And I say that with the best of intentions.
I recently read an article on Medium written by one of the dopest emcees of all time, Talib Kweli! He spoke on why he left major labels alone and struck out on his own independently. Great long form blog post, very insightful to say the least and very disappointing and uplifting all in one, and that’s what led to this article.
You see, I’m what you would call old school when it comes down to hip hop, I was here when it started and fell in love completely with no turning back the day I heard Follow The Leader! For those that don’t know, Follow The Leader was on Eric B and Rakim’s second album and it was released in 1988. Don’t get me wrong I was already a hip hop head, but that song, from that album spoke to me like it was God telling me something, and ironically Rakim goes by the name Rakim Allah, The God MC. So at the end of the day it was God telling me something!
Their previous album Paid In Full was arguably one of the greatest albums of all time, but the debut song, on the second album is what hooked me, it was the very first time that I had to know every single word that an MC was spitting. We didn’t have the internet, so we couldn’t look up the lyrics to the songs, we had to either have damn good memory or do like I did, pause and rewind the tape until I could literally write down every single word that was spit. A painstaking process, but necessary to me at that time because I just had to know that song, from front to back.
That was my moment, the moment I felt it was critical for me to spend a few hours pausing, rewinding, and transcribing a song to make sure I knew exactly what he was saying, I was officially a junkie and my love for hip hop with meaning or conscious hip hop was born out of that experience. From that point on, I was what people call a real/conscious hip hop head and I supported and still do support those who fall into that category.
From Eric B and Rakim, KRS ONE, Public Enemy, X Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, EPMD, Redman, and Rass Kass to Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Roots, Lupe Fiasco, Immortal Technique, Pharaoh Monche, and WuTang, etc, the list can on and on but you get the picture right! I support these dudes every time they drop an album. I don’t buy them from the bootleg man, but from legitimate online establishments so they can make money off of their crafts, and continue to make new music. So with that said, I am a real/conscious hip hop fan to the core!
Now back to why I wrote this! It seems that the vast majority of real/conscious hip hop fans are a bunch of liars, they lay claim to the title but their actions don’t back up their claims. The article that I sited earlier that Talib wrote brings you all into question. He stated that he dropped an album via his webpage kweliclub.com and made about $30k off it, based off his statement saying that its sells covered his production cost. I figure he’s made more by now but what pissed me off is that he has over a million “fans” on Facebook, a few hundred thousand on IG and Twitter and more on Tumblr.
So with about 1.5 million fans across 4 social media platforms, why in the hell was he only able to sale $30k in product! That comes out to under 4000 purchases based off the price per unit! So less than 4000 real fans purchased his album and the other 1.496 million “fans” didn’t, WTF! How can you claim to be a fan but not put your money where your mouth is. With that many “fans” he should have at least sold 100 thousand units, which still isn’t even 10% of his so called fan base.
This isn’t just what has happened to Talib, but it has happened and still is happening to every real/conscious hip hop artist the exact same way. Common, Mos Def, The Roots, etc have only seen modest success throughout their careers when it comes down to album sales. And Common has never gone platinum, gold 3 times, but never platinum, and all of their sales have tanked over the past 3-5 years across the boards, even WuTang Clans!
And before we move into the all album sales are down territory, I know that, but the sale of singles is through the roof for most artist, except those who are classified as real or conscious, yet most of those artist have a million plus so called “fans”, go figure!
So what am I supposed to think about this phenomenon?
Well I think that, as indicated by the album and singles sales of these artist, based off the amount of so called “fans”, that the vast majority of “real hip hop fans” can go phuck themselves. And when you all are finally willing to put your money where your mouth is, then you can discontinue the self fornication, until then, read the title!