Read In Your Language

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Rap Recession

That's a mp3 player. SD format. But I'll get back to the picture.

If y'all have been reading what I've been posting on this site you know I've been scribing the "mainstream rap game is broken" gospel for a minute. The product is diluted. The presentation is so ancient and repetitive, it's no longer attractive to the buyer so the market shares fell significantly. All of that "recession free" rap in 2009 was foolish because the ripples didn't reach the shores yet.

Once you peep this out, you can see that jobs are being lost. A couple of labels announced news weeks ago about pencil pushing staffers getting pink slips. Warner Music Group is up for sale, so don't think chairs aren't being shuffled over there and resumes aren't getting emailed. Sony is getting a face-lift now that Doug Morris is there. These labels are still a business like many of the jobs we have had or still have, and rappers are entry level employees. So a red flag went up when Khaled signed with Cash Money, like, "isn't Khaled Def Jam South president"? Wale signing with Ross? I'm thinking these moves are an imprint shift, like a transfer to a different department at the gig, but Maybach Music Group signed with Warner, so Wale got dropped (fired). The Khaled move makes no sense because that's a major demotion, but he was in an executive chair, so he got that memo to start looking for a better situation. Basically, he did what they are offering Sylvia Rhone to do.

Now it starts to make sense in 2010 when a lot of these rappers had the same release date, or were released in back to back weeks, not allowing the projects to marinate in the consumer eardrums. Company was auditing their inventory to see where they can cut back expenses and what they can keep as assets. A great majority of these rap guys are employed at Universal (Fab, Jada, Sheek, Ghost, Red, Luda, etc.), and new management coming in the door always means every employee gets assessed. It makes sense with all of the "free" music and the no promo released albums, as well as the pushed way back albums, all of them are in danger of losing their jobs and they're in need of support to show management why they should stay on the payroll. Don't be surprised if you see your favorite rapper lose their job soon, or they already have lost it.

Ross' next release date is tied up in the Universal shuffle, so you can see why he's running with the MMG situation, it's supplemental income. Same with Jeezy signing Freddie Gibbs. Nas is an international music artist right now (lateral transfer to different department), so he's safe. Game is in serious trouble, he's like those co-workers who live check to check, paid on Friday and broke on Tuesday that take Wednesday off, come in late on Thursday, and need to leave early on Friday. Once he loses that job, he doesn't get one anytime soon because instead of learning the job he was too busy thinking about the pay and chilling with the co-workers. Actually lot of these rappers have the same problem as Game. Do you think the new owners of Warner will put up with Gucci, TI & Lupe's antics?

*I also remember telling y'all that Def Jam Honors thing was a death knell...*

Now here comes the hard pill to swallow part. Just like our economy, this rap economy will have a lot of rappers waiting for work that will never come. New rappers who think "this is our chance and time" will find out that there are fewer job opportunities than before, because the profit margin and market share do not justify increasing the workforce. Also due to the fact that there's new management with new visions and interests, there's a good chance their interests do not include rap, or rap as we know it to be. These labels have years of publishing archives on their hands, they can take 2 years to push that and freeze all new music (unless it's a sure fire HIT) if they want too. Like I said earlier, they're checking inventory, so don't be surprised if you start hearing a lot of cover songs being done.

Although this rap recession was imminent due to gluttony, if the labels would have had a device like the SD format in place when they switched to mp3's, and not try it out way after, they could have preserved the function of selling units by putting the archives on SD then and by now it would be habit to buy music in SD format. I would rather play music in my Soundwave player than my cellphone, where I kill the battery.

The rap game is in a recession, and the reconstruction is happening right before our eyes, from the executive chair to the weed carrier.


indie artist that decided to grind it out instead of signing are now looking like the smartest kids in the room. Now all these major label artist who are used to being spoonfed (spell check?) have to learn survival tactics before they become extinct.


I am kinda disappointed that Freddie Gibbs signed to Jeezy's label, in my opinion hes a far superior rapper and dude could've done better on his own (I think he has the talent to be huge) or signing to a label like Strange or Duck Down.

There was supposedly a bidding war for Gibbs. I don't believe it not because of his talent, but because his music lane is dying and his persona seems to piss people off. I only see regional success for dude.

But indie has always been the way to go. Look at Loud, Rawkus, Ruthless, Priority, Profile and many more. Even at one time Def Jam.

Smart dumb cats like Jay-Z should have scooped up Enjoy Records and ran with it...

Yeah a bidding war that Jeezy (of all people) won sounds far fetched.

word D...

a dude who can't even get his own album out signs the rapper everybody else wanted. 'Run D MC' is cool, but it ain't enough to get them where they want to go.

This is when I say the signing is more behind the scenes moves than music career situations...

Ive been thinking the same thing since drakes twitter rant about the mixtape. Its a shame good music suffers but they really did bring this on themselves by letting these entry level employees run with their own ideas. i can write a whole blog entry about what I think raps biggest problems are but its not for the comment section. Still shocked you came up with this way back in may

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