Almost anyone who produces something for public opinion and consumption wants the word “classic” to be associated with it. In the field of the arts this is particularly something that is held in high regard. Movies and music have a premium put on projects that are concerned “classics”. When it comes to music when a hip hop album is considered a classic it is held at mythological status. It is hard as hell to have an album be considered a classic project. The problem is that today people are throwing the word “classic” album around too damn willy nilly.
This week Kendrick Lamar’s Good kid, m.A.A.d city dropped to much critical acclaim. Many reviews and opinions have been given on the album given in promising reviews. While the album is a great and refreshing project the one thing I am hearing about the album that I don’t necessarily agree with is the album being a “classic”. Isn’t it too damn early to be calling this project a classic and it has been out less than a week?
In hip hop there have probably only around 200 albums that can be considered classics in the almost 40 young years that hip hop has been around. A classic album is something that stands the test of time and when you throw it on it takes you back to a special place and time. Hence how do we know if this album or any album that has come out in the last few years is a classic yet? The definition the word classic is Judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind. The key words here are “period of time”.
When you hear Snoop Dogg’s (aka Snoop Lion aka Snoop Doggy Dogg whatever he is calling himself now) Doggystyle, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Ice Cube’s The Predator, Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, Nas’ Illmatic, Outkast’s Aquemini, Common’s Resurrection, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, T.I’s King, Eminem’s The Marshal Mathers LP, 2Pac’s Me Against the World, Notorious B.I.G’s Ready to Die, Bone Thugs N Harmony’s E.1999, Wu Tang Clan’s Enter the 36 Chambers, and a host of others you know it’s a classic not only because it was great raps on them but they have stood the test of TIME. Those albums became a back drop of the times these albums dropped. This albums were also given TIME to develop the nostalgia of being a classic.
I have begun to think that we are now living so much in a fast food/instant gratification society that we have a need to anoint praise on something without giving its due process and time. When we do things like this we hinder not only hip hop but Kendrick Lamar as an artist. We want things to happen so much now that Kendrick cannot carve out his own way in hip hop. A part of me feels that the landscape of great hip hop music is so tainted that some of us(including myself) champion anyone we feel is better than what is coming out in the mainstream now.
Do we even know how time will embrace an album like Good kid, m.A.A.d city? Will many of us be even playing this album and heralding it in a few months? And I am by no needs ishing on Kendrick’s project(which I feel is stellar) I just want us to taper our notions of labeling it classic so fast without even it its due diligence of time. I can name numerous albums the last few years people are talking about that are classics but do they get any burn on your playlist? Give the music time to see how it will be looked at not by what we want to feel for it now.
What are your thoughts on Kendrick Lamar’s album being labeled a classic?
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