Home Music How album sequels have changed over the years in rap

How album sequels have changed over the years in rap

by Louis Pavlakos January 28, 2020
How album sequels have changed over the years in rap

Can album sequels contribute to a greater legacy or tarnish a masterpiece?

Album sequels are often a dice-roll. Sometimes, an artist will bounce off the momentum of their previous album and deliver a worthy follow-up. Other times, though, they’ll be a lazy cash grab to capitalize on the success of the first entry just to boost first-week album sales.

The purpose of a direct sequel is to revitalize the themes explored in the first entry and create a unique body of work that both echoes its predecessor and pushes it forward in an innovative way.

JAY-Z’s classic The Blueprint became its namesake for a lengthy series in which its sequels became watered-down versions of what made the original so good. The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse was a far lengthier album than the first, while The Blueprint 3 might be one of the worst of his career. The albums came out within a few years of each other so neither of the sequels was considered to be overdue or absolutely necessary; they just came to be.

Conversely, an artist like Raekwon can drop one of the best albums of the ‘90s in Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and then drop its sequel a decade later. In this case, it can certainly be argued that the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 was better than the first.

But what separates JAY-Z’s sequels from Raekwon’s?

Well, it depends on what the series is based on.

Cuban Linx is a mafia-inspired album, where the themes and lyrics are heavily lifted from the lifestyles of those involved in organized crime. The sequel was no different. When comparing the creative processes of both albums, they couldn’t be more different.

In the first entry, Raekwon only used RZA-produced beats while the second featured production from 15 different producers. However, when listening to them back-to-back, it’s clear that the albums are similar in concept.

These days, sequels are different. They come faster and they don’t necessarily represent the same idea they once did. Roddy Ricch’s Feed Tha Streets series came out within a year of each other. They sound similar only because Roddy’s hunger never left. His newest release, Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, is a clear step away from that series in favour of sounding more like Future and Young Thug.

Kanye West is also teasing the release of Jesus is King II, the potential follow-up to his Christian-rap album from 2019, and if his statement is true, we’ll be getting it sooner rather than later.

Then there’s also Wiz Khalifa who dropped Rolling Papers 2 far too late, when no one cared about Wiz Khalifa in the same way anymore.

Rappers aren’t trying to make movies with their albums anymore. Now more than ever, the sequels feel less like a narrative follow-up and more like a successor used to bank on the momentum and popularity the first entry created. 

 

Graphic by @sundaeghost.

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