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Albums Are Getting Patches Now

Albums Are Getting Patches Now

In video games, updates are such old news that it’s weird when a game isn’t consistently tweaked for months or years on end. Other mediums, however, are only just catching on to the magic of patches—and patch notes.

Earlier this week, fans of professional rapper, sadboy, and Ninja Fortnite duos partner Drake noticed that his recently released double album Scorpion sounded a little different. Turns out, those fans weren’t just hearing things. The album received an update, whose exact changes were chronicled in a widely shared Reddit post by users MrRom92 and Jrmio.

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These weren’t overhauls that significantly altered the length or content of songs—just tweaks to the mixes of select songs. So basically, it’s the equivalent of a bug fix or optimization patch.

Remixes and remasters have been common for ages in the music world, but only in the age of digital platforms like Spotify and Apple Music have on-the-fly album updates become possible. Most famously, feckless attention seeker and bad opinions about slavery haver Kanye West repeatedly updated his 2016 release Life of Pablo, adding new lyrics, switching up beats, splicing in background vocals, creating new tracks, and tweaking mixes. More recently, he updated the track “I Thought About Killing You” on his latest album, Ye, to include a reference to that whole slavery thing.

Other mediums are coming down with gotta-patch-it fever, too. Arrested Development’s surprise season four “remix” springs to mind as the digital TV equivalent of an enhanced edition or an overhaul patch. (Although in this case, you can still find the original, even though it’s buried layers deep in menus.)

Is this emerging trend a good thing? I think that really depends on which work has been thrust back under the microscope. A remix couldn’t save Arrested Development season four from itself, but there’s no arguing that it needed saving. As for music, I listen to some of my favorite albums and think, “man, this could be a thousand times better with cleaner production,” but I’ve also come to adore little quirks and mistakes on others. A voice crack that shows how much emotion went into the vocals. The barely audible sound of a studio floorboard creaking in the background. Some songs are time capsules. Others feel timeless because of their flaws.

In Drake’s case specifically, there’s no beating around the Fortnite stealth bush: Scorpion suffers from hella bloat. I’m not sure it needs a bunch of obsessive tweaks so much as it could use some good old-fashioned cuts. Also, Drake really needs to nerf shotguns already.