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Free rap sucks

An underground rap group called Roosevelt Franklin, consisting of Mr. Len from Company Flow and a fellow named Kimani Rogers, recently made the decision to give away their album free on the Internet. The group’s second album, Bare Food, can be had for free via a link from a post on their blog.

Granted, this is not the first time something like this has happened. Public Enemy was famously escorted from the Def Jam building for wanting to give away an album for free on the Internet way back in the 1990s. More recently, the rapper that’s signed to Conor Oberst’s Team Love label has been attempting to give his album away for free[1].

Other than “for promotional purposes only” mixtapes though, which rappers couldn’t sell if they wanted to, it’s not too often you see rappers opt to give music away for free rather than sell it, especially compared to other forms of music. In fact, this seems to run counter to the hip-hop ethos, which is all about selling things.

Maybe it sucks, or maybe it doesn’t (it certainly has a class pedigree), but I doubt very many more than like 8 people will ever download the Roosevelt Franklin album. I try as much as possible to not agree with Stanley Crouch doppelganger Hashim Warren, but in this case he might be right.

Opting to give away an album for free, out of sheer love for the culture, certainly seems like a nice gesture, dubious though it may be[2]. But I’m not sure how hip-hop it is. Professor X, who died recently, once attempted to auction his body on eBay to buy a new nose ring or some such. I’d be more inclined to download his album.

[1] Yeah, I realize that’s the second time I’ve mentioned Conor Oberst since I’ve been here, which has only been like a week. Um, nullus.

[2] It’s likely they couldn’t talk any record companies into releasing it.

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