Is An Artist’s Age A factor in Hip-Hop’s decline in sales?

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Everyone’s complaining that we’re not selling records in hip-hop like we used to. Blame the internet, blame the game, blame whatever, but what about the fact that most of the music is coming from what I like to refer to as “old ass rappers.” Don’t get me wrong, i’m up there myself, but then again, I’m not rappin’. Is it really a young man’s game? Now, I guess if Lil’ Wayne comes out and does well for hip-hop, it might prove my point, since he isn’t as old as others (though some have claimed he’s older than he lets on). But what is to be said about the fact that sales for certain artists have been declining since they hit the 30 mark.

Check out the feature we did on this on BET.com, more politically-correct in its title “Mid Rap Crisis.” Shout out to Carl for pulling it together. Take a look at the album sales we’ve listed for LL, Fat Joe, Ice Cube, Jay-Z, Busta, Eminem and more–all over 35 and declining in sales since. It seems that 30 is not the new 20 after all, when it comes to sales at least.

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11 thoughts on “Is An Artist’s Age A factor in Hip-Hop’s decline in sales?

  1. People try to make out that it isn’t about age but they are lying to themselves. Age is a factor. Once a rapper reaches around 35/36 its more or less a wrap! Hip Hop is for the youth and that’s the truth.

    However you still have rappers like Snoop wh0 are still doing well, but he’s more than just music now…….

  2. Also its not helped by the fact that some have waited 2/3 years to release new albums (for whatever reason) and by the time said album drops they are in their mid 30s. At that point younger rappers have entered the scene and have the audiences attention. These days in Hip Hop you cannot drop an album in 2002, follow it up with a new one in 2006 and expect to still go platinum/remain relevent.

    Jay-Z dropped a new album a year for 10 years straight, that’s part of the reason why he’s managed to stay relevent for so long, well in to his late 30s! He never went away, he was always in our faces.

    In Busta’s case I think his sales would have remained high had he not stayed away for so long, and had he not felt the need to compete with others who weren’t even on his level! Busta destroyed himself by muscling up, by taking on a tired gangsta persona, and by basically following the crowd! That was his downfall.

  3. I think that a lot of these situations may have to do with the decline of record sales in general. Still, you definitely hit the nail on the head in the topic of hip-hop artists and age. The intro to my review of Scarface’s album reads:

    Hip-hop, unlike other genres of music, isn’t as respectful toward its elders as it should be. While rock acts like Sting and Rolling Stones can tour decades after the heydays of their careers, the likes of LL Cool J and Nas are dismissed as irrelevant just for being having more years under their belt than their younger contemporaries. While some of this is understandable due to the up-to-the-minute nature of rap and its origins as a genre of the youth, it’s still disconcerting to see rap fans dismiss veterans whose music is just as—if not more—potent than the tunes blaring airwaves today.

  4. The fact remains that if you’re not saying anything that has substance, meaning or a least something that people can relate to then the people will not buy your music regardless of age, so I would suggest that ALL artists start to get to know their fan base a little better then start putting out music that the people can relate to especially the working class people that actually have money to go to the record store to buy the album take it easy kim peace 100.

  5. I spoke at a career day at a high school earlier this year and I asked the kids who they liked more, Bow Wow or Jay-Z… They said, they like Lil Wayne, but if they had to choose, they like Jigga.
    They also said that Bow didn’t write his own lyrics.
    Truth be told, young kids aren’t stupid, the industry just thinks they are… They buy the albums that have significance to them. They don’t buy all of these young rappers because they know that there is only going to be one good song, the one that they hear for free on the radio.

    There are a few major problems for the industry. One, price. If you want to move units again, they are going to have to make $9.99 the regular price of CD’s. That means a cut in marketing budgets, but they are doing that anyway. It means being more creative in signings also.
    Two, consumer loyalty. People buy the albums of people that they have an vested interest in. I have a vested interest in the career of Jay-Z. I have been following it for years, and I own every album, I personally, enjoy seeing him succeed as an artist because his music has added to my life… Fans don’t feel that way about artists anymore, because the industry is too busy trying to trick them with music, that isn’t music.

    I don’t think the age of rap artists is a significant issue. Billboard wrote about this years ago. Although their numbers are declining, I don’t think it has a think to do with their age. It is just the nature of the beast. We have built it up only to watch it fall.

  6. this post is wonderful. I agree with DJ New Money-

    “The fact remains that if you’re not saying anything that has substance, meaning or a least something that people can relate to then the people will not buy your music regardless of age”

    the older they get the more they talk about the same old shit after being in the game for 10 years- paid & worry free wtf could these artists say that can relate to me? and the bullshit most these artists talk- how they down women- why the hell should i buy their whack ass cd? you just called me a hoe and suggested all these vulgar sexual acts to perform on you- the fuck i look like….OH HELL NO.

