Where were you the day the art of the album died? Kweli put it in a different way but the question still holds weight. What really happened to the 10-12 songs that explained who an artist really is? When did the ringtones, singles, and downloads take over the money machine that was record label sales. I could go on as far as these questions til i'm blue in the face but "The Album" is no longer sought after like it used to be.
I remember listening to records that my grandparents used to listen to as a young child. Just watching their face light up and their overall reaction made me pay attention to music that I couldn't fully understand. Playing the 45's over and over I found myself liking all the songs on all the records that I listened to. Later I found that the records I was listening to was compiled of songs that were already hits and just placed to a track list. So in essence I was already listening to the "best of" collections (so I don't waste money on these so called greatest hits albums). Though that was just a formula to create a great album for a decade or two, it set the environment for a future. The foreground was based on these principles of solid sound that would lead to an experimental future.
It was around this time (about the 60's and 70's) that artists and bands were driven to create experimental sounds that would make the album a piece of artwork. Many new styles of music that were once considered conventional were abandoned to explore new territories. Though these experiments created the natural rift in generations that happens. By abandoning the rules and venturing into an uncharted territory there were new discoveries that opened new ideas to people and re-shaped the limits of music. Songs became a part of a big picture that took listeners imagination to another reality (with the help of Haight and Ashbury).
Fast fowarding through the 80's and redefining sound of pop and the 90's upgrading hip hop to black card status we are left with the 2000's. Technology that reigns supreme threatened the money machine that is the music BUSINESS (ask yourself why thats in all caps...hhmmm) downloads and other sorts of free music was available. At this point who cares about a phenomenal album (people are trying to fix their hemorraging bank accounts). So Labels found a way to pimp the artists (for lack of a better word...naww, thats what I meant), by signing people for pennies and putting their singles out and giving them a small piece of the pie. When that got stale they went the gimmick route whether it be dances, voice effects, as well as shock value.
Somewhere along the lines people stopped caring about "The Album". Whether they felt only a few songs were good or they just don't feel they have to pay for what they want the masses don't pay attention to detail. Why have we as fans lost interest in what artists do anymore (really, I want to know). Catchy names don't give an album a concept a theme or a sound scape. Being a fan I have been let down by the music I love. But I believe that if history repeats itself we need to take that leap of faith and experiment. Lets abandon the rules once more and make art, devoid of what the right now sound is. Lets make history again people!!!!