Kanye West returned to his seldom-used Twitter yesterday to announce that all the talent he's recruited for his GOOD Music label will release a collaborative album in spring 2012. It's an extraordinary lineup, as West will hook up his GOOD cohorts Common, Cyhi Da Prince, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Mos Def, and Big Sean for the album, which will serve as a follow-up to all those free GOOD Friday tracks Kanye gave out prior to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. (It also means that Kanye's next solo album is further down the pipeline than anticipated.) West's announcement comes just hours after his label agreed to a distribution deal with Island Def Jam. Maybe this means "Chain Heavy" will finally be released?
West has a sterling track record, but there would be more excitement surrounding Kanye's GOOD Music disc if these types of label group albums had a better history. Most of the time, these collections result in mostly forgettable music, although they serve as fantastic time capsules for what the hip-hop world was like during a certain year. They're almost like high school yearbooks in that respect; fascinating to browse through once in awhile to remember the good times and reminisce about names you haven't heard in forever. For example:
• Murder Was the Case soundtrack: Snoop Dogg's 1994 murder fantasy was just an excuse to showcase the talent on the Death Row Records roster during that time: Snoop, Dr. Dre, Tha Dogg Pound, Jewell, Nate Dogg, CPO and special guests Ice Cube and DJ Quik. Wonder what happened to Danny Boy and Soldier Boyz, though. See also: Above the Rim soundtrack.
• The Firm: Nas and AZ made a potent pair on "Life's a Bitch," but their mafia-rap album together with Foxy Brown and Nature wasn't nearly as well regarded, but what would you expect from a rap group named after a John Grisham book. The Firm features a pair of decent singles, "Phone Tap" and "Firm Biz," and Dr. Dre productions, but the group was one-and-done.
• Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath: Essentially just Dre showing off his pool of talent after ditching Death Row the previous year. Outside of one track by Group Therapy (Nas, B-Real, KRS-One), no one on this 1996 LP did anything in the hip-hop world. This album is just a strange portrait of what Aftermath was like before Eminem arrived in '97: Hands-On, Who'z Who, Cassandra McCowan, Jheryl Lockhart, and more artists no one has heard from since.
• P. Diddy and the Bad Boy Family's The Saga Continues: Diddy and his collection of talent (Black Rob, G-Dep, Cheri Dennis) spend 88 minutes rapping about how wealthy they were in 2001. Anyone know what Bristal and Big Azz Ko are up to these days?
• We Are Young Money: Lil Wayne's crew -- Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz -- converged for an interesting but inconsistent effort. There were a couple big singles, like "BedRock," but all the big name artists here perform better in their solo environments. All the talent on this 2009 album are recognizable now, but let's revisit this disc in 2019.
• Maybach Music Group Presents Self Made Vol. 1: This album gave us one of the best hip-hop songs of 2011, "Tupac Back," but like Weezy's group comp, Rick Ross' MMG collective disc has high peaks and low troughs. Rozay's co-stars: Meek Mill, Pill, Stalley, and Triple C's. Again, it's too soon to get nostalgic about this release, but in a decade from now, names like Teedra Moses will just remind us of the day Moammar Gadhafi (possibly) died.
• GOOD Music: We'll find out in spring 2012.