2018: Year of the Sequels?
So far we’ve gotten very few big albums from big names this year, but there’s been one recurring theme going on with highly anticipated albums from these artists: they’re sequels?
The first indicator of this trend was when the Migos announced the upcoming release of the follow-up to 2017′s “Culture”, which was their biggest album to date and a statement about the direction of rap music in the mainstream. They announced that the album would be called “Culture II”, and unsurprisingly, the album was somewhat of a flop compared to the first installment which boasted huge singles like “Bad and Bougie”, “T-Shirt”, and “Slippery”. The second album was the beginning of a trend, as just this Friday marked the surprise release of two sequel albums that were slated to be highly anticipated releases from two artists whose relevance would be teetering if they didn’t deliver an immediate album.
First, Logic surprised fans with the new mixtape, “Bobby Tarantino II”, which was being teased with the flaming hot single “44 More”, a follow up to the “44 Bars” from the first mixtape under the alter ego. I firmly believe that both tracks are the two best tracks Logic has ever put to recording, but sadly the rest of the album pales in comparison. It features a pretty fun and light album intro featuring the voice of “Rick and Morty” creator Justin Roiland, who voices the cartoon’s protagonists deciding what to listen to while en route to a planet. This is a nice little nod to the television show, which Logic had a cameo in during an episode of the latest season. It takes us out of the album and into a different universe, but then we go right into the first track and mediocre single “Overnight”, which leaves much to be desired. So does the rest of the tracklist, with a few exceptions like the bouncy “Warm It Up” (featuring Logic’s other alter ego Young Sinatra), which alternates from boom bap beat to trap beat (it’s pretty clear which part hits harder). Another notable track is the smooth and atmospheric “Indica Badu”, which features a very laid-back beat reminiscent of the track’s title inspiration, Erykah Badu. The flows are classic Logic, it doesn’t feel like one of his typical Kendrick Lamar carbon copies, and he’s holding his own without trying to do something flashy. Tracks like these are evidence of Logic at the top of his game. Nevertheless, this mixtape is not without its many flaws.
“Contra” feels like Logic’s “King Kunta”, except he isn’t anywhere near Kendrick’s level of fame or level of rapping, especially on the cut itself. In addition, tracks like “State of Emergency” featuring 2 Chainz, “Wassup” with Big Sean, “Midnight”, and “Wizard of Oz” strike me as forgettable filler, and songs that really only appeal to die-hard fans. I will applaud the guests on this album for being pretty solid, but then again, I only look forward to them because of Logic’s inability to keep me captivated throughout a whole project. And then right before the closing “44 More”, we get the barely listenable “Everyday” featuring Marshmello. This track is all kinds of bad, and Logic’s singing on this track is as weak as I’ve ever heard. It’s the second example this year of a sequel being far less interesting and powerful than the first part of its series.
The second sequel this week was Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat 2″, which was an even more predictable sequel album after the hour-long dumpster fire that was Yachty’s last project, “Teenage Emotions”. To build hype, Yachty would take the name of his debut mixtape, which still proves to be his most charming and commercially successful project. This is still the case after the release of “Lil Boat 2″, which is just as forgettable as “Teenage Emotions”, but with more listenable material. The first thing that took me out of the record is that the introduction doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the charm that was the dual-identity Yachty on “Lil Boat”. Follow-up “BOOM!” is an okay starter for this album, but from this point on, the beats get more saturated, more predictable and less interesting, and by the end of the album I haven’t taken much away from it at all. The one highlight from this album that hopefully more fans will gravitate towards is the track “COUNT ME IN”, which is a testament to why Yachty is such a hit in the first place. He holds it down on the track about his come up and his freedom to live life wildly because of his newfound fortune. It puts his rise to teenage rap fame into perspective, and is one of the better tracks off of the album. “666” is a lukewarm closer, leaving this project with much to be desired.
As much as it hurts to point it out, these releases are examples of an artist naming their project after their most successful to date, and not reaching the same heights. I see this as a simple cash grab by these artists. In an attempt to stay afloat and make money of the title of the original project, they release a sequel to create hype and sway listeners. They rush the albums, simply try to get music out, and stay on hip hop listeners’ radars while they’re waiting for other highly anticipated releases from big names like Drake, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott, and even newer names like Cardi B and Post Malone. I think we can all tell that these sequels are deeply flawed and several steps below their parent albums. Hopefully these artists take note and polish their projects before releasing them.