Itunes, Billboard, and the marginalization of black music and black audiences in America

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So today Billboard changed their policy to allow digital music sales to count on previously airplay-driven genre charts. The problem with this is that there is no way of separating by demographics like there is for radio. The radio listener chooses the station that best fits their tastes, whereas anyone might buy from Itunes. Further compounding the problem is that that isn't even true -- economically privileged listeners, who are more likely to be white, are much more likely to purchase digital music.

The introduction of Itunes data to the Billboard Hot 100 in 2005 has had the effect of slowly but surely pushing music favored by black audiences off the pop charts and top 40 (and even rhythmic) radio, to the point where there are now very few songs that cross over from urban radio to other formats. Over the past year or so, there have been only a few songs popular on the r&b charts that cross over into the top 40 at any given time, usually below the top 10 (even this year's huge rap hits "The Motto" and "Mercy" got stuck in the teens on the big chart), while most of urban radio's big songs get stuck in the 30-100 range of the Hot 100. This has also led to the trend of black music stars like Nicki Minaj and Usher creating entirely different singles for different radio formats, with pop songs for white radio and r&b or rap songs for black radio.

Billboard's new changes potentially strike an even bigger blow to black audiences being able to determine their own hits. On this week's r&b chart, with the changes enacted, Rihanna's decidedly pop (and, it should be noted, terrible) "Diamonds" jumps from #61 to #1, pushing Miguel's decidedly r&b (and brilliant) "Adorn" out of the top spot. Urban radio stations may have lost one of their last impetuses left not to play pop music with white-leaning audiences.

There's even more to this but I don't have time to explain every last factor at work right this second. Here's what's been said on the rolling r&b thread:

um... some dude... wtf is going on with the R&B chart? why is Rihanna's "Diamonds" suddenly #1?

― (whose paintings looked like (pink) vaginas) (The Brainwasher), Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:14 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

ha i was just about to come to this thread to gripe about that

basically the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart has tradtionally been mostly airplay + physical single sales, so if a nominal R&B song (by, say, Rihanna) did well on iTunes and pop radio but not actual R&B stations, it wouldn't make much of an impact on the R&B chart. but as of this week, iTunes is a factor on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop like it has been on the Hot 100 for years, so now suddenly "Diamonds" is #1, and there's now a R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart which is basically what the main chart used to be, and on that "Adorn" is #1 and "Diamonds is #61.

this is massively fuck up whatever confidence R&B stations and labels had left to not cater to pop crossover imo. horrible move by Billboard.

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 9:57 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

And now Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs is 50 deep instead of 100.

25-deep R&B Songs chart now, too.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:20 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

R&B Songs and Rap Songs will serve as 25-position distillations of the overall Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, highlighting the differences between pure R&B and rap titles in the overall, wide-ranging R&B/hip-hop field.

Eleven of the 25 songs on R&B Songs feature rappers, so "pure R&B" must mean songs with an R&B artist as only or lead voice.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:34 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Make that 10, not 11.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:34 AM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

― Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:21 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

excuse me while I find a corner to curl up into the fetal position and cry in

― Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:22 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

rev's "Itunes destroyed Black American pop music" rant on twitter a few months ago was so righteous that i saved it in a doc, tempted to just post it right now

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:34 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

post it! i missed it!

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:36 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i'd have to clean it up and re-order it for it to make sense, but here's the short version he put on tumblr: http://reverenddollars.tumblr.com/post/24446685357/positing-not-claiming

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:38 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

ha i saw that, think i favourited it somewhere

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:42 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I've gone on at least a couple such extended twitter rants. Been meaning to start a thread on the subject here and I think I will now. Please post whatever you saved.

― Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:43 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

oh wow, part of my gripe about this was going to be that the Country charts didn't get the same treatment but they did -- Taylor Swift leaps from #21 to #1 on the revamped download-heavy Country chart. fucking Billboard, putting nails in the coffin of terrestrial radio formats' ability to make hits.

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:45 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

would quite like to hear about the role itunes is playing in this - that's not in the tumblr & i don't really know

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:46 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Wonder if (the very good, all-R&B) Two Eleven has a shot at the Top Ten of the Billboard 200. "Put It Down": 70-76-72 last three weeks on Hot 100 and 16-5-3 last three weeks on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop. Doesn't really bode well.

