According to an article in SOHH.com, 70% of hip-hop fans polled in a recent survey said they weren’t feeling the albums that have come out in ’07. This may explain why album sales are reportedly down 30%.
In an interview on said website, Talib Kweli said that he thought sales were down because hip-hop has gotten tired.
“If you look at the CD sales of rappers who are talking about that stuff, it's on the decline. It's been on the decline for years. And it's not because it's misogynistic, and it's not because they calling them hoes, it's because a lot of it ain't good," said Kweli. "The art of the music has suffered where everyone wanted to get in the game and just hustle. There's nothing wrong with hustling and getting your money, but when no one focuses on the art, when the art means nothing, then people are gonna stop buying."
He’s not wrong. The last few years have seen the hustla ethic in hip-hop degenerate to the point of absurdity. I know I’ve railed on him before, but Rick Ross is to me a prime example. His shit is straight garbage, with no talent or thought put into either the music or lyrics. Kids have seen jay or Tip go platinum bragging about being a hustler, and figured that all you needed to do was get a beat and boast and you’d be a billionaire. It reminds me not a little of all the bullshit bands in the mid 90s who heard Nirvana and figured that all they needed were some hooks and a distortion pedal, and voila, penthouses and limos!
I can’t help but feel that MIMS “Why I’m Hot” is the epitome of lazy hip-hop. Here is a song about how good a rapper the boy is, and it isn’t even a well-rapped song. It’s like wearing t-shirt with a designer label – it sends the message but fails in practice. Stop telling me you are hot, and start being hot.
The increasing laziness and lack of artistry in rap is compounded by the fact that too many people are doing it. With myspace and the interweb, any hack with a decent computer can get their mediocrity out for the world to be subjected to. This makes it harder to suss out what is good, and makes the process of discovering new music too much work with too little payoff. There are a lot of good new artists out there, I’m sure, but I think consumers tend to remember all the times they got burned by having to listen to shit that shouldn’t have ever even been a demo to want to wade through the mire of releases out.
I’m hoping the fact that it’s not so easy for any chump to string together 16 bars of bullshit about rims and ice will force hip-hop to step its game up. Maybe we’ll see an increase in the number of lyrical (you know, talented) rappers who actually have something to say and can do so in an interesting way. Of course, Port of Miami went platinum, and the Root’s latest record floundered, so maybe not.
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