Not a rapper, just a hustler that can rap good

Yesterday Coolfer posted a look at Soundscan numbers for recent hip-hop releases. Needless to say, things are bleak this year, and will probably remain so even if the much anticipated blockbuster fourth quarter pans out. With the exception of a handful of albums, rap sucked this year. And it didn’t sell. I have an idea why. One of the c-boys over at Coolfer had the same idea: “These rappers are hustlers in the truest sense, they have no respect for the buyer, just like crack dealers.”

I wrote about this a few months ago in my column at Pound Magazine. I think 2006 will be remembered as the year that The Hustler trumped The MC as the prevailing icon of the culture. The year that rappers became so busy trying to be entrepreneurs and pitchmen and Hollywood actors that they didn’t have the time or the inclination to make dope music anymore. The year that being a rap artist—someone who sincerely aspires to spit mind-blowing rhymes—became, well, kinda corny. The year all your favorite rap stars started adamantly denying they were rappers.

Where, exactly, does that leave rap fans? If it’s corny to make rap music, is it corny to listen to it too?

I have nothing against hustlers per say. There’s always been hustlers in hip-hop, and a good lot of them have managed to make hot music. The problem with so many of the hip-hop hustlers today is that hustling is their sole focus, their primary purpose, their reason to be. That and the fact that they’re often peddling bullshit products. Their goal is to charm you with their slick persona/sexy swagger/dramatic backstory/titillating beefs—and then get you to shell out for a mediocre album, or some ugly sneakers (word to Ice Cream), or a weird energy drink. In some places, guys like that are called con artists. And nobody wants to feel like they’ve been conned.

Which is how you’ll feel if you pick up about 70% of the rap releases this year.

I wonder if this whole dynamic hasn’t contributed to Game’s success. [1] Game is many things—emotional, erratic, stunningly self-destructive. But he’s not too cool to adore hip-hop music. He makes it very, very clear that he wants to be a rapper. He loves everything about it. He loves being part of the culture, he loves listening to other rappers’ music, he even loves buying their CDs.

But most of all, he just seems to love recording rap. And so he makes it good. In turn, we love listening to it. And so we buy his records.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it?

__________________________________________________________________

[1] That’s right, I’m cosigning Kalefa Sanneh at the New York Times and, um, Bol. It’s true. Doctor’s Advocate is the best hip-hop album out this year. So far.

  • Crack

    truth

  • SONNY CHEEBA

    good post, and i don’t normally fuck w/u like that…

  • http://rodneydugue.blogspot.com RD

    Tara Henley, as I wrote in my blog, Rappers are worth 50 cents (no pun) to listeners, while still raking millions for Jimmy Iovine’s family. Real Talk

    RD

  • http://xxl.com robin_tha_hood

    never thought of it like that, but damn it makes sense. but all the hip-hop albums this year are champ, even though i only listin too a few i have to asume for the rest.

  • INVISIBLE_HAND

    WOW! U ETHERD EVERY BLOG ON THE INTERNETS!
    http://www.myspace.com/ianlewismusicmanagement

    NO BOL.

  • tim

    Tara, you are worthless. You and the rest of the xxl bloggers are either to sniffing up an interscope’s artist arm pit to see what the problem is? The problem is downloading the “hood” never brouht cd’s. Surburban america is the ones who made jayz, puffy, big and pac rich. Now those same kids have the internet and just download thier music now. case closed…

    And Lupe Fiasco Food and Liquor is 500 times better than game album. Im so tired of yall simple minded rap finds that think just cuz a dude got hot beats that means he a dope mc. You prolly think jeezy is better than common to huh??

  • INVISIBLE_HAND

    But most of all, he just seems to love recording rap. And so he makes it good. In turn, we love listening to it. And so we buy his records.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    CAN’T EXPLAIN IT BETTER THAN THAT!

  • INVISIBLE_HAND

    LYRIC WISE CLIPSE>GAME
    STORYTELLING GAME>CLIPSE

  • http://www.myspace.com/deensekou sATaLyte

    Good one, really puts into words what a lot of us have been thinking.

    Tru dat, let all these fledgling rappers see, in a second, all that nonsense and drivel they spit out is going to come and bite them in the ass like karma.

    The underground needs to make a power move, the iron is hot.

