BLOG: Song Cry

I’m a stickler for the perfect single. While there’s no science to choosing the right one, it is a skill, which is why artists have consultants and handlers around them deciding just that. Sometimes the choice is left up to the label. Sometimes the artist has the final say. Sometimes it’s collaborative. It’s all about picking that song that will instantly catch people’s ears, be re-playable and also have a certain commercial factor in the case of major-label artists anyway.

But sometimes, artists start their projects off on the wrong foot by choosing a bland single. For example, I thought Soulja Boy’s “Bird Walk” was a terrible lead single. Had “Turn My Swag On” arrived first, maybe that would’ve aided his sales, or “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” or “Yamaha Mama” with Sean Kingston. Some fans were turned off by Eminem’s “We Made You” as a first single choice, although that didn’t really hurt his numbers. Where choosing the best single matters more, though, is for artists who have little momentum or need to show and prove. Examples of good single choices in my opinion: Maino “Hi Hater,” Rick Ross “Magnificent” and Fabolous “Throw it in the Bag.” Can’t really go wrong with a Dream hook.

Another category is album cuts that should be singles. It drives me crazy when an artist has a dope project overall but picks the wackest songs as singles. I want people to be as interested in the album as I am and certain tracks do a better job of that than others. One main purpose of the single is to serve as a reference point for your album and spur sales. In any case, fans have just as good of an ear for music as major-label honchos, sometimes better since they’re coming from an outside perspective. Then again, like Hov said, “Everybody can tell you how to do it, they never did it”!Which artists had the wrong singles but a dope project? Was “D.O.A.” a solid lead single for Jay? Which album cuts do you wish were singles? -clovito

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    “Jigga That Nigga” was something like a sore thumb on the original Blueprint. It just felt completely out of place. Kinda like how some of Em’s first singles don’t fit on his albums (especially Marshall Mathers LP).

    I hate it when singles are dropped and, depending on reception, don’t make the album, like “State of Grace” for Cuban Linx 2. I know that song is several years old but still…

    CRT’s have completely changed the game.

    • HNIC

      Excuse my ignorance, but, would someone please explain to me what a CRT is?

      • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

        Cutting-Room Throwaways.

        • HNIC

          Thanks!

    • DetroitDraper

      I like Linx 2 but Blood on Chef’s Apron had some straight classics on it that in my opinion were way better songs than some from the album.

      • $ykotic/Don McCaine

        @ DD

        I actually did my own version of Linx 2 early this morning by taking the strongest of that & Chef’s Apron.

        It sounds even better. Try it.

  • HNIC

    I can understand that Hov wanted to make a statement with “D.O.A.”, to get everyone’s attention. However, I definitely wouldn’t have went with that as the lead single. I would’ve chosen “As Real As It Gets” feat. Jeezy. It’s celebratory, with a feel good party vibe to it; guaranteed to set things in motion, whether it be a party or just for motivational purposes only. It’s been starting my day off right for about the past week or so.

    As far as the other tracks that you’ve mentioned, I think that “Hi Hater” was just a bad song, in general, lead single or not. It’s wack! “Magnificent” wasn’t a bad song, but, Rawse had a few other tracks that he could’ve chosen instead. And I like the remix of “Throw It In The Bag” far more than the original. So, I would’ve went with that one instead.

    There’s a plethora of albums that would be better served by choosing better lead singles, or even follow-up singles… poor management, perhaps? I think that’s one of the main reasons why most albums aren’t selling as well today, as they were say 10 or 15 years ago… but, that’s just my opinion. Although, I’ve been a diehard hip hop head, since almost it’s inception.

    • westcoastaggie

      Can someone tell me why Maybach Music 2 was never a but that damn song he did with The Dream, that I and hopefully everyone else skipped, as a single.

      Yet another dropped ball by an A&R Dept.

  • Rae Tha Great

    True. I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY PERSON THAT THOUGHT THAT AND PEOPLE KEEP MAKING MISTAKES, EXAMPLE:SOULJA BOY LOL. BUT ARTIST DROP THESE “BUZZ SINGLES” JUST TO LET THE FANS KNOW “HEY I HAVE AN ALBUM COMING OUT” SO D.O.A. WAS A DOPE SINGLE BUT THINK ABOUT HOW CAME BEFORE, POSSIBLY DEAD PRESIDENTS 3, AIN’T I, YOUR WELCOME, BROOKLYN GO HARD, JOCKIN JAY-Z & HISTORY (HE COULDNT GET THAT BUZZ UP, FANS GOT TO PICKY LOL) BUT BP3 IS DOPE AS FUCK EMPIRE STATE OF MIND AND ALREADY HOME WOULD BE EXCELLENT SINGLES. PEACE

  • HNIC

    “BP3 IS DOPE AS FUCK EMPIRE STATE OF MIND AND ALREADY HOME WOULD BE EXCELLENT SINGLES.”

