Hip-Hop Ain’t Dead Y’all Just Got Cheap — Purchasing Power

So, the conversation arose a few times in the XXL office regarding the hype… Well, the lack thereof, for EP releases. Now, the question is; is it because of the new age hip-hop fans, or, is it that the quality of music has slowly decreased? The answer to this may vary based upon individual opinion, but there’s still an existing hype among music lovers within the current generation. I won’t allow your anticipation to stir up any longer, my answer is simple: mixtapes, mixtapes, and mixtapes!

As we all may have noticed, the mixtape game has been fluttered with not only underground artists, but mainstream artists have also turned down this avenue. Our EIC Vanessa Satten, and Deputy Editor Rob Markman schooled my fellow XXL interns and I the other day about the mixtape game and the anticipation and eagerness felt by avid old-school hip-hop fans.

Mixtapes used to contain just a few dope records, as a temporary appeasement until the album dropped. Cool, right? I know, BUT this is not longer the case. Now, it seems as though artists drop mixtapes—which are relatively lengthy—to grasp a response from listeners, then follow-up with an EP. In some cases, this may actually work, but in others, it may be just slightly overwhelming. Once again, this opinion may vary upon perspective. Nonetheless, I began to wonder about the transition of the mixtapes and the decline of EPs, holistically.

Recent mixtapes receiving ultra Twitter buzz have been the Albert Anastasia EP by Ricky Rozay, T.I.’s Fuck a Mixtape, and Wale’s More About Nothing, to name a few. And although these are recent, and fresh in the iPod’s “now playing” playlist, we cannot forget the No Ceilings, Beam Me Up Scotty’s, and So Far Gone’s. As my fellow intern, Calvin Stovall said, “We too anticipate the release of new mixtapes and albums, but instead of standing on line at the today’s Best Buy and yesterday’s J&R Music World, we sit in front of our MacBook and HP laptops awaiting the almighty Mediafire link. Perhaps this is the difference and as evident as it may seem, technology may indeed be the reason for the lackluster desire for a tangible record. The thrill? Yeah, it’s gone. But me, I would love to sit here and await the return.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m also a victim of sitting in front of the computer screen, awaiting the link for the next mixtape—what can I say; I’m a teenage, eager, rap lover—but then it struck me: What’s the reason behind this epidemic? I actually miss the satisfaction of handing the clerk my hard earned, $10 and rushing home on the 4 train, JUST to rip open the plastic. The same plastic wrapping that I irritably struggle to rip open before placing all frustration on the manufacturers for making it so difficult to open the darn CD anyway! I may be showing my age here, but I’d put my CD in my boom box and play a hole in the record, no lie and no pun intended [haha]; on repeat. That is what I miss.

You see, this doesn’t make me question the life of hip-hop in any way, shape or form. It just makes me believe that my generation has less patience and it’s way more convenient to click a link than to actually buy an album. But, I mean, if it’s your favorite artist, you would show love by supporting in every way possible, right? And yet again, this opinion very well may vary upon perspective, but I do wonder. —Aleia Woods

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  • mello

    crackin’ plastic, windows down, blunt ready to go, listening front to back! Plus, what people are missing are the intangibles – the liner notes, knowing who produced each track, seeing cover art in larger than 150 pixels by 150 pixels.

    Another thing about mp3s is that though we could listen to them on big home stereo speakers or in our rides – often we don’t. People today listen to album on crappy mac book speakers they can’t even get a bass line out of.

    My routine:
    download. listen. if it’s dope, order the cd. If the cd plays for over 30 days in the rotation, order the vinyl. If the vinyl is copped, hit the show.

  • caino

    Good drop!! l may be showing my age as well, but like you l miss the anticipation of an album dropping, going to buy ‘said’ album, getting home and playing the album to death!!

    Now the is no anticipation, songs are leaked or whole albums are leaked therefore no one needs to go and buy the album as you have already heard all the songs!!

    Shit, l remember the days when a single was just that, a single!! The album had totally new songs and the single on the radio wasn’t even on it!! aahhh memories!

  • mako

    I’m sure you meant LP instead of your frequent use of EP, correct?