― Andy K, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:48 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

2 columns that chris molanphy and i wrote about r&b's hot 100 decline that get into how itunes changed things:

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2011/05/chris_brown_look_at_me_now_hot_100.php

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2012/07/sales_slump_usher_chris_brown.php

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:51 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i read both of those at the time - they were great and i think i may have linked one in my independent r&b piece - but what is it about itunes that means it's an inefficient driver of r&b? it's so geared towards casual/spontaneous consumption that it inherently privileges pop?

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:54 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

whereas radio-driven r&b is dependent on gatekeepers to an extent?

― lex pretend, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:54 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

those might be factors but the more simple truth is just that demographically speaking the songs and artists that get chart boosts from iTunes sales, particularly single sales, strongly skew pop and not urban

― some dude, Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:57 PM Bookmark

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:18 (four years ago) Permalink

so iTunes ID3 genre tags DO matter lol

stop swearing and start windmilling (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:19 (four years ago) Permalink

i'm quite shocked by this. i didn't know people still cared about billboard charts

frogbs, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:19 (four years ago) Permalink

It's not the charts themselves that I care about so much as how they reflect and drive cultural changes.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:21 (four years ago) Permalink

yeah the charts are bullshit but they have real ramifications in terms of what gets bankrolled

stop swearing and start windmilling (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:22 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh and Psy has been placed on top of the rap charts, because obv "Gangnam Style" is what's hot in the streets right now.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:31 (four years ago) Permalink

If you have any interest in this phenomenon, please read the Molanphy articles.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:33 (four years ago) Permalink

another good reason to hate apple

We demand justice: who murdered Chanel? (Matt P), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:34 (four years ago) Permalink

Are there charts for most genres? And did they change too?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:40 (four years ago) Permalink

yeah the charts are bullshit but they have real ramifications in terms of what gets bankrolled

so does a list of 'what music is actually being bought'

iatee, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:41 (four years ago) Permalink

This is really interesting, Rev. We've never really had high-stakes multiple charts and the US system has always seemed incredibly complicated to me, but then we're a million times smaller so it's a different proposition, I guess.

emil.y, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:43 (four years ago) Permalink

well, they used to be lists of what music is actually being played and requested on the radio, too. but however they combine these different statistics always seems to heavily favor sales over overplay. (xpost)

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:44 (four years ago) Permalink

I for one never liked the idea of airplay contributing to the charts here in the UK and I'm glad it remains sales based.

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:44 (four years ago) Permalink

but I can see why it works better in the USA. You only ever got top 40 or oldies radio here and that was it until digital radio and 1extra.

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:45 (four years ago) Permalink

Chris Mol@nphy wrote this column in ship's column last year:

All I'll add to the exhaustive data you offer is a hobby-horse I've been riding for a couple of years now: the need for Billboard to finally add digital-sales data to the R&B/Hip-Hop chart.

They've been resisting for years, on the (implied, not overtly stated) premise that it would ruin the character of a chart that has a long history with black-owned and oriented retailers. But with that segment (along with all brick-and-mortar music retail) at death's door anyway, the sales portion of Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs has been near-nonexistent for years, making it essentially a radio chart a la the deadly, predigital Hot 100 of 2000–05.

That's led to a problem where there's no longer a radio programmer-to-consumer-back-to-programmer feedback loop that makes for great charts. I'm sure there's a one-way influence from radio to the teen urban-music buyer who then downloads a Trey Songz MP3. But with that sale not reflected on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, the loop ends there; programmers aren't given clear enough signals of how to reflect their most avid audience members' tastes (especially young audience).

In my ideal fantasy world, you'd be able to segment iTunes/AmazonMP3 song sales to pockets of the country that have large black populations or high urban-radio listenership, but that's probably impossible, or at least fraught. But at the very least, I think it'd be trivial for Billboard to set up a rule whereby a song eligible for R&B/Hip-Hop Songs would have to hit some kind of urban-radio threshold before their iTunes sales would count toward the chart.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:46 (four years ago) Permalink

here's an explanation of the changes, which affect all genre charts:

http://www.billboard.com/news#/news/taylor-swift-rihanna-psy-buoyed-by-billboard-1007978552.story

the rock charts are much less affected by this than R&B or country -- for instance this week fun.'s "Some Nights" went back to #1 after falling to #8, because it had started to run its course on radio but is still selling strong on iTunes.