  7. Although a lot of my favorite albums are by the “old guys,” for instance this year’s brilliant release by KRS-ONE and Marley Marl, the majority of folks who buy albums are young, that’s why boy bands and Britney Spears did so well (the latter’s sales also being boosted by horny overaged shut-ins living in their parentss basements, but I digress). I don’t find it odd at all that rappers over the age of 35 have a hard time selling records. This isn’t limited to rap. Rock only has a few select acts that sell well in their middle-aged years, as well, and those sales usually go to… surprise, middle aged people!

    Sales, however, are not the be all and end all. Some of the greatest artists in the world don’t sell well, it doesn’t mean they should stop making music. A dwindling audience is no reason to put the breaks on a potential musical legacy. The moral of the story is if you’re nice with it keep coming with it.

    PS – Remy Martin’s comment in the BET.com article was beyond idiotic.

    PS II – These kids, most notably Soulja Boy, aren’t exactly selling records either.

  8. Truth be told that is something that has to be looked at, Kane and Rakim run came to an end when they were like 27/28 Pac and Big never got to 25, so yeah wiser give you better thought but older may not be the best thing when the music is for young people, but what about everyone that is over 30 and like Hip Hop they cant Crank that Soldier Boy so there has to be a better balance.

    Mic Lowrey / Eye Stlye Music “The Gucci Selections”

  9. Age plays a big part in a recording artist especially if they have tasted a bit of success along their musical career, you somehow get comfortable and your Surroundings definitely change along with the lifestyle so the reality and hunger from which the lyrics began start to lose its “Ghetto Luster” because you lose that foundation and information portal from which the story or tales began in the first place. Although, I don’t personally think that age has to do with declining record sales, so that we can blame on the Internet. Downloads, Ring Tones etc,etc. But from personal experience and by what I know as a factor, most successful recording artists have always been older in age period (Master P, Lil Wayne to name a few). We can thank the good people of the music industry for that one, publicist, marketing firms, label personnel, management etc etc…most artist don’t really have control of that part of their career, because the main focus is to create a brand. The most bankable artist and brand rakes in the most money. Sounds like simple math but its true. Once the brand is created then everyone(Executive, Co-Executive, Producers, Label, Distributor and last but always least the poor “Recording Artist” or shall we call him/her the brand) can eat from “king Arthur’s” Round Table…But you can only eat if your one of the kings men. LOL…

  10. I don’t think age has to do with it. It is a commonality that runs through all but age doesn’t seem to be a factor as much as promotion or material. Some of the albums I am familiar and some I am not. Also the industry does not train us to listen to music like we use to anymore and does not train the artist to make a album full of singles. Also most of these rappers are not played side by ide with their younger peers anymore than you would hear a Al B Sure record next to a T-pain record or a record by Timbaland or Nas’s “Hip Hop is Dead” next to Soulja Boy Tell ’em’s “Crank that Soulja Boy” for that matter. The keepers of the gate and the decision makers are the ones who make the decisions based on taste and if you ask most of these decision makers to name five hits by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five they could not do it (that is a&r directors and radio deejays). These people influence what we listen to and the people who they respond to are even more clueless. Music use to be a experience. You would listen to a Marvin Gaye record like Hear my Dear or even Salt -n- Pepa’s Hot, Cool and Vicious all the way through. Now you just like one record by Mims or Monica. The industry does breed integrity and confidence in artist. Create a fan base, market a package-not a hot joint. These new school rappers will be lucky if there ae allowed to record as many albums as the over thirty set did-futhermore sell that many. Music suffers->industry suffers-audience suffers->artist suffers=we all suffer.

  11. I don’t think age has to do with it. It is a commonality that runs through all but age doesn’t seem to be a factor as much as promotion or material. Some of the albums I am familiar and some I am not. Also the industry does not train us to listen to music like we use to anymore and does not train the artist to make a album full of singles. Also most of these rappers are not played side by side with their younger peers anymore than you would hear a Al B Sure record next to a T-pain record or a record by Timbaland or Nas’s “Hip Hop is Dead” next to Soulja Boy Tell ’em’s “Crank that Soulja Boy” for that matter. The keepers of the gate and the decision makers are the ones who make the decisions based on taste and if you ask most of these decision makers to name five hits by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five they could not do it (that is a&r directors and radio deejays). These people influence what we listen to and the people who they respond to are even more clueless. Music use to be a experience. You would listen to a Marvin Gaye record like Hear my Dear or even Salt -n- Pepa’s Hot, Cool and Vicious all the way through. Now you just like one record by Mims or Monica. The industry does breed integrity and confidence in artist. Create a fan base, market a package-not a hot joint. These new school rappers will be lucky if there ae allowed to record as many albums as the over thirty set did-futhermore sell that many. Music suffers->industry suffers-audience suffers->artist suffers=we all suffer.

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