    • W. J. Rice

      I agree. I think the person meant to say LP

      • Anslem

        Nah, she meant EP. You’ll notice more artists are dropping EPs as opposed to LPs and mixtapes. There’s some sort of EP trend for those lately.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    I like this and especially coming from an intern BUT i don’t think the problem is mixtapes. Hip hop is definetly not dead. Its part ceo’s who are far removed from the culture, the streets, and hip hop in genral. So, they sign the coolest trend or in this case an artist who gets the most hits.

    The overall problem is just the interent. Lets get real, they are dope albums. The Roots only sold…ya. BUT, there concerts are PACKEd. Clearly, fans are downloading full albums. Mixtapes have been always apart of the game BUT they were harder to get. Being from the south, I couldn’t wait to go back to philly or nyc to get the latest mixtape and be the first back home with it. Or call my kin folk to have it maildown. I can promise you that more people downloaded rick ross’s cd vs buying it. The same for distant relatives or the WU joint. the interent has to be regulated. Artist should go on strike to get it done.

  • Sha

    Co-Sign the hell out of ff1one@yahoo.com!!!!

    The game changed. Nobody could have seen the impact that the internet would have on music.

    On second thought……

    That’s bullshit….

    The movie industry saw it and got ahead of the curve. Record companies are getting their just desserts. We didn’t get cheap. We just got tired of getting raped.

    And let me educate a few of you…..

    There is technology to prevent the exploitation of music downloads and even dubbing from the radio. But the problem is the record companies don’t want to make the computer companies partners. They want to continue to dominate. Until they partner up, this will get worse. Stay tuned….

  • El Tico Loco

    If some artists stopped screaming about how much money they got I might feel more compelled to give them some of mine, even if the material IS garbage. Another thing I notice is that labels and artists are getting in return what they put into their work.

    • W. J. Rice

      Interesting point. I think it affected me on a psychological level seeing all these rapper blinged out and I’m not.



    • 50 TYSON


  • Teddy

    1. fuckin artists havin a cry cos were not paying man u know what world this is if i can get something for free i will money doesnt grow on trees what i should feel a sadness that my favorate artist makes 500 000k instead of 3 mill
    man i get paid peanuts so they can eat a dick they would do it just like i do if they could arrh!

    2. and the whole by downloadin were not supporting is bullshit i go to a hell load of live shows i pay for that shit cos no ones figures out a way to get that for free yet but trust me as soon as they do im not paying, they ask me am i ashamed ,
    so my answer to you remains
    I can walk down the hall or mirrors, in Versailles
    And be so satisfied when I look a myself in the eyes No shame, no sir

    3. last but not least hip hop and music will never decline u guys are just confusing the music business with the music if not 1 person can sell records ever people will still make music for free for the love one can even argue at that point hip hop will be at its purist devoid of any industry pressure to sell or business motivations purely just creative music being made just to be made free and no one having a cry cos they can’t afford the latest G5 this year

  • j

    I really really really don’t know about ‘regulating’ the internet. I mean how badly do you hate it when your watching the BET/MTV awards from home and only hearing 1/3 of the song thanks to the censorship. Don’t change the internet, just adjust. Shows are making artists the most money and if your product is good enough with the proper promotion you will sell. The internet is so popular because of the fact that it is unregulated and uncensored. You can literally put anything on their (2 girls 1 cup – although that didnt last long lol).

    Dont regulate, adjust to the market.

  • M. Baby!

    Great post. I to try to explain to others about the feeling of going into the store the day an album comes out and purchasing it. I love to read the credits, read production credits, and etc. I personally believe the problem is that there is too much music being put out. There is nothing wrong with mixtapes…I have almost every DJ Drama mixtape out there. But the only problem I have it’s that sometimes your mixtape is better than your album. Sometimes mixtapes contains about 3-5 songs from your upcoming album. A mixtape is just that, a mixtape…not album cuts. Artist are supposed to show their spittin capablities over other tracks that they love that they weren’t on. Instead now artist are giving you full length tracks on a mixtape. Another thing is that your favorite artist with record deals are flooding you with mixtapes as well. Where’s the separation? With the flood of mixtapes from your favorite artist, that makes the anticipation of there upcoming album weaker and weaker. It also gives them a 50/50 support chance when there album drops because if the mixtape is wack, then most people will be hesitant to buy your album. If you just heard The Albert Anastasia LP with 3 album tracks and then you heard Teflon Don with only 11 tracks, that’s kind of disappointing. To me once these artist make it to a certain level in the game, they start to put out BS. That also causes the music to not be at it’s full potential. Artist think they can just go in to studio and freestyle verses on their album cuts, WRONG. That’s where the problems lies…and when u hear the album, the verses sounds just like there mixtapes verses…so u can’t tell the difference. What happened to the days when the words in your song related to the title of the song that related to the album title. Now artist are just picking hot beats, saying crazy metaphors with 2 features and calling it an album. And don’t let me get into the reason why the beats all sound the same today….that’s a whole other topic XXL.

