BLOG: R.I.P. Ringtone Rapper

Finally I’ve arrived/So we can say our goodbyes/to the ringtone rapper/That crap’ll never survive.” —Saigon

Who knew Saigon was such a prophet. Not the part about arriving—he can’t drop an album to save his life—but about ringtone rappers not surviving. Just a year ago (around fall 2007), the ringtone rap craze was in full effect. You couldn’t stroll down the street without hearing someone’s cell phone annoyingly blasting “Party Like a Rock Star or “Crank Dat” or “This is Why I’m Hot.” A rapper, primarily of the Southern variety, could earn a quick buck with a hit ringtone single and then disappear. Or if lucky, a New York cat named Mims could make decent money off a song based on simple preschool logic: “I’m hot ’cause I’m fly. You ain’t ’cause you not.” Thus the ringtone rapper was birthed.

Where are they now? One-hit-Wonderville. For one, record labels caught on and started including clauses (or something or another) that would give a larger percentage of digital and ringtone revenue to the label instead of the rapper. Now, the ringtone hit is just another part of the deal. More and more artists are getting song deals instead of album deals, and I’ve seen several EPs released recently (Yung Berg, Cool Kids, etc), perhaps as a way to test the waters before making a monetary sacrifice on an album. Then there are 360 deals, which focus on the artist as a “brand.” These have been around for a few years but only recently have they become more widespread and now, pretty much the standard. Not surprisingly, they’re mostly done with new acts, who are more inclined to give up a big portion of any kind of money they generate to the label. “Your soul” is also written in fine print. As a result, fewer and fewer artists are able to survive, ringtone rappers included.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like the fad has died down, leaving Soulja Boy holding the torch. Or, at the least, it’s dissolved into hip-hop and become a part of the norm, like when any “new” trend is introduced, i.e. chopped-and-screwed and soul sampling. It gets overused, Superheaded if you will, and then integrated so much that you barely notice. In other words, there will come a day when you hear Beanie Sigel on Auto-Tune and think nothing of it.

So in the end, the ringtone dudes sort of lost. I wonder how much money these rappers made off their one song and whether they would’ve earned more had their albums sold better. Then again, last month, Chamillionaire became the first “Mastertone” artist in history for selling over 5 million ring tones of “Ridin’ Dirty.” Really? You guys still buying ringtones like that? It’s still what’s poppin’? A dollar for anyone still doing the Aunt Jackie… —clovito

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  • 239allday

    That whole ringtone shit last year and in 06 repulsed me to the point where I boycotted them shits. I was using the regular ring and niggas would look at me like I was a rapist or some shit. I’m glad that the ringtone rap phase is finally dying out. Good riddance!!!

  • Brian “B.Dot” Miller

    damn, where IS Mims?

    • nellz

      i heard some song by him on the radio over the weekend. Wasn’t bad.

    • tony grand$

      I”ll jump off the cliff first, I had “this is why I’m hot” last year. I found some other music (I use the term loosely) he did, & that nigga aint even milk carton worthy.

    • DJ Daddy Mack


      • tony grand$

        I saw his name on it, then quickly pretended that I didn’t.

  • Simple like ABC, 123

    I always keep my cellphone in silence.

  • Silky Johnson

    Am I the only one who thought MIMS’ album had some highlights and wasn’t terrible?

    • yoprince


    • BIGNAT

      oh shit homie you bought that i didn’t even download it.

  • DJ Daddy Mack

    whoever buys a ringtone in 2008 takes an major L.

    • tony grand$

      @ DJ Daddy Mack,

      I feel that. I’m a beast on this here net. I wish I would PAY for a ring tone.

      • Rob The Music Ed

        SMH ya’ll dudes braggin- what happened to supporting your favorite… awww damn forget it!

        • tony grand$

          Cmon Rob, I said ringtone. Ill cop when I think its appropriate.
          *looks the other way suspiciously*

  • Worley

    “there will come a day when you hear Beanie Sigel on Auto-Tune and think nothing of it.”

    If that day comes I am done with rap. As a matter of fact, I’m just about done with it now.

  • amar

    ringtone dudes didn’t lose by a long shot. They made enough money to last me 3 lifetimes comfortably.

    i don’t feel sorry for these people who bought into the fad and lost. Firstly, they made a good chunk of money instead of not even being noticed at all. Secondly, a dude like soulja boy, who pioneered something (ie youtube as promotion)-sure there was some luck and timing involved, but a dude like that who worked his ass off, just look at how he’s living now. Better than mims, i assure u of that

  • Rhiane Jane Gere

    Where can I get any types of auto-tones for my iPhone? Thanks!