Ok, so it's official. Kanye West's Graduation has beaten 50 Cent's Curtis in the all important first week sales race.
Whoopee! They both get a little bit richer.
The obvious (and idealistic) extrapolation from this whole kafuffle is that perhaps the mainstream "blazing hip hop and R&B" audience is growing a little tired of guns, bitches and money and wants something different (if not deeper) from their rap stars.
That would be great and many hip hop fans, especially those of a certain age (oh, say 30 and up) would certainly rejoice to see the gangsta cliches we've been hearing since N.W.A.'s debut EP back in 1986 be laid to rest.
Well, actually "laid to rest" isn't what I'm after, but at least it would be nice if misogyny, violence and the acquisition of stuff weren't the dominant voice of hip hop (or "regular rap" as one reader erroneously called it while pushing a gospel rap group).
It would also be great if - without legislation, relying on record companies to develop a collective conscience or the constant yammering of Al Sharpton - if hip hop fans simply said we are tired of it.
Perhaps even the suburban mall rats who have never driven near an offramp leading to the hood much less experienced life there, could possibly have had their fill of vicarious thrills gleaned from self-proclaimed alpha males in large pants.
I remember in the first half of the 90's Jamaican Dancehall music was awash in metaphorical blood as nearly every DJ (their nomenclature for rappers) was lyrically waving their gun around, killing or humping everything in their tunes.
After a few years (and some great and VERY politically incorrect mixtapes for me), fans demanded a change from the "guntalk" and "slackness" (explicitly sexual lyrics..I mean really explicit) and the artists collectively obliged.
Of course, Jamaica is considerably smaller than the U.S. and that change didn't exactly make Dancehall enlightened, what with all the rampant, violent homophobia that is still pretty common in the music.
But that's another discussion.
Anyway, can a similar fan-inspired change come in hip hop?
Is there something substantial we can take away from the Kanye/50 Cent sales
(let me remind everyone this was a "sales' battle, not a lyrical battle or a my-album's-gonna-be-more-artistically-satisfying-than-yours battle. It's strictly about the number of units shifted. Now back to the rant)
More likely it means that when you make essentially the same album/single three times in a row, even musical morons content to swallow whatever secretions pop radio shoots at them begin to pick up on the formula. I mean, Magic Stick (yes, I know this was officially a Lil Kim single), Candy Shop, Amusement Park..zzzzzz.
Kanye's is certainly no lyrical genius or anything, but he does have a bit more on his mind than the stuff we've heard from 50 who seems uninterested in introspection, or looking behind the cliches he spits so smoothly to get at something deeper.
The early sales disparity could just mean that 50's singles leading up to the release were wack (they were) and that his moment as B.M.O.C. is winding down.
But I suspect some slight variation on the oiled up, s**ttalkin' ex-drug dealer will replace him.
P.S....Ja Rule's comeback album is due in November so get ready, "blazing hip hop and R&B fans," I'm sure ol' Curtis will have something to say about the guy he replaced.
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