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:47 (four years ago) Permalink

ok lol i spoke to soon -- Philip Philips and Train are now big on the rock charts

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:48 (four years ago) Permalink

wtf is philip philips?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:49 (four years ago) Permalink

Train are now big on the rock charts

chilling words in any context

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:49 (four years ago) Permalink

also holy shit SIX Mumford & Sons songs in a row on the rock songs chart, because that was the last big album release so every song is getting bought individually on itunes

Phillip Phillips won American Idol last year

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:50 (four years ago) Permalink

see that is bullshit with buying albums and the tracks being on a singles track

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:52 (four years ago) Permalink

*chart

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:52 (four years ago) Permalink

what i'm saying!

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:55 (four years ago) Permalink

it's one thing that rihanna has the #1 R&B song now, but when her album is released she'll probably take up the whole top 5

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:55 (four years ago) Permalink

you mentioned itunes sales in the other thread shipz - i'm guessing those are discounted albums rather than individual tracks?

apart from that and

economically privileged listeners, who are more likely to be white, are much more likely to purchase digital music

i'd be interested to know why r&b/rap/country etc might not be as digitally-driven...?

lex pretend, Thursday, 11 October 2012 20:59 (four years ago) Permalink

it's funny, you might've thought before this all happened that iTunes impacting singles charts might mean that new artists and grassroots successes that have been shut out by the radio industry might get a better shot at breaking through. instead, it feels like any song by the biggest stars is stomping out songs people love by less famous artists via the power of name recognition and fanatical fanclub followings.

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:04 (four years ago) Permalink

you mentioned itunes sales in the other thread shipz - i'm guessing those are discounted albums rather than individual tracks?

Not discounted albums, people buy lots of album tracks individually from popular albums all the time. A hit album is almost guaranteed to have several album tracks enter the Hot 100 on its week of release because of this.

i'd be interested to know why r&b/rap/country etc might not be as digitally-driven...?

That isn't quite true of country, but white demographics are a lot more likely to have internet in their homes than black/latinos. And even if they do, the white listener is a lot more likely to have spare $$$ to spend on digital music.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:04 (four years ago) Permalink

i mean if you want to go by the stereotype that country fans are rural/poorer than the same would apply to them too

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (four years ago) Permalink

seems pretty obv

congratulations (n/a), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (four years ago) Permalink

ok...how does that square with the boom in free rap mixtapes?

also, i don't think i realised til now how airplay-driven charts would help songs specifically popular in demographics with no spare $$$ to actually buy them in whatever format.

lex pretend, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (four years ago) Permalink

Note that of the top 20-selling songs in the US during the first half of 2012, only two, #16 "Rack City" and #18 "The Motto" reached the top 50 of the r&b chart.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:07 (four years ago) Permalink

what genre of music dominates the US singles charts now?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:09 (four years ago) Permalink

i mean if you want to go by the stereotype that country fans are rural/poorer than the same would apply to them too

― congratulations (n/a), Thursday, October 11, 2012 2:07 PM Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I don't think this is as true as one might assume? A lot of well-off suburban country listeners. Or at least country seems to do fairly well on Itunes.

Cap'n Hug-a-Thug (The Reverend), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:09 (four years ago) Permalink

capital-p Pop -- Katy Perry, Rihanna, Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, One Direction, etc. although this year stuff like Gotye and fun. has mixed things up a bit. (xpost)

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:10 (four years ago) Permalink

there's also the argument that buying your favorite song on iTunes (as opposed to just listening to it on the radio, streaming it on YouTube now and again, or buying the album) is a generational habit, and so things that skew younger benefit from this -- Taylor, Rihanna etc.

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:10 (four years ago) Permalink

i mean it sucks because a lot of these formats had been fostering new stars and putting interesting songs at #1 lately, but you're never gonna see Miguel top the R&B chart or Eric Church top the country chart again after this

some dude, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:11 (four years ago) Permalink

don't forget Maroon 5

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:12 (four years ago) Permalink

interesting stuff. i don't have my head entirely around the numbers & methodologies here, but there's something about a "return to monoculture" either in real terms or as a measurement phenomenon.

there is no dana, only (goole), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:12 (four years ago) Permalink

is the pop domination due to itunes or changing of radio playlists/genre stations changing to top 40 or just one of those things that happens?

Algerian Goalkeeper, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:12 (four years ago) Permalink

interesting stuff. i don't have my head entirely around the numbers & methodologies here, but there's something about a "return to monoculture" either in real terms or as a measurement phenomenon.