    Agreed!

    Potential singles that would be great from Jay-Z’s BP3, in my opinion, would be:

    “Already Home”
    “Thank You”
    “So Ambitious”
    “Real As It Gets”
    “Empire State of Mind”

    Jigga should take note.

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

    The “single” game is interesting, in that, some artists appear to put out a wack song purposely with the idea that if the public likes this, they’ll love my album. I think thats what SB did with “Bird Walk”, then realized he better amp it up a notch or two.

    Then, there’s the all too familiar “basing the album around a single” or just making an album full of singles. Believe it or not, an album needs a couple of fillers, good or bad, because no one wants to live @ the club or constantly party.

    Pierzy said CRT’s changed the game. Agreed. Instead of 20 years ago, when an artist would drop a single or, @ the most an EP, now these dudes go to the studio & create an entire throw away project to publicize themselves. All that does is OD us on mediocre content, which blows up in the face of it’s intention; to get us interested.

    Some artists seem to know that the lead single, usually picked by some higher-ups will out shine the rest of the album, then they’re stuck trying to live up to the hype they created. Which, in that case, it’s not that the album sucks, it’s just that the single used to drive the rest of the project was “THAT” song, then they fall into limbo as a one-hit wonder.

    • HNIC

      “Then, there’s the all too familiar “basing the album around a single” or just making an album full of singles. Believe it or not, an album needs a couple of fillers, good or bad, because no one wants to live @ the club or constantly party.”

      Believe it or not, I think that T.I. deliberately went into “Paper Trail” with those intentions, because, he knew that there was a strong possibility that he was gonna have to do a bid. I think that it worked out well for him, though, because, we have a great, arguably classic, album, because of it… the proverbial gift & curse, if you will.

      • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

        What’s good HNIC?!

        Word, I said that about “Paper Trail” from the first talk of it.

        He had an ulterior motive, being that he was under so much scrutiny behind all his legal situations. & that was pretty smart, because had he released an album full of trap music & gun-talk, dude would have gotten the short end of the stick.

        He had to know how much “credibility” it would lend to his popularity, & he worked the system. What’s he @, almost 2 mil?

        & you know, they say trial & tribulation bring out the best in an artist, so there’s that “masterpiece”.

        • HNIC

          What up, Grands! I’m good! Just chillin…

          I feel what you’re saying. It makes perfect sense to me.

          I also believe that people, in general, but, especially black folks love anthem tracks. If it has a banging beat, coupled with a sing-along styled chorus, it’s almost a guaranteed sure shot hit. As formulaic as that might be, it seems to have a winning track record, thus far.

  • http://www.myspace.com/emcdlthemusicprofile EmCDL

    I think “Thank You” or “Run This Town” should’ve been Jay’s first single, them tracks go hard believe it or not.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Dra$t-iQ Alkoholik

    game shoulda realeased “like father, like son” as a 6th single off documentary this woulda pushed sales further up, he shoulda released “my life” as his 1st sigle of l.a.x. and he woulda done atleast 400k first week

  • Brooklyn

    i’m not really feeling bp3, but there are about 3 singles on there that i like. “empire state of mind” should have been his first single, followed by “reminder” or maybe “venus vs. mars.” in my opinion, those are the only songs on the album where jay goes hard like he used to, which is what i want to hear from him. overall, the album has too many features, damn near every track has someone else on it, and other than kanye, and the r&b features, they’re inferior artists.

  • LightsOut

    No love for “On to the next one”? Him and Swizz together again with the smash

    • ee bubble

      im surprised no one has mentioned that swizz track on bp3, when it comes on my neck starts moving immediately, cant wait to hear that in the club or live.

    • RDS

      Personally, I think that’s the wackest song on BP3. “Empire State of Mind” should’ve been the lead single. “As Real As It Gets” should’ve been the follow-up. As much as I like “Already Home”, it’s not really a “single” single. It’s dope, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t lead a project like BP3 where there are crossover records on it, with a track like that. It would’ve gotten a better response than any of the songs he released in the last year would’ve gotten, because frankly, my dude goes in on the haters, but it’s not “single” material.

