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Drake, J. Cole, Beyonce test the allure of secret albums

By AKILEA McKAY/ VN STAFF WRITER
On March 24, 2015

BY AKILEA McKAY

VN STAFF WRITER

 

Secret albums. Is this the new trend in music?

First Beyoncé, then J. Cole and now Drake.

Why is everyone trying to keep secrets? What are these artists trying to hide?

Beyoncé was the first to do it and many of her counterparts have followed in her footsteps.

“She created this kind of Big Bang effect. She started it off for everybody,” said Michael Bernacchi, professor of marketing. 

Bernacchi said Beyoncé need little promotion because she is a brand herself.

Beyoncé’s self-titled album sold 828,773 digital copies worldwide in its first three days, making it the best-selling album in iTunes history.

“I wasn’t surprised at all. Beyoncé is my favorite female artist so when her album dropped, I was ready,” said junior Artonae Millhouse. “What I didn’t expect was for her to release an album after just having a child, then again it’s Beyoncé.”

UDM sophomore J’Mara Conley felt Beyoncé should have taken a little more time.

“To be honest, I think the album was a little rushed,” she said. “At least that’s the way it sounded to me. They’re nice songs but I can tell she was just trying to get that money.”

Conley isn’t as much of a Beyoncé fan as some of her peers, but she admits she is a J. Cole fanatic.

“I love J. Cole because he raps about real-life situations,” she said.

J. Cole is an artist who is also affiliated with Beyoncé.

Signed to her husband’s record label, Roc Nation, J. Cole followed Beyoncé’s footsteps by releasing a secret album.

On Dec. 9, J. Cole released his third album, “Forest Hills Drive,” without any pre-promotion or marketing and it sold 371,000 copies worldwide in the first week.

Millhouse is also a lover of the rapper and said he is one of the few rappers left still true to his music.

“His music still has a message, and I think it was successful for the same reason as Beyoncé’s album,” she said.

It’s true that neither artist had released work in over two years, but what may have played a big role in the success of their releases was the element of surprise.

Beyoncé released the album on Dec. 13, 2013, at midnight with 14 new songs and 17 videos.

According to Twitter, the surprise release generated over 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours.

Both albums weren’t just commercial successes but also critically acclaimed. Beyoncé’s often sultry vocals were paired with sexually explicit lyrics, and J. Cole offered up his strong delivery and storytelling rhymes.

Fans still debate who had the best album. Some say Beyoncé had the best album of 2013 and 2014 while others say 2014 was J. Cole’s year.

What is clear is that both artists challenged the system and won.

Senior Tiara Harvey said she’d take Beyoncé over J. Cole any day.

“J. Cole comes off too strong, like DMX,” she said. “If he calms down he’ll be perfect. He needs to be more like Drake.”

Drake is another artist who just recently released a secret album.

“If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” was released on Feb. 13, and it was intended to be released as a free download, an unofficial mixtape.

Even though the album wasn’t necessarily secret to the media, there was no prior announcement. 

“If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” sold 535,000 copies and many Drake fans said the album was anything but typical Drake.

Imari Smith, a sophomore, said the rapper sounds like he’s ready to fight and throw blows.

“This isn’t typical Drake,” she said. “I’m used to the sad, emotional rapper always whining about women. This is Drake with some 50 Cent and Tupac sprinkled on top, you know.” 

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