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  -  What Makes an Album a Classic? (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=2958982)

Holly HoX! 11/20/12 04:09 PM

This is classic and it's only been out for 5 hours....


Gaugzilla 11/20/12 04:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Craig Manning (Post 115619042)
Yeah, no doubt that some people genuinely adore everything on that album. But for me, it misses as much as it hits and I would like to hear a more focused and concise record from Ocean. I hope his career doesn't, as that person says, plateau in pursuit of more of the same.

Yea, well we obviously don't see eye-to-eye on that either. And I don't think there's any way that he's plateauing this early anyways. He killed it on "Nostalgia" and he did a great job on "Channel Orange." The writer wanted to make a grand prediction and she did. Complete misstep on "Pyramids." Yes, the subject's been done, but the way it was framed and produced was what made it great.

Star Slight 11/20/12 04:12 PM

I'd say it's hard for the artist to not plateau when their debut album is called an instant classic instantly after it was released

Craig Manning 11/20/12 04:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gaugzilla (Post 115619262)
Yea, well we obviously don't see eye-to-eye on that either. And I don't think there's any way that he's plateauing this early anyways. He killed it on "Nostalgia" and he did a great job on "Channel Orange." The writer wanted to make a grand prediction and she did. Complete misstep on "Pyramids." Yes, the subject's been done, but the way it was framed and produced was what made it great.


Yeah, I like "Pyramids" a lot. But I think her point was the same as the one made in that pitchfork article, or at least a very similar one: that calling something a classic after a week and tossing a 9.5 on an album that. quite frankly, is very far from perfect, is a damaging practice. It's easy to see how an artist's growth could get stunted in pursuit of what they have been told is masterful.

saywhatever 11/20/12 04:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115619362)
I'd say it's hard for the artist to not plateau when their debut album is called an instant classic instantly after it was released


People called Section 80 a classic after it came out, an he's done alright. But I see what you mean

Star Slight 11/20/12 04:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by saywhatever (Post 115619492)
People called Section 80 a classic after it came out, an he's done alright. But I see what you mean

Which I didn't really agree with either

Gaugzilla 11/20/12 04:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115613452)
Defined as what? Days? Weeks? Months?

Where can you say "classic" in describing it?


Quote:

Originally Posted by Craig Manning (Post 115619442)
Yeah, I like "Pyramids" a lot. But I think her point was the same as the one made in that pitchfork article, or at least a very similar one: that calling something a classic after a week and tossing a 9.5 on an album that. quite frankly, is very far from perfect, is a damaging practice. It's easy to see how an artist's growth could get stunted in pursuit of what they have been told is masterful.


I feel like "classic" can replace the word "amazing" in this Louis CK sketch:


phillipjacob 11/20/12 04:37 PM

There's a plethora of factors that I think should be taken into consideration for what can be taken as a classic for an album.

Acclaim.
How it defines the culture from which the album comes from.
How much money the album brings in (i consider that a factor to an extent)

and I think most importantly how influential the album is to each listener.

Certainly that varies greatly from person to person but when a niche of a people
develop a cult like love for an album I think it becomes a "classic".

The album might mean something different to every person in that niche, but the universal love and feelings for it give it that nostalgic feeling so to speak.

These are just my thoughts on it though.

OneAndrewWest 11/20/12 04:40 PM

I honestly think you can tell pretty much right away, maybe 2 spins?

saywhatever 11/20/12 04:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OneAndrewWest (Post 115619972)
I honestly think you can tell pretty much right away, maybe 2 spins?


Lol no.

OneAndrewWest 11/20/12 04:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by saywhatever (Post 115620132)
Lol no.

/shrug. I knew after 2 with deja as well as TTTYG, and all other "classic" type records. I don't know, do you really need to listen to an album 20 times to know it's special?

Jeff_Ryan 11/20/12 04:53 PM

I guess if Kendrick isn't a classic then I guess 9.6 is the threshold

jtresk26 11/20/12 04:53 PM

I think what makes an album a classic is something that takes elements from different genres to form one sound, speaks to people on a personal level (i.e.Pinkerton, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Silent Alarm, Is This It and in my opinion, Blink's Self-Titled), and the production of an album. I mean, I think any person can kind of tell what's a pretty standard produced song compared to one that's been worked over and over again, has many tracks to it, etc. I will say though that there hasn't a classic album that has hit the mainstream harder since Nevermind.

