Weak Year For Hip-Hop Proves That God Is No Longer Listening To Rappers’ Shout-Outs

Nov 15th, 2006 // 18 Comments

diddyking%21.jpgCoolfer today takes a look at why hip-hop artists are having such a piss-poor year on the charts, noting that the genre’s audience is ignoring albums and instead buying ringtones and singles (or just downloading everything for free). We knew it was a bad year for rap, but the numbers are worse than we imagined:

Lloyd Banks’ Rotten Apple (Interscope) has moved only 234,000 in four weeks, with nearly 61% of that coming in the first week. After debuting at #3, Rotten Apple’s next three weeks were #15, #33 and #43. The critically loved Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor (Atlantic) by Lupe Fiasco has moved a scant 184,000 in seven weeks and has dropped to #94. At #95 is Young Dro’s Best Thang Smokin’ (Atlantic) with 281,000 in ten weeks…

Sure, there are a few artists hanging in there. Ludacris has moved 642,000 units in six weeks and is still in the top 20. Rick Ross’s Port of Miami is slugging it out in the bottom half of the top 100 and has sold 594,000 in 13 weeks. But wasn’t he supposed to be the second coming?

Missing from this analysis is TI, whose King has been certified platinum, and is still in the Top 200 eight months after its released. But it looks as though even the rush of last-minute hip-hop releases–including Young Jeezy, Nas, and, of course, Life magazine cover boy Jay Edgar Hova—aren’t going to be able to make up for the whole year (as for Clipse and Ghostface, we doubt they’ll be able to move far past their hardcore fanbases).

So what happened? Too much downloading? Too many unfunny skits? Or did people get one listen to Port Of Miami and Press Play and realize they’re just plain awful?

Hip Hop’s Transformation Into A Singles and Ringtone Business [Coolfer]

  1. Matthew Perpetua

    Well, the thing T.I. has that the other artists you’re mentioning don’t have are crossover singles — it’s been kind of a weak year for mainstream rap singles, and as Ghostface’s sales figures show, this Rove-ish thing of only serving the core fanbase doesn’t really hit big in the marketplace.

  2. brianp

    I think the latest by the Game and Birdman & Lil’ Wayne are gonna be huge (both are excellent, by the way). Plus Nas, Snoop, Jigga, and Young Jeezy should all do very well. That said, there has not been a huge, superstar MC like 50 or Eminem in some time, which is probably depressing overall sales figures.

  3. rackattack

    The Abercrombie kids — the Jessicas and Tiffanys that were buying rap records just a few years ago — are drifting. Matt’s right. No crossover singles means whitey kind of ignores you. Think little Sarah is gonna listen to coke rap when she could be swooning over Adam Lazarra or sympathizing with Gerard Way’s “pathos?” No. And that’s not exactly Rick Ross’ fault, even tho Port fucking blows. Hip hop is losing cultural capitol because it lacks crossover stars. Even tho he was a cheesface, Will Smith’s commercial success did a lot for the genre, as a whole. People were paying attention to hip hop, because it was doing well with pop audiences. Just seems like now the machine isn’t churning any pop shit out. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but if Nelly would drop something (ANYTHING) onto the pop radio dial, or if Ja Rule did another hook-girl-song with, I dunno, Cassie(even tho she’s hooooorible), or if Outkast had a decent pop radio single on Idlewild, or if Kingdom Come and Press Play didn’t plain suck through and through, or if 50 had his fire back and took it off auto-pilot, or if (no, really) Will Smith got the minivans bangin again, the genre as a whole — even the “serious” cats like Ghostface and Lupe — would benefit. Or maybe not?

  4. Weezy F Baby

    hip-hop isn’t selling because it hates melody so much.

  5. lucasg

    hey, you know hair metal had a hell of a run, too.

    perhaps it’s the subject matter? maybe people are tired of hearing about jewelry and giant rims?

  6. SlimShadenfruede

    Hip-Hop is selling… illegaly at the makeshift record/mixtape shop next door to me on 14th and 6th!

    Who’s going to shell out $14.99 in the hood when you have to save for the next model of Jordans?

