Near Extinction: The Platinum Hip-Hop Album

Posted By on January 15, 2015 @ 9:41 AM | OP-EDs

It’s not a great sign for the music industry when last year’s top-selling album is the soundtrack to a Disney movie. According to Forbes, not one artist’s album has reached the million selling mark. Not one. 2014 has become the first year in modern history where no artist has sold more than 1 million albums in the US. Although the past 12 months have seen massive sales for Disney’s ‘Frozen’ soundtrack, no other record has earned the equivalent of a platinum sales certificate from sales this year.

Is the platinum album in hip-hop long gone, or will it make a return in 2015?

While it is assumed that nobody in the world will be surprised by any of this, it is a pretty noticeable downturn from year before last. In 2013, five albums went platinum, including Jay Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ and Justin Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience.’ As of right now, the two bestselling albums in 2014 are Beyonce’s self-titled itunes sneak attack, and Lorde’s ‘Pure Heroine.’ Both albums have sold 750,000 copies, but they came out year before last, which means they don’t count for the year 2014.

It’s certainly an indication of the state of the music industry, and Irv Gotti, the platinum-selling producer and co-founder of Murder Inc Records, doesn’t like it. “Not 1 album that has come out in 2014 is going to be certified Platinum. That’s f–king crazy. Now don’t get me wrong, an artist can still come out and make some money doing shows. But for me, a label owner, and a producer, my money was largely based on record sales. Which there isn’t any. Anymore.”

“And the government won’t step in and help this business. Why? They hate us. The music biz and hip hop in general has changed and altered more good n—az lives than anything else. They think we are all drug dealers. Hustlers. Pimps. They could care less. If this happened to the TV or Movie Industry, best believe they will fix it. Not music. You think they like seeing Bobby Schmurda get f–king money? Nah. Slow us down,” stated Irv Gotti.

For those who are not fully aware of the times, let’s be clear: times are hard. Not one rap album has gone platinum this year. Yeah, times are really hard for rappers and there are a few reasons for these historically awful album sales. Two of the biggest and most successful artists in rap music in recent memory have been Pitbull and Flo Rida (like it or not). Neither of them really sell many albums, but they do sell a bunch of singles. This digital era in the music industry has had record labels refocus their resources to selling as many singles as possible. Albums are no longer the focal point of an artist’s career.

Both the lack of quality music, and talent, are also preventing hip hop artists from moving CD’s off of shelves. A lot of the rap music that’s been available for purchase over the last few years just hasn’t been good enough to want to buy. Many of the songs are unoriginal and the beats selected are ridiculously simple and very similar to a lot of the other songs that are out there. The lyrical abilities and songwriting skills of many of the new hip hoppers at the forefront of rap nowadays are “okay” at best. Many of the new rappers of today pride themselves on just going into the booth and free-styling their records.

In these harsh times, rappers who are innovators will thrive, as we see creative, and out-of-the-box practices slowly breathe new life into the industry. Combine this with Billboard’s new method of counting sales and digital streams for their charts, and we may see the platinum hip-hop album rise again. Only time will tell. Will we see a rapper go platinum in 2015?

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A former contributor at The Source Magazine, SheWise is best known for coverage of Ferguson in the September/October 2014 Power 30 Issues of the The Source Magazine. She is a vegan/raw chef, master gardener, a self-professed healer, hip-hop junkie, and lover of the arts.

SheWise on Twitter

  • Terrence Strong

    Well written great read!