Star Slight 11/20/12 04:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OneAndrewWest (Post 115620192)
/shrug. I knew after 2 with deja as well as TTTYG, and all other "classic" type records. I don't know, do you really need to listen to an album 20 times to know it's special?

no you didn't

OneAndrewWest 11/20/12 05:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Star Slight (Post 115620342)
no you didn't

yes I did...this can go on for hours.

ChaseTx 11/20/12 05:08 PM

Now that I'm home and have time to do so, I'll give my answer to the main question of the thread. What makes an album a classic comes down to the influence it has on music in the years that follow it.

To go back to my statement about Kanye's first 2 albums vs. MBDTF: College Dropout was a complete breakthrough. Before that album, mainstream hip hop was all about the "gangsta" subgenre. Despite having the best connections in the industry, Kanye had an incredibly hard time actually getting a record deal as a rapper. Finally, Roc-a-fella hesitantly signed him. When he was finally able to release his album, it just blew up. It was everywhere. With that album, he proved to a doubtful hip hop industry that you could sell millions of records without excessive gangster bravado. Case in point: the big 9/11/2007 sales showdown with 50 Cent. When Kanye and 50 both released their albums on the same day, the industry was very unsure of what the outcome would be. Many people expected 50's Curtis to greatly outsell Kanye. I mean, 50 was just the image of hip hop at the time. However, Kanye made much more accessible, relatable, and not to mention critically-acclaimed music. When Kanye handily outsold 50, it changed the focus of hip hop from a hardcore gangster image to a more suburban, pop-based approach. (It's important to note that Kanye's sales were strong off the success and positive reception of the first two, making them more important to our discussion than Graduation.)

By that point, he had also changed the nature of hip hop production. His unique style of beats featuring soul samples became huge in the genre. Everyone wanted Kanye West beats, and if they couldn't get them, they got an imitation. College Dropout and Late Registration were both albums full of K. West beats, and for that reason, they were hugely influential, and eventually considered classics.

That's my case for College Dropout and Late Registration: they had a huge influence on hip hop (and pop) music as a whole. I have yet to see significant reverberations from MBDTF on music. (I know some people will argue that it has indeed had a similar effect, and I'll be happy to entertain the thought.) Also, venturing into my personal opinion here, but I don't think the rapping is as strong on MBDTF as on the first 3 albums. And unlike those first 3, there are actually a few songs on it that I could take or leave.

To get more back to the point here, I think personal opinion of the strength of an album isn't quite enough to make it a classic. Jay-Z has 3 classic albums: his debut, Reasonable Doubt; 2001's Kanye/Just Blaze helmed The Blueprint; and his faux-retirement album, The Black Album. Now in my opinion, 2007's American Gangster does stand some ground with The Blueprint and The Black Album. But that's just my opinion, and it's not overwhelmingly popular. It doesn't have the popular acclaim or the influence it takes to hold the same iconic place in music history. AG is not and never will be hailed as a classic, just a pretty solid Jay-Z album.

jtresk26 11/20/12 05:15 PM

I think, with Kanye West, him playing the role of producer all those years before he got the chance to be himself and be an artist in his own right has helped him become who is today. There are so many hip hop artists/ rappers who wouldn't be where they are today either without his influence. Plus, he kind of brought the sample back too. There's a difference between a sample like what the Beastie Boys were doing compared to what Puff Daddy was doing where he was stealing songs basically and making a song of his own after of it you know. I know Puff Daddy was probably a bad example haha.

cubsml34 11/20/12 05:23 PM

I agree with the other people who have said that what makes an album classic is what represents not only a snapshot of someone's life, but can continuously be applied down the road to situations that emulate the same sorts of feelings and not lose relevance. For me, I can connect with Siamese Dream right now the same way I did when I first listened to it at 13 or 14. The same for Discovering the Waterfront from 17 to now, and as of lately I believe I'll feel the same way about Clash Battle Guilt Pride and Shed years later.

