Sometimes the heavens open up and give me something to smile about, and thankfully there’s a guy named Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson to inspire today’s grin. The legendary Roots crew drummer and well-known music nerd is taking his genius to New York University’s Clive Davis Institue for Recorded Music to teach a class called ‘Classic Albums.’ What’s funny is the class will disssect what the music industry has been trying to figure out for eternity; what makes a classic album.
I tend to think a lasting album combines talent, music, hypnotic melodies but most of all timing. Just think if Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going on? came out in 2012, though many of the album’s 1970s ideas, from taxes to substance abuse, are still relevant, the work would fall flat. According The Hollywood Reporter, the Spring semester class will be two units:
The two credit class will focus on the concept of what it means for something to be called classic or seminal, as well as take a close look at the music, lyrics, production, business aspects — such as promotion and marketing — that informed the release and reception of the album, and try to provide a context as to why these albums have stood the test of time, according to Jason King, associate professor of recorded music and head of history and criticism at the Institute, who confirmed the course.
The class is expected to look at albums by Sly & The Family Stone (Stand!, There’s A Riot Goin’ On),Aretha Franklin (Lady Soul), Led Zeppelin (IV), Prince (Dirty Mind), Michael Jackson (Off The Wall), and the Beastie Boys (Paul’s Boutique), among others.