Written by: Kyle Pinaro
In the present day and age more and more artists, especially rappers, release two different versions of their albums. One being the standard, the other being the deluxe; leaving the lingering question of is it born from necessity or is it purely a marketing tactic? Also, does anybody really care about the deluxe version as well? The dissection of this marketing strategy can be found essentially across all mediums of entertainment including (but not limited to) movies, album re-releases, and even books. All these forms of media can be argued that the deluxe edition or special edition really add to the experience, but if that’s true why not just put it as the only option?
Movies especially nowadays try to push the special edition or director’s cut DVD/Blu-Rays as definitive versions. So many movies have a director’s cut which not only hurt the film’s overall structure and plot, but ended up changing the ending too. Case in point, The Lord of the Rings trilogy compared to The Hobbit trilogy. Although both helmed by the same director, the extended edition of both trilogies are nowhere near the same in necessity or quality. The Lord of the Rings extended editions felt like they actually added to the story instead of slowing it down, adding in endings to certain plots as well as expanding on topics previously only talked about; The Hobbit trilogy not so much. Although the extended editions aren’t terrible they don’t do much for the story itself or the characters, particularly because the entire trilogy is one deluxe edition, so the extended editions just add about roughly 30 extra minutes of pointless filler. But the real issue here is the deluxe edition of albums.
While originally being a big supporter of the extended and deluxe editions I soon saw them for what they really are, cash cows. These alternative editions with generally two or four extra tracks rarely ever add to the experience or depth of an album’s structure or theme. Now don’t get me wrong there are plenty of projects whose deluxe editions not only feel welcomed but add to the story, but it’s pretty much only five projects and one of them being good kid, m.a.a.d city. It seems like these versions are just there to showcase a different cover art, one which is generally a better looking cover art, and to throw some tracks on there that weren’t good enough to make it on the LP. Even looking back at some of the greatest albums of recent memory and all time, I’d have to say none of them have deluxe editions. Not a single Kanye album has one, Dre doesn’t have one, Pac doesn’t, Biggie, and Nas don’t.
But not all deluxe editions are unnecessary. Sometimes these add on tracks really capture the listener by surprise, especially almost every single Drake bonus track, as well as the bonus tracks on good kid, m.a.a.d city where Kendrick himself added a skit to make it flow with the album’s presentation and storyline. On ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron the tracks also add some insight into where the album’s direction was headed, including some funk heavy songs with catchy hooks. One last notable surprise was the track “Stackin’” off of Wiz Khalifa’s 2012 monstrosity ONIFC. The song itself was really well done production wise and something that has aged quite well for a rapper who continually talks about almost the same exact things every song (well on that album at least).
So are the deluxe editions unnecessary or filler? Well a personally opinion they feel like filler to me but they actually sell so clearly a lot of people don’t think they are. They aren’t stopping anytime soon and I can live with that, but the quality and discussion if they should be released for that specific album or movie should be thoroughly discussed. But who am I kidding? If it makes money why the hell would they stop doing it?