The days it never rains but it pours
The TIs must have put out a memo: anyone and everyone who still wants to have a career on a major label needs to put out a new song this week.
How else to explain the fact that every time I've been able to stop scouring the Internets for pr0n long enough to check this site, to make sure it hasn't gone out of business (i.e. like twice in the past 24 hours), there's been a new, somewhat important rap song posted? And not just songs by the kind of people who probably would have put out a new song this week anyway, like any of the bums from the last three Freshman 10 issues. I'm talking dudes who could still get someone from a major label on the phone, if necessary, like Rawse, Shyne, and - to a lesser degree - Wale. Not to mention that new song by Big Boi, which hit the Internets either last week or the week before (I didn't care enough to notice), or that new Drake video.
I'd suggest this had something to do with tax season, but I'm pretty sure that's not how income taxes work. Major labels are well known to toss out doomed albums by has-beens like Nelly and Three 6 Mafia, and weed carriers, back when they still let weed carriers put out albums on major labels, just for tax purposes, but I'm pretty sure you have to do that by the end of the calendar year. That's why so many rap albums are released in December. The big corporate rap albums, like the last umpteen Jay-Z albums, are released then to capitalize on the holiday shopping season, but the rest of that shit is just to make it seem like the label didn't make any money that year. Otherwise, they could just leave that shit on the shelf forever - like that Diddy techno album, which has been pushed back for years, despite the fact that Diddy is ostensibly his own boss.
It could be that the financial departments at these labels have been running the numbers for the past few weeks and realizing that they can't afford to wait until the end of the year to pull some shady business. What if the end of the year approaches, and there is no big Jay-Z album to balance out the money the TIs lost betting on Wale and his ilk? Jay-Z was one of the last sure things left in rap music, at least in terms of duping a significant amount of people to run out and cop anything with his name on it, and he's now signed directly to his concert promoter. Off the top of my head, I'm at a loss for anyone the TIs could count on to drop a guaranteed blockbuster. All of those southern rappers are either in the joint, or on their way to the joint. Gucci Mane managed to get free long enough to record a major label album last year, plus umpteen mixtapes, and you see how well that did him. Lil Wayne could probably shit out an album between when he gets out in October and the end of this year, but who knows if it would be worth a shit. Lest we forget, he's already 0 for 1 on the year.
That would explain the sudden emphasis on guys who'd normally seem like long shots. Normally, guys like Big Boi, Dr. Dre, and Shyne would sit on major label rosters for years without actually releasing anything. Shyne obviously didn't have any choice in the matter, having spent the aughts in the joint, converting to Judaism, possibly for the purpose of avoiding being raped, or possibly to lessen the severity of said rape, if what they say about Jewish guys is true. Nullus. But there wasn't anything keeping Big Boi and Dr. Dre from putting out new albums a long time ago, other than the fact that whatever worthwhile they had to contribute to hip-hop they already did several decades ago at this point, and both of them were probably a lot more reliant on talented collaborators than they'd like us to think. Essentially, they're both valuable brand names without a whole lot behind them at this point - which is not to say that they definitely aren't capable of putting out hits at this point. That remains to be seen.
In that sense, they'd probably be best off waiting until they came up with something that's clearly worth a shit. Which is what I'm assuming has been Big Boi's strategy. He's been dropping a new, failed single from Sir Luscious Left Foot: OutKast's Equivalent of Big Pooh every six months or so since back when I was in college, just waiting for someone to give a shit. It looks like the wait might be over though, regardless of how meh "Shutterbug" is. He's on Def Jam now, and Def Jam - in the post Jay-Z era, at least - is the one rap label that continues to crank out new rap albums at a healthy clip, regardless of how ill-advised they might be. (Wu-Massacre, anyone?) And I wouldn't be surprised if 2010 is the year Detox - rap's Chinese Democracy - finally hits stores. It was set to hit the Internets yesterday, along with the rest of the BS I've been rambling about at length. It didn't, but now it kinda has to, right? If they weren't so sure about it, they shouldn't have named it, attached Jay-Z to it, so on and so forth. Now, if it does hit the 'Nets like yesterday, people are gonna start to get suspicious.