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It was December of 2013 and I was just getting back home. I can remember that it was just around midnight, but I can’t remember where I was coming from. I’m thinking I was probably coming back from my friends place, but I can’t be too sure. Now, once, I entered my house, I sat down for maybe, 5 to 10 seconds before I was immediately told by my sibling that Beyoncé had randomly, out of nowhere, released a 14 track, self titled album called Beyoncè.
As, I was being told this, I couldn’t believe it. But, once the Wi-Fi in my house finally hit my phone, I scrolled Twitter and I realized he was telling me the truth. Everyone on Twitter was talking about the album. It was trending worldwide. Then, my brother told me Drake was featured on the album. I, of course immediately went to listen to that song first. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was witnessing, as was everyone else who was a fan of music, history being made. Because with the unexpected release, Beyoncé had in 2013, changed the entire music industries way of marketing and releasing albums.
Now, It is true, that in 2013, other artists, without prior warning, announced albums and subsequently released them. Interestingly enough, Death Grips, out of nowhere, released their album, Government Plates, a month prior to Beyonce’s without any warning and released a video for each of their songs, just like Beyoncé would do a month later with hers. Jay Z, out of nowhere, in a commercial for Samsung, announced he would be releasing an album called Magna Carta Holy Grail.
In the commercial, Jay Z now famously said, “We have to write the new rules.” Also while this was happening, Kanye West had been projecting New Slaves all around the world, marketing his album Yeezus which was considered apart of the new rules movement. Even though, all of these artists were, in their own way, marketing themselves in a non-traditional way, none of these artists are Beyoncé. That’s exactly why, when she dropped her album, in a new rules esque way, she and she only truly changed the industry. Commercial and mainstream wise, Beyoncé is the closest thing we have to a Michael Jackson. That’s why her dropping her album, out of nowhere, was an industry changer.
The self titled album Beyoncè, sold 80,000 units in 3 hours and a mass total of 430,000 digital copies in 24 hours. Beyonce’s 3 day sales totalled over 800,000 copies sold. Beyoncè then went platinum with her album in 1 month. Even though, other artists had done what Beyoncè had done prior, with non-traditional ways of releasing or marketing their album, no one was as successful at it, as she was. Although the release of this album was in December of 2013, the impact of this album, financially and commercially would really be felt in the music industry for Hip-Hop, a year later in December of 2014 with the release of J Cole’s, 2014 Forest Hills Drive.
J Cole, unexpectedly, announced his new album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, out of nowhere. J Cole, in a short clip for the album, explained, their would be no singles and it would come out in 3 weeks. Keeping true to his word, 2014 Forest Hills Drive was released 3 weeks later on December 9th, 2014, nearly a year to the date of when Beyoncè released her album. J Cole’s album with little to no promotion, sold 353,000 copies in its first week, being his first best week sales of his career. The album was also streamed over 15 million times in it’s first week and as of September 2015, has gone platinum.
Beyoncè’s successful blueprint paved the way for J Cole to release his album. 2014 Forest Hills is also the first album in over 25 years to go platinum without any features. J Cole’s album success can also be attributed to what I see is the two-sides of Hip-Hop and a major theme in 2015. If you’re a rapper in 2015, you either cultivate and stay true your fan base or you over saturate your fans with music.
You might not hear J Cole’s name everyday, but he has an incredible fan base and his records sold for his latest album shows that. Future for instance, has released 2 tapes and an album in a span of 8 months, showing that he’s been over saturing his fans with music, but what happens, when the best rapper in the game, pulls a Beyoncè? In February of 2015, we found out.
Drake surprise released, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late through iTunes on February 13, 2015. The mixtape went gold in a week with recorded sales of 535,000. In August of 2015, If You’re Reading This, It’s too late went platinum. This is why when people see artists randomly dropping albums, they call it a Beyoncè. They call it this because she did it the most successfully. Now after Drake released his tape, every hip-hop artist followed suite. Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, The Creator, A$AP Rocky and Mac Miller have all released their albums with non-traditional promotion.
It seems like every Hip-Hop artist in 2015, realized they didn’t need to follow the industries way of promoting an album. With the internet and the closeness to their fans at an all time high, they can just release an album and they can do it successfully. The only problem is that, in 2015, if you’re a rapper, you really only have two options. You can either, cultivate your fan base, listen to your fans, be successful this way, like J Cole, but you won’t really hear your name in the public. Or you can, oversaturate your fan base, drop music every couple of months like Future. Your name will be talked about a lot, but it can only last for so long.
I think Drake is caught in the middle of this. Drake and Future recently released, What A Time To Be Alive, a collaborative mixtape through iTunes. Since Drake has released, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, he has released a ridiculous amount of songs through his OVO Sound Radio and now has released another tape with Future. This keeps him in the news and cultivates his fan base. This essentially keeps him number one.
Maybe this is why Meek Mill tried to come at him, maybe that’s why Drake raps these lyrics on 30 For 30 Freestyle, the final track of What A Time To Be Alive, “When the higher-ups have all come together as a collective, with conspiracies to end my run and send me a message.” Maybe he knows he’s caught in the middle of a changing music industry and he’s doing so more successfully than anybody else.
Either way, we can now look back on that snowy day in December and realize it for what it was. I didn’t know it then, but when I came home, I was hearing news that would eventually change the music industry and more importantly Hip-Hop. Beyonce’s self titled album, created a tidal wave in late 2014 and now in 2015, has completely changed the state of Hip-Hop in 2015. And the scary thing is, there is, but only one person who can make this situation even worse. There is only one artist this decade that has gone diamond with her album. If Adele pulls a Beyoncè, the music industry truly will never be the same for every genre.
MY MOTTO IS: IF YOU WANNA WIN THE LOTTERY, YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE MONEY TO BUY A TICKET!
From The 6ix,With Love
Thank You For Reading
Sincerely, Kid From The 6ix
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