Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fans vs. Heads: The Battle For Hip Hop

Yes, there is a difference. Contrary to popular belief, just because one is a "Hip Hop Head" doesn't make them a "fan".

Most "Hip Hop heads" are generally pleased with the omnipotent presence of rap music, in all it's forms. Even if it's not their prescription, the hypnotic instrumentation & amalgam of verbiage is soothing to their collective soul(s). The "head" is drawn, like a moth, to all that the music entails, even if it's only to bathe in the hatred that surrounds it. To a true head, the ambiance of the music & artist is loosely interchangeable. Audio-whores, if you will. If it's hot, the head will support. Nary is there a decent rap song that gets by them, & their overall vagueness keeps their hands in numerous cookie jars, musically speaking.

On the same token, the "Hip Hop Fan" is clearly targeting specifics. A fan memorizes verses, attends concerts, supports the music vocally, financially & physically, & sticks by the artist they are the fan of through hell & high water. A fan of hip hop has delicate taste buds only satisfied by the artist(s) they feel their connection with. Like mind sex. Pause to the last 1.5 sentences. Generally, a fan of an artist adopts the emotions of their cherished leader. For example, when 50 Cent said "Fuck Rick Ross", a million e-gangstas yelled the same thing at their respective computer screens. Similarly, thousands of cyber-thugs referred to 50 as a "mungkhey" once Ross mumbled it on a WorldStarHipHop(.com) video clip.

The most notable difference betwixt the two is what they are doing to Hip Hop. Both groups profess undying love for the culture, yet one group allows thriving & productivity, while the other blindly chips away at what makes it a viable living for those who chose Rap as a profession, rather than competition or sport.

The head downloads. All he/she's concerned with is a cacophony of Rap's greatest hits & misses at his/her fingertips, to brag about with the other heads. The fan goes out & purchases, ensuring that, at the very least, he/she's helping to keep his/her favorite artists' bills paid. Which one are you?

SlaughterHouse's self-titled inaugural album "topped" the charts, after one week, with roughly 20,000 copies sold (give or take). Now, the group [Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5'9" & Joe Budden] itself is lyrically superior to the majority of heavy-hitting rappers in today's regular rotation. Yet, they lack the promotional inertia that a lot of their weaker counterparts have. But, for all their superhuman linguistics, they barely scratched Rap's fiscal surface.

Based on Hip Hop blogs/websites, they should have scanned at least 250,000 copies, physical & iTunes. Truthfully, that's hard to do without posters, in-store signings & advertisements of some sort. Some die hard fans, who were actually heads, claimed they'd be purchasing two copies, when in actuality, they illegally downloaded the album a week in advance.

I'm 1/8th comp geek-I know how we gets down....

Right now, Hip Hop needs FANS; those willing to understand that Rappers don't do this for fun. In a perfect world, heads & fans could co-exist & attend the Gucci Mane & Charles Hamilton concerts in unison. But, until then, what better way to stick it to the industry than to SUPPORT what we like, IGNORE what we don't, & let Jimmy Iovine sort out the rest.

Everybody can't go to E1, because the way things are looking, it will be the next Priority Records. Remember them?


dp said...

Good drop Grand$ and the truth is that there are TOO many people trying to be artists at this point in time.

I'mlso exploring the idea that access to music is more valuable now than its acquisition.

The idea is that with so many sites streaming music it no longer has to be purchased, or even STOLEN!

Shit is deep.

Tony Grands said...

Dallas Penn, whaddup!

Could it be that rap is actually becoming deeper than rap?

The mind boggles; the saga continues...

The L said...

Good post Grand$, I agree with what youre saying, but at the same time, I'm not sure if hip-hop would be the same without the "heads". Although I don't consider myself a hip-hop head (I'm more of a fan) I do have a few friends who are, and I can say if it wasn't for them there would've been a lot of artists I never discovered. Although heads may not be going out and buying these artists records and supporting them financially they are always searching for the newest and best artists, and by doing this giving many new artists exposure by word of mouth, blog posting, youtube, etc., that they would never have found before. Theres always a diamond in the rough a head will find, which I think is a beautiful thing in hip-hop, even in today's over-saturated rap game.

Phlip said...

Good shit, Grands.
Reading this, I am not sure which side of this I happen to fall upon. I will accept that I am somewhere in the middle, as neither side is fully applicable to me. I will download an album, and THAT is my test drive, if it rides nice, then I put my cash on it.
I DL'd Slaughterhouse, and I WILL be buying it tonight, getting into my house was more important, one copy - like I said I would.

