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The Art of the Rollout | Quinn Satterlund

This article was supposed to be a review of Playboi Carti’s “NARCISSIST”, but at the time of publication, the album has not been released. So instead, I want to talk about release dates, and, more specifically, missing them.

It appears to be a trend among artists nowadays to seem as mysterious as possible, with enigmatic tweets and posts, clues scattered across bios, intriguing outfits, and more. It’s used to create buzz for an upcoming project and is sometimes quite fun. For instance, Tyler, The Creator had fans call a number on a billboard that teased his upcoming album, released a short film and merchandise. Three weeks later, his album “CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST”, was released. For most rappers, Tyler, The Creator should be a role model: he keeps his rollouts short, creates positive buzz with fun clues, and most importantly, drops his music on his expected release date. It seems simple enough, but major artists struggle to do this.

The two biggest examples this year are Kanye West and Drake. West’s “Donda” was released 381 days after its planned release date, and Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” was around 240 days late. What hurt more than the numerous delays was the lack of communication between the artists. Kanye, known for his nonsensical tweeting (“Lil Baby my favorite rapper ⛷️”), suddenly went radio silent and began focusing on his “presidential campaign.” Months later, seemingly out of the blue was a release date of July 24th — exactly one year after the original release date — and a listening party for a new album. Knowing Kanye, I should have known better, but those months of waiting blinded me. I was arrogant; “There’s no way he could have a listening party and not drop the album,” I told myself. But July 24th came and went, and the 25th, and the 26th, and so on. Finally, another listening party and album release date were announced for August 6th. Once again I told myself and friends, “There’s no way he could have a SECOND listening party and not release the album.” He once again failed to drop.

That night hurt, but other Kanye fans and I trekked along with the idea of a third listening party and album release, this time at Soldier Field in Chicago, planned for August 27th. The concert came and went, and finally, on a Sunday at 5:00 in the morning, West released “Donda”. The entirety of the rollout was a roller coaster, no doubt about it. But roller coasters are supposed to be fun and the ending was anticlimactic (5 in the morning on a Sunday, really?). The least he could have done was giving us a single during those last couple weeks, a little morsel to tide us over before the feast, but he didn’t. He ignored his fan’s woes, played with our emotions, and did whatever the hell he wanted. To Drake’s credit, he did release the 3-Song, “Scary Hours” EP in March and 2 singles late last year and I’m thankful for that.

This leads me “NARCCISIST”, the new EP/Album/Clothing Line that was supposed to have released on the 13th. The protegee of West certainly took a page from his book, and after 3 Instagram posts captioned “NARCISSIST 09/13/21”, he has failed to materialize anything at all. At this point, I’ve learned to become numb and not to expect anything, because if I do, I will be let down.

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