What Happens When the Best Songs Don't Make the Album?

Who will make sure the next generation hears the music that mattered the most?
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One day we will be old and so will our music. What is new and hip will eventually become vintage and nostalgic. New ears will search for what we once took for granted, discover the relics we obsessed over, uncover the artists that achieved our affection. They will hunt down the acclaimed albums, trying to hear what we heard, and of course, they'll turn first to albums. Sadly, though, just downloading albums and mixtapes only tell a part of the story, especially in the digital age.

The rappers and musicians of today release music that exist only online. Forced to release tunes for free because of sample clearance issues or spur-of-the-moment SoundCloud uploads that are worthy of album placement, how many records have been lost due to dead links on ZShare? How many freestyles didn’t survive MegaUpload’s massacre? There are songs I found through Limewire that I’ll never find again. Will my children know of Frank Ocean’s "Acura Integral" after finding Channel Orange? Childish Gambino’s "Centipede" is incredible, but will it disappear due to not finding a home on Because The Internet?

A “Best of Drake” LP could be made by the loosies he’s liberated throughout the years. We were tortured by “Make Me Proud” as a lead single while” Heat of the Moment” is thrown into the ocean of too much music. "5AM in Toronto" should’ve been on Nothing Was The Same the same way "9 A.M In Dallas" should’ve been on Thank Me Later. I blame the Jai Pual’s sample for the reason why "Dreams Money Can Buy" was a promotional single and not on Take Care’s final track listing. It’s the Drake song that embodies everything we wanted from Drake. Initially, this is the song that excited me for Take Care. 40’s drums hit like baby dynamite. Drake was in his zone, he’s boastful and sincere, rapping with his chest out while his heart is sewn to an expensive sleeve. It’s a must hear for every present and future Drake fan.

I remember Wayne when he was the greatest. When he was rapping like how my uncle saw Mike Tyson before being knocked out by Evander Holyfield. If the next gen kids only know Wayne for "Lollipop," "How To Love," and beefing with Young Thug, that’s like only knowing Mayweather for being knocked out by Pacquiao (or vice-versa, we'll see which way the fight goes). Who will educate the kids of how Wayne would snatch beats and pummel them with bars? He was outrageous, rapping like a man possessed. I hope the second Dedication and the third Drought survives like the Carter albums but what about Lil Weezy Ana Vol 1, No Ceilings, and Blow with Juelz Santana? There are too many features to name, too many verses to recall, but I pray they don’t stop searching once they hear I Am Not A Human Being I & II. One of his most underrated tapes is the Drought Is Over 2, leaked records that possibly could’ve been included on Carter III. Imagine if "I Feel Like Dying" was on his most anticipated album? What about the heartfelt “Something You Forgot”? One of my personal favorites, "La La La" is Wayne at his finest. It’s a tragedy that what could influence a generation of rappers will likely suffocate under the weight of Wayne's enormous catalog. 

Chance The Rapper is an offspring of Wayne’s Golden Era. You'll find the proof if you dig through his SoundCloud, bypassing the critically acclaimed Acid Rap, skip over the incredible #10day, overlook the greatness that is The Social Experiment, and you’ll find a freestyle over “No Worries” entitled “I Ain’t Word.” Nathan considers this one of his favorite Chance songs, and it’s easy to see why. He’s rapping like a hyperactive acrobat, the outstanding wordplay and infectious energy showcases everything impressive about Chance. It’s almost like he injected the best qualities from “Juice” into the Detail beat. That’s not the only song that isn’t widely known but worthwhile. His remix of Tinashe’s "Ecstasy" is tough, I’m not a huge fan of the original, but Chance sprinkles magic all across her hit record. He has a way of overwhelming records with his presence, it’s not your song by the time his verse ends. What about the Vic Mensa featured “Suitcase”? It’s not their best collaboration, but it’s a damn good one. That one time Joey Bada$$ and Chance got together and discussed Wendy and Becky? Will the next generation even know "Tap Dance" ever happened? We barely appreciate the music he’s been outputting, once Surf hits the internet next week, these little drops will be considered insufficient.

When I say "Mount Olympus" is one of K.R.I.T’s best records, I’m not referring to the bonus cut on Cadillactica. The enormous record was released on his SoundCloud originally but had to be reprised for the album due to sampling complications, sucking away the cinematic vigor that matched Krizzle's thunderous performance. He made a response to Kendrick that became a lightning bolt that electrified fans and naysayers. A true gladiator. It wasn’t just "Mount Olympus," every song that was released during KRITweek is excellent. It’s criminal that "Lac Lac" was treated as a bonus record when it’s much more and "New Agenda" had potential to be a big record for K.R.I.T if pushed correctly. Tell me "Wolf On Wall Street" isn’t exceptional? Those drums? That flow? Played on the right speakers the earth will shake. These are the kind of records that are expected from K.R.I.T, heavy drums, booming bass, and sweet southern lyricism. Who knows why they didn't make an album, probably sample issues, but you can't know K.R.I.T.'s best music without knowing those songs. 

