Seconds felt like minutes, minutes felt like hours, and hours were an eternity to a child awaiting the dawn of December 25. Anxious, excited, and inhibited by the holy spirit of Saint Nicolas, time simply moved at a different pace on the eve of Christmas Day. I was one of those children. Time was my enemy, I despised the molasses minutes and lagging hours - it was as if the world went from running on a high-speed router back to NetZero dial-up. Now that I’m older, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are no longer paramount dates on my calendar - they’re just regular days moving like any other.
I thought of Christmas when Drake released Views. I felt the excitement of December 25 when Chance liberated Coloring Book. I felt like a child rushing to unwrap a gift the day Blonde appeared in Apple Music. Jingle Bells rang as I rushed to press play on Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade. All four albums have one thing in common: I had to wait on them. An abnormal wait, the kind of stagnant delay that goes on for years and years. The anticipating and envisioning only made what awaited even more alluring.
There’s very little separating anticipating a new Playstation for Christmas and anticipating a potential classic album. The same disappointment is felt when that big box turns out to be a year’s worth of socks and when that big album turns out to be nothing more than a commercially successful good album. But that feeling of anxious anticipation as an adult makes me feel like a kid again and I’m learning to appreciate the art of yearning.
Music that you have to wait for makes you feel impatient, eager, and enthusiastic. I’ve lost count on how many times the internet held its breath thinking Frank was going to drop. The fans who were up at the hour of the owls didn’t care about morning class, the early work shift, or their heavy eyes - they only cared about Frank’s album. I remember the moment Surf was released when it was assumed to be Chance’s follow-up to Acid Rap. It was a hunger, a true growling stomach that just wanted a piece of whatever Chano was working on. The pressure surrounding Views and how it was slated to be Drake’s magnum opus only made the days pass slowly as antsy fans full of ardor craved the album’s release.
The time period between an album’s announcement and the album release is the only time you’re able to fantasize and create the ideal project. Your imagination is able to run wild, rampant, and free creating the perfect rhymes, sound, and style. The fantasy becomes an unrequited dream, a project that falls into the category of Detox, and you never know if it will exceed anticipation.
Frank, Drake, Isaiah, and Chance gave us the albums we dreamt about, killing our illusion, replacing assumptions with something tangible, something real. As I played each album, it felt like being reacquainted with an artist from long ago but also having to accept the changes or the lack thereof. It wasn’t about if it was worth the wait, but if the album would make you want to wait for the next one.
D’Angelo released Voodoo on January 25... in the year 2000. I was only 10 at the time, eating pie and not listening to “Devil’s Pie.” Falling in love with the album Voodoo meant that you waited 14 years for the follow-up, Black Messiah. While the album wasn’t a blockbuster - D'Angelo did earn a GRAMMY for Best R&B Album in 2016 - it gave the people who waited for the album a reason to rejoice. D’Angelo delivered when he was ready, and the fans who truly cared allowed him to create based on his own time, not their own.
I come from a generation of Lil Wayne - album leaks, constant features, an overall abundance of music. Even when Lil Wayne was working on an album, there was material. Certain artists followed his formula, artists who cared more about feeding their fans than leaving them to starve; they stayed in your ears more than performing a disappearing act. You don’t learn patience as a Lil Wayne fan: you learn excess, you learn desire, you learn surplus, but the work ethic of the Martian didn’t always deliver the most rewarding records. Everyone burns out.
Isaiah taught us that while we cry, scream, and beg for music, an artist can be going through trials and tribulations. We don’t see what’s happening in the artist’s real life - no matter if you follow their Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter - what’s hidden is always more important than what they choose to show. Both Isaiah and Chance hid their addictions, fighting an internal problem, while the external world asked them to release music.
Listening to Frank’s album, I feel like he went on a journey, a path of self-discovery that allowed him to write the songs on Blonde. Drake also went on a journey, the journey of world domination; Views was the ultimate build up to the climax of his career. I can hear it, I can see it, I’m slowly starting to understand that all the time waited wasn’t for naught. We waited not just for the art, but for the artist to become who they are today. You can spend your time comparing them to the past, I’m more intrigued by the path they walked to reach this current future.
As an adult, there are not many things you truly care about; that you will find so anxiously exciting your soul will shiver. Music does that for me. I’m realizing when I lose that shiver, when I lose that anxiety for new albums, it will be a sad day - like learning there’s no Santa Claus, or discovering that Drake doesn’t write his raps. I think I’m going to embrace the waiting, enjoy the teasers, the little moments leading up to the big bang. You can never get that time back, so cherish the rising action like you cherish the climax.
By Yoh, aka Limewire Yoh, aka @Yoh31.