Last week, Atlanta’s Future dropped Hndrxx, his sixth studio album and the follow-up to his self-titled album that was released only a week prior. With his third release in three weeks rumoured to be coming this Friday, and with his last two albums getting extremely mixed reviews, it raises the question: quality or quantity?
There’s certainly a sweet spot when it comes to the consistency of releases. While releasing too much music devalues the final product, can not releasing enough be just as damaging? Think back to the hype that Frank Ocean’s Blonde generated solely through vague announcements over four years. Sure it became painful at times but Blonde’s eventual release was met with critical acclaim, not because of it’s long lead up, but it’s undoubtable quality.
Can this be said for any of Future’s solo projects?
There’s definitely a point where this ‘sweet spot’ can run it’s course and cause problems. Take Jay Electronica’s elusive Act II: Patents Of Nobility (The Turn) for example. Fans have been waiting almost ten years for this release, and it’s almost getting to the point where its relevance has passed, yet you can’t say that that’s something which has devalued Jay as an emcee. His sparsely distributed guest verses are continuously praised and are what keep him relevant and a point of discussion despite his solo silence.
There is a strong argument against constantly releasing music, the work ethic of say Gucci Mane for example. Gucci has now released a whopping 67 mixtapes, 3 of which were released last year alongside two more full-length studio albums and three EPs. Was this in any way wise? If he was to have picked the most relevant and heavy hitting of the singles and compiled them into one release, would it have been more widely praised and have enjoyed longer relevance? Sure these albums did score sales, but with his eleventh studio album Drop Top Wop already announced, are any of these past releases even going to maintain any relevance once the next Gucci project drops?
On the other hand, this quality approach is something that has worked for countless artists even on the small, independent scale. The now Grammy award winning Chance The Rapper had his first claim to fame with his debut mixtape 10 Days, similarly Joey Badass’ 1999, ASAP Rocky’s Live. Love. A$AP or even J.Cole’s first ever tape The Come Up; these were projects which were given at least a year of space and helped embellish the status of these artists as cutting edge emcees.
That being said, there’s a definite argument for the quantity approach too. Yet another Southern emcee, the infamous Young Thug, released three mixtapes last year, all of which managed to garner positive praise. This was especially true with the last of the trio Jeffery, which was named among the best releases of the year by several publications. And it’s not just Thugger either, 2016’s man of the year Anderson .Paak released two studio albums (one solo and one as half of NxWorries), and appeared on eleven guest features in 2016 alone. Despite what could be seen as flooding the market, he was celebrated as one of the year’s most influential artists across multiple genres.
German composer Hans Zimmer put it interestingly, saying, “we have a McDonald’s generation of music consumers,” in the sense that listeners want something quick, simple, and easily digestible. This is what the quantity approach preys on; why have a six-month marketing campaign teasing a handful of singles, when you can release two full-length albums and have a constant turnover of music.
The problem with this discussion is that ‘quality’ is subjective and is entirely a matter of opinion. You might love Future’s new albums, and love the fact that your favourite artist has released two hours of music in two weeks alone. Therefore perhaps ‘quantity’ as a synonym for substandard quality isn’t quite true; after all, through quantity comes quality.