DAR Hip Hop: Pros And Cons Of 6 Double Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal

Double albums are something that have always been peculiar in hip hop. For many, a double album is far too much to listen to, usually clocking in at well over an hour and a half, and either full of filler or just not as well put together as the single disc albums of the world. With multiple double albums dropping recently, we decided it would be cool to take a look at the pros and cons of a few albums that fit the criteria. For a few reasons, we decided not to cover the double albums by Nas and Jay-Z, but we do cover the recent double album from Drake, Big K.R.I.T.'s double album, Outkast and their crazy double album, Wu-Tang and their sophomore effort, along with the two loved double albums from 2Pac and Biggie as well. Are any of these a double albums perfect or close to it? Do any of these double albums fall short? Let's take a look.

*Drake- Scorpion  

-Naturally, it was only right to include a review of the new album from Drake on this post. For one, Drake is the no. 1 rapper in the world in terms of popularity and sales, and he seems to know his audience and fanbase well. As an artist, he has showcased an ability to permeate different sides of the genre, pacing himself in between the guise of a hip hop artist with R&B sensibility. While Drake has never been considered the elite of the elite in terms of lyricism, his status as a good MC with songwriting capabilities has made him a pop star. He has altered the music world numerous times and despite the things that have been leveled against him, his fans stay dedicated to supporting him. Even with the Pusha T battle loss and the ghostwriting accusations that are now confirmed, Drake still stands atop his perch, with this album I'm currently writing about almost doing a million in the first week. That alone is outrageous for any artist to accomplish and it begs the question of when is his run going to slow down or stop? Will it ever? All of this leads me to wonder if Scorpion is deserving of the sales, or if Drake manages to phone it in on a double album and never has to worry about real backlash? Which one is it? Let's find out.

Pros: So, first things first, when Drake is at his best, he is really good. Like really good. Drake isn't my favorite MC by far and he will never be. I'm sure he doesn't care about that anyways, but with his ghostwriting debacle, the confusion during the Pusha T beef, and so many other things make it easy to not see Drake like his stans and diehard fans do. However, on this album, when Drake connects, he connects with some of the best music he's ever made. The first disc is good, starting with the solid "Survival", and reaching perhaps the peak of the album with the amazing "Emotionless". While lyrically Drake isn't mind blowing on this album, when he finds his stride, he sounds damn near unstoppable. That is what makes a track like "Emotionless" so important to the album. Other highlights include "8 Out Of 10" and for many, "Mob Ties" as well as the DJ Premier produced "Sandra's Rose". Regardless, Side A is a solid listen, but the B side struggles at times. Still, there are highlights on that one as well. For me, the best song on that side is "Jaded", which sounds 100% like a PND song, but it works better. I enjoyed the Future inspired and featured "Blue Tint" as well as the album closing "March 14th", and Drake even manages to make a Final Fantasy sample sound decent. All in all, Scorpion has a number of high points, but it does admittedly need to be cut down in terms of tracklist. Still, the highlights are pretty damn good.

Cons: So, first things first, when Drake is at his worst, he is really awful. It's such a contrast that makes him the polarizing artist that he has been for the last 9 years. When he is on point, he is one of the most engaging stars in the world, crafting music that makes the listeners appreciate and his stanbase go psycho. However, on the flip side? Drake sometimes sounds lazy, forced, and allows himself to get lost in the music he is making. While there are some songs that people seem to enjoy that I don't, tracks like "Summer Games" and "I'm Upset" seem to be the songs that most people can agree aren't that good. Aside from this, the B side of this album falters at times in general. I mean, who authorized Drake to make "Ratchet Happy Birthday", seriously? That song is an abomination to his catalog and he has some awful tracks in his catalog as well, but this takes the cake. Not to mention, Drake apparently got a feature from Michael Jackson that doesn't even really sound like Michael Jackson. How do you get it approved to use Michael Jackson's vocals and then you don't even use them correctly? Say what you will, but "Don't Matter To Me" is a poorly executed song and while I do enjoy a few of the tracks on the B side, overall the A side sounds slightly stronger, though not by too much. I've seen some people say Scorpion is the best Drake album and while we know not to take those opinions and hype seriously, the one thing I will say is that if perhaps Drake cut this album down to 12 or 13 tracks, that the opinion would be correct. Drake shines bright in spurts, but not enough to really classify Scorpion as a great album. It is great when it wants to be, and far from it when it doesn't want to be great. That's about as honest of a review as I can give this album. Great in spurts, but lacks cohesion and consistency overall.