  • Were Read 2 Def

    if skill sold, truth be told

  • alleyeCNtower

    this is the God’s truth, Tara.
    thanks for spelling it out so clearly… it’s true, these damn hustler shit talkers have NO LOVE for hip hop music. I can’t believe people give a pass to that guy Plies, when he openly and proudly proclaims to not give a fuck about “rap history, DJs, Afrika Bamabaataa, and shit like that”

    WTF is wrong with Black men today?

    see how far you get in life not caring about your own people, your own history, or your own artforms.

    and yeah, we should have public judgement days for rappers who don’t show love… strip em of their jewels and clothes, and send em back to the projects naked and broke so they start from scratch, but more hungry than ever!

    rap is outta control

  • e aka the real noreiaga

    Its part of the image rappers present every one knows there is more money slangin ki’s than platinum cds but who will admit they weren’t good at hustlin.

  • e aka the real noreiaga

    Ay!

  • P-Matik

    Good post, Tara. I think you nailed it for real.

  • http://myspace.com/legacyhiphop Belize

    One of your best posts Tara

    ~Puff~Puff~Propzzz~~~~

  • http://dronkmunk.blogspot.com dronkmunk

    shut up

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    I agree 100%, Tara.

    The Game still has a passion to make good music and it shows. I can’t wait to pick this up tomorrow.

    Good job.

    UNO!

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    I could have sworn I touched on this in a comment I posted about a week ago…but hey…your the columnist…spread the word…cuz these lames here rather accept poison from the blind than truth from the seeing…

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    Can you say Jay-Z

  • http://aramhiphopetc.blogspot.com/ I Fux

    Game= best Rapper in the game right now………..that means overall package and the Documentary is a classic already

  • Bang

    I agree Tara 100%

  • Young A. Simmons

    >It’s true. Doctor’s Advocate is the best hip-hop album out this year. So far.

    so far? Nas, Snoop, Clipse all gonna be fire but topping docs Ad? Naaaa.

    >That and the fact that they’re often peddling bullshit products.

    real talk, its up to the buying public to say ‘we wont accept anything but your best’ to these artists. If they can put in 50% of the work and still get 100% profit then next album they gon stay sloppy and not bother improving.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    Careful with co-signing Bol, Tara. He already has an unhealthy crush on you.

  • http://straightoutleodis.blogspot.com Analogue

    Tara, you don’t always hit with your posts but that’s spot on.

  • LOS

    Dope post. I agree. Rappers aint shit. All that CB4 hustlin and shit. Shit, the price of 100 pack of black CD-Rs = 1 LP.

  • http://gurpcity.net Gurp City

    The best rap album this year is SACRED HOOP “go hogwild”

  • Ron Hambrick

    What genre is selling much better than rap, like it did in the past? Someone as large as Janet Jackson and someone in the tabloids every week like Jessica Simpson move no more than 100k. Are they rappers too? It is obviously a market correction due to the number of outlets to get music aside from record stores. Are you that oblivious or just like taking shots at rap music whenever possible?

  • thoreauly77

    cosign tara and satalyte- tara you nailed it. sat, the “underground” comment is right-on. mayne, i dont know if any of you have heard the count bass d album released on january 1st of thsi year, but its fucking dope, not o mention i am sure sean p’s album is going to kill it. i just figure doom and ghost collab is gonna kill it first quarter next year and that will set the year off right, right?

  • http://www.myspace.com/therapistmusic Therapist

    great point… shit makes a whole lot of sense

    however, game did not drop the best hip hop album this year… nope

  • illadelph

    this is probably one of the best posts I’ve read from you.

  • blackman

    Game album was some hot shit. The best thing about his album was production but lyrically that talking about dre on every fucking song and even sounding like him on a couple of songs was way to much. Plus lyrically he is a average at best rapper.

  • mose

    This is a classic blog entry if ever I have read one. Baby girl captures what is wrong with hip-hop right now. Theres nothing wrong with rapping about hustling (Reasonable Doubt anyone??.) But when artists reduce hip hop to meer hustle this shitt happens. I really hope more artists read this shitt. This blog must be put in the print version of xxl coz it really pitches a great angle on why hip hop is dead. . . coz without some crazy story, you are fucked unless you RAP YOUR ASS OFF!!

  • jacquez
  • crewzta

    Good post.
    I thought I was the only one…

  • Atl’s own

    Ron Hambrick Says:

    What genre is selling much better than rap…Someone as large as Janet Jackson and someone in the tabloids every week like Jessica Simpson move no more than 100k….the problem is number of outlets to get music aside from record stores.(i.e. the internet)
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    real good point!

    if a mofo say he ain’t a rapper and then make a rap album u shouldn’t fuck wit his record!

    oh!

