Shortly after it was announced that Kanye West was self-producing five albums over the course of a month, with only seven songs each, a lot of fans openly wondered whether seven songs would be enough to deliver a full album’s worth of material.
In an interview following the release of his latest album, DAYTONA, Pusha-T explained the reasoning for this number: "Man, if we can't kill you in seven songs, we don't really need to be doing the music. G.O.O.D. Music is always known for going against the grain. I feel like right now, everyone has 20 songs on their album, 18 songs on their album. And it's like, for what? With us, you know it's quality over quantity. That's what we about."
We’re only one seven-track album into G.O.O.D.’s mission to save the album, but if DAYTONA is any indication, Kanye and the G.O.O.D. team might be onto something. For fun, I revisited five G.O.O.D. Music albums—ranging from great to meh—to see if this seven-track logic could be applied in reverse.
Here are five albums that could have benefited from only being seven songs, with revised tracklists and justifications for each.
Album: Pusha-T — My Name Is My Name
Why It Should Be Shorter: As DAYTONA proved last week, Pusha-T does not need more than seven songs to make what might come to be considered a classic album. Before DAYTONA, as far as his solo career goes, My Name Is My Name displayed Push’s best strengths, from magnetic bars on “King Push” to pensive musings on “40 Acres,” to the perfect rap song (“Nosetalgia”). Yet the middle section of the album features unmemorable filler that could easily go without anyone missing it.
- King Push
- Numbers on the Boards
- Hold On (ft. Rick Ross)
- Who I Am (ft. 2 Chainz & Big Sean)
- Nosetalgia (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
- Pain (ft. Future)
- 40 Acres (ft. The-Dream)
What’s Gained: As a seven-track album, MNIMN blisters with Pusha’s strongest verses (“King Push,” “Numbers on the Board”), while making room for his rarely seen but very welcome sensitive side (“Hold On,” “40 Acres”). The features are more selective, ranging from seriously fun (2 Chainz and Big Sean) to seriously riveting (Kendrick Lamar). Longtime collaborator Pharrell originally helped to round out the set with “S.N.I.T.C.H.,” but moving “40 Acres” to the album closer allows The-Dream to provide an emotional backdrop for Pusha’s finest introspection on family, success, and loss. Though “S.N.I.T.C.H.” will be missed, try to name another song that was on this album… I’ll wait.
Album: Big Sean — Dark Sky Paradise
Why it Should Be Shorter: Although Dark Sky Paradise is easily Big Sean’s best album, the emcee has never quite merited a conversation as one of the top rappers among his contemporary peers. This is, in part, due to a number of forgettable full-length albums. Dark Sky Paradise, however, displays why Sean is worthy of attention, showing that his growth from album to album is apparent in ways that others are not. Even still, the album clocks in at almost 50 minutes, and too many of those minutes could have been spared for a mixtape.
- Dark Sky (Skyscrapers)
- Blessings (ft. Drake)
- I Don’t Fuck With You (ft. E-40)
- Paradise (Extended)
- Deep (ft. Lil Wayne)
- One Man Can Change the World (ft. John Legend & Kanye West)
What’s Gained: Five hard-hitting songs, with features from Drake and Lil Wayne that are both great but don’t make Sean the butt of jokes like Kendrick’s verse on “Control.” Sean then takes his typical introspective turn, this time with his best personal track to date, “One Man Can Change the World,” before closing with the light, but deserving victory lap of “Outro.”
Album: Kid Cudi — Indicud
Why It Should Be Shorter: As his last release with G.O.O.D. Music before setting out on his own, Cudi’s Indicud displays the humming icon’s talent for experimentation in more successful ways than his foray into rock did. Despite this, Indicud is 71 minutes long, which is longer than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and not nearly as justified.