  • Eddie Blanco

    It’s not we’ve gotten cheap, it’s that nobody’s dropping classics. Is a fan really suppose to spend $12.00 at Target for a album that’s only gonna have two or three hot tracks out of 12 or fourteen songs on a album?? Nah fuck that!! An ARTIST is suppose to produce a classic or a hot album something a fan doesn’t have to skip a song after a song just to look for that one hot song, it’s just not fair. To tell you the truth I haven’t heard a worthy album since The Blueprint, and that came out in 2001. Drake had the most hyped up album of 2010 and that shit was garbage just three hot tracks off his album, but thank GOD for the Recovery album, white boy saved the day, but we as the fans are just keep getting robbed, so we rob back, downloading, I can get anyones cd on Broadway in Newark for just 2 dollars sometimes they got the deal 5 4 10. Plain and simple give the fans what they want, and in return you’ll receive absolute loyalty.

    • M. Baby!

      “Fans are getting robbed, so we rob back, downloading…” classic, lmao. I feel u man, I said the same thing about Teflon Don. I’ma a Ross fan, but when he drops the next album and I hear about 3 or 4 tracks from a previous mixtape and it’s only 11 songs, I’m putting it back and going home to the net to download it. That’s a waste of my hard earned $12.

      • swype-matic

        $12??? Best Buy had it for like $8.99. It’s funny though, I remember payin’ close to $20 for cassettes, when No Limit was floodin’ the game every week with a new release. Damn, I was ten, they were takin’ my money ALL the time!

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    Sha has a good point. Movies still are BIG. Box office numbers are just as big despite bootlegging. BUT, movies are harder to get on the interent. Easy to watch BUT people still go out to the movies for the experience. Also, concerts are doing pretty good…except for 50…but thas cause his music and interest has declined.

    I’m not for stopping the interent BUT come on that joint has to be regulated. they are currently coming up with new laws. People don’t know what to do about facebook or myspace. i logged on myspace and somebody tried to sell me crack. in addition, all of our info is easily shared.

    if you are getting peanuts, you can’t get mad at multi talented type a people who are making money. Ball players deserve their money. ncca players deserve to get paid for their talents.

    As sha said, the music industry doesn’t want to partner up AND a lot of those artist aren’t making money. Like in the NBA you have a few million dollar players but then its a big drop off. Plus, there is a study that shows the aveage nba player is broke after 2 years of being out of the league. Scottie pippen is broke.

    Artist often make the product but there is a higher power making money off the artist. they would perfer the artist to release a free mixtape and make only one hit.

  • M. Baby!

    I had to add something else. Another reason why music is the way it is now because these artist give you BS on tracks. You got Lil Wayne straight laughing on records, but you expect me to go to the store and buy that. I can go in the studio myself and laugh on my own tracks. Most of this music now is pure garbage, there’s no thought process in it. Artist just get high as hell, go in the booth and say whatever…and when people saw that, that made everybody and their momma think they could become a rapper or singer (auto-tune) too. Put out some well thought of music and then we’ll buy it. That’s why I only support only a few artist. Hov, Jeezy, Em, Lupe, B.o.B., T.I., Kanye, J Cole, Big Boi, Raekwon, and a few others. Artist who are going to make me rewind a verse and make me think. Be honest, when’s the last time you felt you had to rewind a verse…? When’s the last time one of the wack artist said something that made u really think? The rest of these artist, I don’t even waste my time downloading it.

  • BeerGangsta

    Hip Hop is wack!!!! South making that Bullshit!! New York making that go to sleep shit!!! West Coast making that fake killing shit!!! Mid-West don’t know where the hell they are at. Oversea people need to get into the Rap Game. To have something different to listen to.

  • Sha

    @ M. Baby!

    I kind of see your point of view. But there is one glaring inconsistency…..

    Nobody forces anyone to go out and buy that shitty product (or download it for that matter).

    The quality of product plays a role in it. True.

