Tale of Two CDs: The Lost Art of Double Discs

Who remembers when artists used to release double-disc albums? Try to remember the days when you could get 20 or more songs for about 12 dollars. In the words of Gladys Knight, “the good old days / the good old days / when life was slow / and oh so mellow / try to remember / and if you remember then follow.” I can’t help it, sometimes I just get in a zone. The kind of zone only music can take you to.

I couldn’t wait until Tuesday morning (not too long ago, new music was only released on Tuesdays) so I could jump in my car and ride to the nearest music store. Shuffling through the shelves and looking for all the new releases was the greatest feeling. Legendary artists Tupac Shakur, R. Kelly, and Notorious BIG’s double CDs are timeless staples in the music industry. The idea of any other artist trying to duplicate these legends seems unattainable, unreachable, and an unrealistic task.

Tupac’s All Eyez On Me officially went Diamond (10 million albums sold) this year. That’s right! Over 10 million records sold. Can you believe there are artists who have released six or more albums and their sales combined don’t total 10 million records? I’d rather not get into who is the G.O.A.T. in the rap game, but I wouldn’t argue anyone who chose either the late Tupac or the late Biggie. Biggie’s Life After Death symbolized triumph, defeat, and the essence of having wealth. I definitely appreciated both artists’ lust, I mean love, for women. Tupac’s song, “Thug Passion,” was one of my favorite songs on the album.

Speaking of love for women, R. Kelly’s double CD, entitled R., was a masterpiece. I can’t name another R&B artist who has mastered storytelling like R. Kelly. The double disc was a blend of soul, hip-hop, pop, and gospel. Let me add, these artists just didn’t throw 20-plus songs together on two albums. You could play both discs without skipping a song.

I was trying to think of an artist today who could make a good double CD; Beyonce, Lil Wayne, and John Legend immediately come to my mind. The reality is, most artists today can’t even put together a decent 11-song album. Unfortunately, that’s the issue: the art of feeding the people a CD full of songs has to begin with doing quality music. It’s funny that artists talk about recording 80-something songs but only 11 or 12 songs make the album. If the double CD does return, I hope today’s artists can rise to the challenge.