      -R

  • http://www.xxlmag.com 615banga

    i think ludacris should have had one more drink as first single
    then last of a dying breed with lil wayne
    then have undisputed and nasty girl with plies come out at same time
    and he should still make a video for i do it for hip hop

  • GIFT

    i FEEL LIKE JAY KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING BY PUTTING OUT DOA FIRST. hE KNEW THE TYPE OF DEBATE AND BUZZ THAT IT WOULD BUILD FOR HIS PROJECT. i FEEL LIKE HE IS BRINGING IT BACK TO REAL HIPHOP, WHICH IS MORE THAN I CAN SAY FOR 90 PERCENT OF THIS TRASH COMING OUT NOW

  • LOL

    “Throw it in the Bag.” is one of the worst songs ive heard this year

  • http://www.plasticsquirtguns.blogspot.com thoreauly77

    perfect example of a dope project with a weak singles is ghostface’s “pretty toney” LP. the first song was the weakest on the whole album, featuring carl thomas, and the second was the only wack song on the album, featuring missy. the rest of the record is solid if not exceptional. i was always thinking “what the fuck?”

    • Real Hip-Hop

      I think your confusing Pretty Toney with Bulletproof Wallets cause Carl Thomas wasnt on Pretty Toney LP, the 1st single off that album was Run. The track with Carl Thomas was off the BPW album.

      • http://www.plasticsquirtguns.blogspot.com thoreauly77

        youre absolutely right. my bad.

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Ross should have did “Rich Off Cocaine” first, with a 15 minute short story video.

    My homies above already dropped my CRT argument.

    • http://danjlovesthe90s.wordpress.com DANJ!

      I happen to like that song a lot, but putting a single out with a title like “Rich Off Cocaine” woulda been the most counterproductive single choice ever.

      I never really liked “Change Clothes” as a lead single for the Black Album… especially with “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” being there. Sure, it was the second single, but that seemed more like it woulda been a crazy way to kick things off.

      Fab’s album… he shoulda gone with the “Fabolous Life” joint w/ Ryan Leslie. It just has this real summer-ish feel to it. “Throw It In The Bag” just seems like a regular same-ol-same stock single with a Dream hook. “Make Me Better” it was not.

      Picking a single, especially a lead single is prob’ly a hard-ass decision to make tho’. It’s easy to just say ‘that’s the best song, so it should be the single’, but you gotta take into account which one will actually get played and which one will serve as a good preview to more material on the album. If you throw the best one out there first, then there’s no need for them to hear the rest of the album. Ask Craig Mack, haha.

      -D!

      • $ykotic/Don McCaine

        True that D.

        But “Rich” would have been a better look than what he did to promote the album.

        I would’ve filmed the short movie, let it bubble on the ‘net, send radio “Magnificent”, drop album, and did short movie #2, “Maybach Music 2″, rmx with the cameos.

        The first single shouldn’t be that tough. But now a lot of albums have no concept. Herbz below described it the best.

        Again that’s why I touch on Ross. He had it, and Def Jam blew it.

  • Silly Chilly Willy

    I think after his hiatus, Jay always dropped decent single in the same idea of what Tony said: If they like this, they’ll like the album. I think Kingdom Come and Minority Report would’ve helped KC. Same for Pray for AG, since the album is supposed to be inspired by a movie, what could be better than his most interesting storytelling song since Meet The Parents ? With a right video, Pray would’ve been ill. For BP3, Run this Town for a 1st single is aight. Venus vs Mars, As Real as it Gets and Already Home are contenders, IMO.

    For OB4CL2, New Wu, no doubt. Then Ason Jones, that song is so moving.

  • OG Matt Herbz

    The single is like the lead batter for a baseball team. It’s got to be official, a certified player, but at the same time, it can’t outshine the rest of the line-up. It has to lead into the rest of the album, give you that first jab that sets you up for the knockout. And that’s enough with the sports analogies, but it fits.

    –OG Matt Herbz–

  • ghostwriter420

    I think that dre joint on obfcl2, catalina, with life Jennings, should definetly be a be a single.

  • Worley

    Co-sign ghostwriter420. Rae should not have made a single or a video for “House of Flying Daggers.” That sh*t is too noisy and I always skip it. The Dr. Dre joints would definitely have been better singles. But for all we know there is some corporate f*ckery stopping him from doing so. Dre would probably triple his fee.

    Nas: the Nigger album. He should have released “No One Can Stop Us Now” as a single. That track is better than “Hero.”

  • http://XXLMAG.COM IAMHIPHOP

    CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT THE NEW LEAD SINGLE FROM (RAKIM)HOLY.WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT?FROM THE UP COMING RELEASE (THE SEVENTH SEAL).DO YOU THINK RAKIM WILL SELL WELL OR HAS HIS TIME PASSED?I AM DEFINITELY BUYING THAT CD.STRAIGHT UP!!!

