A shot of Billboard's Hot 100 in 1988.

Numbers on the Boards

It’s Friday and you know what that means…new music drops today!!! No matter what genre an artist expresses themselves through they care about album sales. No matter how big the artist is they care about album sales. For Rap/Hip Hop album sales may not always be a defining factor if your lyrics are up to par. With the evolution of media and how we consume music artists who’ve been on the charts forever may have to rework some of their marketing methods just to keep up with the millennial artists who know more about how social media and branding work. When Napster was introduced a lot of artists’ sales suffered because fans could easily download their entire album with no monetary commitment. Downloaded purchases count toward album sales almost as much as purchasing a physical copy but streams, spins, and placements have taken a corporate turn over recent years.

An artist can “bundle” their album with merchandise and tour ticket sales (that used to be free) or they can sell an album to a corporation who in turn gives away the album as a promotion. Even if an artist does all of these things and they’ve had the most sales that they’ve ever seen they still want that number one spot. Initially artists, managers, and labels used to mislead people when reporting album sales. You’d hear an artist say that they have the number one album making the listener think they’re project is at the top spot when in reality they have the number one Rap album for that week. Don’t be fooled either because to be a Rapper you have to have some level of ego where you put yourself on a pedestal somewhat. Trust and believe that when the cameras are off and the live has ended they’re throwing two year old tantrums, cussing folks out, firing people, and blaming others. It doesn’t matter if they are a woman or a man; they’re an artist and they’re sensitive about their art.

To a real emcee the number on the boards don’t matter as much as the rhymes but to those who may not have much to offer lyrically they depend on numbers to make an argument for their “talent,” kind of like a rationalization for why they consider themselves “talented.” Numbers on the boards don’t necessarily make you a first ballot Hip Hop Hall of Famer. In 2018 there are many ways to tweak, conspire, inflate, or deflate the Billboard & Top 40 charts. Chart topping artists are mostly pop sensations. Pop is short for popular music. Rap music passed Rock N Roll for the first time last year as the biggest (most popular) genre of music. How come everything Black-Americans do becomes so popular? Then they want to take it away from us and make it more palatable for them; *coughs* whitewash. Still looking to mainstream white America to tell you that they like your music via the number one spot? There are no BET charts, no Sirius chart, and no VH1 or MTV charts either. Since all the streaming platforms report their own “numbers” sounds like the streaming platforms will be having their own charts soon enough.

“The karma gone catch up, the album sales won’t.” – Joey Bada$$ (Six Fingers of Death [Freestyle])

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