*Big K.R.I.T.- 4Eva Is A Mighty Long Time

-I think K.R.I.T. is the best rapper today. Sure, Kendrick is the man around town in terms of album reviews and Drake is the man in terms of sales and popularity, but K.R.I.T. to me is the superior artist. While it is closer between Kendrick and K.R.I.T. in terms of quality, there is a level of passion and hunger within the music of K.R.I.T. that is unmatched and not found in the other artists of today, at least from my view. So when K.R.I.T. left Def Jam and decided to go independent, we knew something special was coming. When he announced his newest album as a double album, many of us were surprised but ready. The album arrived in October 2017 and while many people have been sleep on the legend of K.R.I.T., this might have been the album to wake them all up. So how does it stack up? How does it sound? Let's take a look.

Pros: This album truly benefits from K.R.I.T. and his production, which is the crux of most of his projects. As an avid listener, I've always found that K.R.I.T. is at his very best when he is honest and personal in his music, and he does that here better than he has ever. K.R.I.T. strips any personal away and delivers what is perhaps the greatest collection of music and maybe the best double album of all time. That might sound like a lot to bestow upon him, but there are very few double albums that have the cohesion and the focus that this one has. K.R.I.T. doesn't venture into territory that is unfamiliar or that wouldn't work well for him and it pays off amazingly. Whether he shines on tracks like the jazzy "The Light", the booming "Confetti", the smooth "Layup", the extremely infectious "Get Away", the bang of "Big Bank" and "Subenstein", the honesty and awareness of "Mixed Messages" and "Price Of Fame", or the smoothness in general of both "Higher Calling" and "Everlasting", K.R.I.T. really doesn't disappoint at all on this album and for that, it definitely was my 2017 choice for album of the year and is better than any album that has been released this year as well and perhaps 2016 also. That says a lot about the quality of the album without question.

Cons: I wish I could find a ton of problems with this album for article purposes, but there are really none. This album has solid music throughout, but there are a few tracks that I do skip from time to time when I listen. The first is "Keep The Devil Off", and that's mostly due to the fact that I've heard it so much. It is a good song regardless and that is the same for most of the songs on the album. Still, I do sometimes that one, along with "Miss Georgia Fornia" and sometimes "Ride With Me". Aside from that, I legit cannot see an issue with any other song on this album, but if perhaps someone didn't find "1999" appealing, or even the sounds of "Get Up 2 Come Down", I could actually understand it. For the most part however, K.R.I.T. shows up and delivers beyond what most would have expected. That in itself is a feat that most people cannot pull off in music.

*Outkast- Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

-I spoke about this album before on the site, but it'll be fun to discuss the pros and cons on an album that I feel is one of the most creative ways to do a double album. Split into two separate albums and CDs, Andre 3000 and Big Boi bring their visions to the table, but also as one. It is the first double album by a duo to be split up correctly into two separate albums. It does feel odd seeing the two not work together on a majority of these songs, and some of the songs definitely would have been perfect for them together, but regardless this Outkast double album was a game changer. It is one of the very few albums to reach diamond status in the genre and it won tons of awards for a group that was well deserving of an award years before this album drop. So after 15 years, how does Speakerboxxx/The Love Below hold up? Let's take a look.

Pros: So, Big Boi has continued to improve as a MC since the early days of Outkast. Andre 3000 has continued to let his creativity shine since the arrival of the duo. You hear this good and well on this double album as we know what the two are capable of together, but not necessarily alone. Big Boi's album is a very good rap album, with some interesting production and great choices from top to bottom in guest appearances. Whether we are talking the excellent opener "Ghetto Musick", the hit single "The Way You Move", or even the amazing yet slept on "Reset", Big doesn't disappoint much on the album at all. He has bristling verses that showcase his rap charisma and songs that will inspire you to rap and sing along. Speakerboxxx is not perfect, but it is a great introduction to Big Boi the solo artist. For Andre 3000, The Love Below is an experiment that to me was executed nearly perfectly. Andre would sing on a majority of the album and make it work, even if he is limited vocally, which is a shock in itself. Tracks like "Prototype", "She Lives In My Lap", and even the sneakily hilarious "Vibrate" are very well done and help round out his project. As far as his rapping goes, Andre delivers a few verses here and there, showing he is still head and shoulders above many, and if anything, his album is a lesson in how to balance yourself as an artist. The variety in production, sound, and vocals make The Love Below a pleasant listen, but it wasn't received as well then as I think it would be now. Still, Andre crafted a great album that remains a part of history, as did Big Boi. If anything, Outkast outdid themselves with an album that went against conventional wisdom and somehow, they managed to win once again.

