Is 2019 the Year of Bad Hip-Hop and R&B Albums?
A review of Offset and Solange's recent albums
It seems like the anticipation for hip-hop and R&B albums this year is exceeding the reality of what we are actually receiving. There are several listicles throughout the Web that features exhaustive lists of upcoming albums and rumored albums from our favorite hip-hop and R&B artists. However, are we living in a fantasy world or still buzzing from the top albums in 2018? It’s already the first week of March, and there has yet to be a hip-hop or R&B album that has truly caught my attention— or a top spot on the Billboard charts (unless we are talking streaming numbers for So Far Gone).
Offset recently dropped Father of 4, which was highly-anticipated in its own right, following last year’s release of his group mates solo albums; Takeoff’s The Last Rocket and Quavo’s Quavo Huncho. The end of 2018 seemed like the perfect time for Offset to drop his album, but instead, we got nothing. It’s unclear if the February 22, 2019 album under Motown and Quality Control Music was meant to set the bar for the year. If it was meant to do so, then the bar was set fairly low.
The album isn’t a bad album— but I had higher expectations. This isn’t to say Offset is the best rapper in Migos, yet his sound is so unique and pivotal to the group. Therefore, it would make sense to take this opportunity to give us his very best. There were a few songs on the album that delivered, including collaborations like “North Star” feat. CeeLo Green, “Clout” feat. Cardi B, and “Legacy” feat. Travis Scott and 21 Savage. At first, I was not only intrigued, but I also genuinely enjoyed the songs. Nonetheless, the problem is that not one song was memorable enough to get me to replay the album on a regular basis.
It’s not like the album didn’t do well either. According to Complex, Offset’s Father of 4 debuted as the second-best Migos’ solo album with 89,000 album equivalent units. In comparison, Quavo’s Quavo Huncho earned 99,000 equivalent album units, and Takeoff’s The Last Rocket moved 49,000 units by the end of its first week. These numbers pale in comparison to the groups Culture II sales, earning 199,000 equivalent album units in the first week. When looking at their numbers individually versus as a trio, it might be safe to say that there is strength in numbers.
This album wasn’t the only album not meeting my expectations in the past few weeks. As an R&B fan, when I heard Solange was releasing When I Get Home, I almost had a panic attack in excitement. I thought this album would serve as not only a powerful followup to her 2016 album, A Seat at the Table, but a necessary artistic answer to the current political climate. However, the album didn’t’ come close. Instead, what I got was 39 minutes of music that needs to be paired with visuals in order to make it stick.
Songs, like “Dreams,” literally were a replay of the same line in the chorus and subsequent verses. The song felt lazy, along with other songs that had the same cadence and words on repeat.
“Dreams, they come a long way, not today
Dreams, they come a, they come a long way
They come a, they come a long way
They come un-, they come undone
They come a-, they come around”
We get it Solo, you’ve gotten to a space in your career where you are one of the few artists celebrated for their raw creativity, but this needed a filter— or maybe even a full visual album? The visuals released via her BlackPlanet page created buzz because BlackPlanet was basically the Black Myspace and Twitter before both gained popularity. All in all, Solange fed into our nostalgic desires, but failed to deliver.
Is 2019 the year of completely overhyped albums?
It may be too early to say if this prediction is true or not, but the way things are looking, many hip-hop and R&B fans are starting to lose trust in some of their faves. Furthermore, let us not forget that J.Cole released “Middle Child” in late January, which is a song we hoped would precede a much-needed kickoff to 2019. The song itself was solid, but it wasn’t on my list of all-time favorite Cole World tracks, though enough to peak interest. His small deposit to the 2019 hip-hop scene didn’t do much, and aside from the Dreamville compilation, there were crickets.
Maybe there is hope in nostalgia records. So Far Gone (which Drake saves the day once again) saw successful streaming numbers for the first mixtape distributed for commercial use or on streaming services, opening up a new market for artists tapping into nostalgic millennials. Although, could newer artists and older artists hoping to make money off of their earlier albums take the lead in 2019? Hopefully.
In the meantime, I’ll keep my old playlists on replay.
— Charmaine Griffin