Timeless in the music business is a word that often is spoke of either too frequently, or that isn’t successfully executed quite enough. Ever artist aspires of creating music that creates a story listened to and told long after the song’s initial release. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson emerges every season close to Halloween, “Before I Let Go” finds itself on everyone’s cookout playlist for the summer, and “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus remains a favorite close to the Fourth of July. But to have a timeless album, one that features a body of work that not only remains a favorite, but remains current as the tide of music changes, is quite difficult.
Today’s music focuses effortlessly on catchy hooks, sleek production, and something to grasp a quick moment of one’s attention. Albums are often traded for EPs, or feature no more than 10 songs, oppose to the 14-20 songs that formerly populated a major release. Streaming has now dominated the world of music and can make a star or discover a new one in a way that demo tapes and talent shows once did for stars of yesteryear.
Rapper Wale recently made a statement regarding Chris Brown’s 2005 self-titled debut album as the most timeless album of that year aging like wine. He argued that the entire album could still fit in with today’s music and outlasted any other release from that year. While some fans of Brown are likely to agree, there were some star-studded releases from 2005 that made large impressions and still receive traction in music today. Rihanna’s first album was released a few months prior to Brown’s, meanwhile Trey Songz and Ne-Yo also released highly impressive debuts. However, when evaluating his definition of “timeless” albums, three albums from 2005 come to mind and for good reason aside from their commercial performances.
The Massacre, 50 Cent:
Sure, much of the content on this album is far too hard edged for the trends that populate rap radio today. However, the influence in his flow and flirtation with R&B on the hit single “Candy Shop”, and the subtle nature of “Disco Inferno”, topped off with the collaboration of future rivals “Hate it Or Love It”, this album speaks volumes to what many rappers of this generation aim for. 50 Cent didn’t just attempt to diss one rapper with a slight jab, he called out every foe that he had and made some new ones on the way, all while topping the charts and inspiring the next wave of rap rivals along the way.
Late Registration, Kanye West:
If College Dropout was an introduction, Kanye’s second album was the thesis statement that cemented his legacy as a producer turned rapper. The soulful samples that made his first album so distinct occurred here, but so too did his ability to collaborate with many artists of many genres, a fad that artists of all genres duplicate still to this day. The album’s biggest hit, “Gold Digger”, made both he and Jamie Foxx household names in more than just black households as it remained at #1 for eleven weeks in the fall of 2005. In a world where every rapper longs for a great sample, there’s no denying the genius who wrote the book for this generation is Mr. West, and his sophomore release displays that.
The Emancipation of Mimi, Mariah Carey:
Make no mistake about it, not only was Mimi the greatest album of 2005, it still knocks 14 years later. Carefully crafted to re-establish herself as a star, the album surpassed expectations and made Carey a star for the generation that grew up to her, and the new one emerging at the time. The album’s soulful roots made it a heavy favorite for R&B radio, yet the impact of it’s biggest hit, “We Belong Together”, dominated pop radio the entire summer as well. The album’s closer, “Fly Like a Bird”, was performed at Nipsey Hussle’s funeral just days ago. Radio favorites “Shake It Off” and “It’s Like That” still find themselves receiving airplay in 2019 and have been mimicked by several female performers. If there was any album that aged like wine in 2005 into 2019, it is undoubtedly the tenth studio album of Ms. Carey.