Anonymous said...

Remember those mini-disc players?

All you gotta do is plug it in the computer, and you can record anything posted without downloading. Even embedded players. Technology.

The suburb factor is now taking place in rap and they don't want hood music. But they have the tools($,computers) to make their faves succeed. Hence the 'Ye and Drake following.

We'll see this when the hood rapper's unemployment rate starts to grow.

$ykotic Don McCaine

Capital G said...

@ $yk. - For real with the mini-disc? Run this one by me in detail. I still have a portable joint and the home system (don't ask why I have either, the kid didn't see ipods coming when I made the investment.

@ Grand$ - "mungkhey", thank you for spelling that shit out. I figured it would be "menkey" but your version works for me just as well. I wondered how someone could fuck up the pronunciation of monkey but leave it to Officer Ricky to figure that one out.

Finally, I support the artist. Still haven't heard the Slaughterhouse shit because I can't fucking find it in the physical form. I won't download an album and steal from the artist regardless of how much money I assume they already have. Only mixtapes that are free anyway, ie.- War Angel and the like, etc... (didn't aim to use 50 Cent as an example, first thing that came to mind) Keep up the good work.

Tony Grands said...

@Cap G

Thanks, bruh.

Yeah, I try & stay away rom the downloads, but 50 told me I could have "War Angel", so I got that shit. This year, I've bought Ross, Doom, Red & Meth, gotta pick up SH, OB4CL2 & BP3. Guess I'll pick up Relapse depending on my disposable income.

I say I'm a fan with head-like tendencies [||].

Anonymous said...

@ Capital G

I know you still have the little RF black wire plug for the md. And I know you know how to record.

Just plug the rf wire into the computer(or any headphone jack,ANYWHERE) get your levels right and boom! There it is(no whoomp).

I still have my Sharp MD-MT180 and use it to plug into the TV/Triton/radio/anywhere if I hear something to sample that I like. I actually want another one for backup.

So when they post them myspace previews of albums, or thisis50 exclusives, or any music, it's a done deal. And I still have that crate digging urge in my blood so I still buy stuff.

I remember when Sony tried the md format. I still have "NaStradamus"(the sh*t sandwich it is).

And don't forget to pull the little tab in the corner on the MD!

$ykotic Don McCaine

Capital G said...

Good lookin' $yk! I was on the verge of throwing all that shit out or gonna try to put mixtapes on 8-track and bring that format back. Serious note, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.

And back @ Grand$ - I'm gonna say I'm a fan of head.(I'm buggin) Cop Relapse even though it's old at this point. Or try the Fabolous album, don't giggle yet. Check out "Lullaby" or "I miss my love", they sound like bitch songs in the titles but they're hard as nails.

Tony Grands said...


Always a fan of head. Al. Ways.

As for Relapse, I'd have to really have some doe just burning ya boy's pockets. I'll ease into eventually, I'm just stuck on old Em. But, I guess thats being stubborn, so perhaps I'll take your advice. I'll give Loso (I laugh when I say that word) @ shot [||] as well.

Capital G said...

You can check almost the whole fuckin Fab album on youtube to judge for yourself. Now if you only had a mini disc player...

Kiana said...

I won't disregard the power of the free internets but there are still people out there like me who love to buy music and can help artists top charts. Best Buy, itunes, and ameoba(sp?) take all my miscellaneous funds. I bought Mos Def's album, I bought Kanye's last one (and broke it so ill eventually buy another one); I'll buy Fab because I keep hearing it's good, I'd buy a Blu album in a heart beat. On the flip, a dude like Eminem is unquestionably talented but he's never been my cup of tea so I wouldn't give him my money.My point is: people WILL buy and listen to the artists they are interested in.

Look at any. Industry other than hip hop. People buy products they want for whatever reason, but mostly because some type of advertising told them to. Folk still buy cable, purchase movies and go to theaters even though the entire film and television genre can be scooped on the internets for free.

So the truth is: SH, for far too many people, just wasn't worth their money; and they weren't marketable which meant not enough people knew about them. I read all kinds of stuff about them but I've yet to hear one track by them because nothing about those 4 guys peek my interest enough to click a link. Not even Joe buddens fine ass. Lol should I pause for all the men who read that last line?

I think SH is a bad example to use to reflect on the state of hip hop and record sales simply because there are way too many people who still ask who the eff is SH? If Jay or a Kanye or even someone new like Cudi fails to sale then we can really say the game has changed. But if we must focus on SH, I think we have to accept the fact that there was no way they were going to push numbers without radio spins, nationwide. If you weren't on the internets all
day roaming hip hop sites, how could you possibly know who they were?

