2018 was an eventful year for hip-hop. Lil Wayne finally released the mythical Tha Carter V (and pigs started flying). Eminem released his angriest album since his heyday and rapped for 45 minutes without taking a single breath. Kanye produced a zillion projects even though only two of them were memorable, and he wore a goddamn MAGA hat while doing it.
We got ASTROWORLD, Invasion of Privacy, and dozens of other phenomenal albums that you’ll get angry at me for not mentioning. Hell, this past week alone, we’ve got new albums from Earl Sweatshirt, Black Thought, J.I.D, Ski Mask the Slump God, and Meek Mill. ALL IN ONE WEEK.
It seems like there’s a new album every day that I’m excited to hear.
I fucking hate it.
Technology is a blessing and a curse. For every significant technological advance, there’s a downside. Cars? Car crashes. Planes? People putting snakes on them. Television? Two and a Half Men. Smartphones are a miracle—a tiny supercomputer in your pocket. But there are also too many downsides to count. Social media addiction. Unsolicited dick pics. Reading terrible Drew Landry articles on your phone. The list never ends.
One modern miracle that we take for granted is music streaming. We primarily consume music through Spotify and Apple Music (or TIDAL if you’re a fan of premium, DJBooth-produced content.) The millisecond a new album drops, we can instantly listen to the whole thing for pennies on the dollar. It’s insane.
A decade ago, if you wanted free music, you had to work for it. It was an ordeal. You had to clear your schedule and emotionally prepare yourself.
You had to frantically search LimeWire for “Crank That” by Soulja Boy and hope you weren’t downloading a sneaky computer virus that could publicly leak your porn history, murder your grandparents with laser beams, and turn your computer into a box of rattlesnakes.
You waited approximately 16 hours for the song to start downloading. Your screen would continuously freeze and get bombarded with nonstop pop-up ads. After two and a half weeks, you were finally able to add Soulja Boy to your iPod Nano without having to pay the 99 cents. But at what cost?
Now, I can stream an entire Meek Mill album minutes after its release while sitting on the toilet and drunkenly texting SpongeBob memes to my rightfully annoyed ex-girlfriend. Thank you, Steve Jobs.
On paper, the streaming era is a blessing. But weirdly, it kind of sucks.
How the hell am I supposed to keep up with all the new music? As soon as I press play on a new album, I’m excited for ten more albums I need to hear. And I feel an obligation to listen to all of them, because why not? I can, so, it’d be a waste if I didn't.
We don’t have time to digest music anymore correctly. I speed through albums like it’s a chore because I’m so drastically behind schedule on the new music I need to hear. The list I have of 2018 albums that I still need to check out reads like a grocery list for a 50-person family. I can’t keep up. How the hell does Anthony Fantano do it? Is there some magic chemical in his flannel shirts?
Lupe Fiasco is probably in my top five all-time favorite rappers, and I still need to revisit DROGAS WAVE since I sped through the whole thing like it was homework. Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V was one of my favorite albums of the year, but only five tracks survive in my rotation, and the rest got lost in the shuffle. It’s been nine months, and I still haven't heard the new Tech N9ne album, and I’m a white dude, so that’s technically a felony.
It doesn’t help that albums seem to keep getting longer. By the time I finished digesting every track on Scorpion, Drake’s forgotten son was old enough to sue him. And what asshole asked a genie for a 27-track Rae Sremmurd album? Now I must put aside 12 hours to listen to that whole thing. It’s like binging an entire season of Game of Thrones except the album has less incest (or maybe not, I still haven't heard the record).
I love music. I have a passion for it. But keeping up with every new release feels like an extreme sport. And have you seen me? I am not athletic.