Hit pause: Listen to albums in order after release

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By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

It’s wild to me that this needs to be said, but yes, an album should be listened to in order after its release. When a new project comes out and it’s time to give it a listen, why on earth would someone hit the shuffle button from the get-go? Artists organize songs a specific way for a reason, so do the right thing: Start from the first song and end with the last song.

Once a listener soaks in the album based on their interpretation, there’s no issue with picking out some favorites and playing them a different way. This column is not saying the only way to listen to an album is in concrete order. However, it’s only right to stay true to how the artist intended the piece to be heard.

Take hip-hop for example. Kendrick Lamar, one of the greatest rappers of all time, structures his projects in a way that can tell a story. Other MCs do the same thing, but Lamar does it in such a unique way that his 2017 album — DAMN — won the Pulitzer Prize for its incredible lyricism and storytelling.

Lamar is the first artist outside of the jazz or classical genres to win the Pulitzer Prize. Many people would assume a hip-hop artist stood no shot at winning the award, due to the stereotype that all rappers conduct music about money and drugs.

This isn’t the case, as according to the Pulitzer Prizes website, the album was “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.”

DAMN is a story, and it was meant to be told starting with the first song, “BLOOD,” and ending with the last song, “DUCKWORTH.” Another interesting note regarding the project is that the “COLLECTORS EDITION,” or the deluxe edition, is literally the same 14-song soundtrack, just in reverse order.

In both ways, whether its starting with BLOOD and ending with DUCKWORTH or vice versa, it tells a unique story. That is how albums are meant to be listened to, and it’s worrisome that folks have no issue resorting to shuffling immediately after release.

Do some of Lamar’s songs randomly play when I’m shuffling my saved songs? Absolutely. Again — that’s not the point. It’s not that it’s a felony to shuffle an album when it’s been listened to 100 times.

The point is, do artists a favor and take the right time to give each song the proper listen in order. Don’t hop around or shuffle a newly released album.