Chris Brown and the professionals and cons of lengthy tracklists

Chris Brown and the professionals and cons of lengthy tracklists

Brown’s new album, “11:11,” went from 11 songs to 22 on the final minute, persevering with an extended pattern of the Grammy winner dropping albums with greater than 20 songs.

Chris Brown’s newest album, “11:11,” has arrived. Not solely did it come a day early, nevertheless it got here with double the quantity of tracks that had been initially introduced, with 22. While the album has some infectious materials, it’s one other album from Brown that boasts an prolonged tracklist, as he outpaces all different artists within the rising pattern of lengthy albums. 

Just a few months in the past, Chris Brown introduced that “11:11” would solely have 11 songs on its tracklist, concurrently lining up the album’s Nov. 11 launch date whereas addressing the discuss surrounding his lengthy albums. This comes after his final three albums boasted tracklists greater than over 20 songs, two of which had been over 30. 

The new album finds Brown incorporating Afrobeat to his sound, and he sounds motivated and contemporary on “Sensational” and “Nightmares.” Meanwhile, tracks like “Summer Too Hot” and “Press Me” will undoubtedly delight Brown’s R&B followers, and “Red Flags” and “That’s On You” sustain the lure music rhythms which have dominated R&B for over a decade. 

Chris Brown attends a Maxim Hot 100 Event celebrating Teyana Taylor, hosted by MADE particular, on July 13, 2021, at The Highlight Room in Los Angeles. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

What motivates his penchant for releasing a lot music over the previous few years? Brown is just not the one artist who contains over 20 tracks on his albums, however by far, nobody has included extra tracks on an album than Brown or launched albums persistently. 

Throughout Brown’s profession, he’s dropped music at a livid tempo. Friday’s “11:11” is his eleventh solo studio album. Having launched his self-titled debut album in 2005, Brown, on common, drops a brand new album each 18 months, not counting his collaborative tasks with rappers Tyga and Young Thug. 

Few artists have been as prolific in releasing albums as Chris Brown. He kicked up that prolific work ethic on his final couple of albums. His 2017 album, “Heartbreak on a Full Moon,” and his 2019 album, “Indigo,” had an unorthodox quantity of songs on them, with tracklists of 45 and 30 songs, respectively. 

Brown’s most up-to-date album, final yr’s “Breezy,” solely had 23 songs, however its deluxe version added one other 10. And whereas that’s nonetheless lower than “Heartbreak” and “Indigo” and reflective of what many artists are doing now, does it serve the artists or their followers by together with many songs on these tasks?

In March 2017, Drake launched “More Life,” following his 2016 hit album, “Views.” However, Drake referred to “More Life” as a “playlist” fairly than an album. At 22 songs and over 81 minutes in size, “More Life” couldn’t match on a CD, or compact disc, which holds 80 minutes. That October, Brown dropped “Heartbreak on a Full Moon,” thus snowballing the now commonality of artists making albums which have over 20 songs and are primarily touted as digital releases. 

Drake would launch a double album, 2017’s “Scorpion,” with 27 songs. Summer Walker’s 2021 sophomore album, “Still Over It,” has 20 tracks. Kanye West had 27 songs on his “Donda” album that very same yr. SZA’s 2023 hit album, “S.O.S.,” contains 23 songs. And, after all, there’s Brown’s final 4 tasks. Why?

There are sensible causes for this. 

In the digital age, the place streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube reign supreme, artists have acknowledged the crucial significance of securing a coveted spot on these platforms, in accordance with The Washington Post. Artists are compensated primarily based on the variety of streams their songs accumulate. In this digital panorama, longer albums change into strategic powerhouses. They current a surplus of alternatives for followers to press play, indulge within the artist’s sonic journey and, in flip, elevate streaming numbers. The outcome? Elevated chart positions and the promise of enhanced income.

Longer albums are a goldmine in terms of monetization. Fans are extra inclined to buy a complete album fairly than particular person tracks. This phenomenon turns into extremely profitable for artists, who reap the rewards via album gross sales and merchandising. In an period the place the music business continues to evolve, artists faucet into this potential income stream to maintain their artistic pursuits.

However, it’s essential to notice that whereas the attract of prolonged tracklists affords many advantages, they don’t seem to be with out their potential pitfalls. Extended albums could pose a problem to listeners, their immersive nature generally diluting the general high quality of the music. It can change into arduous for particular person songs to shine brightly in a sea of tracks. Some audiences desire shorter, extra concise albums that provide an simply digestible listening expertise.

Before streaming and file sharing, albums had been solely obtainable in bodily type. Before the late Eighties, cassette tapes and vinyl records had been the first methods to hearken to albums, with a time limitation of 40 to 50 minutes. After CDs turned the direct option to make albums, the 80-minute restrict elevated observe lists. However, the time limitations on albums made the listening expertise extra significant. 

Thanks to streaming and shuffle tradition, it’s tougher than ever to carry a listener’s consideration for an prolonged interval. As a outcome, an album with over 20 songs, particularly over 30 songs, could dilute what might’ve been a much more concise and potent physique of labor. 

An album has the potential to be much more memorable when it has anyplace between eight and 14 songs. If you consider a few of the best, most influential albums of all time, a lot of them didn’t even exceed ten tracks — Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions,” Prince’s “Purple Rain,” Aretha Franklin’s “Sparkle,” simply to call just a few. 

Brown, like so many others, achieved nice success by way of particular person streams and hits, like “No Guidance,” “Go Crazy,” “Privacy” and “Under the Influence.” Indeed, Brown doesn’t have to deviate from his practices, because the deluxe model of “Breezy” obtained a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album. However, one can’t assist however suppose how far more highly effective his albums could be if he would shorten the tracklist, and the identical goes for acts like SZA, Walker, The Weeknd and others. It’s essential to precise your self as an artist and enhance your incomes potential, however the legacy nonetheless goes a good distance, and shorter albums will solely assist their legacies. 

Matthew Allen is an leisure author of music and tradition for theGrio. He is an award-winning music journalist, TV producer and director primarily based in Brooklyn, NY. He’s interviewed the likes of Quincy Jones, Jill Scott, Smokey Robinson and extra for publications similar to Ebony, Jet, The Root, Village Voice, Wax Poetics, Revive Music, Okayplayer, and Soulhead. His video work may be seen on PBS/All Arts, Brooklyn Free Speech TV and BRIC TV.

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November 11, 2023 at 06:53PM

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