    But if I had….

    $10.00 in my pocket, and…

    I see a good product in the store for $9.00 Or…

    I could get it for $FREE$ from the internet (or say fuck the album and download the songs I think are good from I-Tunes)…

    Which option would you choose?

    Good or bad artist. The internet is running rampant with this shit. Plus…. Mom and pop stores have been destroyed by your WALMARTS AND BEST BUYS.

    Like my man ff1one@yahoo.com said. This stuff needs to seriously be regulated.

  • Sha

    @ M. Baby!

    I kind of see your point of view. But there is one glaring inconsistency…..

    Nobody forces anyone to go out and buy that shitty product (or download it for that matter).

    The quality of product plays a role in it. True.

    But if I had….

    $10.00 in my pocket, and…

    I see a good product in the store for $9.00 Or…

    I could get it for $FREE$ from the internet (or say fuck the album and download the songs I think are good from I-Tunes)…

    Which option would you choose?

    Good or bad artist. The internet is running rampant with this shit. Plus…. Mom and pop stores have been destroyed by your WALMARTS AND BEST BUYS.

    Like my man ff1one@yahoo.com said. This stuff needs to seriously be regulated..

    • M. Baby!

      Good point…and that’s the problem. I think they leak these albums on purpose and get paid everytime people download it.

  • Man Please

    This my thing, and I’m with Teddy all the way, and not ashamed to tell it. our rappers is gangstas anyway, right? Get it how you live, nigga. Thats why Hip Hop is dead, you ask me. how many muh fuckas you got now that’s doin it for the money? When do we get back to doin it because of a love for the MUSIC? My first recordings back in the day, my lil bro, and Mikey n em, recordin in the bedroom on TDK tapes. you could hear the Getto Boys, Too Short, NWA, you could hear they shit in behind ours. we wasn’t doin it for the money, we had a BALL!! I don’t wan listen to these new booty ass niggas talkin bout how my hard earned money that I skipped a drive thru window to use to buy they cd wit bought them another jet. how you’ll fuck my girl and she’ll let you. (I ain’t really worried bout it, I’ll fuck yours too, but still) and then you don’t even sound good doin it!! 11 song albums?? No Limit was droppin 18-20 tracks on an album, then you give us this bullshit!! Na, I’ll find out what 3 hot tracks you got, go to one of the hundredmillion freedownload sites, get them 3 songs that you did when you was really feeling some shit, and keep it movin. I ain’t bought me a Maybach yet, What I wanna pay for yours fa? and then you goin tell me about it on the next album… Ion wan hear it

  • Man Please

    And if you feel a certain kinda way about it, act like you just got robbed, (cause hell, you did) and jump on some o that gangsta shit you rappin bout. come see me like I dun took some food out your mouth

  • YoUtopic

    Fans are willing to pay a dollar a ringtone and hundreds of dollars for an ipod, but can’t buy a ten dollar cd?

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    1. The mainstream rap game is dead, not Hip Hop.

    2. The labels caused this “internet craze”, when they all decided to go with the mp3 format as a whole, instead of still having cassettes, wax, mini-discs, and CDs to sell. Where would you go to get a mp3? A computer. Where would you go for a cassette (cassettes were dubbed so the stealing argument is moot) tape? A store. Their greed overlooked this.

    3. Until last year, the music being sold was utter trash, sans a few rappers.

    4. I have been saying for a minute on here, there needs to be a new format created, for the contemporary rap heads. They are the alienated consumers that y’all are looking for.

  • http://XXLmag.com LeroyLove

    Personally, I think Hip Hop has become saturated with too many rappers. Its similiar to when the NBA and the NFL added expansion teams. The talent pool gets thinned out. Today there are a thousand more rappers, than what you had in the 90′s or 80′s. The more rappers who put on, the more likely the porduct is going to be weak. Luckily the top ten rappers in the game is always going to shine, but we still have to sift through a lot of bullshit just to find the “next” great rapper. And a lot of “next” great rappers don’t even get heard. Had it not been for XXLmag.com, I would have never heard that rapper from Mississippi, Big K.R.I.T., the free mixtape he put out was better than most CD’s I have heard in the past five years. This is just one example of the game being over run by too many artist and not enough outlets to be heard.

