SCRATCH: Bring Back That Ringtone Rap

Oh ringtone rap, where art thou?

Seems as if just two years ago you were the reason why everyone in hip-hop was complaining. Now it’s like you’ve moved on and left rap to exist solely blogs, mixtapes, and rap websites. You can’t leave rap alone, THE GAME NEEDS YOU!

08′ came and went with nary a real ringtone hit. Like, a real ringtone hit, one where you damn sure know the song (and most likely it’s accompanying dance), but for the life of you can’t name the artist who makes the song. And I, for one, am pissed about it. I mean, what are people in the kosher aisle of the supermarket supposed to hear when someone calls me, “Party Like A Rockstar?” That song is damn near two years old. When’s a new one hit wonder going to step to plate and make another easily forgettable ringtone smash?

It might not happen, because it’s very possible that the era of the ringtone rapper has come to an end. Maybe we need to end the discussion on ringtone rap right here and now. Let’s analyze.

In 2006, the top 10 selling ringtones included smash hits such as D4L’s “Laffy Taffy,” the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps,” DJ Unk’s “Walk It Out,” Jibbs’ “Chain Hang Low,” and Jim Jones’ “We Fly High.” The ringtones here are a nice mixture of new (Jibbs, Unk) and old (BEP, Jim Jones) acts, but for the most part you can see that silly songs with accompanying dances are the key. Even “Ballin” had that shooting a basketball dance that went along with it.

Then in 2007, the floodgates opened. You had T-Pain’s “Buy U A Drank,” Mims “This Is Why I’m Hot,” Soulja Boy’s “Crank That,” “Shop Boyz’ “Party Like A Rockstar,” Akon’s “Don’t Matter,” Huey’s “Pop, Lock and Drop It,” Hurricane Chris’s “A Bay Bay,” Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls,” and Plies “Shawty.” Hip-Hop had 9 of the top 10, with the only other song being a Nickelback track, go figure. Out of this crop of ringtone rappers/singers, Akon was cementing himself as a star, T-Pain was just getting started, and Plies looked like just another Southern rapper imitating Juvenile. Hurricane Chris and Huey had dances that went with their songs, Mims was a New York rapper who rhymed over a catchy Southern beat, and Sean Kingston borrowed perhaps one of the top 5 most recognizable songs ever written and recorded his hit (Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”).

But in 2008, things changed. Really, the only urban songs that made it into the top 10 were Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop,” TI’s “Whatever You Like,” Usher’s “Love In This Club,” Ray J’s “Sexy Can I,” and Flo Rida’s “Low.” One could argue that Flo Rida and Ray J are the only two one hit wonders out of this crop of acts. For the most part, Usher, TI, and Wayne performed well on the charts regardless of whether they sold ringtones.

By looking at the numbers, you can see that a lot of the fly by night rap artists aren’t breaking through anymore. If 2006 was the year everyone found out they could make a couple mill by saying nothing on the track, 2007 was the year they actually implemented that strategy. By 08′, clearly frustrated by being late to the party, the record labels got hip to the game, and made it so the big boys like TI and Wayne would make ringtone raps that would eclipse those corny little dance tracks. That’s not to say there weren’t a bunch of big rap songs from little known rappers (Shawty Lo’s “Dey Know,” and Rocko’s “Umma Do Me” come to mind), but for the most part a few of the artists who got big through ringtones (Plies and T-Pain) remain, and the others have fallen by the wayside.

So I think it’s time to close the book once and for all on ringtone rap. Ringtones are a part of the way we consume music, just like the iTunes digital download. And while there will always be new catchy dances and songs that entertain the kids, like the “Stanky Leg,” ringtone rap’s period of relevance is pretty much over. There will still be one hit wonders, that’s for sure. But they’re going to come and go a lot of faster, to the point where if you blink, you might just miss them.

What do you think?

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  • jackpot

    Firsttt!! I like the way things are now. I like the rappers with the biggest ringtones are also viable. There will always be one hit wonders, but the fewer, the better.

    • tony grand$

      Intil the oxycodone babies kick in as the premier generation, the crack babies, with adhd & such, will be in charge. Ringtone rap won’t necessarily die off, but just conform with the times.

      The existence of the one hit wonder itself will never die. That’s a music industry staple.