I'm also kind of swayed by the element of other people liking it and giving it acclaim as well. Obviously that's easier to prove for my Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, and Zeppelin favorites, but with bands that will never reach that status like Silverstein, Balance and Composure, and Moving Mountains (who have albums I see becoming classics for me), it's harder to justify, but I guess that's not really the point.

xtbs7645x 11/20/12 05:24 PM

Not many recent albums come to mind, except M83 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. Was pretty much a instant classic for me.

thesafeword 11/20/12 05:28 PM

hurry up we're dreaming is basically a french dude yelling over some synths on a late night talk show late night with jimmy fallon every week night 12:35 am eastern on nbc follow him on twitter @jimmyfallon #newthanksgivingsongs

saywhatever 11/20/12 05:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OneAndrewWest (Post 115620192)
/shrug. I knew after 2 with deja as well as TTTYG, and all other "classic" type records. I don't know, do you really need to listen to an album 20 times to know it's special?

You're confusing "personal favorite albums" with "classics".

Argentine 11/20/12 05:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thesafeword (Post 115621332)
hurry up we're dreaming is basically a french dude yelling over some synths on a late night talk show late night with jimmy fallon every week night 12:35 am eastern on nbc follow him on twitter @jimmyfallon #newthanksgivingsongs

this cafeteria is filled with my laughter.

ChaseTx 11/20/12 05:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 115616772)
this is a fantastic debate and I'm excited for it to play out. For the record, I think all 3 of those records are classics, all 3 are so different and show how versatile West is. College Dropout is more a pure hip hop classic based on the production, the album's flow, and the lyrical content. Late Registration had more of Kanye tapping into that pop sound (not in the sense of something like Justin Beiber or the like, but in the fact he worked with Jon Brion on some it and whatnot; a lot of strings a lot of baroque influence, etc.). MBDTF is more of the man going deep inside his psyche, matching production with the content - being grandiose as well as vulnerable. It's like a rock opera, it's his The Wall or Sgt Pepper's, etc.

I personally rank MBDTF as tops, but I can see and understand the arguments made for his first two albums.

late rejoining the thread, but my point of view on it is a few posts up

starsinhand 11/20/12 05:38 PM

Big L's Lifestylez Ov Da Poor and Dangerous is easily a classic album to me I can keep going back to it time and time again it's a shame he was so overshadowed by other great hip hop acts of the 90s, well that and the fact it's his only album

xHoodieWeather 11/20/12 05:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Adam Pfleider (Post 115613062)
I just got done reading a really great article by Pitchfork columnist Andrew Nosnitsky here. In Nosnitsky's column, he focuses his examples of "classic" albums around the genre of hip-hop and the critical acclaim of Kendrick Lamar's new album good kid, m.A.A.d city. He makes a a lot of valued points on how critics will deem an album a classic with only a few weeks to a month of listening behind it. Where's the time? Where's the album's retrospect in history? For that matter, he also points out the difference in an artist going into the studio to write an album with no real intentions versus the tunnel-vision of making an album for the purpose of having a legacy.

So what makes an album a "classic" or contain "legacy" in the modern age of a saturated musical market. I'm not speaking in terms of hip-hop or this "scene" or your "scene" or radio country or whatever. I'm speaking in terms of any album in any genre. What about some of your personal "classic" records makes them a classic in your eyes? What was the last record you heard in the last five years, two years or year that made you say to yourself, "This is going to have staying power," after a couple of listens? Did it end up holding up? What records are you blown away by ten, twenty, thirty years ago that didn't cement a long-term legacy? What albums are deemed classics that you don't understand their value or worth today?

Hit the replies. I think we can have a great late afternoon discussion.


I think a classic is an album that can affect people that discover it years later the same way it would someone on its release date. Deja is almost 10 and it still floors new generations on first listens and it tends to stick with plenty of generations. The fact that TAYF turned 10 and the shows drew young and older kids show that. If an album can reach across multiple "generations" of music listeners and carry on as they grow up it is a classic in my opinion.

