums.
So in the last few years, I’ve started going back to old albums from the past decade and listening to them all the way through. Start to finish. One continuous sitting. Some came out before I had Spotify. Some came out when I had Spotify, but my head was in the clouds. But guys - it’s amazing. You know those days when you wake up and you’re like, “What will I listen to today? There’s no new music that’s worthwhile…etc, etc.” OLD MUSIC CAN BE NEW MUSIC because we missed it. I missed it!
Which brings me back to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I don’t mention it because of its wide critical acclaim, but because for whatever reason, I don’t remember this album. I remember “Power” and “All of the Lights'“, but the rest of the album? Not a clue. Until I listened to it all the way through in 2016 on a whim per my brother’s recommendation and every single song is incredible. Every last one.
And so, here we are. Wrapping up the decade and rediscovering (or perhaps, just discovering?) music that we just didn’t notice at release. This is the list of albums I missed - the ones that I just didn’t appreciate at their debut, but were so worth the full listen down the road. Hopefully you guys weren’t as detached or aloof.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Kanye West, 2010) - No brainer. Might I also suggest the Spotify podcast Dissect that walks through each song off the album lyrically one by one?
Body Talk (Robyn, 2010) - A true pop album. Start to finish perfection laced with heartache, joy, self-doubt and everything in between.
Take Care (Drake, 2011) - When Drake became Drake. When rapping and singing became one. When a superstart was born.
Channel Orange (Frank Ocean, 2012) - I mean, it’s Frank Ocean. The album that put him on the map is winding, spellbinding and captivating.
Coloring Book (Chance the Rapper, 2016) - My sister told me this album made her believe in God. I’ll leave it at that.
Hero (Maren Morris, 2017) - I’m not one for country music, so if you see a country album on here, you know there’s magic.
Ctrl (SZA, 2017) - An R&B album in a moment when it felt like R&B wasn’t in the mainstream. It’s cohesive black girl magic at its finest.
Younger Now (Miley Cyrus, 2017) - Peak happiness, newly reconciled with Liam, this album is a strangely calm and intentionally controlled piece of work
Swimming (Mac Miller, 2018) - Just as Mac Miller was hitting his stride, he passed away one month after the release of Swimming. Equal parts dark and self-aware, it’s his best work
ONEPOINTFIVE (Amine, 2018) - Okay, this is technically a mixtape, but it’s a fun one with bops and curated interludes