Various media outlets have criticized the length of Migos' Culture II album, labeling the 24-track project as "bloated," "a drag" and "a transitional inventory dump," but according to Lupe Fiasco, we need to view the release—and others like it—through a different lens.
In a recent interview with Business Insider, the veteran Chicago MC was asked about Migos' one-hour and 45-minute album and whether or not the size of the project compromised the trio's artistry.
"It's dope," Fiasco told writer John Lynch. "It's good to see that there's an avenue. I'm sure that has to do with the digital space, streaming having something to say about the length of an album. So that's kind of one of the pluses, where if you have a really dense, extended idea, that there is a place for it to be commercially released and commercially accepted. I look at it as a positive."
While Lupe is happy for acts like Migos and Drake, whose 2017 "project playlist" More Life stands tall at 22 tracks and runs one-hour and 21 minutes, he does have one issue with this tactic: he didn't get the chance to do it first.
"When I was in the industry, I got demonized for trying to do that," Lupe explained. "The labels and the publishing companies, everybody was like, 'No, you can't do that. Your album has to be 12 songs. Anything over 14 songs you actually lose money when you sell the album.' So I got hit with everything under the sun to get me to keep albums under 12 songs."
With an increased emphasis on streaming and the death of physical sales, the business model is now to release music en masse. Larger projects mean more streams, more streams mean more sales equivalents, and more sale equivalents mean more RIAA certifications and a greater likelihood of landing records on the Billboard Hot 100.
Oh, how times have-a-changed.