It's getting old now. That feeling of listening to an album you've been looking forward to for a long time only to feel the tight pang of disappointment, knowing your favorite artist just dropped a dud. The idea of our heroes putting out crap is unfathomable before it actually happens. But, be not surprised any longer: I've figured out a few signs to help you pinpoint a sh*tty album before it hits the Internet.
Don't say we didn't warn you.
Step 1. The Album Being Done To Being Released Ratio Or The Deadline Issue
A bad album usually starts one of two ways. First, up-and-coming artist gets buzz and starts working on his album. After a while, as the buzz reaches a fever pitch, people ask "what happened to the album?" Then, we all hear the dreaded "the label is just looking for a single" which is code for "we're going to throw a bunch of sh*tty beats and Kelly Rowland features on it.
Sure, the original album that was turned into the label was probably a classic, but what we'll get is a manufactured clusterf*ck of radio attempts that fail to reach Billboard charts while also alienating diehard fans. I still want to overcharge Interscope for what they did to Yelawolf.
Part two of this scenario is the other side of the spectrum. After artists get to a certain lucrative value for labels, the people in charge start demanding albums on a schedule. So what happens? The rappers put out a rushed project.
You can always tell this is the case when rappers all of sudden give us release dates too far ahead of time. Remember Kanye giving us the ever-important June 18th for Yeezus, then the rumor that he had to rush it? It's much better when an artist finishes an album then decides the roll out and release. Next on the list is Eminem's Marshall Mathers 2, which looks like it might be one of those label obligation projects.
Whatever the case, after the album is done, there are still telltale signs we're in for a crap fest.
Step 2. The Artist Starts Talking About His NEXT Album
Remember when Common was doing his press runs for Universal Mind Control and all he could talk about was his album after that which would be totally produced by NO I.D.? It's a definite sign that "Hey, you don't want to listen to this album I'm about to release." We should have known then that UMC would usher in a new music genre dubbed electrosodomy. Generally, when rappers spend their press runs for an album talking about things other than that album, then we're looking at disaster.
Step 3. Manufactured Beef
Hey, what happens when you can't generate a buzz on, oh, I don't know, music quality? You start some sort of attention-whoring media blitz. That usually means a feud with some or anyone. Doesn't Gucci Mane have an album coming out? Right. See also: every time 50 Cent drops an album ever.
Step 4. The Dope Mixtape
You know how I knew the Slaughterhouse album would be the steaming pile of dog dingleberries? They released an incredible mixtape just a week prior.
These are basically preemtive apology tapes that say, "Hey, we're actually still good at making music, but our album is going to be trash." In my mind, the Slaughterhouse mixtape is their album and the four-person suckakke which was their album never existed. See also: Sorry 4 The Wait.
Step 5. "It's Got...um..."
Pay attention to this part. When rappers talk about their albums and the first thing they talk about is the features, it's not a good sign. I see this on 106 & Park a lot when a rapper is asked about his next album. The first thing he'll say is, "well, it's got Keri Hilson and Weird Al Yankovich and Fat Pat on it." Thanks, now we know you didn't do sh*t worth talking about.
Step 6. It Comes Out On Atlantic Or Interscope
You can pretty much set your clock to Interscope or Atlantic ruining our hopes and dreams of good artists. While this could probably apply to most record labels, there's something special about the way Interscope and Atlantic listen to an album, say, "Let's add more audio herpes!" and proceed to destroy everything we love.
Let me count the ways: Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse, Wiz Khalifa*, Lupe Fiasco**, some of T.I. (Remember: Kendrick was distributed by Interscope but he had creative control. Want to know what a Kendrick/Interscope album would really sound like? Listen to the bonus track with Mary J. Blige, which is his worst song by a country mile). These two labels are all about the money grab, selling songs for endorsements and making the least enjoyable listening experience possible.
* -- Even Wiz didn't like Rolling Papers.
** - Remember the whole "Airplanes" fiasco (no pun)?