Do you remember how you felt the first time you heard the Intro to Kendrick Lamar’s classic good kid, m.A.A.d city? It set the tone of what would be one of the greatest story telling albums ever. It was the introduction to the story that Kendrick Lamar was trying to take us on that day.
What about YG’s opening to My Krazy Life?
When you hear his mom on the intro there’s an immediate sense of “I’m sure trouble is on the way.” He’s being put in the same breath as gang bangers and his apparent jail ridden father before the album is on for 20 seconds. Next comes “BPT,” which confirms that he indeed hang with gang bangers (he detailed how he got put on) and being a gang member you clearly have to avoid jail, which is easier said than done. If “Momma Speech Intro” was a lead off single “BPT” was a 2 run homer over the fence.
So how important is the Intro? Very important, just ask Meek Mill who has probably the greatest Intro (Dreams and Nightmares) of all time, and has since made it a habit to kick off all of his albums rather extravagantly. If I had to pick somebody to start of an album, it would be Meek 9x out of 10. “Dreams and Nightmares,” “Wins and Losses” and his latest Intro to Championships are just a few of his claims to intro fame.
What most good intros do at the very least is set the scene for what the album will entail, get you excited, or at least draw you in. It’s always good to set the scene before you paint the picture. If the opening track doesn’t draw a listener in, it’s very easy to pass on the album as a whole in the streaming age where you can simply go back to whatever you were listening to before or back to what music you know you already like. The intro is actually more important now than it has been in quite some time.
There are more than a few ways to start albums off:
- Skits: YG’s “Momma Speech Intro” or Biggie’s Intro to Ready To Die.
- Mood setter/Foreshadowing what’s to come: Vince Staples’ “Crabs In A Bucket” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Wesley’s Theory.”
- Thesis statement: Rico Nasty’s “Bitch I’m Nasty” or Kanye West’s “Wake Up Mr. West.”
- BANGER: Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” or Future’s “Thought It Was A Drought.”
None of the above options are better than the other, but more based on what fits the project best. Good artists have no problem with picking what may be best for them and their respective projects, but it can be a hassle at times. We’ve seen a number of artists think outside the box when creating their intros such as J.Cole who created one of the greatest intros ever with “Too Deep For The Intro,” where he’s touching on a number of deep subjects that very well may be too deep for an intro, but it’s not, it was genius. Chance The Rapper killed “Good Ass Intro” where the instrumentation is off the hook and he brings BJ The Chicago Kid, Lili K, Petter Cottonale and more for what is some of the best Chicago bounce we’ve ever heard from a rapper.
When making your intro, make sure you draw your listeners in. Most people listen to music for an escape or to hear about you as an artist or where you’re from. Tell us why we should listen, tell us why you made it, tell us who you made it for. Maybe this album is perfect for me to listen to, but it wasn’t stated to me early on and I passed on it. That can all be avoided with a proper intro. As a listener, always keep an ear out for potential cue points to why you should listen. Something you can possibly learn from it, something you yourself can connect with, or simply a thought that a song sounded good, I’m curious to see what the rest will sound like.
It all starts with the Intro.