SOHH Whatcha Think: How Does An Artist Avoid The Sophomore Jinx? 3 Discs That Got It Right The Second Time Around. [Click Here & Speak]

Monday, Aug 1, 2011 7:35AM

Written by J. Bachelor


They say an artist spends their entire life making their first album. It makes sense if you think about it: Before that major (or minor) record deal, its possible that a rapper has notebooks full of material capturing their pain, joys and hunger with which they choose to share with the world.

[Editor's Note: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of SOHH.com]

A lot happens between the first and second album, however: Heavy touring, women, fame and if they are lucky, lots and lots of money. Along with these trappings of a better life, it's possible for an artist to become complacent. "Yes" men may also enter the picture: Afraid of losing their coveted spot as part of a rap entourage, they may co-sign uneven music, support ill-advised career moves and endorse frivolous rap beefs.

The sophomore jinx refers to an album doesn't to live up to the standards of the first release; leads to our question of the day: How does an artist avoid the sophomore jinx?

Take an artist like Drake, for example, whose second effort is scheduled for release in October. Does he stick the the script that made his debut a multi-platinum success -- or does he take risks and hope the fans follow along?

Let's look at three sophomore albums that were just as strong -- or stronger -- than their predecessor.

The Infamous

Prodigy's gritty street tales backed by Havoc's cryptic production created a beautiful union on their 1993 debut, Juvenile Hell. The Queens, New York duo returned two years later with The Infamous, which is now considered one of the best rap albums of the 90's.

The Marshall Mathers LP

If Eminem's mainstream (Em's cassette only, hand distributed release Infinite preceded The Slim Shady LP) debut was a bong hit, his follow up disc was a line of coke off a white girl's ti**y. MMLP was playful, serious and shocking enough to capture fans from beginning to end. Despite the awards and accolades he has received since then, MMLP is seen by many as his crowning achievement.

Flesh of My Flesh Blood of My Blood

DMX is the second rapper to have two albums released in the same year debut at number one on the Billboard. The first was Tupac. Yes, the album was a commercial success, but it also successfully continued the tradition of his mainstream debut Its Dark and Hell is Hot by giving listeners a raw look into the pain and the joy of "a man who was never a boy".

A disappointing sophomore disc isn't necessarily the final nail in the coffin: Jay-Z bounced back after In My Lifetime Vol. 1 and Nas' It Was Written failed to be fully appreciated by many until years after its release. That being said, the pressure remains for an artist with a strong debut to make recreate the magic of their first disc the second time around.

SOHH Watcha Think -- How does an artist avoid the sophomore jinx?

Speaking of sophomore albums, check out Drake's new single "Headlines" from his second album, Take Care.

[Editor's Note: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of SOHH]

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