Cons: For me, my biggest issue with this album was that we wanted and needed more Outkast content. While listening to Big and Dre by themselves and with other artists was fun, one can't help but wonder what could have been. I think there is a bit too much on this album as well, with both albums likely benefiting from a cutdown of the tracklist. Take off perhaps four to five songs off each album and you are looking at a classic without question. Keep in mind also that maybe Andre 3000 shouldn't be singing for an entire album. That could definitely be a point that many should look into. Regardless, the highs outweigh the lows to me on an album like this and while some people hated both projects or disliked The Love Below, I think this was a great double album that showcased the two sides of Outkast..... though "She's Alive" and "Dracula's Wedding" are two very unnecessary pieces and songs that could have been thrown away and left to rot. Still, overall, this is a good album that leaves you realizing that Outkast is much better together than apart, but still good separately.

*2Pac- All Eyez On Me

-For many, 2Pac is one of the greatest artists of all time and rightfully so. One of the most influential artists in hip hop history, Pac was a force to reckoned with and a true legend and icon. After his release from prison in late 1995, Pac would go on to do what he loved best and that's make great music. With the release of his double album, the first hip hop double album at the time, he would set a standard that many would try to follow in the game. All Eyez On Me is revered in many hip hop circles and was even the name of the biopic based around Pac's life. With two discs and a total of 27 songs, you would have thought Pac had returned from a 4 year hiatus in the music world. All Eyez On Me is one of the only diamond hip hop albums in history, which solidifies the status of Pac as a legend of course, but how does the album sound after all these years? Is it a classic? Is it one of the best double albums ever? Let's take a look at the pivotal Pac on Death Row album.

Pros: Pac is aggressive and seems angry on this album and if anything, that is one of the reasons why this album is so special. An angry Pac is a force to be reckoned with and probably the most entertaining MC of all time. I loved this album as a kid and even a teen, because Pac was literally the top rapper to most in my neighborhood, but admittedly since I've become an adult, I don't share the same fondness for this album as I used to. Perhaps that can attributed to a number of things, but when I went to revisit this album for this article, I realized how much I missed this music. Pac was in his prime during this period, and honestly, he sounds better than ever in multiple spurts on this album. Whether on the opener "Ambitionz Az A Ridah", the hilarious "All Bout U", "Got My Mind Made Up", "No More Pain", and the classics "Life Goes On" and "I Ain't Mad At Cha", Pac delivers heavily on the first disc and maintains the momentum somewhat on the second disc. While the first disc is superior, the second disc does feature some good tracks like "Can't C Me", "Holla At Me", "Picture Me Rollin", and a few others. Simply put, All Eyez On Me shines when Pac is at his most aggressive or most reflective, and if he would have stuck to that for the entire album, perhaps this would be a perfect double album, or at least a perfect album if cut down by some tracks.

Cons: My only gripe with Pac sometimes is that he was perhaps a little top overzealous and careless with his music and projects, and with 27 tracks, he does go hard in terms of overkill and too much music. If Pac cut this album down to perhaps 14 tracks, this would be hands down the greatest work of his career, but instead it drags on at times, mostly due to tracks that just don't need to be on the album. While I love the song personally and find it hilarious, who the hell thought making "What'z Ya Phone #", was a good idea? Really Suge? Daz? Anyone? Snoop!!!? Somebody?! Whatever the case, this song is a detriment to the nearly excellent first disc and the second disc has a few songs that suffer the same fate as well like "Heaven Ain't Hard 2 Find", and of course, the most unnecessary song of all time "Thug Passion". Still, for me personally, I love about 90% of the songs on the album, but objectively, I can see where fans had an issue with so many songs unnecessarily. All Eyez On Me succeeds more than it fails, but it is not flawless by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it the best Pac album. That goes to Me Against The World.

*The Notorious B.I.G.- Life After Death 

-This album was a topic of discussion on Twitter recently so I decided to take a shot at reviewing the album in full with the pros and cons of course. Life After Death to many is a classic, and I agree. In terms of sales, importance, and what it did for Biggie and his legacy, I think we all know that this album is important and a classic. Musically, it has some flaws that I'll address in the cons, but for the most part, there are so many positives that you tend to overlook those. Biggie didn't get to see the reception to his double disc work, but some have said that perhaps that is a reason why some of us overrate the album. I cannot agree nor disagree, but what I do find to be interesting is the fact that Life After Death is not mention in the same regard as Ready To Die. Perhaps that is due to Ready To Die not having any filler or being as commercially viable, but regardless, Life After Death has an interesting legacy despite being seen by many as a classic. So, the question is, does this album have some issues and how great is it really? Let's take a look.