  7. Audif Jackson Winters III

    Black people finally got computers.

  8. Dr. Paul Proteus

    I thin krackattack hit the nail on the head. And LucasG is a racist, or at best, ignorant to 20 years of hip hop culture.

  9. lucasg

    or i listened to the local hip-hop station this summer at work. oh, and have you been digging through my cd collection while i wasn’t looking? those are harsh words from someone i have never met. regardless, i will be robbing a jewelry store this evening, and telling them to make me a grill.

  10. Dr. Paul Proteus

    You said that maybe people were tired of hearing about jewelry and giant rims. That makes me think that you have only been exposed to a section of hip hop culture, as it goes far beyond that. Parallelling hip hop to Hair Metal like its some flash in the pan fad is frankly offensive. After over 20 years of non-stop growth as a culture I hardly think it is going down anytime soon.

  11. cutshallow

    While I agree with Dr. Paul’s basic sentiment (almost 30 years on record now), you mentioned two things that serve Lucas’ argument that people are tired of the subject matter: (a) exposure to only one type of the genre, and (b)non-stop growth.

    First, it’s not entirely non-stop growth. While we all know there’s vastly creative Hip-Hop out there, since around 2000/01 (see Stankonia, M.M.L.P., & Blueprint), mainstream Hip-Hop has fallen into a scary holding pattern. It even appears worse when noting that the South is eating up more and more airtime. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing that Rick Ross or Young Jeezy can say that Nas & Jay-Z didn’t already say better.

    Which is my second point: that kids can only like what they’re given. But teenagers are smarter than the music biz gives them credit for, and just like nu-metal & their daddy issues, kids are tired of crack slinging & ho pimping. MTV & radio has told them they just want something to dance to because it’s an easier product to promote, and so the genre has dumbed down the lyrics to make way for the hot club beats & lame dance trends; the snap trend was the most useless movement ever until “Chicken Noodle Soup” came along & usurped it. Plus, their hotly tipped beats are hopelessly inferior to the frankenstein masterpieces of Timbaland & lost sons of “Erotic City” of the Neptunes.

    In the end, Ghostface will sell to his fanbase, as will Clipse & Lil’ Wayne, artists who’ve given the South a decent name – even though it’s a hard sell to, say, the Northeast, which is forever on NYC’s dick. But maybe there is hope: the lower sales may point not just to the rampant downloading, but to the internet as a preview tool, allowing fans to be exposed to a wider variety, therefore spreading the sales around.

  12. bombshit19

    I’m glad it’s dead–commercial rap is a joke. It’s exactly as lucasg said, it’s become another fad like hair metal was.

  13. FunkyJ

    I agree with lucasg and don’t think he was being racist at all.

    These rappers going on and on about bitches and ho’s have never done it for me but unfortunately now even someone like DJ Shadow is doing it…

    Back in the day when the Furious 5 were rapping about Cadillacs and chains it was a joke.

    Nowdays rappers are so serious about it, it’s become unfunny.

    They have no connection with people any more.

    I’m hoping that Australian and UK hiphop gets more popular in the USA – Hilltop Hoods just won the ARIA (Australia’s version of the Grammys) for best independent record and best urban group, and were No1 in our charts for a decent while.

    Surely someone in the USA is going to wake up and realise these guys have more in common with most people – even though they’re from a different country – than Diddy or Nas, and use that to sell them over there.

  14. Dr. Paul Proteus

    OK look, the racist comment was tongue-in-cheek, first of all. Secondly, you used the term “hip-hop” as opposed to “club rap” or some other specific genre within hip hop, which is why I took offense in the first place.

    ADding to what rackattack said- rap’s big crossover hit into the Mtv crowd was based on the fact that pop and hip hop were blending a lot- Timbaland was making beats for Britney and Justin, Beyonce starts appearing on Jay-Z records, etc etc. It’s stil lhappening to some extent, but the bigger stars in rap right now are the dudes who are rapping about Coke & Crack- your Jeezy’s, Dipsets, TI< Lil Wayne etc. Those are the new stars of rap and their audience is shrinking because your teenage Britney fans can relate to swinging thier hips in the club but not to slangin' crack on the corner.

