"We got the JAY-Z verse the Saturday before the album came out," Meek Mill's A&R Dallas Martin told Complex, referring to JAY's memorable feature on Meek Mill's CHAMPIONSHIPS standout "What's Free."
In 2018, long-standing beliefs about "how to make a rap album" began to change. The fluid distribution process of streaming services allowed artists to upload albums just hours before release dates arrived. The form of the albums themselves shifted, as well. Drake and Migos, among others, seemingly tailored their work to streaming platforms, dropping projects with well over 20 songs. At the same time, G.O.O.D. Music was rolling a series of seven-song albums crafted in Wyoming. Kanye previewed the music at public listening parties before staying up all night and making final adjustments. His longtime collaborator Tony Williams described the streams as "focus groups" and explained that they served as an extension of the last-minute creative process.
With all these changes in mind, Raekwon, No I.D., and Sickamore joined host Wayno at ComplexCon's 2018 panel New God Flow: How to Make a Rap Album in 2018. Bringing decades of collective experience to the table, the panelists discussed how technology is changing how rap albums are constructed.
"The new generation don't really want to call it an album no more," Sickamore pointed out. "Now it's a mixtape, now it's a project. But that kind of takes the pressure off, when you don't call it an album." Mentioning the flexibility that digital distribution provides for artists in 2018, he added, "Drake finished his verse for 'Sicko Mode' at 2 a.m., and the album came out at 9 p.m. That's crazy."
Check out the video above to watch the full conversation from ComplexCon 2018 in Long Beach.