Should artists bother releasing albums anymore?

Since Jay Electronica has already managed to make it to middle age without putting out an album, he should seriously consider never putting out a real album, ever.

What if all he ever did was put out singles, like this one he’s got out now with Diddy on the ad-libs, and “Exhibit C,” and the occasional mixtape? Yeah, he’d never have that big album sales payday, but there probably isn’t a big album sales payday to be had at this point. It’d be hard for me to say for certain, without knowing Jack Schitt about how the music business really works, but I suspect that, if artists weren’t making any money from album sales back when people were actually buying CDs, they can’t possibly be making anything these days. Even artists who go gold, which must be the equivalent of, like, 4x platinum back in the late ’90s. If they generate anything beyond what the album cost to record, I’m sure the label just “reinvests that amount in the artist’s career,” i.e. funnels it back into their own pockets.

And there’s no guarantee that an artist like Jay Electronica could sell very many albums anyway. He’d probably just end up doing Little Brother numbers. And I’m not even talking about ’05-era, “failed attempt at a major label career” Little Brother numbers; I’m talking 2K10-era, “completely given up on rap music altogether” Little Brother numbers, i.e. low triple digits. Okay, maybe not that bad. But even if it did as well as that Wale album, it would still be a huge, embarrassing failure by any objective measure. And Wale had the benefit of being willing to compromise himself in whatever way necessary, possibly up to and including teh ghey Illuminati initiation rituals. We’ve yet to hear Jay Electronica do, say, a song about a pair of Nikes, or a song with Lady Gaga.

Lil Wayne put out free music for years and years, and it paid off big time. Tha Carter III had first week sales to rival any album from back when people were actually buying CDs, let alone any contemporary release. If going gold is the modern day equivalent of going 4X platinum, per my own random assertion, I’m not even sure what going 4x platinum would be at this point. That might be the modern day equivalent of Thriller. (Let that sink in for a bit.) But it doesn’t really count for much, because it’s an LCD rap album, and I’m at a loss for why selling millions of copies of something that was purposely designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator should be considered an achievement. McDonalds has sold billions and billions of hamburgers at this point. Possibly trillions. (They might need to change their sign.) I guess that makes it the best restaurant evar?

Alright, bad example…

It might be hard to get worthwhile producers to contribute beats, if they’re not for an album, and if there isn’t a label willing to pay an exorbitant fee, but I think we all know producers aren’t making very much money these days anyway. Pharrell Williams will give you a Neptunes beat for free, in exchange for an executive producer credit on your album. It almost certainly won’t be worth a shit, but the name Neptunes still holds a certain cachet. Just Blaze, the man behind “Exhibit C,” recently had to close his studio down and move to a studio in Harlem somewhere, in a move that struck me as the hip-hop equivalent of when Jason Schwartzman’s bicycle got run over and he ended up having to ride that girls bike, in the movie Rushmore. I can’t imagine Just Blaze got paid much, if anything, to do “Exhibit C.” Is Jay Electronica even on a label? It seems odd that he’s become as prominent as he is, if he isn’t. He might be one of these guys who pretend as if they aren’t signed to a major label, for promotional purposes, like Wiz Khalifa.

If you’ve ever heard an interview with Jay Electronica, he seems a little bit too loopy to be managing his career by himself. To hear him speak, you wonder how he even found his way to the radio station. I realize at least part of it is a speech impediment, but part of it’s the actual shit he says. He comes off like a five percenter version of that character Tracy Morgan used to play on Saturday Night Live that got kinda rapey with Britney Spears. For all we know, he might not be able to concentrate on any one thing look enough to put together a coherent album. Fortunately, there might not be any need to anymore anyway.

  • ally1

    pierzy!!

  • Casey

    …so?

  • Jhon da Analyst

    U might be on to something Bol

  • http://www.mikestreezy.com Mike Streezy

    Click on my name!

    Business changes and we are definitely seeing that in the record industry. I see it becoming more popular and prominent to release singles and save on albums.

