At the end of last year, Chris Webby left his mark on the game when his commercial debut, There Goes The Neighborhood, emerged as the number one hip-hop album on iTunes with no promotion whatsoever. Albums like this have been a trend within the passing months, and it seems like this wave of overnight digital sensations isn’t going anywhere. Last week, New York hipster hip-hopper Hoodie Allen released his commercial debut exclusively in digital format, and low and behold the release surpassed Nicki Minaj from a digital standpoint (yes, Nicki did move about 3 times this amount in the past 7 days, but the majority of which was physical). Now I think everyone wants to know what white rapper will come out of left field and dominate the iTunes charts next; and I have a strong feeling that something like this will happen again this year. In other sales related news, Texas-bred MC and Lacrae label-mate Trip Lee did his thing by moving an impressive 19,000 units of his latest album, Good Life. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s studied Lecrae because he and his Reach Records affiliates have been killing the game as of late in the God Rap genre. While it’s not quite hip-hop, maybe sort of trip-hop, it’s worth mentioning the success of super-producer Bassnectar’s latest project, Viva Voom, which made its top 40 debut this week. The only other notable release came from Big K.R.I.T. who either has very supportive fans or at least a couple thousand fans that don’t follow hip-hop websites because he managed to sell more than 1,300 copies of his 5 track EP which contains all but 1 song that was previously released for free on the mixtape, 4EvaNaDay, which I highly recommend checking out.
Hoodie Allen “All American” – 27,278 (100% digital)
Trip Lee “Good Life” – 19,385 (88% digital)
Bassnectar“Viva Voom” – 12,877 (2% digital)
Big K.RI.T.“4eva Na Day (Road Less Traveled Edition) – EP” – 1,378 (100% digital)
This past weekend Tupac Shakur made his first public appearance since his tragic death in 1996. He could not have chosen a better place to make his triumphant return, a sold out arena there to see his former Death Row mates Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. When 2Pac suddenly appeared on stage the excitement was palpable, Pac had been known to be a restless soul releasing posthumous albums for years after his death. A live performance, however was something different altogether.
2Pac only spent a brief time on stage but it was clear that he did not miss a step. While Snoop and Dre were clearly worst for the wear since his departure, 2Pac was his old energetic self. He barreled through the first verse of fan-favorite “Hail Mary” then treated the crowd to a gangsta party as he teamed up with Snoop for “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”. Noticeably missing was “California Love” with Dr. Dre but that is probably asking too much from a rap icon who had been dead for fifteen years.
The Internet has been abuzz with 2Pac’s holographic appearance since the news and video broke on Monday. Twitter had 2Pac trending for the first time since the anniversary of his death in September. Facebook became a hotbed of discussion concerning the ethics of hologram projecting a deceased music icon on stage.
In one of the conversations I was involved in people wondered aloud if Dre and Snoop are given a free pass on resurrecting Pac how long until other artist begin to imitate them. How long before Nas is regularly doing duets with Bob Marley? How long until Drake revives his long-time crush Aaliyah for a remix of “One in a Million”? The Hip Hop Community may need skis for the slippery slope the good Doctor has set us down.
The danger does not stop there however. how long until these hologram artists begin going on tour by themselves? How long until P. Diddy, in collaboration with the Christopher Wallace Estate, produces “The Life After Death Afterlife Tour”. A tour, starring a hologram makes perfect business sense. The hologram does not need a hotel room or security. It does not need a steady stream of liquor or even a hot meal. The hologram rapper would not even need a tour bus. It could travel in the trunk of the tech guy’s Ford Focus.
I am 27, when Pac and BIG died I was twelve. I never got to see either in concert, if you could reproduce that priceless experience for $35 a ticket, would I go? I do not know, but I would sure be sorely tempted. If you do not have front row seats it would be difficult to tell who is being projected and who is not anyway. From the nose bleeds Snoop probably looked just as ethereal as 2Pac did.