    UGK will have da bets album dis year!

    UGK > Clipse

  • XRAY3000

    TARA >>> BOL ?? LOL..ne ways good post!

  • content

    good post

  • SUPERMAN

    HEY TARA ABSOLUTELY %110 PERCENT TRUE. THESE RAPPERS ARE SELLOUTS AND ONLY IN THE BUSINESS FOR THE MONEY SO ITS THEIR OWN DOWNFALL IF THEIR SHIT DONT SELL. GAME COULD BE TAKEN MORE SERIOUSLY THOUGH IF HE QUIT CRYING LIKE A BABY SO MUCH.

    BUT WAIT, DIDNT K-FED TRY TO BE A SERIOUS RAPPER, FOR THE SAKE OF HIS FANS? OKAY JUST OMIT THAT.

  • SUPERMAN

    tim Says:

    November 16th, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    The problem is downloading the “hood” never brouht cd’s. Surburban america is the ones who made jayz, puffy, big and pac rich. Now those same kids have the internet and just download thier music now. case closed…

    ^^^^^^^^^

    GLAD TO SEE SOMEONE STATE THE FACTS. WHITE PEOPLE BUILT HIP HOP. OH YOU MIGHT THINK IT SOUNDS STUPID BUT THINK ABOUT IT, WHOS MOST LIKELY TO BUY A RAP ALBUM WHEN IT DROPS? OR RUN OUT AND GET THEM G-UNIT REEBOKS? OR WEAR SOUTHPOLE LIKE ITS ROMAN EMPIRE ARMOR? WHITE PEOPLE. THESE LITTLE WHITE BASTARDS PUT MONEY IN THESE RAP STARS POCKETS, AND THEY CAN BE AS EASY TO PULL IT OUT. I COME FROM NYC, WHERE NEARLY NO ONE BUYS ALBUMS, THEY JUST GET THE BOOTLEGS ON THE CORNER OF 161ST, YANKEE STADIUM. BUT DOWN HEAR IN THE SOUTH WHERE THE WHITE PEOPLE REIGN, THEY’D BE THE FIRST ONES TO COP LIL WAYNE AND DAMN EVEN K-FED IF HE HAD GOOD PROMOTION FROM BRITNEY. THOSE SUCKERS ARE BEHIND THE HIP HOP SCENES MORE THAN YOU KNOW. ITS AN UNPROVEN FACT, BUT THERES A REASON WHY EVERYONE SAYS “MOSTLY WHITE PEOPLE” COPPED THE MASSACRE. EVEN THOUGH FROM WHAT IVE SEEN, ITS THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

  • nocal

    Per se =/= per say

  • TARA

    Nocal: My bad. Apparently I need to step up my copy editing game.

  • Scoob…

    So you think Game has a better album than Lupe…Nah. Food & Liquor is Best Hip Hop Album of 2006.

  • http://www.myspace.com/poisonousdarthfc Poisonous Dart

    The hustler/gangsta/rapper has taken the place of the emcee/writer/lyricist in the rap industry nowadays…which is largely why it sucks now. Hip Hop isn’t treated as an artform (at least not at the mainstream level). Just spit 16 bars and have a hook ready. This is why I STILL rock a backpack to this day.

    Oh yeah…

    Food & Liquor>Hell Hath No Fury>HiTeknology 2:The Chip>Doctor’s Advocate

  • Lazy

    Good post, except:
    So far this year’s CD’s better than Doctor’s Advocate:
    Fishscale
    Game Theory
    Food & Liquor

  • Sushi K

    Doctor’s Advocate>>>F&L

    Why? Because I hear it bumping out of every other car in LA right now!!! Why is this great? Because I don’t have to listen to Rick Ross coming out of people’s cars anymore, ha ha!

    Not to mention production is top notch, and Game has transformed into a west coast lyrical crack, despite the ego and wackiness. Fukin’A he can rap!

    Lupe did not connect with an audience, beyond the cable TV video crowd and then never had a follow up hit when the album actually dropped. Album production was kinda half-hearted too. Sorry kid, maybe next time.

  • sandino

    Nice post sexy lady.
    Very Nice, haven’t been here in a minute but this is a good way to come back(unlike jay-z’s wack comeback).

    Keep it up and I might be a regular of yours.

    p.s. When we gonna fuck?