It's been happening on radio for a while. It's impossible to break the Rihanna-Goyte-Katy-Perry-Maroon-5 stranglehold on Clear Channel Radio. I mean, I hear "One More Night" every 45 minutes.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:15 (four years ago) Permalink

but you're never gonna see Miguel top the R&B chart or Eric Church top the country chart again after this

to be blunt about this, it's because, even though Rihanna makes club trance, she "is R&B" (because, you know), and Taylor Swift makes pop dubstep, she "is country" (again, because, you know). right?

in a way it seems like this is a identity/identification/musicalogical problem. almost.

there is no dana, only (goole), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:16 (four years ago) Permalink

Taylor Swift... makes pop dubstep?

The Owls of Ja Rule (DJP), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:18 (four years ago) Permalink

p much

there is no dana, only (goole), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:18 (four years ago) Permalink

well, it's because when five Rihanna tracks become available her fans will download them at once from iTunes.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:18 (four years ago) Permalink

SWIFTSTEP

lex pretend, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (four years ago) Permalink

What would an ideal modern chart system look like?

wk, Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (four years ago) Permalink

Taylor Swift... makes pop dubstep?

I'll assume you don't want to hear her latest track.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (four years ago) Permalink

What would an ideal modern chart system look like?

"Adorn" and "Springsteen" topping every chart.

the ones that I'm near most: fellow outcasts and ilxors (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 11 October 2012 21:19 (four years ago) Permalink

well black beatles' streams surged because of the mannequin challenge right?

maura, Friday, 31 March 2017 11:13 (five months ago) Permalink

Good luck hearing it in the club, on the radio, out the cracked window of a passing Chevy Malibu, or anywhere else in three-dimensional space.

yeah, you might have to stream it along with several million other people

duped and used by my worst Miss U (President Keyes), Friday, 31 March 2017 13:55 (five months ago) Permalink

also: aux cords?

maura, Friday, 31 March 2017 17:00 (five months ago) Permalink

that is true maura re: black beatles. (tho the song was doing well/gaining strongly even before that.) idk tho it just feels weird when ppl write off the success of e.g. "bad and boujee" or "mask off" as being solely attributable to memes as if the songs aren't the memes themselves. i mean, the 'meme' that catapulted "bad and boujee" to the top was basically 'ppl quoting/riffing on its most memorable lyrics on twitter' so it seems so wrongheaded to dismiss the song itself when the song *is* the meme.

dyl, Friday, 31 March 2017 18:04 (five months ago) Permalink

oh i agree with you. i think there's a lot of confusion over what "pop" means because of filter bubbles and it results in conclusions like these.

maura, Saturday, 1 April 2017 02:09 (five months ago) Permalink

man I love "mask off" didn't know there was a meme

example (crüt), Saturday, 1 April 2017 03:01 (five months ago) Permalink

well black beatles' streams surged because of the mannequin challenge right?

― maura, Friday, March 31, 2017 6:13 AM (fifteen hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

from what i understand they were just beginning a full court radio press when that happened and it was already building in the top 40, so it was well on its way. that meme just nudged it over the top

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 1 April 2017 03:15 (five months ago) Permalink

tbh i haven't seen any "mask off" memes except for someone syncing it to the crying piccolo girl, ppl just seem to be flocking to it because they like it (myself included)

dyl, Saturday, 1 April 2017 08:00 (five months ago) Permalink

Future' FB page posts a ton of them.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Saturday, 1 April 2017 08:54 (five months ago) Permalink

oh lol i'll check it out

dyl, Saturday, 1 April 2017 14:57 (five months ago) Permalink

But can anyone get near the amount of spots on a chart as Ed Sheeran?

http://freakytrigger.co.uk/nylpm/2017/03/datapanik-in-the-year-sheero/

curmudgeon, Sunday, 2 April 2017 22:36 (five months ago) Permalink

drake apparently

maura, Monday, 3 April 2017 16:14 (five months ago) Permalink

all you need know is we'll be hearing that Ed Sheeran song for a while yet

― the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, March 20, 2017 10:00 AM (two weeks ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I've only heard this from my roommate karaoking it

Get Me Bodied (Extended Mix), Thursday, 6 April 2017 19:42 (five months ago) Permalink

^^^speaking if songs I only hear when I'm streaming them...