The Hip Hop purist in me says no to holograms! Whether the artist is living, dead, consenting or not I would rather have a flesh and blood person behind a mic. However, is there not something alluring about having your favorite artist in the prime of his career with perfect breathe control? They would not miss a beat, would not show up to the arena forty-five minutes late. For promoters they would not even have to pay them! Sure the projection crew would be paid but they would be paid peanuts compared to what these artists garnered at the prime of their careers.
These are all interesting questions and possibilities. One, must keep in mind that in order for a virtual 2Pac, or any other deceased artist for that matter, to go on tour it would need the approval of the person’s estate. The overseer’s of the estate will have the final say over who gets projected on to stage and who does not. However, now that Pandora’s Box has been opened it is going to take a lot more than Afeni Shakur to close it. Word.
E-40 is a hustler; you can’t deny that. The Bay Area legend pulled one over on consumers last March when he released a double album, sold separately on the same day, and he’s back at it again, taking things to a whole new level on his triple album, The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 1, 2 & 3. 40 Water showed his hustler ambitions by selling this as both a package deal and three separate albums. Combined, The Block Brochure has sold over 32,000 units, making E-40 the real winner this week. Miami crew ¡MAYDAY! did more than scratch the surface this week by landing an unexpected Top 200 slot with the release of their Stange Music debut, Take Me To Your Leader. The album features Tech N9ne, Ace Hood, and Murs, among others. In other release news, DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles scanned a respectable 3,000 units of their collabo album, KoleXXXion. You can check out photos from their album release party here. Check back next week to see if Nicki Minaj lands the number 1 spot with her zany sophomore effort Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded.
E-40 “The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 1, 2 & 3″ – 9,578 (76% digital)
E-40 “The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 2″ – 7,940 (3% digital)
E-40“The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 1″ – 7,817 (2% digital)
E-40“The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil 3″ – 6,867 (0% digital)
¡MAYDAY! “Take Me To Your Leader”- 5,439 (33% digital)
DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles “KoleXXXion” – 3,099 (26% digital)
Actual Proof “Black Boy Radio” – 607 (100% digital)
Gift Of Gab “Next Logical Progression” – 495 (54% digital)
All those who have written Odd Future off as a fad should now stand corrected. The 11 person collective nearly matched the success of the more publicized debut from leader Tyler The Creator, by moving more than 40,000 units this past week. The OF Tape, Vol. 2 plays through like a crazy jumbled, eclectic playlist, and it seems like OFWFKTA wouldn’t have it any other way. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the rap stable now that Earl Sweatshirt is back in the mix. Rev. Run’s youngest son, Diggy, surprised many by cracking the top 20 this week with his aptly titled commercial debut, Unexpected Arrival. Diggy managed to outdo Machine Gun Kelly’s EP, which pushed a meager 8.5k, which isn’t terrible considering it is being billed as the soundtrack to a book. I’m personally not sold on Diggy, but it’s undeniable that the kid has a bright future ahead of him. If you have consistently checked this column, you may have realized that Christian rap has become a growing trend. This week, the Christ-praising MC Swoope made an impressive showing by selling over 2,000 copies of his album Wake Up in the digital space alone. I took the time this week to check out a couple of singles that have been smashing the charts on iTunes. I knew B.o.B was killing the game, but I’m still surprised that he did 400k plus in one month for “So Good,” especially considering this track is readily available for free download just about everywhere. Check back next week to see what numbers Bay Area legend E-40 puts up with the release of his triple album, The Block Brochure.
Odd Future “The OF Tape, Vol. 2″ – 40,110 (60% digital)
Diggy “Unexpected Arrival” – 20,725 (15% digital)
MGK “Half Naked & Almost Famous” – 8,517 (100% digital)
Swoope “Wake Up”- 2,353 (100% digital)
Slaughterhouse “Hammer Dance – Single” – 11,197 (100% digital) *Two week total* [listen to track]
B.o.B “So Good – Single” – 433,252 (100% digital) *Four week total* [watch video]