Poets & Pirates

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Here’s the real reason Kanye is winning: singles don’t sell albums albums anymore. Sure, Kanye has dropped bigger singles than 50 this time out, but I suspect that has very little to do with why he’s selling records. It’s because he’s presented himself as an artist. It’s an image thing. Both 50 and Kanye are arrogant rap divas who make pop music, but Kanye does it under the auspices of creativity. 50 Cent presents himself as a businessman first.

Those who interpret yesterdays sales results as a triumph for positive, creative conscious rap over the evil gangsta mass marketed ringtone contingent fail to realize that the supporters of the later category weren’t even coming out to the polls. Those heads haven’t bought an album in years. Hell many of them have probably never bought an album in their life (poor kids). Having spent most of the past year working in a record store, I can definitively say that nobody under the age of 19 is buying physical albums anymore. But you already knew that.

On the other hand the type of people who are still buying albums have a knee jerk aversion to this ringtone model, and this is why album oriented, old head rap – Kanye, UGK, Common – has consistently charted so highly this year, regardless of quality. Just the other day, a friend of mine who has never purchased a UGK album to date, but has always enjoyed their singles said something to the effect of “maybe I should buy that new UGK because I don’t think I will be buying any other albums in 2007.” The album oriented rapper appeals to the listener who feels abandoned by the industry, but retains a desire to support hip hop, even in the face of complete indifference. Sales haven’t risen dramatically for these artists but their numbers have proven noticeably resilient to the drop that has affected their “shallow” counterparts. As a pop artist and not just a pop artist Kanye is able to work both sides of this crowd (of course a highly publicized feud with a rap supervillain didn’t hurt his sales either).

For the time being this is a win win situation. Fans of disposable pop and club rap can still cop that 99 cent itunes jump off and do youtube dances while labels, run by the same change fearing old heads, will hopefully recognize this trend and put more of a promotional emphasis on the album oriented rapper. At least for a few years, until the best and brightest of the LED rap generation become the label execs. So, by my calculations, you (I’m talking to you, Sickamore) got roughly ten years to make the next Illmatic. Let’s get it!

  • T.R.E.Y.

    it’d still be cool if ya actually commented on the records. but, good post.

    can we all agree that “Krispy” is the shit though? i mean c’mon now.

  • og bobby j

    I copped 50…dubbed kanye and probably wont buy another album until
    papoose-the nacerima dream
    dre-detox
    or if em drops this year…

    Like the block….good product keeps them comin back…even if em’s last album (not re-up) was trash

  • Dan99

    Krispy is a wackass song.

  • http://www.myspace.com/quazar420 Cornell South

    I don’t know, I ain’t sure man. I watched the 106 jump off, and it seems to have been planned from the jump. The whole thing with Kanye’s Big Brother, and his appearance seems to have a strategic feel to it. Of course, since this is a business, you know Hovito spoke to “The Kid” before the Hot 97, mention which help boost 50′s visibility. Now, a few years later it wouldn’t be hard to see the two disscussing the “clash of the titans” months in advance. Both singles have to do with “Money” and mix rather cohesively together. No madder how it is mixed, 50 over the Ye’s instrumental, or Ye sped up over 50′s the result is some pretty hot sh*t. Then you have to take into account Ye’s new “Good Life” single, which says “50 told me to switch my style up…” Truly these are not the words of a man ready for a “clash”. Perhaps, in this era of fickle fans, the two came together behind closed doors and orchestrated this stunt to galvanize a true boost in intrest in an artists’ album release. With Hov (Kingdom Come) and T.I. (King) being the bar set, it was going to take some type of hype to create evidence that these two releases were tight. The similarities between these points are more than just mere coincidence. One must know the past in order to understand the future…
    -Cornell South

  • T.R.E.Y.

    well, compared to “Throw Some D’s” maybe. but that was a high-water mark for ringtone rap.

  • Deez Nutz

    “Rice krispies, rice krispies, snap, crackle and pop right with me”….Get the f*ck out of here with that bullsh*t..Hip hop is alive but Rap is dead as a mothaf*cka…

  • http://DDupointdos.state.fl.us Ghost of 2Pac

    I see ya don’t vote! But anyway If I tell ya how the business really works. Yall swear I’m alive! I bet ya soundscan know what they are doing. I let ya readers figger it out. But in the mean time. I gotta show to do up here.
    Pac-

  • jay

    dont you mean LCD Rap. What’s LED rap? idiot.

  • Incilin

    Noz is on fire. Two crazy ill posts in a row? Yes indeed. Great post, and along the lines of what Jay Smooth was talking about the other day. BTW, have you heard the Chamillionaire album?

  • http://DDupointdos.state.fl.us Ghost of 2Pac

    Where’s my post!

  • hannah smith

    yeah but common and ugk sold barely over 100,000 in the first week then disappeared – it’s the same numbers you were all making fun at mobb deep and young buck for selling

  • smog

    dude you make no fuckin sense
    how are you about to say this about 50 in your last post -
    “It’s his defining moment and a truly shining example of an artist bearing his soul for the sake of artistry. Never preaching, Curtis delivers some of the most poignant social commentary ever put to record.”
    and then on the next post say this about 50
    “Both 50 and Kanye are arrogant rap divas who make pop music, but Kanye does it under the auspices of creativity. 50 Cent presents himself as a businessman first.”
    dude you dont make no sense
    go back to tryin to writen how you love ugk and how you hate common
    o wait you already did the first part in this post

  • http://www.cocaineblunts.com/ noz

    Jay: Light emitting diode

    Hannah: Yeah I basically say as much in my post. It’s not that these albums are doing incredible numbers, it’s that most everything else is failing miserably.

