10 (Actually 5) Facts About Rap That People Don't Talk About Enough


Jay-Z made #FACTSONLY a new rap motto this year. But not all facts are created equal.

Some we know all too well, like that rap albums don’t sell as well they used to, and that mixtapes are where most of the good music is. But as the new reality of the genre and the industry continues to change shape, there are new laws of the land coming into focus. And some of them haven’t been discussed or understood enough to be common knowledge. Meanwhile, there’s some dusty old received wisdom still hanging around from the '90s that many heads need to finally disabuse themselves of.

Is there such a thing as a bad collaboration? Should rappers release every song they record? Does it matter that Drake “freestyles” with a Blackberry in front of him? Just how rare of an accomplishment is Kendrick’s platinum plaque? Should every MC turn their back on the major label machine and go independent? Is Atlanta still the center of the rap universe? Will Detox come out, or more importantly, does it matter if it ever does? We have answers to these questions, but more importantly, we have an idea why.

These are the 10 5 Facts About Rap That People Don’t Talk About Enough…


Rap mixtapes are ruining rap albums.

Occasionally, artists can use a mixtape as a springboard to major label stardom perfectly, establishing an aesthetic and persona that they're able to follow through and expand upon with proper albums. Think of the way Jeezy's Trap Or Die or Drake's So Far Gone became an instant calling card without overshadowing the albums that came later. But increasingly, it feels like the only artists whose albums aren't bested by their mixtapes are the small number of superstars who don't make mixtapes.

Maybach Music Group in particular has been afflicted with that pattern of late, with Meek Mill's debut album losing some of the luster of his DatPiff blockbuster Dreamchasers mixtapes, and Rick Ross's Rich Forever tape feeling like more of an event than its major label companion, God Forgives, I Don't. For artists who are already signed but still have to throw a mixtape out there before the album, it sometimes serves as an advertisement that's better than the product they're hoping to sell.

Codeine is treated like weed, but in reality it's much much more dangerous.

Rappers can walk around in public with Styrofoam cups and not attract the kind of police attention that a lit joint will get. But just because it's not as much of a legal taboo doesn't mean there's not risk involved. What's shocking about how many of Texas's hip-hop legends have died under circumstances where syrup addiction was a known factor is how young they all were. Pimp C and Big Moe died at the age of 33, and DJ Screw was even younger.

But because it's easily acquired, and is consumed much more easily, and more pleasantly, than a needle in the arm or even smoke in your lungs, it's become frighteningly uncontroversial in the hip-hop community. We still don't know how much sizzurp had to do with Lil Wayne's recent health scares, but hopefully it won't take something really serious happening to a star of his magnitude for hip-hop to get a wake up call.
Atlanta hasn't produced a true new crossover rap star in years.

From the late '90s to the mid-2000's, being a rapper in Atlanta was a little like being a rock band in late '60s London: if you were the hottest thing in the city, you were probably also about to take over the world. Year after year, from Outkast to Ludacris to Lil Jon to T.I. to Young Jeezy, whoever ran the A soon enjoyed massive mainstream success. But ever since Gucci Mane fell short of extending his reign over ATL to the rest of the country, the disconnect between popularity in Atlanta and popularity throughout America has continued to widen.

2 Chainz has gotten further than anybody lately, but he's from the previous generation, actually older than T.I. or Jeezy. And his peak moment of mainstream exposure, when he could show up on 2 Broke Girls and the "Gangnam Style" remix, seems to have already passed by. Of the next generation, Future has been the most ubiquitous on urban radio, but he's still got a ways to go to make it up to the A-list.
Only four new rappers have gone platinum since 2006: Drake, Nicki, Kendrick, and Macklemore.

In 2005, a lot of rap artists released their first million-selling albums: Young Jeezy, The Game, and practically the entire city of Houston. But by then, album sales had already started to crater, with rap getting hit harder than most genres. And for the next few years it would only be long-running established artists moving those kinds of units: Jay-Z, Kanye, 50, T.I., Eminem, the usual suspects. Even 2006's biggest new artists, who have since gotten bigger, Rick Ross and Lupe Fiasco, have never moved a million copies of any one album. It's pretty clear: gold is the new platinum.

Drake ended the drought in 2010. But since then, only three rappers have followed in his footsteps. And when you consider that Nicki's second album actually missed the million mark, that means Drake, Macklemore, and Kendrick are the only leaders of the new school currently coming off of platinum albums.
White rappers totally run iTunes.

The shift from brick-and-mortar CD stores, the ones that made gangsta rap a major commercial force in the dawn of the SoundScan era two decades ago, to digital sales has had a lot of indirect effects on the music industry. One of those is that certain listeners are more likely than others to get their music on the iTunes store. And whether it's simply those demographic differences, or the fact that they haven't given away most of their music on free mixtapes, there's been a definite shift towards not just the always popular Eminem but also Mac Miller and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (to say nothing of the white R&B singers who've run the charts this year, Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke). After all the hoopla about French Montana returning Bad Boy to rap glory, Machine Gun Kelly ended up with the label's best-selling hip-hop release of the last couple years.

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i blame lil gremlin for for EVERYTHING. EVERY DAMN THING. dun care he ain't at fault