Low Record Sales: Is Hip-Hop on life support?


Just the other day, I was looking at the first week sales of Hip-Hop/Rap albums from last week. I was surprised that both Huey and the Shop Boyz were actually doing worse than I expected. Shop Boyz, who hit single “Party Like A Rockstar” topped the Billboard Hot 100, charted at # 11 with their album Rockstar Mentality and only moved 52,000 units. Huey, who also had a hit single with “Pop, Lock & Drop It”, debut album Notebook Paper came in at #26 and moved around 29,000 units. 29,000 units? I personally don’t preferably like any of these artists’ music, but I would at least think they could pull in 100,000 units in the first week. The sales drought hasn’t only affected the newcomers. Albums by artists like Young Jeezy’s group USDA, Paul Wall, and Fabolous have all under performed and pulled in 100,000 first week sales or less and are not looking like they’ll go gold or platinum. I know the first thing people will say is that this was caused by the internet and bootlegging. Maybe it had something to do with it, maybe it didn’t. But what about other artists in other music genres? Linkin Park has been on the charts for five weeks and has already gone platinum. Former American Idol contestant Daughtry debut album has sold 3 million copies. Avril Lavigne‘s album went platinum after nine weeks. Carrie Underwood and Nickleback? Both of their albums sold 6 million copies each. Okay, yeah I know there are some Hip-Hop inspired acts eating okay. Beyonce, Akon, Fergie, Justin Timberlake, and Robin Thicke are doing well but what about the straight up rappers? Yeah, I heard Nas‘s album Hip Hop Is Dead recently went platinum, but it just did that last month for an album released in December. It’s a rare feat for a rapper to go platinum these days, let alone multi-platinum. So what’s the deal with Hip-Hop album sales these days? I know as a fan of the music, it shouldn’t matter what the sales are; I should just focus on the music. But I also think it is important to know the state and condition of the music you love. We all know that last year wasn’t a good year for Hip-Hop music (Shit, I ever did an article on it). We saw releases from big name artist such as The Game, Nas, Jay-Z and DMX, but those albums didn’t set the rap world a blaze. Matter of fact the biggest selling rap album last year (T.I.’s King) only sold about a million and a half. Not to down T.I. or anything, but compared to the years 50 Cent, Eminem, or Nelly had the biggest sellers, it seems kinda weak. At the end of 2006, we all looked forward to a better year in 2007. We are halfway through 2007, and still album sales are down and no one this year has had me really wanting listen to their album over and over again either. The sales have me thinking that the state of rap music in general is in worst shape than I thought. Do rappers need to actually spend more time on the music? Should producers charge less to combat low album sales? Maybe the radio shouldn’t just play the same five raps songs every hour. Better yet, maybe every rap artist shouldn’t make it a priority to do a song with the same four artist (R. Kelly, T-Pain, Akon, & Lil’ Wayne)? Is the problem because of fickle rap music fans? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s going to get better before its get worse.