  • Jonjo

    I love buying cds, albums mixtapes will never beat them. don’t get me wrong i like mixtapes and think they got a lot better music then cds in the charts. irish charts are full of shit but there are so many good albums out so far this year Thank Me Later Recovery Teflon Don Trill OG Darkside the big obi album and the adventers of b.o.b and theres still Games album Kanye west’s album t.i.p

  • swype-matic

    I would say the problem is increasing technology, watered down (mainstream) music, and too many mixtapes at a time. But luckily, I only buy good music from my favorite artists, and sometimes just on the fly I’ll buy something just to see how it sounds. To me, there’s nothin’ like actually driving to Best Buy or whatever mom-&-pap store is availiable and purchasing the album. Nothin’ like poppin’ the cd in, puttin’ some headphones on, and reading the liner-notes, producers, features, and thank you’s. Even though I’m 23, I feel pretty old school doin’ that, but that’s just how I am, always will be.


  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    A lot of good points. i think the market is saturated and come on, the internet is killing this joint. Even if it was still on casseste people still are getting albums and putthing them on the inerent. its old vhs that get put on the internet. jayz kept a album off itunes and it still got heavily download.

    NO, the artist don’t get a cut from the downloads. They get projections. Some artist have sites and get paid from hits. they do get paid from a ringtone.

    Thing is we live in a mircowave society. Nobody wants that slow cook meal allah a ob4cl over the stove type album. People would rather hear a single of their favorite song. they don’t have time to listen to an entire album. or if they want to, they can go to youtube and listen to an entire album for free. only a lazy or loyal person would buy an album nowadays.

    Good music is out there BUT hey its not selling. nobody apparently wants to hear it. if u do want to hear it u can download it for free.

    Real hip hop needs a market and venue. its not the radio its not the club. Shows are on point. You can’t force feed a new generation old skool pure hip hop. Everything is water down now. its time for hip hop heads to get real.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    “Even if it was still on casseste people still are getting albums and putthing them on the inerent.”

    ^ the sound quality is different homes. Analog 2 digital. Bottom line, if there was another format to sell music, the industry would have jumped on it quick fast. Blu-ray is too expensive for a music CD. There has always been pirating, but the people wanted good quality so they copped the original. MP3′s give it 2 you immediately.

    The thing is we live in a society where we are needed to consume what is new, not cherish or be content with what is old.

    No one is saying force anything on anyone, but why would you alienate a whole population that has been proven consumers? Wouldn’t you wanna do some type of business or create a structure to get that $ too? There are other genres of music that are not suffering like this rap thing is, even with the ‘net around.

    This Hip Hop thing came about because there were talented people who couldn’t sing, or didn’t have “the look” to be accepted in the music industry. There was a rap protocol then, like anything else, don’t be wack, be original, and you had to prove yourself to be worthy by showing your skills, not your wealth. These steps are no longer valid, so why do we expect prosperity from the game when we’ve ignored the sacred commandments?

    At the end of the day, an 8 karat piece of gold doesn’t look or have the same value like a 24 karat piece of gold, regardless if they are both gold. And I see cats are happy with that 8 karat piece right now.

  • Anonymous


  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    Exactly @ $yk.

    Music has changed. Fans have changed. Like many fads, fans have migrated to something different.

    Truthfully, they are a lot of old school mcs making relevant music. buckshot and krs. rakim. cnn if u want that thug ish. they are also new artist that still believe in being cut froma different cloth. LIKE J. Cole. They appreciate the work ethic and the pas. they try and be different.

    That type of art is not getting any support tho.

    fans during our era…alot of them have changed. they don’t listen to hip hop. alot of the new generation think its outdated. its truthfully the fabric of hip hop.

    I think the music industry can learn from the movie industry. They are more exclusive in the product they put out. Wh o they allow to act and etc. They also have adjusted to the bootlegging. they put movies out for opening week numbers after sales fizzle they send it to dvd. some movies go str8 to dvd.

    The music industry should fight to keep it off the internet and set up offical stores where you buy mp3. they should put albums in stores first and leave it up to u to rip it to ur cpu. use promotions for it for buying the actual album. Something of that sort has to be done because the artist is getting pimped.

  • http://www.emcdl.com EmCDL

    Damn, I had some valid points to put across but XXL didn’t post my comment….fail.

    Anyway, good points by $yk, ff1one@yahoo.com, Sha, and M. Baby. There needs to be a change in the industry as far as getting good music out there AND making money off of it.