I can remember back to when I first heard an entire rap album. It was 1986 and I was listening to the Beastie Boys' "Licensed To Ill" on vinyl. The whole rap concept was new to me even though I had been listening to what some would call "Electro" since I was heavily into breakdancing and its culture. As time passed, I began to listen to more rap music, from Ice-T to Public Enemy and everyone in between. From the late 1980's all the way until the mid-1990's, rap music had something special - albums. The Beginning When I grew up, every artist had a hit single and this is what defined them. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is a good example. Here's an artist that everyone recognized from that one single and went crazy over and just had to pick up that song in a single format - the 45 vinyl record. Even though that one single was huge, he still needed to drop his album, and on that album featured other great singles, but the one difference between that and today's rap albums is that it was just that - an album. It wasn't a compilation of singles, it was an album that was created from start to finish and the end result was the best selling album of all time. For rap music, the same can be said for countless albums, such as Dr. Dre's "The Chronic", Nas' "Illmatic", or Ice Cube's "Amerikkka's Most Wanted". Every single one of those Rap albums from the golden era of Hip Hop was a solid effort that brought not only good music to the masses, but in most cases it had a message and above all else - flow. The Flow To create a successful album, one must have a consistent flow to it. If you're an artist and you make a beat one day then you lay down the lyrics two weeks later, then relax a little bit and wait for another month to pass by before you work on another beat - this won't be an album. Sure, you can do this formula for months or even years and gather up plenty of singles that you can throw together and call it an album, but it is not. In the Rap world, this is what would be considered an compilation or even a mixtape. I've seen countless artists fall into this trap and it's what has helped ruin good rap music. When you listen to a classic album, whether it's "Illmatic" or Outkast's "Aquemini", they all had a flow. The artists most likely created the whole album in a short span of time, never taking their mind set away from the zone that they were in. This is why you will hear in classic albums either the pain the artist is experiencing at the time, or the anger that they're expressing. Take a look at Public Enemy's "Fear Of A Black Planet". This group had it right when they dropped this LP. The Bomb Squad were on point and were producing their best work at the time, yet were able to get the group's anger and message into the music itself, let alone the actual lyrics coming from Chuck D. PE had a message and they delivered it, and they managed to do it throughout the entire album. The Current Trend What's happening today is that these artists are not taking the time to make an entire album, instead they're simply grouping together about twenty singles and calling it an LP. One of the other things they're doing is saying "I got something for everyone on this". To me, that is one of the biggest mistakes you can do when coming out with some new music. If you're an East Coast artist and you have a song that is West Coast sounding, I don't want to hear it. If I wanted to hear some West Coast music, I wouldn't be listening to you right now, would I? Why would you want to have every possible style on your album? Are you trying to get as many fans as possible around the entire globe? Then why not rap in fifty different languages? When Gangstarr was releasing their albums years ago, you knew what to expect from this dynamic duo. DJ Premier always had the same style of beats and Guru always had his unique voice on top. We would never have heard Premier change it up and all of a sudden make a Dirty South beat and Guru starts incorporating a southern twang to his lyrics! None of this would never have happened, and it never did. So why is it today that these artists are trying to bring every possible style to the table? Stop doing this! Just make music and do YOU. The Result Because of all these styles, plus the amount of tracks that are on each album, one of the main things that has happened is that no one remember the song names! It's quite comical if you really think about it though, and it's directly related to the mass amount of music coming out from every single artist. When I was listening to Ice-T's "O.G. Original Gangster" album back in the day, I knew all of the song names. I would tell my friends to check out "Mind Over Matter", not "Track #5". What has happened? Countless times I've seen people say "Yo, you gotta check track 8, it's bananas" instead of telling me the song name. Knowing the song names of your favorite songs used to be important, however most music fans today probably can't remember them, instead they opt for the track number! Conclusion Gone are the days of the golden era of rap music. We're in a new age now and I see lots of new rappers, producers, and deejays popping up and making some great music. Most of the albums coming out are more or less mixtapes, but there are some real gems out there. My advice to anyone making music is: TAKE YOUR TIME. There's no rush to put your music online or release it the minute you hit the stop button. The more time and effort you put into your music, the better the end result will be. Stop rushing, plan your album, and just make music!