EPs vs. LPs : What You Need to Know
The world waited in anticipation for Scorpion, Drake's latest musical project, to be released. Drake has mastered the art of making summer hits, and with the release of "God's Plan" and "Nice for What," it seemed as if he was all set to deliver yet again. His third single, "I'm Upset," captured a more somber mood, though for Drake, being in his feelings is nothing new. Few expected the rapper to release a double-sided album - one side rap and the other R&B. It was thus the best-of-both-worlds. Drake would be savage and vulnerable, all at the same time. What this double-sided album also meant, however, was that the project would be longer, 25 songs for a duration of 90 minutes total.
Cover art and track list for Scorpion. [Image Credit: Instagram]
Drake is not the first artist to release a project that takes more than an hour to listen to. In late 2017, Chris Brown released Heartbreak on a Full Moon, his eighth studio album, which consisted of 45 tracks. Unsurprisingly, people had many opinions on the length which totaled to 160 minutes. At the very beginning of this year, the trap-trio Migos, released their follow-up album, Culture II with 24 songs and a total of 106 minutes. The reviews for both of these projects were impacted by their length. Salute Magazine called Heartbreak on a Full Moon "too long and inconsistent," insisting that "the album could have had so much potential but it is way too long and had way too much filler." Culture II faced similar critique. Rolling Stone said that the album "ultimately feels less like a celebratory howl from the mountaintop than a transitional inventory dump" and wondered, "with all three Migos cranking out material for their own projects, plus label mates and others, could fatigue account for the album's patchiness?"
More recently, artists have taken the opposite approach, opting to release projects with less than 10 songs. It has especially been a trend amongst G.O.O.D. Music artists who have been dropping music this Spring/Summer. In an interview with Vulture, rapper and G.O.O.D. Music CEO, Pusha T, revealed that the idea of seven song projects belonged to Kanye West, founder of the label. Pusha T had originally imagined a song list of 25 records or so, but West, instead, insisted that with seven songs a project could be everything he wanted, concise and strong - pushing his idea of a "full album." Though Pusha was reluctant that seven songs were enough, he admitted that he was wrong and liked this format. The seven album package was also a part of a larger rollout by five G.O.O.D. Music artists including Pusha T (DAYTONA), West (ye), Kid Cudi (KIDS SEE GHOST), Teyana Taylor (K.T.S.E.) and Nas (NASIR) who all released music back-to-back over five weeks and whose projects averaged around 23 minutes total. With all the music being produced by Kanye, it could be that this limit also served to alleviate his work load which ended up being 35 songs. The Carter's also went with a smaller song list, going with 9 songs on their debut album as a couple, Everything Is Love. Drake's latest project then obviously stands out from these projects in length, but is there a real difference?
The five albums apart of the G.O.O.D. Music album rollout. DAYTONA, ye, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, K.T.S.E. and NASIR (left to right). [ Image Credit: Instagram]
Let's explore some definitions, shall we?
An LP refers to a long-playing musical record that includes 8 to 12 tracks in total and an EP refers to an extended play musical record with more tracks than a single, usually 3 to 5 in total. Though originally used to reference vinyl record format, LPs are now known as "full-length albums" and EPs as "half-albums". EPs are primarily used as promotion - highlighting the work of a newer artist, and LPs as fuller works. Though the average of full-length albums are around 10 tracks, artists are allowed to do more or less, depending on their vision for the project. Technically, all five of the seven-track, Kanye-produced projects qualify as albums, though one could hesitate to call it full-length. Drake's Scorpion, with 25 tracks, qualifies as a double album, having twice as much as the average, whereas Brown's Heartbreak on a Full Moon, would be more than a tripe-album.
What are the pros and cons of a double-album?
The largest advantage to a double-album is its ability to chart. In the current age of streaming, larger projects increase an artists chance for at least one song to catch on. The more an artists releases, the easier to get good chart placement. The more fans (or haters) listen to a project, the more tracks you can get in the listing and the higher the project charts overall. This finesse of the rules may be good for the artist, but it is also a huge risk. The total time duration can be overwhelming for many. Even I, an avid fan of Migos, has yet to get through their entire project. Releasing an album of this length requires a certain kind of confidence. For Drake, this risk paid off, as Scorpion broke the U.S. one-week streaming record for an album in just three days. Releasing a longer project, especially in a short amount of time, also contributes to the over-saturation of the industry. Listeners can begin to question whether the quantity has any quality at all.
On the other hand, with a shorter project, an artist can present a piece of work that is more compact. Though the project can be rushed, with such a small collection of tracks, it might not be as noticeable, and listeners wouldn't have spent over an hour trying to find a hit. Fans can pick their favorites and play them over and over because there is not much to chose from. The down side to that however, is that the project on a whole can seem unfinished. But is it better to leave fans wanting more or to dump everything you have on them and hope that they can tolerate it? Artists that follow-up for the rest of the year will have to decide.