Times like these
It's become de rigueur in the past six months or so to note that hip-hop is in an incredibly fucked up state. Rap albums these days are selling as if they had AIDS on them. That said, not everyone is having such an awful year. In fact, some people are doing quite well, quiet as it's kept.
Without further ado, the winners and losers of hip-hop circa 2006.
'80s babies. Hardly any hip-hop albums are doing particularly well these days commercially. But if you notice, the year's top-selling rap album so far is by an '80s baby. And random-ass '80s baby weed carriers like Young Dro are outselling the likes of once-prominent artists such as Method Man and the Roots.
Producers. Hip-Hop album sales may be on a monumental downswing, but I can't imagine that erstwhile hip-hop producers like Timbaland, DJ Premier, and Will.i.am are doing particularly worse than they did in, say, 2005 - or any year, for that matter. Pop albums they've produced for acts like Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Fergie are flying off of shelves while rap albums mostly collect dust.
Bloggers. Ironically, the more fucked up hip-hop gets, the more shit bloggers such as myself have to write about. In fact, I'm halfway hoping shit only continues to get worse just so I won't have to do any real work. Granted, I've yet to make a million dollars (or anywhere close to it) from this, but I make more than I've made in any of the other 24 years of my life, and I don't even roll off of the couch until noon most days.
White people. Similarly, a cracka-ass cracka like RJD2 is going to do well no matter how fucked up hip-hop gets. After that last Soul Position album, which had its moments, only sold 119 copies (you need at least 300 to recoup on Rhymesayers), he just said, Fuck it, and decided to become some sort of techno artist. Meanwhile, where do you think Blueprint is mopping floors these days? Slug's mansion?
Diddy. Has anyone else noticed that Diddy tends to do really, really well in times when hip-hop is in a fucked up state? Coincidence? As far as I know, you can't buy stock in rappers (I'll have to check with my broker), but if you could, I'd urge everyone to dump all your Nas and the Roots and invest heavily in Diddy. 2007 could be an even better year for him than 1997.
'60s and '70s babies. If you don't count Jay-Z, who was born right at the tail end of the '60s, and who's still semi-retired anyway, I can hardly think of anyone born in the '60s who still has a viable career in rap. And even most '70s babies (OutKast, DMX, etc.), who have run hip-hop for a good 15 years now, are beginning to fall on hard times.
Rappers. As I mentioned before in this piece, hip-hop producers aren't having a bad year at all. Ironically, it's the rappers themselves who are hurting the most. While the RZA is out in LA sniffing blow off of hookers and cashing checks for his numerous shitty scores to kung-fu movies, Method Man is on the radio in New York whining like a little bitch about why they won't play his records.
Weed Carriers. Obviously any bad year for rappers is going to be a bad year for the guys who are paid to carry around their stash, but who could have guessed that 2006 would be such a tragic year for weed carriers. The likes of Proof, Israel Ramirez, and Philant Johnson have all been tragically gunned down in the line of duty.
Black people. The thing about being black in times like these is that no matter how fucked up hip-hop gets, you're pretty much stuck with it. For every jig like Cee-Lo, who lucks out and strikes it big with a bullshit rock side project, there's the three or four other members of the Goodie Mob who are stuck playing the strip club circuit and forming weed carrier super groups with members of the St. Lunatics.
So-called conscious rappers. And at least the rest of the Goodie Mob (except for maybe the guy with one leg) can still play to those kinds of audiences. Frequent XXL Blogs punching bag Phonte and the rest of Little Brother had to find out the hard way that no one below the Mason-Dixon line wants to hear anything remotely intelligent. Even T.I.'s weed carrier sold more copies his first week out than the Minstrel Show has sold to date.