Pat’s Picks: Messy album releases an unfortunate part of today’s music industry


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Patrick Kernan, Managing Editor

What do artists like Rihanna, Kanye West, and Young Thug all have in common?

If you said that they’re all on Kanye’s new album “The Life of Pablo,” you aren’t wrong. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Instead, these three have all had some needlessly complicated album releases so far this year. And, to make matters worse, this kind of thing is probably only going to keep happening.

Let’s take a look at the three releases, in ascending order of messiness.

First, in late January, Rihanna’s newest album “Anti” briefly leaked on Tidal, Jay Z’s streaming service, ahead of its release, which ended up prompting the album to be released a bit early, according to Fuse.

Then, New Orleans rapper Young Thug released his newest mixtape. The tape was initially to be called “Slime Season 3,” coming as the third in a series of mixtapes under that name from Young Thug. But then, according to Pitchfork, the mixtape’s name was changed to “I’m Up.” But the problem was that this change didn’t take effect until after the mixtape was already on Spotify, leaving some confusion as to what the thing was actually called.

To add to this confusion, Young Thug is still teasing an upcoming release of “Slime Season 3,” causing many like myself to wonder whether “I’m Up” was always intended to have this bait-and-switch attached to its release.

And now we come to the most egregious example of messed up album releases: Kanye West.

According to The Guardian, Kanye debuted the album at a Madison Square Garden event, added six more tracks to the album in the short amount of time between this debut and its official release, put the album on Tidal saying that it would be streaming exclusively there for a week, then changed his mind and said that it would never be available anywhere other than Tidal, and even goes as far to claim that the album isn’t even done yet, despite its release, and that he’s still working on it.

Messy album releases like these just end up making the fan’s life more difficult. Any conversation about “I’m Up” will need an explanation as to what it’s actually called; any written review of “The Life of Pablo” will require a lengthy preamble about how it was released. And this doesn’t even mention the fact that Kanye’s release methods for “Pablo” just make it difficult for fans to hear his music.

But as unpleasant as these album releases are for the fans and music reporters, they don’t seem to hurt the artists too much. Rihanna just scored a number one hit with her song “Work” which is the first single off “Anti,” so the messy release doesn’t seem to have hurt her at all.

Which means that, in many ways, this is probably the future of how albums get released. Instead of just getting released and that being the end of it, albums of the future seemed to be doomed to a fate of their artists endlessly tinkering with them, much like George Lucas did with “Star Wars,” hoping to finally perfect it.

And what does that even mean for the future? How can we say with any certainty what our favorite song is, if the artist can just edit it afterwards? What good is music reviewing if the artist can edit the album in response to a negative review?

I miss the days of my youth when an artist would give us an album and we could yell about it on Twitter and they would just have to take it. I wish these young kids and their Tidal would get off my lawn.

Contact the writer:

[email protected]