Dubui_209 11/20/12 05:52 PM

A lot of ppl will disagree, but a recent one that should be considered a classic is Radiosurgery by NFG. There's something about that album where I listen to it and think, this is how pop punk should sound.

paperlung 11/20/12 05:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xHoodieWeather (Post 115622082)
I think a classic is an album that can affect people that discover it years later the same way it would someone on its release date. Deja is almost 10 and it still floors new generations on first listens and it tends to stick with plenty of generations. The fact that TAYF turned 10 and the shows drew young and older kids show that. If an album can reach across multiple "generations" of music listeners and carry on as they grow up it is a classic in my opinion.

I think this is the best definition of classic I've read so far in this thread.

saywhatever 11/20/12 05:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dubui_209 (Post 115622242)
A lot of ppl will disagree, but a recent one that should be considered a classic is Radiosurgery by NFG. There's something about that album where I listen to it and think, this is how pop punk should sound.

Good Lord

Star Slight 11/20/12 06:01 PM

Welp

Archael 11/20/12 06:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Holly HoX! (Post 115615342)
The Low End Theory

truest answer in this entire thread, other acceptable truest answer could have been
- Liquid Swords
- Enter the Wu-Tang
- Donuts

Argentine 11/20/12 06:03 PM

Spo owes me 50,000 neurons for looking through this bullshit.

Star Slight 11/20/12 06:04 PM

Dont threaten me!

Archael 11/20/12 06:05 PM

wow, people calling Kanye's Dark Fantasy a classic? who knew ap.net had that good taste?

also, whether or not you like the album, Brand New's Devil And God is easily a modern classic.

and Channel Orange isn't even that great, it has like what 3 amazing songs and the rest could fuck off

Archael 11/20/12 06:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChaseTx (Post 115616622)
In regards to Kanye, his classics are the first 2. MBDTF doesn't come close.


I could not disagree more.

InfiniteArms 11/20/12 06:27 PM

You can go back to album and it will always seem current, but it also has to bring back memories.

Craig Manning 11/20/12 06:28 PM

ChaseTx is right that the first two Kanye albums were more influential, but it seems to me that general consensus places MBDTF as the better album. And if critical acclaim and fan-approval place an album as better than the classics that came before it, then I'm pretty sure that album becomes a classic by default.

abusedcat 11/20/12 06:31 PM

There are so many factors that go into what makes an album a classic album.
Chances are, if you're striving to create an album and not just a collection of songs, you're way more likely to achieve this. Most records that achieve 'classic' praise are usually done by artists who look at the big picture and the grander scale of things.
I will say though, I view each record the Smashing Pumpkins did prior to their initial break up as 'classic' albums.

ChaseTx 11/20/12 06:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Craig Manning (Post 115623532)
ChaseTx is right that the first two Kanye albums were more influential, but it seems to me that general consensus places MBDTF as the better album. And if critical acclaim and fan-approval place an album as better than the classics that came before it, then I'm pretty sure that album becomes a classic by default.

I'm no so sure it is a consensus though. It might be the consensus on this site, but we're definitely not representative of his fanbase. I can't be sure because I haven't really been active on hiphop forums for a while or really talking to people about it, but I have a feeling a that people who only or mostly listen to hip hop might go for one of the first two.

Craig Manning 11/20/12 07:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChaseTx (Post 115623842)
I'm no so sure it is a consensus though. It might be the consensus on this site, but we're definitely not representative of his fanbase. I can't be sure because I haven't really been active on hiphop forums for a while or really talking to people about it, but I have a feeling a that people who only or mostly listen to hip hop might go for one of the first two.


I can't claim to be tapped into the overall hip hop community at all, but I think that it was the critical consensus and I believe that, in the wider musical community, that is the consensus as well. You could also argue that the latter point is the album's strongest claim to classic status: I've said before that MBDTF is a hip hop album that appeals to people who have never particularly loved hip hop. The way that appreciation for that album has been able to cross genre lines is pretty impressive, and even without big hits or a game changing impact on rap music, that's still notable.

Searos 11/20/12 07:18 PM

August and Everything After by Counting Crows is such a timeless album for me that it means something new to me each time I listen to it. Its impact in my life is what makes it classic.

