How The Feeling Of A Time Period Can Influence A Classic Album | The Breakdown

How The Feeling Of A Time Period Can Influence A Classic Album | The Breakdown

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Recently Nas said that he’s tired of celebrating “Illmatic” and wants to move on from that part of his discography. Hearing Nas talk about Illmatic got me thinking about what makes an album so impactful. Of course, the album has to be incredible front to back. That’s a given. But what I think could be the most important aspect of creating a timeless album, has NOTHING to do with the music and EVERYTHING to do with the FEELING of the time period attached to that album.

From NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, Jay Z’s The Blueprint, Nas’ Illmatic, Kanye West’s The College Dropout, 50 Cent’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, here’s how the time period effects how we experience the music.

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Written & Edited By: Jeremy Hecht

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Comment (20)

  1. I agree to some extent. Yes, the time period you bought an album in is important, but I'd argue that It's equally important if it's a 1956 album as it is for contemporary music. I think the important part is "have you heard shit like that before, that well done?". For example; here are some of my classics : Jay-Z; The Blueprint, Nas: Illmatic, Miles Davis; Kind of Blue, Kanye West; College Dropout, M.I.A.; Arular, The Roots; Things Fall Apart, Wu Tang; 36 chambers. Now, I didn't buy music before 1997 so that means that I have bought Illmatic, Kind of Blue and 36 chambers after their "prime time"; I felt the music as deeply nonetheless because it was as new to me as the other albums listed there and because of the quality of the music. NEVER underestimate the quality of the music!

  2. So much of what makes any album, song, or genre impactful to a particular generation is when it serves as a language, or, underground code of belief systems, thoughts, and attitudes – which is why Travis Scott is having a moment right now, and why Kanye touched our souls in late 00s. Every 4 years a new generation arises, and with that emergence a new decade defining artist raises up as they reflect and embody the zeitgeist of the time – for the artist is one of that generation and time period who arises as the voice of it – capturing elements of the past, reflecting the present, and hinting at the future – like off the wall capping the end of disco, and hinting at what was to come – capturing many generations at once, and maintaining core fans throughout forethcoming generations.

    I appreciate your observation that there are some examples that are so ahead of their time they either create/predict the future, or are never able to be replicated, and thus become timeless masterpieces like Queen. So much of these generation defining artists i find are people who are as scientific and philosphical as they are creative – and there is a difference between albums that age well and those that dont – while those that dont i think are more methodical and understanding of that partciular times market, while those that do, are more like a soul captured than a time period; as kind of artifact of humanity more than just a production style or lyrical concept which I believe is the difference between an NWA and a timeless classic like Marvin Gayes what's going on.

  3. Gods yes!! I’ve been thinking and saying that for years! I even commented a similar thought under a hiphopdx article about the “old school vs new school” debate like 4 years ago, and got trashed by angry old heads for being to young to understand “what real hip hop is” 🙄

  4. Nas is saying the right things. Although Illmatic is his most iconic album, he's still putting out music of that caliber, today. Take a listen to "The Lost Tapes 2" if you haven't yet.

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