Some of the Best Breakup Albums

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

Surprisingly, 808s isn't on THIS list.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. You're a musician who's dating someone who you think is your world. And then life decides to drop a ginormous deuce on you and you two break up. So, you sulk, you cry, and then you get back into the booth and pour your heart out into your music. This album, in some circles, is referred to as the "breakup album," since, y'know, it (in one way or another) pertains/relates to your breakup.

I've released two myself and, sadly, probably about to work on a third (love is, excuse my expression, a fickle bitch at times). The first was in the form of 2012's RAQUEL RELOADED/One Year Later. The second was a continuation of the first, 2013's Songs For... [The Rebirth and Evolution of the Modern Male]. S4 is one of my favorite SOTB!!! LPs, dating back to my "Feel Me" days at UMD. But, I'm not going to go (any further) in depth about myself. The shameless plugs above probably do that enough...

So, here are some of the best break-up albums you can come across. This is not a full list, just a few of my personal favorites.

Marvin Gaye - Here, My Dear

I don't think I need to go into detail about this one any further than I have.

Nas - Life is Good

On one of several hip-hop answers to HMD, Nas laments over the dissolution of his relationship with Kelis and the aftermath of it all. It's probably one of Nas' best albums--and my personal favorite (don't worry; Illmatic is a very close second) because we get more of Nas the person versus Nas the storyteller. We get to see, just like with HMD, a legend in his time break down and become human.

Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning

My dad, for whatever reason, had a couple Sinatra albums on deck. So, one day, around the time of his death, I popped one into an old tape player. Now, I was moved by Sinatra's honesty. He poured his soul into the title track. Just off the title track, I can see why people love Sinatra and hold him in such a high regard. The rest of the album isn't lacking either. But, the title track? Wow. This album was recorded around the time of his high-profile breakup with actress Ava Gardner.

True God - Soul Revival 2

I know what you're thinking. "Why is DAR shouting out DAR? They're just caping for each other. Blah blah blah." To that, I say get all the way out of here. The reasoning behind SR2 appearing on this list is as follows: it's such a different direction for True. It's honest and, like the other albums on this list, flat out just lays his soul out there. The album, recorded around the time that True was going through a lot details how he really felt and dealt with many of the events going on.

Future - Dirty Sprite 2

Hear me out on this one, since it is a weird (and possibly controversial) choice. On DS2, Future doesn't lament much over his breakup with Ciara. That's not really the Future way. However, there is a move to darker material versus, for instance, last year's Honest. Here, Future speaks about how he's just chilling, popping Percs with strippers, and, well, effing up some commas but still somewhat going through the motions of being a Trap Gawd.

He's practically become Trap Weeknd on this album.

While the turn-up vibe is still there, interspersed within the "Commas" energy, there's a man who's still coming to terms with this situation in the best/only(?) way he knows how: turning up, popping percs and xans, and trying to live a normal (TRAP GAWD) life throughout it. Maybe I'm wrong in the interpretation. It could just be turn-up music and nothing more. But, Future, just like on 3D, is showcasing depth and layers in his random club anthems in a way that most artists aren't. Maybe he really is on another planet...

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

There are few albums that get me to say "classic" the first time hearing them. But, Amy's 2006 release grabbed me by the throat, put me in her (and her ex's) shoes, and didn't let me go until the remix of "You Know I'm No Good" with Ghostface Killah ended. I had a hard choice between this and Adele's 21, but chose B2B because of its rawness.

Nirvana - Nevermind

The album which introduced me to Nirvana. I didn't realize it was, in some ways, a "breakup album" until years later, with songs such as the above "Drain You." But, that's the beauty of the group. Even when he's just saying "yeah...," there's something in there that you'll not get for years, until it finally hits you, and you're like "well, damn, Kurt!"

Aretha Franklin - Spirit in the Dark

Yes, the title track was flipped for Kanye's "School Spirit." But, this album is so much more than that. Now, I come from a family of older people (read: my mom was 65 when she died and my dad was damn near 90 when he passed). So, just about every cookout featured nothing but Aretha and Sam Cooke albums on repeat--sometimes on the original vinyl, if my mom had anything to say about it.

This album is a classic. And it's, just like HMD and LiG, one that shows its artist as a woman who's felt pain and been through the wire. Plus, it's Aretha. She can do no wrong. If the title track doesn't move you, keep playing through the rest of the album. Trust me. Mama Young [my mother] ain't been wrong before and I'm pretty sure she's not wrong here, either.

So, there you have it. A few of the best breakup albums, as curated by yours truly. Hopefully, you're not going through a breakup while you read this. But, if you are? These will help ease the pain. Even if you're not, it's still just great music! Be sure to support the artists mentioned and check out their work as well. If you like, pass it on.


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