Why Hip Hop is dead: The music business has the same problem as the book business

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My professor broke this down for us about the book business:

They used to have a lot of books that came out that sold medium range numbers, they also had a little bit of books that were megasmashes that sold a lot and a little bit of books that were low range sellers.

Then the people behind the scenes got greedy and architected it so they tried to have more megasmash books and the middle market was eliminated. The problem with this method is that it's not working and now the medium range has almost totally dissapeared.

If you look at the music industry they did this exact same thing. If you're not selling platinum they don't want to put you out. This is destroying the rap game and music as a whole because everybody can't do platinum numbers every time out. This starves the game from highly talented mid range respectable-not-ridiculous sellers. This is why rap is dead.

This problem will be ironed out eventually but right now that's why the game is out of wack.

Colin Cassidy (Colin Cassidy), Sunday, 22 October 2006 05:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Or so I postulate...

Colin Cassidy (Colin Cassidy), Sunday, 22 October 2006 05:51 (fourteen years ago) link

Well, according to your theory mid range rap is dead.

Period period period (Period period period), Sunday, 22 October 2006 06:01 (fourteen years ago) link

You guys are fucking evil. lol

Am I really not worthy of discussion, I get vague insults and shark pictures?

Bastards. lol

Colin Cassidy (Colin Cassidy), Sunday, 22 October 2006 06:23 (fourteen years ago) link

The reality is that major labels and their subsidiaries release something in the neighborhood of TEN TIMES as many debut records as the did at the start of the CD era, roughly 20 years ago. This does not include reissues, which are substantially more plentiful than ever before. There's TONS of product!

And it's all, courtesy of the internet, easily available anywhere.

I could demonstrate the same for any genre of music - folk, soul, reggae, what have you.

Contrary to your statement "If you're not selling platinum they don't want to put you out," there is more hip hop in the marketplace for easy purchase than ever before, not less.
What with all this influx of product, it's obvious (and generally speaking, intelligent) for a company to concentrate on the maximization of profit offered by the "big" sellers. But it's always been that way, really. The big companies are companies and have always been "greedy," but this problem has been made necessary by ever-expanding catalogs. And for the record, "architected" is not a word.

The book business "suffers" from a similar luxury of titles. There didn't used to be bookstores like Borders (with a large stock) or online retailers such as Amazon where nearly any in-print book can be pruchased. Largely for this reason, the book market is suffering from offering too great a selection and the costs connected therewith. The "medium" range suffers not from the existence of a few "blockbuster" titles, but from the easy availability and wide range of choices out there.

There are people who will always buy only blockbusters. The average adult American reads LESS than a book a year. There are of course, readers with specialist needs - I've got every book available on Hungarian grammar, for instance. The "middle market" of which you speak, hasn't been "eliminated," it simply can exercise its whims over a much more enormous selection of titles. With many more titles in print, the "average" title sells less, but the collective sales are roughly the same. This is a GOOD thing both for readers and writers of non-blockbuster stuff. And with the advent of computer-enabled small press runs, creativity can flourish without the need for huge sales. It's true in music too.

Hip hop, if it is indeed "dead," suffers more from a creative bankruptcy and an absurd obsession with a small range of ideas and sounds. It had a big heyday relative to other genres of music that suffer from a sort of topical claustrophobia (like reggae, which I love and obsess over, but which had an obviously small sales potential outside of a few artists.)As with any genre of music, there's always great stuff lurking, but it's hard to disagree with Linton Kwesi Johnson's assertion that when he heard "The Message," he was mesmerized by the brilliance of the music and the poetry of the lyrics, and hip hop's problem is that it's come up with little (LKJ says "nothing") that's matched it since.

Plenty of musical genres survive below the radar for years - including hip hop in its earliest and most creative days. Your implication is that hip hop, despite its low-cost and often DIY nature, cannot survive without "big money." That makes it about as artistically bankrupt as, I don't know, REO Speedwagon or Boston or something.

Interestingly, there have been many articles lately about the astounding success of "hip hop writers" self-publishing and marketing their books in the 'hood' (so to speak - obviously this is shorthand for an audience for whom these books are written, an audience not typically marketed to by mainstream publishers) without the help of any big companies concerned with massive profits and platinum sellers (or the literary equivalent.) Although you don't mention hip hop artists complaining about what your professor discusses, I'm sure many do. It's a shame that such musicians wouldn't take a page from their author peers - the DIY approach appears to be working for them.

I suspect your professor is a failed author! His theory is pretty stupid.

Dee Xtrovert (dee dee), Sunday, 22 October 2006 06:26 (fourteen years ago) link

Fuck! Such verbosity, and I could have made my point as simply and as brilliantly as Period period period! Hats off to you, sir.

Dee Xtrovert (dee dee), Sunday, 22 October 2006 06:29 (fourteen years ago) link

Well said. I'd have to disagree with Linton Kwesi Johnson's statement that nothing has matched the poetry and music of "The Message" since its time, but as a whole your argument seems very logical and I would tend to agree with you. Also, I wouldn't say that Hip Hop is in fact dead, that's the title of Nas' upcoming album and also the general feeling among rap heads, and I agree that the mainstream artists are on the whole not what they have been in recent years.

Colin Cassidy (Colin Cassidy), Sunday, 22 October 2006 06:48 (fourteen years ago) link

Nas's new joint is called I wouldn't say that Hip Hop is in fact dead? That's rad. Is it a colab with Yo La Tengo?

Huk-L (Huk-L), Sunday, 22 October 2006 07:40 (fourteen years ago) link

I Am Not Afraid Of Hip Hop And I Will Beat Its Dead Ass

Marmot (marmotwolof), Sunday, 22 October 2006 07:51 (fourteen years ago) link


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