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Where are they now?

You know, every week I do one of these posts where I mock some rapper for underperforming on this week’s Billboard, and invariably one (if not many) of you d-bags responds with something along the lines of, Well, why should I give a shit about album sales anyway?

The thought being that as long as the album is good, who cares if it sold 10 copies or 10 million. Will it sound any different to Rey, to use an example, after a long day of working the sour cream gun at Taco Bell?

Plus, who’s to say how many albums sold constitutes a successful rap album these days? If Food and Liquor only sold 80,000 copies its first week out, why not just make that the new benchmark?

Well, for starters, who’s going to pay for this shit? It’d be one thing if rappers were just recording albums in their basements and putting them out for free over the Internets like Roosevelt Franklin, but they aren’t.

Major record labels spend insane amounts of money producing and promoting artists under the assumption that said artists are going to sell a shiteload of copies. What happens if they don’t?

On the track “Where Are They Now?” from Hip-Hop Is Dead, Nas wonders aloud what happened to a whole slew of shitty rappers from the late ’80s and early ’90s. You get the idea that the vast majority of them didn’t decide of their own volition to quit the music biz.

Indeed the annals of popular music in general (no Weezy F Baby), let alone hip-hop, are filled with poor bastards who couldn’t move enough units and hence were forced to go back to robbing banks or managing a Church’s chicken or whatever.

Let’s face it: If there wasn’t a dollar to be made, most of your favorite artists wouldn’t have begun rapping in the first place.

The real question is, could hip-hop music in general meet the same collective fate as, say, Little Brother. If people keep not buying rap albums, how long will major labels bother trying to promote them? A case could be made that this is already happening.

So you see, album sales aren’t just an important issue, they’re arguably the most important issue of all. My bad if discussing them makes you feel bad about your life. (But, um, not really.)

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