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What's the Best Three Song Stretch on an Album?


As I was thinking of what query to tackle for a new "

Question of the Week

" I was perusing through previous questions and once again realized how much I loved the "

Best 3 Album Stretch?

" discussion. And as fate would have it, at the same time I was listening to The-Dream's "Love vs. Money", some synapses in my brain connected, and boom, here we are. Why not dig in a little deeper and try to find out the "

Best 3 Song Stretch on an Album


Ok, take a deep breath. Let's make sure we're all on the same page here...



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First, I picked three songs because this is all about sequencing and how the songs relate to each other; a two song stretch isn't really a "stretch", it's just two songs that happen to be next to each other on an album. Three seems like a good minimum, although if you've got an album with even a four or five song stretch, have at it.

Second, as I just mentioned, what's really going to distinguish the great from the merely good stretches is how the songs relate to each other. One really dope song after another really dope song is fine and good, but does one song influence how you listen to the other? Are there storylines, themes or sounds that run throughout them all? 

And last but not least, as is so often the case on RefinedHype, we're not differentiating here between "albums" and "mixtapes"? If it's a collection of music, it's an album. Lets not get hung up on whether Big K.R.I.T.'s "Return of 4eva" is an album or a mixtape. The more important thing is that "Rise & Shine" >>> "R4 Theme Song" >>> "Dreamin" is a dope three song stretch. There's obviously a sleep/dream/waking up theme running throughout all three, and that theme really ends on the next track "Rotation", which kicks off its own three song, more energetic stretch with a car/materialism theme ("Rotation" >>> "My Sub" >>> "Sookie Now"). 

Can I momentarily pause to say how much I love this fucking question? I only intended to press play on "Return of 4eva" for a second, and even though I've literally listened to it hundreds of times, I'm now seeing it in a new light. Identifying these song stretches, and then looking at how those stretches transition and shift throughout an album, is giving me a new appreciation for albums I thought I couldn't possibly appreciate more.  

Some more examples.....

As I mentioned in the intro, The-Dream really is the modern master of the song sequencing stretch, and "Take You Home to My Mama" >>> "Love vs. Money" >>> "Love vs. Money Pt. 2" is his best stretch. First, he covers the entire arc of a relationship in those three songs, from seeing her in the club to a bitter break up. Second, he obviously made these songs in a stretch, they don't make as much sense separately. The first words of "Love vs. Money" are "I wanted to take you home to my momma. but no", an obvious continuation of the song before. "Love vs. Money Pt. 2" uses the same sounds as part one, it's essentially a remix of "Love vs. Money", and the two blend seamlessly into each other. You really could make them one continuous song.

(For the record, he does the same thing on the next album "Love King", with "Sex Intelligent" >>> "Sex Intelligent Remix", although that's obviously only a two song stretch. And as long as we're here, I'd like to retroactively include "Love Hate" >>> "Love vs. Money" >>> "Love King" as a top three album stretch.)

On a closing note, because I obviously need to stop typing soon or I'm going to completely lose my fucking mind and write a short novel on this question, I feel like my tendency is to find the best songs on an album and go from there, but that's not neccesarily the best three song stretch. For example, looking at "Illmatic", you'd agree that "Life's a Bitch" >>> "The World is Yours" >>> "Halftime" is a better stretch than "NY State of Mind" >>> "Life's a Bitch" >>> The World is Yours", even though that means leaving off the album's most notable track, "NY State of Mind", right? (Related, what's the best stretch on "College Dropout"? "GKMC"?)

So yeah, I clearly kind of lost my shit thinking about this, and I think RefinedHype Nation will too. Welcome to the rest of your day...