- Just What I Am (ft. King Chip)
- King Wizard
- Solo Dolo Part II (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
- Burn Baby Burn
- Lord of the Sad and Lonely
What’s Gained: While the instrumentals and collaborations with indie rock acts from Father John Misty to HAIM realize a sound that Cudi was trying to materialize on his side project WZRD, they ultimately distract from the more sound parts of Indicud—which is when Mr. Solo Dolo cements his iconic status as the “lord of the sad and lonely,” reckoning with ghosts of the past (at least three of the songs still included reference tracks from Cudi’s debut Man on the Moon) and celebrating his influence on the kids who “live they life through [his] rhymes.” Where the original placed the song’s singles too close to one another and too early, the updated tracklist saves “Immortal” as a final anthem.
Album: G.O.O.D. Music — Cruel Summer
Why It Should Be Shorter: As an album that should have focused on the many strengths of a very deep G.O.O.D. Music roster, Cruel Summer oddly gives almost the entire first track to R. Kelly, and contains too frequent one-offs that should have acted as singles for individual artists (see: Kanye’s “Cold”) to make space for more in-house collaborations.
- Mercy (ft. Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha-T & 2 Chainz)
- Clique (ft. Kanye West, JAY-Z & Big Sean)
- New God Flow (ft. Kanye West, Pusha-T & Ghostface Killah)
- Creepers (ft. Kid Cudi)
- The Morning (ft. Raekwon, Pusha-T, Common, 2 Chainz, CyHi Tha Prynce & Kanye West)
- The One (ft. Kanye West, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, & Marsha Ambrosius)
- Don’t Like (ft. Kanye West, Chief Keef, Pusha-T, Big Sean & Jadakiss)
What’s Gained: Shortened to seven songs, Cruel Summer still clocks in at 38 minutes, which is plenty of space for an album to make its point. “Mercy” is a far more cinematic start, perfectly setting up the collaborative and competitive spirit of the album. Pusha-T, Big Sean, and 2 Chainz are still given several songs to shine on, and though dropping "Sin City" and "Bliss" means John Legend and Teyana Taylor play no part on the album, it was already a shame that they were relegated to just two tracks—although Taylor had a minor bit on the unfortunate R. Kelly intro—instead of contributing to the stronger posse cuts.
Kanye’s curatorial presence is felt throughout, like Kendrick on the Black Panther soundtrack. “The One” and “Don’t Like” basically repeat Dark Sky Paradise’s model, closing out with a softer side before returning for a victory lap. Cudi keeps his solo song as a farewell to G.O.O.D. Music but placed as the centerpiece to provide a palette cleanser between very long songs that somehow couldn’t make more room for some of G.O.O.D. Music’s best acts.
Album: Kanye West — The Life of Pablo
Why It Should Be Shorter: Originally slated to be only 10 songs, The Life of Pablo became Kanye’s “living breathing artwork,” for better or worse. Although highly enjoyable, the album is probably his weakest, as his typical forward-thinking soundscape becomes weighed down by ideas that are at turns repetitive and not fully fleshed out. Now that Kanye has convinced Pusha that an album only needs seven songs, perhaps he sees how Pablo suffered from an unfocused creator.
- Ultralight Beam (ft. Chance The Rapper, The-Dream, Kelly Price & Kirk Franklin)
- Father Stretch My Hands Pts. 1 and 2 (ft. Kid Cudi & Desiigner)
- Famous (ft. Rihanna)
- Waves (ft. Chris Brown & Kid Cudi)
- Wolves/Frank’s Track (ft. Sia, Vic Mensa & Frank Ocean)
- Real Friends (ft. Ty Dolla $ign)
- 30 Hours (ft. André 3000)
What’s Gained: Alright, so technically “Father Stretch My Hands” Pts. 1 and 2 and “Wolves” and “Frank’s Track” are two songs apiece, but this is my experiment and I make the rules (and the album is still only 31 minutes this way). Just let me be great. "Frank's Track" was originally part of "Wolves," anyway.
The most memorable moments of Pablo are retained up front, with room for Kanye to return to nostalgic cuts “Real Friends” and “30 Hours” for a strong ending. The fat (namely, “Feedback” and others in the first half of the album) is gone, and Kanye could have easily revived G.O.O.D. Fridays for songs like “Fade” and “No More Parties in L.A.,” which, while great, do not fit into the album’s potential cohesiveness. Bonus points if someone can get Chance’s version of “Waves” to replace Chris Brown.