Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Update: Album Sales Week Of 6/28/11 (Beyonce, Big Sean, Curren$y, Dom Kennedy, Kendrick Lamar, Lil B + Industry News)

Despite her entire album leaking weeks before its street date, Beyonce topped the charts with her aptly titled fourth album, 4.  Big Sean also made waves with his debut, Finally Famous. The G.O.O.D. Music artist moved over 85,000 units of the album featuring Wiz Khalifa, Chiddy Bang, and Lupe Fiasco.  Curren$y charted with his Warner debut, Weekend At Burnie’s, the short album produced entirely by Monsta Beatz.  It’s worth noting that two frontrunners of the new west movement, Dom Kennedy and Kendrick Lamar, were in contention for first week sales.  What’s even more noteworthy is that Kendrick sold only 763 less copies than Dom even though his album came out four days later. Beyonce “4″ - 310,308 (23% digital) Big Sean “Finally Famous”  - 87,085 (42% digital)   [read review] Curren$y “Weekend At Burnie’s” – 22,506 (42% digital)  [read review] Dom Kennedy “From The Westside, With Love II” – 6,016 (100% digital) [read review] Pete Rock & Smif-N-Wessun “Monumental” – 5,436 (36% digital)  [read review] Kendrick Lamar “Section.80″ – 5,253 (100% digital) J. Cole “Workout” [Single] - 3,416 (100% digital) [listen] Shabazz Palaces “Black Up” – 2,917 (60% digital)   [read review] Lil B “The BasedGod” “I’m Gay” - 1,674 (100% digital) Freddie Gibbs & Statik Selektah “Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away” 553 (two week total) (100% digital)  [read review] As Sam reported yesterday, music sales are finally up this year. If you take a look at the sales figures above, you will notice that a substantial portion of album sales are coming at the hands of independent artists. Despite sales only rising 1% since 2004, this is excellent news and sign of prosperity for all of the ‘little guys’ out there that have been making great stride in spite of turmoil such as mergers and acquisitions among major record labels. It’s worth noting that digital sales have allowed the industry to grow, more so this year than ever. Last Sunday, Eminem’s Recovery became the first digital album to go platinum. Additionally, Beyonce’s latest album, 4, which was released on June 28th has already exceeded 70,000 copies digitally. That’s not to mention the crossover sensation Adele, who has averaged sales of 20,000 to 30,000 singles a week. Her album 21 has sold 2.4 million copies to date, 100,000 of which are digital. Margaret Brenneman has concluded that the ability to unbundle tracks has caused significant growth in the digital space. According to her, the Nielsen Soundscan report of 155.5 million albums sold thus far in 2011 fails to acknowledge the total amount of ‘track-equivalent’ albums sold. If you were to consider the standard album to be 10 individually downloaded tracks, the actual amount of albums sold so far in 2011 is 221.5 million. In the case of anti-piracy acts potentially overriding privacy, the Motion Picture Association of America along with several groups acting on behalf of independent record companies and filmmakers announced that internet service providers (ISPs) will begin enforcing new measures such as slowing load time to deter customers from illegally obtaining music and films. Among the Internet providers involved in the deal are AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable. According to the announcement, the carriers involved in the agreement will begin alerting customers by email or other means as a warning for illegal activity. If such activity persists, the service provider will take greater measures to discourage piracy. However, it should be noted that “The companies took pains to say that the agreement did not oblige Internet providers to shut down a repeat offender’s account, and that the system of alerts was meant to be ’educational.’ But they noted that carriers would retain their right to cut off any user who violated their terms of service.” The New York Times went on to elaborate, “warnings escalate from simple e-mail notifications to, at levels 5 and 6, a set of ‘mitigation measures,’ like reduced connection speeds or a block on Web browsing. As the alerts progress, a customer must acknowledge that he understands the notice. Customers will also have the opportunity to contest the complaint.” What does this all mean? Most likely nothing will change as long as ISPs are unwilling to completely cut-off their customers due to piracy. It’s also unclear as to how exactly each service provider will monitor content and determine what material is pirated and what isn’t. Finally, ever thought about what goes into making an album profitable for an artist? In the video below, lawyer Martin Frascogna explain how all that glitters is not gold by breaking down How To Sell 1 Million Albums and Still Owe Your Label $500,000. This is definitely an interesting video if you have 15 minutes to set aside and watch it.

