I saw this video tonight which claimed Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. is already a “classic”. Crazy. I was really baffled that at only 7 months since the album’s release, it’s already hailed as a classic by the well-known music-journalism website: Pitchfork.
DAMN. in 2017 wasn’t culturally digested by Hip Hop and mainstream audiences the same way Good Kid MAAD City (2012) and To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) were.
Neither was Joey Bada$$’ All Amerikkkan Badass to his debuts; 1999 and/or B4.Da.$$
Neither was Drake’s More Life to his fan favourites; Take Care and If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.
Even Big KRIT and The Migos’ critically acclaimed albums from this year feel like they just came and went in the eyes of people’s interest. Who’s even listening to Slippery in November of 2017?
It’s a shame because although not many of those albums could be argued as any of those artists’ best works, they definitely made and had strong statements in their legacies and careers as artists, which was sort of overlooked because of how our culture collectively consumes art.
Rap in today’s mainstream has become infected by a strong sense of hyper-consumerism, where product-cycles and the relevance of an artist’s work have become vastly reduced. It’s come to the point where we can’t even let a record breathe without asking the artists for a new album, song or search for a new artist that’ll feed into our mainstream-tastes.
Typically, a “classic” is simply defined by the quality of an artist’s work lasting a certain period of time. A period of time is subjective, especially to context, but 7 months is quite a reach from Pitchfork to call DAMN. a classic. Think about it this way: are people fondly remembering, or will they fondly remember GOD. or LOVE. from this album in the same way they remember Poetic Justice or Alright?