Def Jam Is Hustling Backwards…(a Microcosm Of The Rap Biz)

Written by Sam

Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 11:41 pm
Views: 3050


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We all know that Def Jam recently signed Shyne to a multi-million dollar deal (who knows how much money they actually gave him up front), and how well that deal is panning out.  Well Sheek Louch recently announced on twitter that he has also inked a deal with Def Jam.  Sheek Louch?  I love the Lox just as much as anyone else, but how does this make sense.  Let’s put this in perspective, Styles P’s last album The Green Ghost sold roughly 2,500 units first week.  Granted the album was dropped independently, but I think that we can all agree that Styles has more pull that Sheek.  Plus Sheek isn’t exactly the type of artist to do big time singles.  The people that are interested in his music tend to be rap nerds who just stay in their mothers basement smoking weed and stealing music, and the street demographic who probably have better things to do with their money instead of buying a Sheek Louch cd.  So this deal is really destined to not be a “success” from the jump.  I mean I can’t get mad at Sheek for getting that check, but he is just going to end up frustrated when Def Jam makes no moves on the album he signed with them to do in the first place?

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Really this is just part of a greater problem.  I’m kind of going in on Sheek & Def Jam, but it the same problem is happening at all major labels.  The money isn’t coming in.  There are a lot of highly intelligent record executives who just happen to be excellent at manipulating a business formula that is no longer making sense.  Instead of finding new ways to monetize new artists and develop them, they continue to invest in the same hip-hop oligarchy until the money completely dries up in the “old” system.

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It’s easy for me to sit here and criticize what a lot of people perceive to be overpaid and overdeserving record executives, but I can’t honestly say I have a fix for the problem in today’s music business.  I can say that I don’t think a lot of these companies are investing enough time and money in developing new ways to make it work.  I feel like the business of hip hop used to be based on success stories of young, intelligent, street smart entrepreneurs who ultimately had the ability to predict the very fragile but valuable commodity of urban culture.  It’s a lot bigger than just the music.  The business may have have lost an element of that entrepreneurship.  People are to comfortable just doing things the same old way.  However, hip-hop is changing with or with out those people.  I think now more than ever important people are starting to open their ears to new ideas.  I forget who I’m stealing this from, but the bottom line is that a lot people need to get right or go left.  When the blind lead the blind, everyone gets lost.

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  • http://dallaspenn.com/weblog Dallas

    Nice post and I think you DO have the answer. The problem with record execs is that they sit in their offices while the culture from the basement thrives. That is the disconnect.

    The execs must leave the hi-rise office and go to the underground. In this case the underground is a basement in a suburb somewhere

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