In 1998, it was almost unheard of to just up and drop two albums in a year. That was why, when DMX released It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot and Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood just six months apart in 1998, he became the first rapper in history to have released two No. 1 albums in the same year. The feat made him a living legend. An essential component to any profile of the dark-thinking, gruff-voiced rapper — even now, over twenty years later — is the audacity and sheer work ethic it took to drop two albums in a single year.
These days, Coach K and Pee of Quality Control Music probably look at DMX’s accomplishment as more of a business blueprint than an impressive, unmatchable feat. If DMX planted his flag on the peak of Mount Everest in 1998, Quality Control sees that peak as base camp in 2018. In this year alone, the Atlanta-based independent label will put out no less than nine full-length projects in a 12-month span, with the bulk of those albums being one-two efforts from new roster additions Lil Baby, Lil Yachty, and City Girls, and the remaining projects all coming from Migos, both individually and as a group.
The upstart, trap-centric label has taken the idea of doubling down and made it their standard; every artist on the label could very well be considered a DMX. And while the saturation model isn’t anything new in rap music, the approach of releasing full-fledged projects is still innovative. Even at the height of his powers, Lil Wayne, considered by many one of the originators of the “flood the streets” approach, actually spaced his retail projects out by quite a lot, squeezing three years worth of freestyles, free mixtapes, and unofficial compilations in between Tha Carter II and III.
Likewise, though 50 Cent and his G-Unit clique used a blizzard of mixtapes in the lead-ups to his major label releases, they were never expected to chart or generate a significant return on investment. They were cheaply made, barely promoted throwaways designed to build anticipation for the retail releases that would ultimately turn a profit (this in itself was an innovation on the usual strategy of using an album as a loss-leader and recouping the expense on live performances and tours).