The numbers game really hasn't changed that much -it clearly mandantes that if you're not on the radio or a a video channel, with at least one single, you're not going to sell many records. Especially if you're fairly unknown in the mainstream and you're not provocative or beyond average. And from what I gather SH isnt good enough yet to bypass all the rules and still sell records.

An artist like Wale is clearly good and should move numbers on skill alone someday but even he knows he needs a record like "Chillin" to have a shot of survival outside the internets. Is it fair? No, but that's the industry.

Tony Grands said...


I wasn't trying to use SH as an example of the overall trend, but as a nod towards the internet goon squad/hip hop heads. The whole buzz they generated basically fell on the shoulders of the Net uses, & die hard heads who made it their business to know what's going on all the time. Now, had they expanded & took it back to the mid-90's (posters, promo tour, in-store signings, radio interviews) more folks would have had access. They pidgeonholed themselves according to what the Internet was saying. Fail.

Btw, Buddens looks like somebody's blowing wind in his eyes all the time; pseudo-sexy squint. He's not fine (no hate!!!!). :v)

I did a drop a few days ago, sunday I think, called "back to the future", talking about how mainstream hardcore rap is getting pushed to the side for the likes of those artists you used as examples; Ye, Drake, Wale, Cudi, even Charles Hamilton for that matter. The trend is going back to the fans; the album buyers, radio-listeners, etc. The days of staunch, testosterone driven music are limited. Now, be it bad or good, the people, the fans, want user-friendly, harmless rap. By that standard, as much as I love (50's free mixtape) War Angel, Curtis will never sell like he did. But, thats probably sundays drop....

I think Em would have been a better example, because he traverses both worlds, head & fan. Clearly, he's already established, & his career was pre-internet bumrush. I was a fan because of what I heard, not what was pushed down my throat [||] or programmed by big boys neighborhood. & he still sells lots of records. Without a million mixtapes a year or a download put out every other week. He was gone or years, returned rom hiatus & did TI/Wayne/Kanye numbers. He's transcended rap music, per se. Dudes global.

I think, overall, the fans will determine who's hot & who's not, which in SH's case, had they had a more powerful engine, I guarantee their sales would have been healthier. For the most part, they have the talent, just not the vehicle to carry them where they could've went.

Even still, you have to admit the industry is changing. The internet has leveled the field on so many levels, everyone with the balls to jump in more or less has an equal opportunity to sink or swim nowadays. Thats technology. I damn sure wouldn't have heard of Soulja Boy I his career was based on word of mouth, versus viral exposure.....

kiana said...

Am I the only one who can't stand 50? And your budden shot was hate hate hate lol!

Anywho Grands I don't think you were using SH to make a sweeping statement about hip hop. I was thinking of some other stuff I read on the internets re SH. People keep using them as proof that hip hop is dead and I'm like Wtf? You're right about people not wanting to listen to testosterone driven music anymore. I've been trying to figure out why I have no interest in SH and I think that's why. I read your drop on Sunday and I agree. Fans are def moving in a new direction. I'm not even excited about Jays album & I've never not owned a jigga cut. I guess I want to hear something new.

I do think SH probably would have done much better in the 90s.

I also don't mean to undermine the nets, I just want folk to realize that the formula to success can work without it. Sure its great for exposure but artists can't limit themselves there. You mentioned Em, he is a great example of how if you're good you can blow without the nets.

Btw your mention of big boy reminded me about the new kday. Have you been listening to 93.5? Its great, first time I've enjoyed the radio in years.

Nina said...

Dope Blog!

Now it all makes sense.. Your a FISH ;-) I'm a FISH 2, I think im going to start a Club in ATL for just FISH lol

-yep, if your not a Pisces you cant get in the club, no matter how much $ you have, or how Cool U are. Call me a Fish Nazi, I don't care :)

Would love to see some pictures to go with your Blog post (you know they say (ONE picture is worth a thousand words)..

take care,

Nina D

Tony Grands said...


I'm working on it.


Holler @ your boy.

Curtis75Black said...

I consider myself a little of both. I know my music, know a host of artists who rock different styles yet I support who I feel - constantly !! Slaughterhouse got paid twice by me - Itunes and a physical cd. Most nowadays are just looking for the easy way out and it's killing the market. There's always gonna be hot music but if you don't support it, they will get dropped and that hot track by whomever will be no more.

somebody said...