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      “Holy Are You” is flames. Straight up and down.

      They better promote him right. Let him get that shine. On some, you can do it for Drake, do it for Ra.

      It’s supposed to be out Oct. 20 last time I saw.

      There should be a campaign, every so-called rapper, hip hopper, rap music head should tweet and blast “Justice for Ra, Oct. 20″.

      10 beans for that album when it drops. ALL INDUSTRY HEADS ARE REQUIRED TO VLOG SHOWING ACTUAL PURCHASE. Fans can do so if they wish.

      ANYONE CAUGHT LEAKING IT WILL BE SHOT.

      But most likely most will forget, and his followers will cop it.

      I just gave someone a good promo campaign.

  • latino heat

    i tried to post this comment 3 hours ago, but anyway.

    Jay-Z has a history of bad 1st singles.

    Sunshine

    ’03 Bonnie & Clyde

    Show Me What You Got

    Change Clothes

    Blue Magic (it grew on me eventually but it still sounds like a album cut to me.)

  • http://xxlmag.com Ben

    I think he should of went with the Kid Cudi song as a single. A very subpar album imo. Raekwon really did come through with a great album, I feel alot of BP3 was filler, the intro was the worst intro of all his albums, even on K.C. he had a dope intro, “Thank You” was corny, don’t thank me, make some records with preme, Ye’, Just Blaze, Dr, Dre, and I will feel as though you appreciate my broke ass buying all your albums since I was 11.

  • real talka

    Cam’ron should’ve did his hit singles like this for his album “Crime Pays”:

    1st single – Cookin Up (This is 100 percent Killa Cam on this track, with a hot video, and big tyme promotion it would’ve been more album sales for him)

    2nd single -Cookies N Apple Juice (with another hot video, real talk these are the type of singles that get big radio play)

    3rd single – Curve (with a swag’d out video, he would’ve had everybody sayin “Curve trick”, lol)

    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      “Curve” is my favorite one.

  • Frank

    Circulate should have been the second single off The Recession rather than Vacation. That song fucking bumps hard, could have dropped a better vid too.

  • http://myspace.com/federalranga Federal Ranga

    Man, I can go on for days with this list of stupid first single choices…

    Kanye West for Graduation – Can’t Tell Me Nothing

    Young Jeezy for The Inspiration – I Luv It

    Lil Wayne for Tha Carter II – Fireman

    Sheek Louch for Silverback Gorilla or whatever the fuck it was called – Good Love

    Rick Ross for Trilla – Speedin

    Just to name a few

    E9 up!!! youtube.com/federalranga
    New Freestyles!!! myspace.com/federalranga
    Commission!!!

    • Ya Boy

      I have 2 disagree with u on Can’t tell me nothing and I Luv It. Those singles were both bangers and the perfect first singles in my opinion.

      • http://myspace.com/federalranga Federal Ranga

        @ Ya Boy

        As far as I Luv It goes, I say that because Toomp produced pretty much a faster version of What You Know which we all know was a MONSTER single for T.I.’s KING album.

        We all seen what happens when a producer makes essentially the same track for a variety of artists to ALL use for their lead singles. Remember 2005 while Swizz did that format for Bleek’s ‘Like That’, Smitty’s ‘Diamonds On My Neck’ and one more.

        Just Blaze recently did it with Maino and T.I. for their singles. And we all remember how Lil Jon got away with it in 2004 with Ciara, Petey Pablo AND Usher with Goodies, Yeah and Freak A Leek respectively. That shit used to work, but nowadays as far as singles go IMO you should make your shit as new and as different from the pack as possible and Jeezy didn’t do that with I Luv It. He was smart for having a song sound familiar to another smash, but thats laziness on his part as an MC.

        Good idea, but bad for Jeezy. I think Go Getta would’ve beena better lead off single thats all.

  • Jerm

    for me this year…would be…The One – Slaughterhouse

    I wish they didnt use that track, even tho the lyrics are on point, it just doesnt reflect the quality of the album

  • latino heat

    @ Jerm
    damn i had no idea there was even a video for The One till just now. i hated the song at first too but honestly there isn’t another song on that album with ANY commercial appeal. not saying that’s a bad thing btw. if that song had got some radio play i think it would have helped sales cause my girl loves that song even though she can’t name one member of the group.