the rockists' red glare (Drugs A. Money), Saturday, 8 April 2017 06:52 (five months ago) Permalink

http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/1487-will-the-mainstream-support-more-than-one-rap-queen-at-a-time-a-charts-investigation/

"Consider this: In the entire history of Billboard’s Hot 100, solo female rappers have fronted a No. 1 single just twice—Lauryn Hill’s 1998 half-sung “Doo Wop (That Thing),” and Iggy Azalea’s 2014 Charli XCX–backed “Fancy.” (That paltry number rises from two to 2.25 if we count Lil’ Kim’s equally billed verse with Christina Aguilera, Mya and Pink on their 2001 remake of “Lady Marmalade.”) And female rappers aren’t even guaranteed proper credit when they do support a chart-topping hit. On “No Diggity,” the classic 1996 BLACKstreet smash, Dr. Dre and Queen Pen rapped on virtually equal bars, but only Dre was listed on the single; Pen went unmentioned on both the CD-single cover and the Hot 100. Even Remy Ma herself has experienced a buried credit. As part of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad crew, she rapped on the summer 2004 chart-topper “Lean Back,” but despite equal billing with Joe on the single, only the group name was credited on the Hot 100."

Crazy Eddie & Jesus the Kid (Raymond Cummings), Thursday, 13 April 2017 21:10 (five months ago) Permalink

Sad! Do US pop hit stations all just take orders from I heart Radio corporate algorhythm types?

curmudgeon, Friday, 14 April 2017 14:12 (five months ago) Permalink

the ones owned by iheart do. the ones owned by cbs take cues from cbs data. etc.

maura, Friday, 14 April 2017 18:13 (five months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

http://www.kingdomnubia.com/2017/05/23/8-reasons-why-rb-has-died-in-the-black-community/

A southern soul dj I know on Facebook was circulating this.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 8 June 2017 14:52 (three months ago) Permalink

The writer doesn't provide many facts to support some of the allegations there

curmudgeon, Thursday, 8 June 2017 16:48 (three months ago) Permalink

That article uses every possible "kids these days!" cliche.

Mr. Snrub, Thursday, 8 June 2017 18:20 (three months ago) Permalink

yeah. i'm also not sure what was implied in pointing out that "in the Billboard issue dated Nov. 23, 1963, when Black artists were still struggling to break out of being viewed as 'race' music, just under half of the Top 10 on the Hot R&B Singles chart were white acts." was it a favorable comparison with billboard's heavily white-dominated r&b charts in 2013, or an attempt to show that the dynamic hasn't really changed all that much in all these years? (also, a nitpick, but i'm pretty sure in 1963 that 'race music' was already considered quite an unsavory and embarrassing term + that the commercial and artistic importance of r&b was pretty well established given the emergence of rock & roll in the prior decade.)

in any case, using billboard's 1963 r&b charts as evidence for just about any industry phenom (other than what the charts themselves were like) is misguided at best; that chart had such a massive problem with sensitivity during that year that it was dropped from the publication without explanation by the year's end. in other words, the dataset forming the basis of the chart was not specific enough to the actual r&b market: of the four white artists in the top 10 of billboard's chart that week, exactly zero were on the analogous r&b chart from trade mag rival cash box -- not just missing from the top 10, but also from the entire 50-position chart. (in fact, none of those 4 singles *ever* cracked cash box's top 50, including jimmy gilmer's "sugar shack" which was (probably embarrassingly) listed at #1 on billboard. for comparison, of the remaining 6 billboard top 10 singles that week, all were currently or had previously been top 10 cash box r&b singles.)

anyway sigh i'm rambling too much AS I SOMETIMES DO RE: THE CHARTS. i think there is really important and incisive discussion to be had here about the marginal corner r&b has been forced into on the commercial landscape but this ain't quite it, and no 'kids these days' cliches would even need to be invoked imo.

dyl, Thursday, 8 June 2017 19:13 (three months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2017/08/09/541951925/kehlani-and-r-bs-women-of-color-struggle-to-be-heard-in-pop-market

"In a recent interview with The Guardian, Tinashe caused an uproar when she talked about "colorism," and her worry that, as a black woman of mixed race, "sometimes I feel like I don't fully fit into the black community." While the comment seemed to address her personal experiences, some fans took it as sour grapes over her seemingly flailing career. Regardless, it was a moment of frustration for a wildly creative artist facing limited options. "There are hundreds of male rappers that all look the same, that sound the same, but if you're a black woman, you're either Beyoncé or Rihanna," she said."

