The first album I ever listened to in its entirety was “One in a Million” by Aaliyah. Where I’m from in Trinidad and Tobago (part of the Caribbean) people don’t usually buy albums. But I got my first walkman that year and an Aaliyah “One in a Million” cassette tape (remember those?). I was so excited I carefully unwrapped everything and looked for the quietest place in my house, sat down and listened to every freaking song one that tape. I remember every song told a part of a story to make up a whole. At the end of that tape I wanted to be Aaliyah or whoever wrote those songs and arranged the music. I wanted to be that talented.
Now in Trinidad I said people don’t usually buy albums and that’s true. Albums in Trinidad are expensive and only the rich citizens in society go out an purchase original albums to listen to. Middle class and so on they go to a vendor on a corner and ask them “What songs you have they?” and then a vendor will pull out a pirated album usually a mix of popular songs at that time whether local or international and sell them at a reduced cost. Hardly would you find a Trini buying and artiste entire album.
Trinidadians don’t really go for what story or message an artiste is trying to send with their albums but merely pick out what appeals to them then play it constantly over and over learn all the words then sing along. There are exceptions Djs and musicians know they get better quality music by buying these albums and music lovers like me and my best friend are weary of hearing the same tune over and over on the radio so we will spend our money and buy someone’s album. But because we are not rich we try to choose carefully. No one hit wonders and sell outs or any type of hype music. No my best friend bought Amy Winehouse (RIP) album “Back to Black” to listen to her soulful jazzy don’t give a fuck style from beginning to end when she was fighting with her boyfriend. I got Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” album so I can break listeners ears by singing every song on that album word for word with feeling. Local artistes trying to discourage piracy will buy albums too if only to get you to buy their music and not steal it (will talk more on that at later date).
Don’t think the days of listening to an album in its entirety are coming back as a matter of fact I think it even further away. There are so many new technologies in music now, we feel old when we talk about tapes but even CDs will soon be out of fashion since you can now buy an entire album virtually on iTunes. People internationally and locally are still focusing on that one tune they heard on the radio that they love but want nothing to do with the album it’s on. I’m sure lots of you begged your friends to Bluetooth you the “Bad” song by Wale but have you ever checked out his album “The Gifted”. Shaggy one of our Caribbean artistes who went international “Hotshot” album will have you dancing from start to finish but the only song you probably know on it was “It wasn’t Me”. I encourage you to check out some albums out there from your favorite artiste. Think about the time an effort they put into telling a story you’ve never even considered glancing through. Some albums suck but every once on a while you meet an Aaliyah who makes you appreciate life and music even more.