    • Jerm

      lol, i saw the video for it as soon as it was released but then, i doubt it got played at all…haha – that Move On Remix probably got more views The One. But i agree about the commercial appeal cuz it couldve done well on the radio, im confident on that. Hopefully they can drop another single or try to just improve for the next album.

  • Matt

    Already Home

  • Enlightened

    On some real shit…

    Chingy had one of the best line-ups ever as far as singles…

    DON’T LAUGH

    I dont fuck with him, but when niggas was wonderin how he went triple platinum, his singles just came in perfect order

    1. Right Thurr (a unique, dance club song way before every-muthafuckin-body was trying to do them)
    2. Holiday Inn (a song with famous co-signs to the new artist – Snoop Dogg and his boss Luda)
    3. One Call Away (Tight ass 80s R&B sample with the nice radio sound and killed it by bringin’ Rudy Huxtable back for the first time in years in the video)

    That shit combined to blow that nigga the fuck up. He thought it was him, left DTP and sold about 325 copies. For one album he had the perfect setup with singles though.

  • Sway-z

    I think the wackest songs should be the singles or else what’s the point of um? What’s the sense of having 2 songs with a bunch of R&B singers on it if you don’t intend to put it out? To me, having watered down chick songs that never got put on the radio or TV is just taking up space for no reason. “Jigga my Nigga” is perfect example.

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    I’m a go-getter but If i were a rapper which of course i’m not i would’nt have an RnB hook if is’nt gonna be single.
    1OO% with Sway-z on that.

    Maino choose the right singles(Hi Hater) & (All of the above) but took a long time 2 drop an album & it cost him commercial sales his 1st week.

    So if u had a single that’s making noise u should go back 2 the lab & cook another monster & drop an album immediately 2 catch on a buzz.

    “Jigga my Ni99a” should ‘ve cost Jay an XXL rating.That song was & is still whack.

    Marshal Mathers should get an XXL status rating.

  • latino heat

    cosign that Jigga My Nigga was wack as fuck but so was Holla Hovito. both those songs get skipped when i listen to that album, and really mess up the overall cohesiveness of the cd. not saying it didn’t deserve XXL status though.

  • Zak47

    I relapse shouldve started of with… HELLO or SAME SONG n DANCE…
    Fab0 did it right wit THROW IT IN THE BAG…
    Deeper THAN RAP couldve introduced USUASAL SUSPECTS first…
    Jigga shoulda made BP3s first single EMPIRE STATE OF MIND or A STAR is BORN…
    Uhm?… What else 50 could always recognize successful commercial singles.
    STREETLIGHTS shouldve really been kanyes 1st single off 808s… Weezy and luda got it spot on with there respective singles…

  • Caino

    Maybe l’m showing my age!! but l remember the times when the singles the Artiest released was never on the album ! i.e the album was all original music you hadn’t heard ! So it was all new music you bought !

  • http://XXLMAG.COM IAMHIPHOP

    LL COOL J (RINGTONE MURDA)THAT SHIT WAS THE BEST SINGLE BY COOL J IN YEARS.HE SHOULD HAVE RELEASED THAT AS HIS FIRST SINGLE INSTEAD OF THAT R & B SINGLE (BABY)WITH DREAM.LL HAD ANOTHER SINGLE ON EXIT 13 WITH 50 CENT THAT A THOUGHT WAS FIRE ALSO (FEEL MY HEART BEAT).UNFORUNATELY;I BELIEVE PEOPLE WAS HATING ON 50 SO MUCH KNOW MATTER IF IT WAS HOT OR NOT THE SINGLE WAS DOOMED.IT’S SAD HOW DEF JAM LEFT LL COOL J FOR DEAD AFTER ALL THE YEARS HE PUT IN.LL BUILT DEF JAM.THE MUSIC BUSINESS CAN BE A BITCH.I WONDER IF JAY Z HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THAT?EXIT 13 WAS A VERY GOOD ALBUM.IT SHOULD HAVE GOT MORE PLAY.PEACE!!!

  • NEWYAWKA631

    LL Cool J’s Exit 13,if you haven’t heard it,go peep it.He had a lot of fire songs all over.I’ll admit,my manz burned me a copy,but i stay bumping it.Even the intro iz fireeeeeeeeeeeee

  • Ali

    That’s Gangsta off of II Trill was a horrible single….the worst song on the album I played that album alot…..Swang On Em shoulda been a single instead

    Go” off of Common’s Be I didn’t like that one….the only song I skip on a classic album……The Food woulda been awesome single

    T.O.S. was a garbage album with garbage singles but I think “Kitty Kat” was single material….gotta change the hook tho lol