The Harsh Tutelage of Michael McDonald (Raymond Cummings), Thursday, 10 August 2017 01:57 (one month ago) Permalink

The moderate success of SweetSexySavage has reignited conversations about whether the music industry is devaluing R&B artists and, specifically, talented women of color. Kehlani's not alone: Sevyn Streeter, SZA and Mary J. Blige have also released superior major-label projects this year, only to find a muted reception on the pop charts.

Wonder what it will take to change pop radio programming

curmudgeon, Thursday, 10 August 2017 05:20 (one month ago) Permalink

as much as i love the song, i was surprised to see "love galore" doing as well as it has been at urban radio considering sza is pretty new to the mainstream + a woman. even after it broke at urban i was expecting rhythmic stations to stupidly pass it up, but apparently they started playing it as part of the iheartradio on the verge payola program. unfortunately i expect mainstream pop stations' response to be minimal at best -- the most 'urban' songs my city's top 40 is currently playing are liam payne's imitation of 2014-mustard, halsey's imitation of "needed me" + the traffic ticket lawyer commercial -- but it will be interesting to see how far it goes.

also have my eye on: dej loaf's "no fear", which definitely seems to be aiming right down the middle in terms of its sound and mood and is surprisingly cutesy for her. most illuminating of all, i think, will be cardi b's "bodak yellow", which was well on its way to becoming a streaming smash even before it started breaking at any radio format. given how quickly it's gaining now and how much more room it has to grow at radio, i honestly wouldn't be surprised if it challenges for #1 on the hot 100. maybe pop radio will touch a song by a non-rih black woman if it's a #1 hit?

dyl, Thursday, 10 August 2017 06:47 (one month ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-rb-women-20170901-story.html?curator=MusicREDEF

“For some reason, people are consuming male-based entertainment on a much greater scale,” Tinashe said. “You look at the pop charts and there are no black women. And it looks like that on rhythmic and urban charts. Perhaps it's a subject matter issue? Maybe it's the gatekeepers? I can't put my finger on it.”

curmudgeon, Friday, 8 September 2017 04:59 (two weeks ago) Permalink

the gatekeepers have hated women for many years

maura, Friday, 8 September 2017 16:52 (two weeks ago) Permalink

women being relegated to features plays into this (probably the reason why SZA is on a Maroon 5 song, among the more ?!!!?!?!? developments recently but not *surprising* per se)

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Friday, 8 September 2017 18:13 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i'm glad to see artists in the industry acknowledging the issue for what it really is. industryites are so entrenched in the ways that the industry has organized itself into formats (that are implicitly or sometimes explicitly based on social categories like age/race/gender) that they actually think that these arbitrary categories like 'rhythmic' and 'urban' actually have some objective meaning! it often seems to me so hopeless that anything will actually change until radio and its various formats just crumble and cease to be relevant, and even then i'm not sure that would solve it.

that quote from the exec trying to explain the discrepancies by pointing to 'beauty standards' and whatnot is really awful for so many reasons. (and then to top it up with "it really, always, comes down to the song" is so insulting! that's also the go-to excuse from country radio programmers trying to explain why they play women only like 5% of the time, as if the inability to choose good songs is inherently endemic to women or something.)

broke my heart to see sevyn's quote about being stuck in depression and contemplating suicide :(

dyl, Friday, 8 September 2017 23:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

And her latest single, doing quite well on adult R&B and even regular R&B stations, is fabulous.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 8 September 2017 23:31 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i hope when "bodak yellow" reaches #1, which should be soon, possibly even next week, that writers who comment upon it place it in its proper context as the astonishing achievement that it is

dyl, Thursday, 21 September 2017 00:46 (five days ago) Permalink

it might get leapfrogged by that logic song

maura, Thursday, 21 September 2017 01:08 (five days ago) Permalink

a supertramp cover??