  • H-MAN

    Hey, Tara, I just wanted 2 say, Id like 2 put tha Northern Touch on ya…I cant help it…Az 4 bein tha best…Sumtimez we all gotta learn when 2 duck…no bullsh*t…bein a part iz well, enough…humble I am…We R all a product of our environment, tha ability 2 adapt 2 tha lowest key iz tha highest luv note…If I wrote U a symphony???How about if I struck up tha orchestra???…Take it away Timberlake!!! YEEEAAAH……Timeout…Lupe had good production…Damn, Go Get ya Food and Liquor on…Just dont drink and drive…Care???…time in…hit tha next level we will…yoda rap…hahahaha…Yes, Im a rappa, but alwayz, still a customer…Yes, Im a playa, but alwayz, still a fan…nuttin more nuttin less…what comez around goez around…actually life iz more dramatic then I make it out 2 B…Become one…Body, Mind, and Spirit…Trust me, If I put it on ya, gimmik iz tha last thang youll B sayin…can turn fantasy inta reality…Come on, try me!! When she thinkz about me she likes 2 touch herself…YEAAAA…ya feel me???

  • H-MAN

    more then just a rappa, an artist, I am your enigma!!!

  • H-MAN

    Japanese animaee callz him Akira, I call him THA ONE

  • H-MAN

    Tell me, have any of U, eva, at any moment in time, felt tha way U felt, right afta readin this??? Just imagine hiz speach…HE iz good…blessed R tha onez that serve tha people…One Luv…tha life iz in your veinz, free your body, and your mind will follow…He did it ALL 4 U…perfect circle…

  • H-MAN

    can make tha whole world uno wit just one word…LIKE…this word iz a tool I use 2 help identify wit people…2 put it in perspective so EVERYONE understandz…It feeelz so good 2 B able 2 relate, I know and YES, I AM ON THA RIGHT HAND, but at tha same time, NO, I AM NOT ON THA LEFT…FOREEVER IN THA MIDDLE, meanz U R CENTERED…BALANCE…YIN YANG…Do U people not C???? It waz never me, it waz alwayz U…

  • john cochran

    I’ve listened to Lupe’s album. It was good for a time, but it eventually found it’s way out of my rotation. See, A good album will stand the test of time. If you can look back on an album 5 years from now, pick it up and still bang, it was worth your 10 bucks. I think I would do that with game’s, but jigga or lupe’s latest shit; it’s doubtful.

  • john cochran

    People have to realize that hiphop is not being marketed to adults anymore. They put that bullshit out ( joc, jeezy,rick) because they know 12-17 year olds will eat it up. Why? because thier parents didnt tell them what hiphop was about back in the day and now they are ignorant. I was holla in’ at this young chick the other day. The bitch didnt know who KRS-one was!! Cmon yall

  • Twelve

    SUPERMAN Says:

    November 17th, 2006 at 11:57 am
    tim Says:

    November 16th, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    The problem is downloading the “hood” never brouht cd’s. Surburban america is the ones who made jayz, puffy, big and pac rich. Now those same kids have the internet and just download thier music now. case closed…

    ^^^^^^^^^

    GLAD TO SEE SOMEONE STATE THE FACTS. WHITE PEOPLE BUILT HIP HOP. OH YOU MIGHT THINK IT SOUNDS STUPID BUT THINK ABOUT IT, WHOS MOST LIKELY TO BUY A RAP ALBUM WHEN IT DROPS? OR RUN OUT AND GET THEM G-UNIT REEBOKS? OR WEAR SOUTHPOLE LIKE ITS ROMAN EMPIRE ARMOR? WHITE PEOPLE. THESE LITTLE WHITE BASTARDS PUT MONEY IN THESE RAP STARS POCKETS, AND THEY CAN BE AS EASY TO PULL IT OUT. I COME FROM NYC, WHERE NEARLY NO ONE BUYS ALBUMS, THEY JUST GET THE BOOTLEGS ON THE CORNER OF 161ST, YANKEE STADIUM. BUT DOWN HEAR IN THE SOUTH WHERE THE WHITE PEOPLE REIGN, THEY’D BE THE FIRST ONES TO COP LIL WAYNE AND DAMN EVEN K-FED IF HE HAD GOOD PROMOTION FROM BRITNEY. THOSE SUCKERS ARE BEHIND THE HIP HOP SCENES MORE THAN YOU KNOW. ITS AN UNPROVEN FACT, BUT THERES A REASON WHY EVERYONE SAYS “MOSTLY WHITE PEOPLE” COPPED THE MASSACRE. EVEN THOUGH FROM WHAT IVE SEEN, ITS THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    That right there is the fuckin’ truth … let’s put it this way .. lets say you make bangin “blue shirts” but everyone “downloads them for free” .. and then you have a group of people that will pay for your “shirts”, but they like corny Pink shirts .. what are you gonna do????? …….. MAKE PINK SHIRTS!!!! .. get it people???

