Since the mixtape invasion that helped 50 Cent score a deal with Eminem (and subsequently move 11 million copies of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’), it seems that a little too much importance is being placed on grinding out multiple street CD’s before dropping your “official” album. Case in point – Papoose. Sure, releasing twenty or so mixtapes with Kay Slay might have helped him secure his “1.5 Million Dollar Man” status over at Jive, but there’s a fair chance that Pap’s already used-up most of his best ideas and punchlines already. It’s not just the new-jacks who are over-exposing themselves–even certified champs like Ghostface are approaching saturation point by releasing two albums and various mixes in 2006.
With rap CD sales taking a major fall over the last couple of years, it’s becoming tougher than ever to make a buck in the music game outside of constant touring and ring-tone sales. While the “Big 5” record labels and the RIAA will plead that mixtapes and downloading are killing the industry, it’s obvious to anyone without a serious chroming habit that the fans really just want good albums. Based on the last twelve months of hip-hop releases, I’d venture that a significant part of the problem is the random grab-bag of producers that get thrown together for any given project. While Illmatic demonstrated that a collection of separate but like-minded beat-smiths can deliver a classic, these days it’s more likely to result in a hit-and-miss compilation of tracks with a creatively burnt-out rapper over the top.
Although not everyone’s suited to recording with just one producer, it’s safe to say that most of your favourite records are the result of a single musical direction. Instead of arresting mixtape makers for doing exactly what the major labels have demanded (building a solid fanbase), it might be an idea to simply put their A&R department in check and get them to start putting some time into actually developing artists rather than rushing out half-assed LPs.
Originally published in Acclaim #6:
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