Erotic Wolf (crüt), Thursday, 21 September 2017 02:29 (five days ago) Permalink

lol

dyl, Thursday, 21 September 2017 03:32 (five days ago) Permalink

i wish man

maura, Thursday, 21 September 2017 03:33 (five days ago) Permalink

writers who comment upon it place it in its proper context as the astonishing achievement that it is

if you're talking about the invention of the wonderful word "arrove" as the past tense of "arrive" i agree but otherwise idgi tbh so i would welcome such comments

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 21 September 2017 09:08 (five days ago) Permalink

i didn't mean astonishing achievement artistically

dyl, Thursday, 21 September 2017 23:21 (five days ago) Permalink

(altho i like it very much)

dyl, Thursday, 21 September 2017 23:21 (five days ago) Permalink

I think that song is pretty much perfect.

human and working on getting beer (longneck), Friday, 22 September 2017 18:50 (four days ago) Permalink

it... yeah i'm not going to get into it

maura, Friday, 22 September 2017 22:02 (four days ago) Permalink

i guess it's nice that a woman had a hit with a trap by numbers boast too, yay equality

maura, Friday, 22 September 2017 22:03 (four days ago) Permalink

I think that song is just ok?? Don't really understand the adoration. It's obviously tied into ppl's overt identification w her but there are tons of female rappers who had buzz also doing no flocking freestyles, that this is the Kodak freestyle above all others is a neat bit of pr finesse

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Friday, 22 September 2017 23:10 (four days ago) Permalink

Iirc that's how anyone knows who Asian Doll is w/in rap, she broke out last year w a million view video of her no flocking freestyle (and I'm pretty sure it was on a now deleted SoundCloud from even earlier)

https://youtu.be/UU2-XKlKoEw

I mean it's a smart move if you're on her team to identify that a lot of female rappers were connecting through these Kodak freestyles but for me at least the awareness of this saviness doesn't help me fall for the song any more

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Friday, 22 September 2017 23:16 (four days ago) Permalink

Pr finnesse is a little unfair, she's obviously a star and the song is fine, I like it. but it's not as exciting to me as anything by so many other female artists that no one else covers

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Friday, 22 September 2017 23:21 (four days ago) Permalink

if there were so many female rappers, or black women performing music of any genre, garnering the level of attention and success this song has i wouldn't have bothered to make that post. this thread is about the charts as a reflection of what/who's popping and what/who's getting pushed to the back -- so yes, that a black woman whom many had never heard of before this song broke is likely to top the singles chart (w/ her own single, not as a guest) is very noteworthy to me. literally the only black woman to top the hot 100 with her own single has been rihanna going all the way back to two-thousand-freaking-nine! and the only others to even come close in the interim were, like rihanna, also huge stars who'd established themselves during the period when crossover from black radio was still fairly commonplace.

obviously it's not to say that *poof* this song goes #1 and now the tides will turn for black women and women more broadly on the charts. but it's something.

apologies if i accidentally turned this thread into the place where we discuss whether we like this song and feel its success is deserved.

dyl, Saturday, 23 September 2017 01:47 (three days ago) Permalink

i'm not saying its not noteworthy, im responding to people saying its 'pretty much perfect' and 'an astonishing achievement.' its a fuckin no flocking freestyle, its fine. in the context, conservative music labels taking a chance on a social media star who'd already been minted into celebrity by reality television does not strike me as some bold new moment, i mean its great she has success but to me it just points to how stacked the system is against 99% of female artists

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 23 September 2017 04:06 (three days ago) Permalink

and forgive me if it makes it sound like im 'against' cardi b or something, this is also a professional frustration w people who would never in a million years cover cupcakke/rico nasty/asian doll/cuban doll/molly brazy/bali baby etc etc etc caping for this great victory for women as if it isn't their deference to 'what's buzzing' (after a massive push from a major label w/ great A&R) that reinforces these kinds of Pyrrhic "victories"

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 23 September 2017 04:09 (three days ago) Permalink

d40 otm

maura, Saturday, 23 September 2017 11:42 (three days ago) Permalink

The truth is people just want to stand behind shit they "know" will succeed bc they're incapable about going out on a ledge for art on merits beyond scalability, especially when it comes to rap where there's this crisis of authenticity & ppl take "I hear it coming out of cars" as a legit recommendation engine as if lots of generic bullshit doesn't take off all the time

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Saturday, 23 September 2017 17:44 (three days ago) Permalink

well it's no. 1 now

sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Monday, 25 September 2017 16:35 (yesterday) Permalink

cupcakke/rico nasty/asian doll/cuban doll/molly brazy/bali baby

Not heard any of these yet but the names and associations behind them alone are fascinating in a marketing sense.

nashwan, Monday, 25 September 2017 16:48 (yesterday) Permalink


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