    The large number of people that actually pay for Hip Hop are the ones that ultimately influence what these artist will put out.

  • Twelve

    buyers delegate the music …

    … “real headz” aren’t buying …

    thus, we don’t delegate the music …

    so either get used to the wak shit

    that is out … OR … let’s take back

    control of this fuckin’ thing!

  • Cuban Link

    A) How the fuck has rap sucked this year?Maybe mainstream but we had some fucking sick albums

    Obie Trice-Second Rounds On Me
    Ice Cube-Laugh Now, Cry Later
    Busta Rhymes-The Big Bang
    Lupe Fiasco-Food & Liquor
    The Roots-Game Theory
    Vakill-Worst Fears Confirmed
    Chino XL-Poison Pen
    Cunninlynguists-A Piece Of Strange
    Strange Fruit Project-The Healing
    Jedi Mind Tricks-Servants in Heaven, Kings In Hell
    2Mex n Life Raxall-Are $martyr
    AZ-The Format
    Black Sheep-8WM/Novakane
    Ghostface Killah-Fishscale
    Method Man-4:21 the day after
    Masta Killah-Made in Brooklyn
    Swollen Members-Black Magic

    and many more but I cant be bothered to name them all

    B)How the fuck is Games CD album of the year?That shit sucked donkey nuts(no Weezy f Baby)That CD was trash, it had like 4 good beats, one of the most annoying songs Ive ever heard(Scream On Em) and terrible lyrics.In fact, if I was Dre, Id go into hiding to be sure Game won’t rape me R.Kelly style.If u think his CDs best this year, look at the list above

    C)Hate to break it to ya, but that hustler shit ur talking about started last year when Mike Jones came around, with Still Tippin and all.06 was just part II of the massacre.

  • Sushi K

    ^^^
    Game may not be a better rapper than some of those on your list, but he is not embarrassing (Jeezy, Rick, Young #%@#, Lil #*%*%). The young ones will buy it and listen to it.

    Thing is, it will sell very well, whereas none of those albums you listed* sold. Do you really want TI or Young Joc or Rick Ross to have the best-selling album this year**? It’s about principalities, Smokey!

    *By the way, I own half the CD’s on your list, so you know where my heart is at

    **Ok let’s prettend Jay-Z is not putting anything out this year. Then again Outkast’s last album sold 10mil, and look what happened to them…

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  • Gangztah

    Im a portuguese rapper and here we have a lot of that underground artists but the problem is now a days everybody wants to be a rapper without even knowin the true sense of it. They think its just about makin rhymes and beats ans thats about it. Im kinda tired of that underground rap artists couse for once they tell in music that they aint on the rap game to get that cash but when it starts coming up they get all cocky and shit thinking that they belong t high class status now. So im sorry to say this but to hell with those fake ass underground rappers and im sick of these mainstream rappers too, cause they aint hustlers at all, now they are just figures on the commercial level. A hustler its someone who manages to get money with the little that he has, so none of these game, 50 cent, puff daddy n whatever are really hustlers cause they already got the public lovin them so they know it already, they gonna get your money cause they got you granted. My advice its make good music, something that sounds like game, pac, snoop dogg shit but do it with the love that krs-one, lupe fiasco and some other underground rappers have for hip hop. Dont be a clone cause that aint good. Hip Hop its about inovation, doing things that was never done before, everybody got their story to tell but dont do it like all other rappers, tell your story in a different way. Thats how i feel about all this. Thanks. And by the way, great post Tara

    Ya boy Gangztah, 1

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  • Sam

    Well, Game made a good album, but you can’t really say that Game’s album is better/worse than Lupe’s, first of all,
    Lupe doesn’t do the same kind of music (rap about skating and stuff, while Game talks about guns and being a gangster and such stuff). Game might not have done the best CD of the year, but at least one of the best (better than his old comrades from G-Unit, Jeezy, Jigga and in my opinion T.I, although I don’t got much love for southern music) albums this year.

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