    However, to write this section off as the current rap scene would be to ignore a large chunk of hip hop that is gaining noteriety all the time. Lupe Fiasco is hardly someone you can lump in with this group. Same with Kanye West. These dudes are actually somewhat innovative rappers doing a totally different thing in terms of thier production and lyrical content. On the track “Sunshine,” Lupe raps the whole time about how disappointed he is in the club/bling/drug centric rappers. DJ Shadow had a weak showing but he is now on a Major and doing serious prodution work. Sampling and beat Production are now a staple to lots of other music forms thanks to a major influence by hip hop.

    My point is, sure, different subject matters and styles and fashions will always fade in and out within any genre of music. But to think that rap or especially hip hop in general are dying as a genre is crazy. I mean, rock is decades old at this point, and every year more and more critics call the genre dead, and arguablly anyone doing anything innovative in rock is not selling a ton of records. The only people selling more records than these dudes are your bubblegum pop, your mallpunk emo, and your country-pop.

    Honestly, at least rappers are out there without shame for what they do, not hiding thier greed and lack of depth as artists. The others (your Britneys, your Fall Out Boys, your Faith Hills) try to act like they are talented artist when the truth is they rarely write thier own songs or have any talent sans looking pretty and at best having a reasonable singing voice. At least rap isan’t trying to hid e behind a fake cover of integrity. It’s being itself.

  15. rackattack

    I don’t care how “relatable” they are, that’s not what sells records. The bottom line is this: the people pulling the strings behind this hip hop shit — the marketers, the labels, the mtvs — don’t think their audience cares about relating to the stars. And, for the most part, they’re right. After all, what’s an Idol you can identify with? Answer: just some fucking dude. Our Idols need to be special. We can’t relate to them, cause that robs them of their neccesary magic. We don’t need Average Joes in hip hop. Average Joes belong in Country, where the audience gives a shit about relating. Sure, hip hop is about truth and authenticity on some many levels, but nobody wants to hear Jay Z rap about driving to work, or getting bad service at a drive thru, or coming up in the hood. They want the glitz and the glamour, cause (calling a spade a spade:) they’re never gonna have it. That’s what celebrities are for. Sometimes people forget that hip hop is more than a genre of music. Today it’s mass culture. There will always be incredible artists making great records. But without the celebrities, without the gigantic crossover figures, without J-Lo on Diddy’s arm and countless blockbuster tie-ins, those great records won’t get the same attention. For the genre to do well, the CULTURE needs its stars. And right now the CULTURE seems to be lacking them. But what the fuck do I know, I’m a crackass cracker?

  16. ens3000

    LOL @ “Black people finally got computers” – that might be racist too if taken in the wrong context.

    Funky J, believe me when I say that when Furious 5 were “rapping about Cadillacs and chains”(were they??), it was not a joke – they most certainly were serious. Aspirational material acquisition (or whatever the fancy term for it is) has ALWAYS been a part of hip hop from the jump and always will be.

  17. lucasg

    i am pretty sure that mainstream hip hop was what we were talking about, right? because that’s what i was talking about, dr. paul. hence the hair metal comparison. when hair metal quit being popular, it wasn’t the end of guitar-based rock music, was it? did anyone who was a big fan of warrant’s ‘cherry pie’ get all pissy with someone on the internet because warrant wasn’t selling as many records as they did last year? would anyone who said such a thing be ignorant of rock music’s 50 year (at the time) history? if a dude were to say, enjoy slayer but hate motley crue, would a motley crue fan call him a racist? i would hope not. i don’t like to be called a racist either, dr. paul.

    it’s a genre. the crap that you hear on the radio (all six songs in the rotation!!) get old. when everything sounds the same (like hair metal!) folks get sick of it.

    how much money does say, dave from de la soul make? what kind of car does he drive? how big are his rims? i don’t know! he never shoved that information up my ass like mainstream hip hop does!

    and you call yourself a doctor.

  18. FunkyJ

    Yeah, I agree to say it is dying as a genre is lame…

    maybe these peeps have been reading too many British Dance Mags… ;)

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