Soulful samples and J. Cole go together like double stuff Oreos and milk. When I first heard him rap over a loop of Lauryn Hill’s "Nothing Even Matters" I couldn’t play it enough. He sounds at home with his feet kicked up, much like when he soared on “Too Deep For The Intro.” Another Cole favorite that’s been lost in his celebrity is “Like A Star,” impressive storytelling that samples Corinne Bailey Rae. It might be remembered for a slight jab at Diggy, but Cole rapping over David Ruffin’s "The Double Cross" on "Grew Up Fast" is a scorcher. I can’t forget "Kenny Lofton," Canei Finch samples The Manhattans and it’s a Jermaine gem. We always mention "Beautiful Bliss," but "Winter Scheme" is Cole and Wale sparring like titans. Yet, it failed to appear on either album. One of my biggest issues with Born Sinner was the lack of soul, that’s his sound, but the noteworthy records are packaged in EPs that likely won’t be remembered. Sad. Very sad.

Kanye won’t have to worry, his music will be studied in schools across the world. College courses dedicated to dissecting College Dropout and Late Registration. It's easy to imagine children gravitating to Graduation strictly based off the colorful bear on the cover. 808s & Heartbreak and his Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will birth artists for generations but what about the songs that came during the G.O.O.D Friday series? Will the songs released in 2010 survive in a future with flying cars and robots? Only three of the records made it to Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, leaving a bunch of jewels on the internet. “Take One For The Team” and Christmas In Harlem” can be lost in the dark abyss for eternity but what about "Lord, Lord, Lord"? It’s one of the few times Mos Def has used his G.O.O.D Music membership card. “Don’t Look Down” is the home to one of my favorite Big Sean verses ever. A song with Raekwon and Justin Bieber exists, "Runaway Love" has to be considered a national treasure for that reason alone? J. Cole on "Looking For Trouble" is the second coming of "Beautiful Bliss," “Christian Dior Denim Flow” and “Chain Heavy” are better than half of the records on Cruel Summer. There’s only two Child Rebel Soldier songs in existence, "Don’t Stop" is one. It wasn’t the first weekly series but arguably the most consistent in immaculate quality. Kanye’s throwaways will shame full albums. 

When Kendrick dropped “Control” the outrage sent ripples through the industry. I laughed, knowing the industry would’ve melted down if he waited until he was critically acclaimed to drop his freestyle over “Monster.” That record would’ve made him the eye of the storm. He raps with boastful pride, so confident in his abilities as a rapper he claims the title of best rapper alive, promised to bomb on Obama if necessary, told Wayne to swallow his pride, proclaimed that Jay should’ve retired, and went on a spree of naming rappers that shouldn’t bust any more rhymes. Lupe, Eminem, Nas, Kanye, shooting at all the big dogs. It’s the song that made me a fan, his display of fearless lyricism lead me to download everything I could find, including “Look Out For Detox.” You won’t find it on Overly Dedicated or Section80, but one listen is all it takes for you to hear the hunger of a juggernaut rapping rampant. The kind of song you make to prove your elite level.

Despite being featured on BJ The Chicago Kid’s Pineapple Now-Laters, “His Pain” is a song that should’ve been featured on a Kendrick album. It’s an important record, the Kendrick Lamar that appears on this song isn’t seen often. He’s full of guilt, full of doubt, the song structure is brilliant with lyrics that can only be considered beautiful melancholy. Over the sullen piano keys, Kendrick vents to listeners like a patient to a psychologist. I can’t discuss legendary loosies without mentioning "Cartoon and Cereal." If there was one song that represented a good kid in mad city, this is the one. It should’ve made the album. The song is chaotic, a calamity. This is what growing up in Compton sounds like. Somehow, Kendrick summoned the greatest Gunplay verse in the history of Gunplay verses. It’s almost chilling like he was possessed. If there was one Kendrick song everyone must hear, this is the one. The Young Jeezy featured "Westside, Right On Time" and the J. Cole produced, "The Jig Is Up" are honorable mentions.

She's still fairly new but my favorite SZA records weren't featured on her well-received EP. "Teen Spirit" is the song that comes to mind when I'm craving tunes from the TDE songstress. "Sobriety," a song released just a few months ago is easily one of her best records, I hope it's attached to something bigger. She grabs Jill Scott for a feature and it sits on a SoundCloud between ScHoolboy Q's "Studio" remix and Ab-Soul's "These Days." Why? Sway, I need answers. 

I could sit for hours labeling all the masterpieces that were gifted without packaging. All our favorite artists have littered the internet with jewels that didn’t make it inside the album treasure chest. Songs that will never make it to radio and never be heard in clubs. I’d be surprised if streaming services upload every song released. Pray that Audiomack and SoundCloud live forever because music links die, and blogs say goodbye. Let’s be honest, the best song wasn’t the single, the best songs never made the album. How will they survive? Who will make sure the next generation hears the music that mattered the most, even if that song never made it into the history books? 

By Yoh, aka the Child Rebel Blogger, aka @Yoh31

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