Pros: Biggie is regarded by many as the greatest to ever pick up a microphone and while I'm not one of those people, he definitely was at his best on this album it seemed, at least on the first disc. The first disc being released alone would have been special without a doubt. That disc to me showcased that Biggie was only getting better and more polished as an artist, and he definitely delivered from start to finish on that disc. Whether it was the fluid flow on "Somebody's Gotta Die", or even the excellent posse track with The LOX on "Last Day", or the classic Jay-Z collab on "I Love The Dough", Biggie is in his prime rapping. His flow is crisp and sharp as always and he sounds comfortable over every beat, some of which have vastly different sounds. Other highlights on disc 1 include "What's Beef", "Kick In The Door", and "Niggas Bleed", which are all classics. For disc 2, Biggie takes a stumble, but who could deny tracks like "Notorious Thugs", "Ten Crack Commandments", "Sky's The Limit", and "You're Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)" really? Simply put, when Big was at his best, this album was some of the best music I've ever heard and he excels countless times on this album. Life After Death shines brighter than just about any other double album in hip hop history and I think it might be looked at by many as the greatest double album in the genre ever. I disagree slightly, but I do have it right there in at least the top two.

Cons: Surprisingly, there aren't many issues with the first disc of this album and honestly, that is truly a selling point of why this album is seen as a classic. The second disc however? Well, there are some issues. I mean, where do I start. Well, for one, I've always found "Nasty Boy" to be a song I could do without on this album, and the same can damn sure be said for "Another". That song honestly does nothing for me as a listener and while I do laugh at the ridiculousness of "Playa Hater", I'm left wondering why they decided to include it on the album anyways. Even the 112 featured "Miss U" is a bit of a bland track, but regardless, the second disc just has a few tracks that throw the album off. It was almost as if they just wanted a double album and tacked some of these songs on so the tracklist could be full. Still, of the entire album, I would say the only missteps come during the second disc, even though the "B.I.G. Interlude" is one that I could do without on the first disc. Life After Death isn't perfect, but it is a damn great album that ruined perfect potential with a few unnecessary tracks.

*Wu-Tang Clan- Wu-Tang Forever

-There was a point in time where there was no one in hip hop with more power than the Wu. They were on top of the world with a ton of success and fans all around the world who showcased top tier adulation for the brand. With the focus on their success and taking the group to another level, the Wu decided to come out with their own double album, one that would become their most successful work commercially. Despite the success, Wu-Tang Forever isn't as fondly remembered as some of the other releases from the Wu camp, at least not quality wise and critically. Is this a bad album? No. Is this a classic? Not quite, but it does dwell around the really good to great area to me. So, what are the pros and cons of Wu-Tang Forever? Let's take a look.

Pros: I love this album personally. It is actually my favorite release from the Wu because to me the sound is crisper and richer than 36 Chambers, while every MC seems to shine bright on this project instead of only 3 standouts. While I fully believe that the 36 Chambers is always their magnum opus, a part of me recognizes that Wu-Tang Forever was an ambitious release designed to put the Wu into an entirely different stratosphere in terms of popularity and it worked to an extent. Double albums seemed to be the trend at that time, and with this album, the Wu would end up garnering their first and only 4X platinum album, which is an amazing feat, but how does the music sound itself? Excellent for the most part. Tracks like "Heaterz", "Triumph", "The Projects", "The M.G.M.", "It's Yourz", and more definitely set the tone for this album. Each disc has multiple highlights and some great music, and for me the actual MVPs of this album are surprisingly Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa, which is probably a big reason why the album isn't remembered quite as fondly as 36 Chambers. Raekwon shows up as well and dominates on the album, making a multitude of appearances throughout. Simply put, the Wu does what they do best on this album and some of the members even surprise the listeners. I consider this album to be a really great project, even though it could have been slightly better.

Cons: There are a lot of things one could say about this album. Perhaps it is a little uneven, slightly. Maybe the MCs don't have the same synergy they had on 36 Chambers, maybe ODB phoned in his work, maybe some of the MCs don't sound nearly as focused as they should. Perhaps all of those are true. That is one valid criticism of this double album and I honestly understand it. The Wu rappers seemingly took a slightly easy route on some of those songs, and the hunger could not be heard in a few of them, namely Method Man and ODB, but even Ghostface didn't seem as hungry this go round. Still, those are small issues compared to the glowing positives that this album has. While the production at times does miss once or twice, it is mostly solid all around. RZA does his job, but I do cringe very time he raps due to this flow, but regardless, Wu-Tang Forever is actually a very solid double album with just minor miscues that can't necessarily be overlooked, but don't affect the bottom line.



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