  • DJ Daddy Mack



  • jmes

    why wasn’t chamillionaire mentioned he is the biggest selling ring tone artist ever

    • Honestasicanb

      Yeah where is the hell is Koopa. You may not like him but he did win a grammy with the biggest selling ringtone ever. Is it possible to talk about anything if you don’t talk about the best and worst of it all.

  • Mr. Blabber Mouth

    don’t get it twisted Flo-rida
    new song is a hit nigga…

    he ain’t no one hit wonder!

    • JeffDaChef

      Flo-Rida is corny as hell!!!

  • Gooch

    no he isn’t, Flo Rida is

  • D-Block

    are u fuckin retarded? ringtone rappers are killin hip hop i want them to get the fuck outta here

  • icetray

    let’s hope ringtone rappers stay away for good

  • Pierzy

    My phone has a regular ring on it. My iPod has real hip-hop on it. Let’s keep the two separate now and forever.

    If you really want a ringtone that bad, just get the instrumental.

  • Worley

    Ringtone rappers set the stage for a return to the old music business model: put out a single and see what it does. Labels ain’t wastin’ money on a wack n*gga makin’ a wack album. If s/he can only make one song then so be it. They’ll rape that and then rape someone else. Less risk.

  • GP

    I’m glad these corny fags are gone bring real Hip-Hop back. We can’t blame anyone else we killed Hip-Hop our damn selves.

  • Matt Herbz

    Problem with them shits is that they are so overplayed on the radio anyway that when your phone is blowing up you didn’t even notice.

    Plus, them shits was gay.

    –Matt Herbz–

  • Avenger XL

    If what you are saying is Hip-hop needs them to maintan some kind of connection in the mainstream publics eye. I would say yes you are correct but hip-hop is still pretty solid in dance so it will be ok. Besides they helped corporations to paint Hip-hop as nothing but mindless dance music rather than saying ringtone rap is just a subgenre. There will always be one hit wonders you just see even less originality right now, so once a corny dude establishes his lane 50 dudes jump up on it. Besides dance music and the artists associated with it usually have the life span of the common fruit fly. Nobody really cares about them unless they can put it down like luke but even he had the fact that his sound was new and he had his own subculture in Florida nightlife to support him. The new dance rappers only have the fickle internets and generation A.D.D. who forget you in the amount of time it takes you to hit send on a email.

  • Mean Greene

    Never fear Gooch, Cyssero’s Swag it out is picking up steam.

  • $ykotic

    Micro sd memory card.

    Most phones have the capability to use them. especially the 2k7-2k8 jacks.

    Load that sucker with joints old and new outta iTunes, kill the ringtone rapper.

    LIMEWIRE IS A BITCH. Pass the knowledge on……

  • Jhon da Analyst

    “I hate you, you, and I don’t even know you and I hope everything in life bad happens to you and only you.” Fuck those ringtone bastards!!

  • EmCDL

    Man fuck the ringtone rap game! I hated it when it was hot, and I hate it now that its cold. Tired of these kats getting into the game just for freakin money; they cheating on hip hop for the bills! What happened to the hungry kats that just wanted to get their message out there and show that they can spit, and have more sensible subject matter than fucking hoes and getting money? And mostly importantly having fun with your craft! (Or should I say having your own craft too…a lot of biters out there nowadays). Hopefully with this little recession we in, we will see a change in how hip hop is displayed and more real hip hop will be aired on the radios. I mean who the hell wants to hear about having Bentleys and and fucking bitches? I’m broke nicca I’ll rob ya ass! LOL

  • Simple like ABC, 123

    R.I.P. Ringtone Rappers 2006-2008

  • amar

    man no matter what ringtone i get, it gets old in 2 minutes and embarasses me. I keep my phone on a nice vibrate+generic tone combo.

  • iLLSiC

    ringtone hip hop is straight. but when ringtone rappers were on top and out selling real artists it was fucking frustrating. the ring tone rappers should realize their position in the food chain, they are entertainers not artists.

    i don’t know how many of yall know about kiss but those dudes music was simple and weak. if u went to show though they had explosions and crazy shit, they would just put on one hell of a show for you. the cool thing about them is they wouldn’t like to be called musicians or artists, because they were entertainers. indeed.

  • mdb

    thats like asking, “whatever happened to the taliban? they used to drop videos on the regular, now you don’t hear from them nearly as much”

  • moneychamp

    @ mdb
    thats like asking, “whatever happened to the taliban? they used to drop videos on the regular, now you don’t hear from them nearly as much”

    LOL nice one