February 25, 2007

A thought...

Let's say that you're a rapper. 

You have a hit song on the radio, so all the pretty light-skinned women are loving you right now. 

You also have the b-side, the "street" single, so the backpackers are checking for your interviews online and the internet thugs are praising how "real" and "true" you are.

Your album is scheduled to hit the stores in two months. Your advance from the label (a major, which signed you after you independently released your club banger to DJs in your hometown) affords a bevy of A-list producers and guests.

(Of course, your friends would also appear on the album, but you will outshine every last one of them. This is your debut, after all.)

You are also completely aware that, no matter what you do, even with every precaution taken, your album will leak to the net two to three weeks before its official street date.

You know that rappers, more than any other artist in any other musical genre, lose the most money when their albums are bootlegged and downloaded. You know that you will lose out on a huge percentage of sales due to the actions of one guy or group, who will upload your album and take money out of your pocket, and possibly food out of your children's mouth.

You know this.

Would you:

(A) Try to put out the best work you possibly can, because that's what the fans deserve?


(B) Give up, turn some straight bullshit in to the label, and hope that girls love your now-club-banger-filled debut release? Because that's what the fans deserve?

What incentive does any artist have these days to make any good, memorable music, if they know that someone is just going to fuck them over and leak their work?

I'm not saying that everyone that will ever read this blog is guilty of this. But is there any reason why hip-hop, more so than any other genre, is the most heavily bootlegged?

The purpose of this blog is to encourage actual purchases of CDs that I recommend. I also point out the shit that you may be tricked into buying. (I see you, The Firm.) But, even if you disagree with my review, and you buy the album and enjoy the shit out of it, that's still a positive thing for the hip hop community.

The recording industry is already the most fucked up in entertainment. You read everyday about labels fucking over artists, whether it be messing with their vision, not letting a sample clear, or, more often than not, by outright fucking with their money.

(Independent artists aren't immune to this, either.)

This is the first musical genre that I can think of where the artists involved are just as likely to submit a crappy album to the label for mastering, as they are to just throw in the towel and quit rapping altogether.

Support hip hop by occasionally buying a CD or two, every now and then. The way I see it, artists now need to get something back from their fans to keep from turning their backs on the culture.

(We all love to believe that rappers don't do this for the money, but come on.)

Hip hop may not be dead yet.

But you may want to get the paddles out.

Just in case.


PS. Enough preachiness. I'll get back to the reviews momentarily.


  1. i choose A put out the best product ever cuz the fans deserve it.

  2. Fans may deserve it, but if those same fans are the ones who burn cds without buying them later, then I ask again, what incentive does an artist have to even bother trying?

    They have to pay that advance back to the label, you know. Easiest way to do so is to make some piffle that will get radio spins.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Don't make rappers into martyrs here...
    almost every good, commendable hip-hop released today sells 50,000 copies within a few months. That itself is probably 50,000 dollars per year. Add concerts and publicity and advertisements and all sorts of other stuff and most rappers can easily make 200 thou a year... and I have a very hard time believing all these rappers came from the hood and can't make due with that type of money.
    Now if they choose to sink their money into cars, expensive houses, and other poor investments that in no way reflects the consumer.
    Secondly, record companies are going to become more innovative soon... with today's technology it is a matter of time before you have discs which won't play before the release date or record companies will make CD's un-rippable thus making them impossible to upload.
    And to add, you are promoting buying albums at half-price and for just a few dollars, which does not in any way benefit the artist... it's just online capitalism, the artist doesn't see a penny of what you paid for his/her album.
    And finally who do the record labels think will buy $15 albums? Select people unless your hip-hop name is Lil Wayne.

    Please answer, I'd like to hear what you have to say.

  4. I'm not being naive. I realize that buying a CD used doesn't actually benefit the artist at all. Part of the reason that I recommend that is out of pure hatred for record companies in general (although I still buy some CDs on their release dates - *cough* Wu-Tang *cough*), but most of my reasoning lies in the fact that there is just something about literally owning a physical product, instead of having computer files on your computer. And I don't always recommend buying a used copy of an album: if it's a bona fide classic, I demand that you pay full price, and then cut an additional check to the artist themselves.

    Record labels fucking over their artists is certainly nothing new: even if I bought the Gza album brand new (which I did), Gza probably won't ever see any money from my purchase. (I'd like to believe that Babygrande isn't as corrupt as the major labels, but you get my point.) Everybody knows that the best, tried and true method of supporting your faves are to see them live, which is something I always thought was inherently recommended on the blog, but I'll try to make that more overt. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Obviously this blog was written quite a while ago, and the blog has grown since then, but in no way was I trying to make rappers into martyrs. The same could apply to artists in any medium, be it film, art, music, or the like: if you knew that someone could easily just steal your work, meaning you wouldn't get any money for it anyway, would you even bother putting your heart and soul into your work, or would you stop trying?

  5. I agree whole-heartedly with what you said in the first two paragraphs, and I wasn't criticizing you as this site is whole-heartedly good for hip-hop.
    But the last paragraph...The same could apply to artists in any medium, be it film, art, music, or the like: if you knew that someone could easily just steal your work, meaning you wouldn't get any money for it anyway, would you even bother putting your heart and soul into your work, or would you stop trying?
    First films, although music is more often bootlegged, bloggers are starting to bootleg movies and TV shows just the same as music. Of course it takes up more space, so their not as appealing, but I believe an actor and the director of photography know the exact same way that there movie will be bootlegged (admitidely on a smaller scale but still the same).
    Unless I'm mistaken most artists exhbit their artwork for free, and truly do it for the love of their job.
    And when you look at it realistically, money is really the thing that corrupted hip-hop in the first place...
    You have poor talentless (weed carriers as you call them) watching TV and witnessing the poor spectacle which is mainstream rap... and many artists (The Game as an example) start rapping not for the love of the craft but for the money.
    In fact, it's not cool to like hip-hop any more, you have to demoralize it and treat it like a job that you hate. Broke rappers shine an illusion of being rich, and somehow pretending their rich lands them millions of dollars...

    So while I agree that the game is fucked up, there's other people besides the rappers to pity here. How about people like me and you who love what used to be hip-hop and try aimlessly to support the 1%of work put out today that is actually listenable.

  6. Why do the pretty women have to be light skinned though?... that's pretty racist Max

    1. I wrote this more than a decade ago and I just realized that the line is wrong, but it's a Jay-Z reference from "December 4th":

      "I'm a hustler now
      My gear is in and I'm in the in-crowd
      And all the wavy light-skinned girls is lovin' me now"

      Considering how much I stan for Hov in these posts, random references to his work should be considered the norm. However, I probably would have used a different line if I were to write this today.