Drew Beringer 11/20/12 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ChaseTx (Post 115621682)
late rejoining the thread, but my point of view on it is a few posts up

I agree with everything you wrote about the first two albums, great write-up. I'd say this about MBDTF (and it's probably hyperbole): I don't think it has had similar reverberations within the genre or even pop music because I don't think there's a mainstream artist that can replicate that grandiose scope and idea of an album. I think certain artists have tried to make that "epic" album now but they've failed.

ChaseTx 11/20/12 07:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Craig Manning (Post 115624532)
I can't claim to be tapped into the overall hip hop community at all, but I think that it was the critical consensus and I believe that, in the wider musical community, that is the consensus as well. You could also argue that the latter point is the album's strongest claim to classic status: I've said before that MBDTF is a hip hop album that appeals to people who have never particularly loved hip hop. The way that appreciation for that album has been able to cross genre lines is pretty impressive, and even without big hits or a game changing impact on rap music, that's still notable.

You could also argue that the other albums would have the same appeal if they were released now. They were all very well reviewed, and they were all very accessible. In fact, I'd say MBDTF is the least accessibility because it's a lot darker than the others.Plus Kanye presents himself as less a common person than a celebrity on that album, making him a bit less relatable.

Having said that, MBDTF is sort of in tune with the dark, electronic thing that's been prevalent in pop music for the last few years, so that does add to its mainstream appeal. And as for his celebrity persona, that's very much part of the product now. It's possible that larger-than-life Kanye is just more interesting to the general public than big-headed everyman Kanye.

ChaseTx 11/20/12 07:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 115625092)
I agree with everything you wrote about the first two albums, great write-up. I'd say this about MBDTF (and it's probably hyperbole): I don't think it has had similar reverberations within the genre or even pop music because I don't think there's a mainstream artist that can replicate that grandiose scope and idea of an album. I think certain artists have tried to make that "epic" album now but they've failed.

Thanks for reading it. I think it's not really that important whether or not it can be replicated well, it would just be more telling to clearly see people trying to follow along the same lines. Maybe they have, I don't know I'm sort of lost among a lot of the newer hip hop artists. I've heard Drake's last album was had some similarities with it, but I just don't like Drake. Then there's fun., who were apparently influenced by MBDTF to make their album a more theatrical production. If there were more obvious examples, I'd be more sold on the influence MBDTF has had.

Star Slight 11/20/12 08:00 PM

Mbdtf isnt very accessible especially compared to his first two. Which is why i dont get how it got people into hip hop aside from acclaim on this site

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 08:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jake Denning (Post 115616332)
Because at the very least, it passes the hurdle of a decent length of time without being forgotten by the masses.

define the masses? some albums can be classics within their genre, but not mainstream. plus 5 years is an arbitrary number.

a lot of people are talking about influence in here as well and where it stands in the great spectrum of culture and movement and progression within music. albums that are challenging not only to a specific genre, but music as a whole. 5 years, 2 years, three months means nothing.

Star Slight 11/20/12 08:17 PM

It comes down to classics being relative. TAYF is only a classic to a slim margin. Same with Illmatc. Etc.

Dubui_209 11/20/12 08:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by saywhatever (Post 115622482)
Good Lord

I understand that it's wasn't the best album, not even their best work, but something about it was just right. Maybe it was the energy? Idk, but something about that album just think that that album personifies what I want to hear from artists and why I personally view it as a classic.

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 08:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheRxBandit (Post 115617512)
I guess you really also have to consider the fact that our generation is far more saturated with music than the generations before us, which makes it harder to push through everything we personally enjoy and find the albums that are considered gems by society as a whole.


this is a great point.

Adam Pfleider 11/20/12 08:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Craig Manning (Post 115619442)
It's easy to see how an artist's growth could get stunted in pursuit of what they have been told is masterful.


think about this all the time. it's why I really don't like scores on reviews.

theredline 11/20/12 08:50 PM

For me I can always go back and listen to Midtown. And Beastie Boys have some definite classics. I think a true classic (beyond personal) transcends genre, time, everything. Like Nevermind or Rage Against The Machine. Something that EVERYONE listens to, no matter the walk of life