Making Pop Records Ain’t Cheap

Album Review: Freddie Gibbs & Statik Selektah – Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away

Album Review: Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

Artist: Shabazz Palaces Album Title: Black Up Label:Sub Pop Release Date: June 28, 2011 With a name like Shabazz Palaces, your first thought might’ve been a bohemian, Afrocentric, 5 percent rap group that narrowly escaped the 90s.  If this was your first impression, at least you were on the right path. My first thought was, ‘who the f*** are these guys, where did they come from, and how did they garner such notoriety?’ As it turns out, Palaceer Lazaro, front man and only recognizable member of Shabazz Palaces, is none other than former Digable Planet emcee Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler. Although he and his enigmatic Seattle band have kept a noticeably low profile, abstaining from social network sites and literally doing a handful of interviews, Shabazz Palaces have developed somewhat of a strong following in the subterranean world due to their EPs and curiosity about the group. With the release of Black Up, an album title as inscrutable as the band name itself, Shabazz Palaces takes listeners on a mystifying musical odyssey. As the album begins with “Free Press and Curl,” Shabazz Palaces makes one thing clear; they don’t give a flying 747 f*ck about conventional methods. They may not be as obscene or as blatant as Tyler, the Creator, but they don’t have to be.  Shabazz Palaces truly and literally let their music speak for themselves.  However, speaking for them is another thing, and quite honestly, it’s a difficult task.  With ten tracks, each spinning in retrograde fashion, the task of selecting a “stand out” track is even harder.  Listen to the album enough, however, and you’ll definitely gain an ear for the brightest, celestial track. Indeed, take “An Echo from the Host,” a darker, sinister sibling of “A Mili.” Although slower in comparison, the track still bangs in a Henry Evans kind of way. ”Youlogy” is practically a song within a song. Beginning as an organized confused sound of drums and kicks, the track transitions into a mellow but grungy, jazz groove. In addition, Lazaro cleverly plays off of the eulogy concept and addresses the suicide route mainstream artists take by chasing materialistic dreams. In ”Can You…Are You…Were You…,” Lazaro takes a more direct and blatant stab at the mainstream as he raps bluntly, “f*ck they rules, it’s a feeling.” Even when it comes to topics such as love, Lazaro takes an unorthodox approach. Take for instance the ridiculously titled track “Treatease Dedicated to the Avian Airess from North East Nubis,” which in bohemian rap language probably translates to “girl, lets get to cuttin’.”  As comical as it sounds, the beat is far from romantic and the hook is a clear indicator of what he truly wants. If the lyrics “I want to be there/ I should be in there/ let me be in there/ I want to be there/ I wish I am there all the time,” aren’t a big enough sign that he wants to get his David Banner on, I’m not sure what is. Other stand out tracks include the soulful and jazzy tune “Endeavors for Never,” which features the soulful rap duo Theesatisfaction, and “Swerve… the Reeping of All That Is Worthwhile,” which might be the only single worthy cut on the entire album. If any misstep should be mentioned on this album, it would be the arid production on “Recollections of the Wraith.” Limited to a primordial bass drum and kick, this is perhaps the most lackluster song on the entire album. If it wasn’t for the sultry female voice of Cat from Theesatisfation, this would definitely have many of you in REM before you could close your eyes. Nevertheless, this is a pretty solid album which proves Lazaro is one helluva of a song writer. Although, lyrically his bars and concepts don’t extend beyond their limits as much as the production does, he has an innate gift of timing and synchronizing his voice to the point where it feels as if it’s part of the song. I must admit, I thought this was an overrated album given to an underrated artist. However, with each listen, I caught something that I haven’t heard before. With that said, there’s definitely an underlying tone to the album and it can’t be caught by merely skimming through or nodding your head. For those un-daring in their musical taste, this album may go no further than the shelf.  However, if you were a fan of Shabazz Palaces since day one (literally), you will definitely enjoy this album. Because Shabazz Palaces is more subterranean than most underground artists, it will no doubt be years before the rest of the world catches light of their glow. Nonetheless, I don’t believe Shabazz would have it anyway. Let’s face it – judging an album on a scale of 1 to 5 mics just won’t cut it — that’s more of a magazine thing. After constant office arguments regarding album ratings, we’ve decided to revise our album review process and fairly judge an artist’s work across multiple avenues. At, we believe every album deserves an impartial review, taking into account both music and cultural relevance. Purchase Black Up on iTunes

Album Review: Dom Kennedy “From The Westside, With Love II”

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Album Review: Pete Rock & Smif-N-Wessun – Monumental

Heineken Red Star Access @ Santos Party House 6/28/2011 (Pictures + Videos)


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Album Review: Curren$y – Weekend At Burnie’s

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