If A Hip-Hop Artist Leaves A Label, Will Either Make A Sound?

Jun 20th, 2008 // 5 Comments

thisguyislookingforajobanytakers.jpgBillboard reports today on a few “top rap acts” with expiring contracts and a taste for more direct streams of cash. Although Jay-Z has proven that hip-hop can venture outside the traditional record-label world, what does that mean for acts like Outkast, LL Cool J, and the always delightful 50 Cent?

Thankfully, none of the article’s four reporters throw the already regrettable phrase “Radiohead model” around, but you have to wonder if that In Rainbows wasn’t at least a little on the mind of the acts profiled.

LL Cool J will complete his three-album deal with Def Jam with the Aug. 5 release of “Exit 13.” By the end of the year, 50 Cent is expected to put out “Before I Self Destruct,” the fourth and final album on his Interscope deal. OutKast owes LaFace/Zomba three more albums under the duo’s four-album contract, with all three releases expected out later this year and next year.

Tiphanie Watson, co-manager for OutKast’s Big Boi, says the duo hasn’t decided yet whether to seek another deal with a major, but adds, “It’s much more beneficial to do it on your own. For an artist with an established fan base, there’s more than one way to come up with strategic branding.”

LL Cool J is hardly a hot property these days–even if Def Jam is partially to blame for his decline, as he seems to think–but you’d have to think there’s some life left in 50 Cent; Outkast, even after Idlewild, seem to be capable of several successful albums if they can stay in the same room long enoughe. However, one decidedly non-major label would like to let any and all acts know that there’s always a home for them at Koch.

Signing with an indie label is the best option for hip-hop stars nearing the end of their deals, says Alan Grunblatt, GM/executive VP of Koch Records, which has charted with Jim Jones, DJ Khaled and Yung Berg. “With a major you’d get an advance, no masters and the deal would be based strictly on royalties,” Grunblatt says. “Koch would do a licensing and/or a P&D deal.”

If there’s any justice in this industry at all, 50 Cent will end up on Koch, a label he famously referred to as a “graveyard”. Then again, wasn’t he supposed to retire or something? What happened to that?

Top Rap Acts Weigh Options As Record Deals End [Billboard]

  1. Al Shipley

    Billboard’s whole premise is based on the shaky assumption that these artists’ next albums will come out when scheduled and resolve their contracts very soon. Since when do major label rap albums come out on time? Before I Self Destruct was originally planned to come out before Curtis, then it was planned to come out in February on the 5th anniversary of GRODT, and now it’s being pushed back for a G-Unit album, so I’ll be very surprised if you see it anytime in 2008. And Big Boi is constantly promising Outkast and Outkast-related projects in interviews that either never materialize or only finally do 3 years later. By the time these guys are free agents, the landscape will probably have shifted again, and instead of LiveNation or Koch we’ll be talking about some other alternative entirely.

  2. Dan Gibson

    @Al Shipley: I had an actual laugh out loud moment when I first read the article and Big Boi’s manager was quoted as saying three Outkast projects would be out by early next year. It’s possible planet Stankonia has a different calendar than we do, but if they’re going on Earth years, it would be a pleasant surprise to see ONE release in that time period.

  3. Captain Wrong

    Isn’t the Jay-Z deal a little early to proclaim it as proving anything yet?

    Also, glad to see I wasn’t the first to think of Koch. How about LL, KRS and Marley teaming up?

  4. Handsome Pete

    If it results in rap albums being priced under fifteen dollars I’ll consider it a win. For me.

  5. MrStarhead

    LL Cool J is playing a Tampa Bay Rays game this summer. Other artists playing Rays games include Loverboy and MC Hammer. ‘Nuff said.

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