“It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you / Without a strong rhyme to go to” – Rakim
The classic line of the god Rakim on the 1987 track “I Know You Got Soul” hits differently when it’s your favorite artist who hasn’t released an album in years. While some rappers release LPs like Krispy Kreme donuts when the red light is on, other artists take longer to plan, plot and strategize. Unfortunately, for supporters of the latter, patience must sometimes be a virtue. In recent years, the void has been evident as several big names in MC have refrained from dropping albums, including Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Travis Scott and more.
Some of the interruptions to the album can be partially blamed on COVID-19. The global pandemic breach the music industry and stopped touring for over a year, leaving top performers with little motivation to drop an album they can’t make millions of dollars on the concert circuit. Some artists have abandoned EPs and “projects” to retain fans, but it’s not the same.
Other artists have different reasons for delaying the release of an official album in recent years, whether it is Nicki Minaj spend time with her newborn baby and her husband or Jay ZThe apparent quest to become America’s richest black man.
Either way, fans are feeling the impact. Kendrick’s lack of an uplifting presence – especially as the world has seemingly been in chaos with an ongoing pandemic and ongoing racial injustice issues – has been tangible, even for someone as tall as LeBron James. The NBA superstar tweeted about wanting K. Dot back on April 24. “Dude, I miss @kendricklamar!” he posted. “In dying need of his gifts / presence right now.”
As the country slowly opens up, prompting more top artists to drop official studio albums, there may be hope in the near future that some of these projects come out of the oven and are consumed by the masses. In the meantime, we are waiting.
Check out the gallery below to see how long it’s been since some of your favorite rappers have released an official album.