  • N.O. 4 life

    so what is gonna be your explanation for when wayne sells alot?….17 year olds (who love hip hop), me being one, do buy albums….we just buy who we really support…

  • LowEndofDaChi

    I enjoy your posts brother. Its funny you mentioned working in a record store, one of the illest one’s on Chicago’s southside (DR. Wax, anyone?) is closing because of the lack of “album” oriented releases. And the trend of the underage to download rather than buy albums (but w/this sh!tty climate, I can’t knock them too hard for doing so!). A&R’s aren’t looking for the next Illmatic or its 2nd coming, they’re looking for whoever can make the next snap/dance joint that’ll be popular for the next 6 months.

    We got that real ish coming though. I promise. You read it here first.

  • smog

    for real dr wax is closing, is they having a going out of buisness sale? i havent been there in like four months. last time i was there i got real bad allergies cause of all the dust!

  • http://mannywallace.blogspot.com Manny

    @SMOG: The last blog post was a reference to Curtis Mayfield’s “Curtis” album and the Ohio Players’ “Graduation” album

  • smog

    o my bad, im a dumbass for all those who didnt already know

  • LowEndofDaChi

    Man Smog you from the Chi? I’m trying to figure out the same thing! My dumb ass took my grandmother to Calypso’s (also in Harper’s Court) for her bday last week and didn’t even check! Go figure!

  • DirtDoggy

    Fans of disposable pop and club rap can still cop that 99 cent itunes jump off and do youtube dances or whatever while labels, run by the same change fearing old heads, will hopefully recognize this trend and put more of a promotional emphasis on the album oriented rapper. At least for a few years, until the best and brightest of the LED rap generation become the label execs. So, by my calculations, you (I’m talking to you, Sickamore) got roughly ten years to make the next Illmatic. Let’s get it!

    DISPOSABLE POP AND CLUB RAP, that’s about it, even the 14 year olds that like that garbage will eventualy question themselves and feel embarrased.

  • http://www.cocaineblunts.com/ noz

    “DISPOSABLE POP AND CLUB RAP, that’s about it, even the 14 year olds that like that garbage will eventualy question themselves and feel embarrased. ”

    That’s not true. They will just forget about it and move on to the next thing.

  • BIG ROB

    NOZ why are you back pedaling after telling everyone to go and buy Fifty’s album and now championing Kanye as being an artist. Make up your mind. Is Kanye good or bad for hip hop?

  • DANJA29

    Yeah… that’s really all there is to it. THIS is the point in time where we find out who people REALLY give a fuck about, because that “one big hit = platinum album” shit is over. People are going out and buying the people who they’re REALLY interested in for more than just a hook or a single. That’s why the Shop Boyz, Mims, and niggas like that are flopping while Jay, TI, Kanye, 50 are still doing their numbers. I predict Wayne is gonna do some great numbers on the next album too. It’s just unfortunate for hip-hop that we don’t have more artists who are relevant on that level… cause this shit could really thrive if we had more, and them lil’ one-hit niggas wouldn’t even be so bad.

  • Fire

    Big Rob,
    Look at the links from yesterday’s post “Curtis vs. Graduation”. The post is talking about Curtis Mayfield and Ohio Players albums, not Kanye and 50. Plus, in Noz’s opinion Kanye presented himself as an artist for an image and 50 didn’t, and that’s why more people are buying Kanye (including myself, that album is awesome, as is Kanye’s entire catalogue).

  • boobie

    great post and real valid points.

  • http://governmentnames.blogspot.com Government Names

    Thanks for better articulating what I’ve been saying for the last few months. Old heads and wannabe-old backpacker heads are the only people who haven’t stopped buying rap albums. Maybe in a few years we’ll have AOR (album oriented rap) stations the way they used to have album oriented rock stations.

  • http://www.cocaineblunts.com/ noz

    NO – That’s a good point. Teens do buy Wayne.

  • the one

    Cornell South Says:

    September 12th, 2007 at 1:23 pm
    I don’t know, I ain’t sure man. I watched the 106 jump off, and it seems to have been planned from the jump. The whole thing with Kanye’s Big Brother, and his appearance seems to have a strategic feel to it. Of course, since this is a business, you know Hovito spoke to “The Kid” before the Hot 97, mention which help boost 50’s visibility. Now, a few years later it wouldn’t be hard to see the two disscussing the “clash of the titans” months in advance. Both singles have to do with “Money” and mix rather cohesively together. No madder how it is mixed, 50 over the Ye’s instrumental, or Ye sped up over 50’s the result is some pretty hot sh*t. Then you have to take into account Ye’s new “Good Life” single, which says “50 told me to switch my style up…” Truly these are not the words of a man ready for a “clash”. Perhaps, in this era of fickle fans, the two came together behind closed doors and orchestrated this stunt to galvanize a true boost in intrest in an artists’ album release. With Hov (Kingdom Come) and T.I. (King) being the bar set, it was going to take some type of hype to create evidence that these two releases were tight. The similarities between these points are more than just mere coincidence. One must know the past in order to understand the future…
    -Cornell South
    “”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"”"

    Nice post. Very good points.