    Real artists that understand a concept and the need for a full album to link that as well as the cover and graphics and videos carrying on characters and ideas will still make albums, but other than that its a waste currently.

    I think I said this months ago on one of your blogs though.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    Let me find out Bol be checking my write-ups. The INternet Celebrities stay giving me daps on the topics.

    bboycult.com/2010/04/sign-ahead.html

    ^ what Bol is talking about (coincidentially just done)

    bboycult.com/2010/01/get-your-hand-outta-my-pocket.html

    ^ what the industry ain’t telling you, but are letting you take the blame for.

    bboycult.com/2010/03/learn-rap-alphabets.html

    ^ gotta know this

    Good looking Bol!

  • SNL

    dude’s name on SNL was WOODROW

    • Capital G

      Kibbles and bits/tiny mouse tits… The skit from the sewer? Or is he talking about Brian Fellows? Either way shit was funny as all hell.

  • latino heat

    someone feel free to correct me if i’m wrong but, isn’t that the way the record industry used to work back around the Motown / disco eras? i thought a majority of artists back then only released singles. maybe the industry is coming full circle.

    • capcobra

      cosign cause i think we ruined thier plan..cause our hip hop singles was going platinum+ and so was the album..so they shortened the amount of singles they released on hip hop acts and started rushing the albums…started being greedy cause they knew we’d cop every week and then all of a sudden we up and stopped..we started rocking bootlegs and downloads..fucked ‘em up…so now it’s back to singles until album sales and demands go back up.

  • UncleTom

    I like this one Bol, People dont buy albums too much but they will pay for shows. Drop a couple hot joints and hit the road, Do it rockstar style, I’m suprised you even know who Wiz is
    Taylor gang or kiss Bol on the mouth

  • P. Harris

    Yeah, it’s smart to do now days…

    you get a buzz, producers throwing you beats because you’re hot, venues want to book you, do shows, get paid, and I’m sure if you’re smart… you’re like… “yo, promoter/owner, I only take cash… upfront too muhfutter” tax free money from shows, free parties just to show your face, other rappers want to collab, r&b artist want to collab, tax they azz too, unless they cool, I guess… but I’d be like, “I need some upfront dough on this song.”

    [I doubt there is honor amongst thieves... feel me...]

    Basically, you can make a living off of that alone. I don’t know for how long.

    Real talk, the greed is really the cause of the situation that is going on now. Record execs raping not only the artist, but the consumers too. Over priced CD’s, artist don’t see much of a cut from the album, deadlines to meet, so the artist rushes some shitty product, then you meet the execs, play them the album and they’re like it’s not good enough, album pushed back or never comes out…

    I mean, why put yourself through that when you can make a mixtape of what you want to do and what you want to say and just push that shit out there… You’re not making no money with an album sitting on a shelf? So, why not? Fuck a label…

    But that’s just my opinion or view… I mean, who am I?

    -PH

  • http://xxl All Dae

    McDonalds has sold billions and billions of hamburgers at this point. Possibly trillions. (They might need to change their sign.) I guess that makes it the best restaurant evar?
    ———————————————-

    Nail on the head…

  • W. J. Rice

    That’s funny cuz when I was at a show and he was blah blahing on some crazy shit I was like, this guy is a bit…off…

    I think Jay will release an album and it will go wood. I’m sure it will be a good album, but he isn’t exactly appealing to the masses.

  • http://www.emcdl.com EmCDL

    I always thought that going independent is better: Don’t have to worry about record labels stealing your money aka ‘putting it towards your career’, you put out the music that you want to put out instead of them telling you what to put out and whats current on the radio, and all the money you get from album sales and shows goes to you (but don’t forget to give a cut to your publicist and/or manager). The only problem going independent is the marketing, thats one thing the majors are good for (as you can see how XXL does it on this site).

    As long as you get your connects up and do an ishload of networking (and your music is actually worth listening to), I don’t see the problem doing your own thing IMO…

  • The Decatur Dictator

    The best post evar?

  • Kris

    Albums are a waste of time. Single songs is the only thing that people care about buying now a days if they care about buying music at all.