Detox - Dr. Dre
Described by Rolling Stone as “hip-hop’s great unfinished album,” the existence of Detox has been talked about on and off since 2003, with several rappers fanning the flames by claiming they’d heard tracks or had recorded some. Circa 1999-2000, Dre was experiencing a really successful run as the producer of Eminem’s early albums and several chart-topping singles from various artists. Dre’s own 2001 album sold more than half a million copies in the first week. It seemed natural that Detox would drop while fans were crazy for his work and we got a little taste of it with the singles like “Kush” and “I Need a Doctor,” but by now it seems Dre has officially put it on the back burner forever.
Cigarettes and Valentines - Green Day
The story of Cigarettes and Valentines is one of those shitty situations that wound up being a so-called “blessing in disguise.” The album was meant to be the hotly-anticipated follow up to their successful 2000 album Warning. 20 tracks were stolen in 2003, and even though they had the backups the band opted to start over. Having to go back to the beginning, however, led to the recording of the wildly popular American Idiot, which has sold 15 million copies to date, worldwide. Band frontman Billie Joe Armstrong has said that ultimately Cigarettes and Valentines wasn’t up to the band’s standards but all these years later, you really have to wonder where those stolen tracks ended up, and how they’ve essentially disappeared off the face of the Earth. These questions have led to the theory that the songs weren’t really stolen, and the band might’ve just scrapped the album because they didn’t like it.
Good Ass Job - Kanye West
Kanye West surprised everyone when he switched up his style for his fourth studio release, the electro and auto-tune heavy 808s & Heartbreak. He told MTV in 2010 that he initially planned to return to his trademark sample-driven, old school productions and hot takes on politics, society and his personal life that were prominent themes in his first three albums. Eventually however he decided he wanted to keep expanding his sound, and even changed the name of the album and Good Ass Job became to My Dark Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and featured a whole new tracklist. Fantasy’s final tracklist has some noticeable difference from what was originally planned for Good Ass Job and while it’s maybe not wholly lost, it is ‘Ye, so you always want to hear what’s going on in his head. Who knows what has become of those few lost tracks.
Songs From the Black Hole - Weezer
Originally Weezer was planning a science fiction rock opera called Songs From the Black Hole for a 1995 release. According to Vice, lead singer Rivers Cuomo penned the album while recovering from surgery, after their studio debut was positively received. Cuomo was conflicted about the band’s rise and Songs From the Black Hole was a cathartic reflection of that: a three-member space crew exploring the galaxy, with each person’s personality representing Cuomo’s different feelings about fame. It sounds kind of nuts now, but would’ve fit right in with 90’s pop culture. He changed the concept of the project after he enrolled at Harvard to what eventually became the album Pinkerton, so the songs were dumped. However, they’ve trickled out over the years as leaks and B-sides.
10 the Hard Way - Outkast
After Outkast released the seminal soundtrack to the film Idlewild, 10 The Hard Way was supposed to be the official album follow-up to 2003’s Grammy-winning, diamond-selling Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, but obviously it never happened. Given the two-solo-albums-in-one setup of the release it probably was a sign that a hiatus was coming. There’s not much available on 10 the Hard Way, but given the group’s discography, there’s no doubt that it would’ve become another classic.
Household Objects - Pink Floyd
After The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd tried to make an album without musical instruments, and instead use—you guessed it—household objects. While obviously lots of drugs were involved in the conception of this one. but according to interviews with Pink Floyd, the band tried to replicate the sounds of instruments with pencils, rubber bands, pans, and more. The problem was, they were spending so much time trying to get the sounds right that they weren’t actually producing any music. The songs “Wine Glasses” and “The Hard Way” were eventually released with box sets but (probably thankfully) the full album never saw the light of day.