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​Photo illustration by Srikar Poruri.
Photo illustration by Srikar Poruri for Okayplayer.

The Most-Memorable Album Rollouts of the Last Decade

The album rollout is a marketing artform in itself, and is a major contributor to the legacy of an album. Check out our list of some of the most-memorable of those rollouts.

The artistry behind executing a good album rollout is a skill that not many artists of today can say they have mastered. While one may argue that an artist’s abilities should be gauged solely by the music that they make, a truly good album rollout amplifies the talent and creativity that they have outside of the booth. Although it may feel as if the art of the album rollout has been cast aside for the ease of social media promotion, there have been several recent ventures that we have absolutely loved. Here’s our list of the most-memorable album rollouts of the last decade.

'The Off Season' by J.Cole

Many have debated that The Off Season is J.Cole’s best album, and much of that praise can be attributed to his strategic way of breadcrumbing his audience. The project dropped in 2021, but Cole had been dropping hints since 2018. From discreet hints on Instagram to stepping on the court for the Basketball Africa League, the hype around this album was very cool to watch in real time, and it definitely boosted the success of his album.

'Utopia' by Travis Scott

To say that the world was watching when Travis Scott started buzz for this album would be an understatement. Despite dropping various hints, the biggest part of this rollout that kicked off its popularity was the larger-than-life concert that was promised to his fans. Scott had taken to social media to announce a Utopia release concert at the Pyramids of Giza, clearly something that had never been done before. However, while fans scrambled with excitement, nothing was actually set in stone and the performance ended up falling through just days before it was planned to take place. Licensing, safety, and everything else in between had been an issue, and the Egyptian music fest simply could not pull through. While people were obviously disappointed, there was no going back on the anticipation that the stunt had brought in, even if fans couldn’t attend the performance of a lifetime.

'Call Me If You Get Lost' by Tyler, the Creator

It’s not too bold of a statement to say that Tyler, the Creator’s album rollout for Call Me If You Get Lost was his best yet. While Tyler has always been the poster child for his unique sense of creativity, the weeks leading up to the release of CMIYGL truly take the cake. By completely switching to a pastel color scheme, dropping teaser videos shot with a vintage feel, and releasing an interactive website designed just for the album, Tyler amassed the most anticipation for an album that his career had seen yet. Two years after its release, Tyler’s passionate sense of creativity remains strikingly clear in this rollout.


'Certified Lover Boy' by Drake

Drake has never been one to stray from the spotlight, so any album that he announces is bound to have a substantial amount of hype behind it. However, special credit has to be given to the creativity leading up to CLB’s launch. The biggest and most interactive parts of this rollout were the city-specific billboards that he deployed across the country. From the bright lights of NYC to the star-studded sidewalks of Los Angeles, the rollout for CLB was perfect for generating excitement for the album and the artists featured on it.

'Donda' by Ye

Ye has a plethora of iconic albums with notable excitement behind them, but Donda might be his most well-executed. The overall anticipation for the album came from numerous fans anxious to hear a project dedicated to Ye’s late mother, Donda West. The topic of his mother and her passing had always been a sore spot for the artist, so this project was huge to anyone who had watched his career take off. Leading up to the release of Donda was the release of Yeezy x Gap, Ye’s minimalist clothing brand that was bound to be popular. Soon after came a snippet of Ye’s “No Child Left Behind,” included in a Beats by Dre commercial, featuring (at the time) rising athlete, Sha’Carri Richardson. The aesthetics of the commercial combined with Richardson’s fast-growing popularity was huge in marking the start of the Donda era. Also considering the countless listening events, ominous sets, and a complete change of aesthetic, Donda’s rollout was definitely memorable, whether or not you were a staunch Ye fan at that time.

Kanye West - No Child Left Behind (DONDA) Beats

'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' by Kendrick Lamar

While “absence makes the heart grow fonder” may be an age-old cliché, it’s a phrase that many Kendrick Lamar fans are more than familiar with. However, when news dropped of his next album dropping five years after the release of his last one, his fans were excited to see what the ultra-talented rapper had in store. The album also marked his last project with Top Dawg Entertainment, so his departure was a big part of the hype boost. What makes this rollout so interesting is the fact that Kendrick never had to do too much to garner as much attention as he did. Most of the excitement surrounding this rollout was created when Kendrick was spotted making music or on the set of a music video.

Kendrick’s reclusivity after DAMN was a huge contributor to why this album was such a big deal, so while it wasn’t a specifically planned “rollout,” fans were eager and quite grateful to take what they could get.

4:44 — Jay-Z

We definitely saved the most iconic of the bunch for last, who can forget about the revolutionary rollout leading up to the release of Jay-Z’s 2017 album, 4:44? With this album being his first in four years, the hip-hop aficionado knew that he had to come back with a bang. Jay-Z held listening parties in Sprint stores across the country in an exclusive Tidal x Sprint experience. There was also the digital and billboard takeover with those unmissable and somewhat cryptic 4:44 banners appearing damn near everywhere. The exclusivity of the album’s release made the whole experience that much more enticing, and Jay-Z had cracked the code in generating interest from a whole new generation of listeners.