A Rational Conversation Between Two Adults: What Should Become Of The Major Label Hip-Hop Album?

nahright

via Fader

 

Every Tuesday, FADER deputy editor Eric Ducker gets on instant messenger and “discusses” a subject that’s been on his mind with another member of our staff or a special guest. Looking back at 2008, it’s pretty amazing how proportionally few hip-hop albums came out on major labels, and of the ones that did, how few were any good. After the jump, read the condensed (and emoticon-free) conversation between Ducker and Eskay of Nah Right about the fate of the major label hip-hop album.

Eric Ducker: How do you feel about the current state of the hip-hop album?

Eskay: I feel like it’s on life support, but I don’t see it kicking the bucket anytime soon.

ED: To me it seems like very few hip-hop artists (both MCs and producers) are thinking with an album mindset and everyone is just chasing the hit single. Maybe it would make more sense if rappers just continuously worked singles and sold them digitally. And if they created enough successful ones, then they could release them as a compilation album—a re-update of a real old model, the one labels worked under before Sgt. Pepper—and if people emerged as real stars, then they would put out albums that are put together as one cohesive piece.

E: Yeah, I think we’re at a point where no one model is going to work for every artist.

ED: What would you like to see happen?

E: I think that there are a bunch of artists that would be best served by that strategy, but I feel like there are still a number of people who can and will put out cohesive LPs. Nothing would make me happier than to see more artists embrace digital distribution as a means of getting away from the major label system.

ED: Why don’t they?

E: I think a lot of artists, particularly in the realm of hip-hop, feel like they need the majors, like they’ll never make it without them. Everybody sees themselves as the next Jay-Z or 50 Cent and they are unwilling to settle for anything less. In their own minds at least. I think artists and management people need to be able to step back and take a broad look at the landscape and adjust accordingly. We’ve seen scores of established artists release albums over the last two years or so that ended up being huge commercial disappointments. What makes these young cats think they’re going to come into the game, in this day and age, and sell a million records is beyond me. I say keep budgets low and be realistic.

ED: It’s just crazy to me what you have to do to even get an album out on a major label as a rap artist these days.

E: Yeah, I mean seriously. Continue reading

How the South Was Won

outkast_.jpg

The good folks over at Fader magazine put together an “excellent” article chronicling the rise of Southern rap and the dynamics that have attributing to it being the premier mecca of Hip Hop in the 21st Century.  The author makes some key analogies and gives props where it just-fully due, right at the doorstep of Outkast and the Dungeon Family, a rap collective that carried the torch after it dimmed with the Native Tongues in New York.  The incorporation of Southern elements mixed in like gumbo in this black metropolis turned what was normally rap songs into international anthems, or better yet bluesy folk songs.  The momentum has never died, and this article illustrates the players who have individually made contributions to the legacy of The A!  I love it when the author points out that in Atlanta’s shadow industry, the A&R has been replaced by the stripper, who single handedly decide whats popping and whats not.  If you want to get a better understanding of the Southern phenomenom that has steered the direction for the better part of the last five to seven years click HERE.    

Editor’s Note:As a witness to the South’s rise I have to attest that this is the most thorough analysis of what collectively went in to the formula that allowed The A to bubble to the top.  Let it be noted that Brooklyn was on the scene, lending style(s), hustle aesthetic and teaching Atlanteans the finer points of the game and like an attentive student they came, they learnt and they mastered the art.  Toast them brothers success!  Yeaaahhhhh!