DJ Khaled just put out the track listing for his forthcoming album Grateful. It includes an incredible 23 tracks. With a long album like this, Khaled’s hitting new yet popularity territory as it seems as if it’s becoming a common theme in hip hop to oversaturate the project with an abundance of tracks when they are totally not needed.
Besides Khaled, notable acts that’ve done this in 2017 include Drake (twice, for More Life (22 songs) and Views (20 songs)) and Lil Yachty (on Teenage Emotions, 21 tracks + 2 bonus tracks). Not forgetting that Chris Brown is intending to release a double-disc album of 40 songs later this year.
It’s clear why though. Streaming services have taken over the way fans consume music from their favourite artists. It’s all about the streaming units in your first week of sales. The more tracks there are, the more streaming units you’ll rack up in comparison to if there were only say, 12 tracks. So if the streaming numbers are big you’ve basically had a successful first week. On the topic of fans, however, fans typically don’t care how packed a project is long as they’re getting as many songs as possible. It’s quantity over quality for them.
And quality is the sacrifice that acts like DJ Khaled are making with a tracklist such as Grateful‘s. First off, who really wants a 23-track long album from DJ Khaled of all people? Even if he is getting together some of our favourite and most popular acts in the genre? The saying “quality over quantity” reflects on lengthy albums because it’s guaranteed there will be a large handful of filler songs – songs that are no way near the level of quality required but are tossed on for the sales. As a result you sacrifice cohesiveness and quality, two aspects that I respect and look for in an album.
Taking a closer look at the tracklist, right off the bat I can tell the unnecessary intro song will be forgettable, along with the interlude and a solo track by Mavado who nobody cares about anymore now that Khaled’s moved on to preferring the bigger pop acts. Along with that, this is the second time in a row where he’s dropping a solo Mavado track at the end to close the album off.
But another question arises here. Do people even listen to albums in full anymore? Back to streaming. These days you get more easy-going listeners who don’t possess the attention span and patience to last through a lengthy 20-track album. Instead they may skip through all the songs and lazily catch what they like, or not even listen to the entire thing and go straight to the songs with the features that most appeal to them, and chuck them on their personal playlist. It’s a very ‘pick and mix’ market due to streaming these days. You’re not urged to go through the entire album like with CDs anymore.
If you’re an easy-going listener that fits that description, no real problem for you with this Grateful album. But for concentrated heavy listeners like myself, it’s taking the piss. I’d prefer a shorter album with the best songs, especially from an act like DJ Khaled because I don’t want 23 songs from DJ fucking Khaled. Although you got Future, one of my favourite artists, on here five times, I don’t see that as a positive as 4 out of 5 of those songs will be forgettable and I won’t be listening to them in 2 months time, let alone by the end of the year. All for a what, a commercially good first-week?
So in the end, Khaled will get his sales but will be losing out on the critical acclaim, quality and the subsequent historical mark in hip hop that he has the potential to make. He’ll probably be not too bothered by that. But if your main focus is to solely make hits, this type of shit isn’t what we need.