Saturday, May 3, 2008

NOW You Abandon Vinyl?

Check out Pace Won's new joint... it's on his myspace, Youtube, etc. Even if you threw away your Outsidaz fan club membership long before they split, or if you were only somewhat into them in the first place, I'm confident you'll dig this. It's almost "Nostalgia" part 2. Man, what an ode to hip-hop, with contemporary, fresh lyrics that are still witty and original over an addictive beat, a sampled hook and some nice scratching by his new producer/DJ Mr. Green... I can't wait for the 12" to drop!
Except, when asked (via myspace, thanks soulcondor) about it, his response was:
Definately Mp3 and CD...

Now, this is not me having a go at Pace Won. ...Well, maybe a little bit (I mean, come on!). This is about the indie hip-hop scene in general. Have a look at's store page. Their 12" list has been blasted with a shrink-ray! It used to be this impressive list of brand new and pending indie 12"s, and now it's tiny, dwarfed by the CD list.
If you missed this November '07 Wired article, you should really read it. Go ahead; I'll wait here. Essentially, it's a thorough, encouraging piece all about how, while the RIAA cries about downloads killing the music industry and CD sales dropping at record speeds [yes, that was a pun. Sorry. but they're dropping very far and very fast is the point], record sales are, as Ian Connelly, client relations manager of independent distributor alliance IODA, put it, "way up. And not just the boutique, limited-edition colored vinyl that Jesu/Isis-style fans are hot for right now." even created a new vinyl only section, which they didn't even have in the heyday of Sandbox and Hiphopsite in the late 90's.
Now, Wired just made a new article where even the RIAA, who long tried to deny the vinyl resurgence, finally had to admit that "the American music industry sold 36.6 percent more Extended Play (EP) and Long Play (LP) records than it had in the previous year, increasing vinyl sales revenue by 46.2 percent. CD unit sales, on the other hand, declined 11.7 percent with revenue dropping 20.5 percent during the same period." That's a really drastic difference for a single year!
And where is hip-hop? Look at that Amazon vinyl section I linked. Today their featured pieces are R.E.M., Radiohead, Amy Winehouse, the Juno soundtrack, and Elvis frikkin' Costello. There's not even a single, crappy crossover psuedo-hip-hop release in the sidebar. Now go back and look at UGHH's emaciated "New Vinyl Singles" selection again.
After years and years of us hip-hop fans buying and supporting vinyl when everyone else on the planet would look at us like we were escaped mental patients and ask, "you mean, the big round black things I used to play as a kid? Ha ha How novel!" After years of "SUPPORT VINYL" t-shirts and impassioned articles by DJs and collectors in Subculture, Rap Pages, Vinyl Exchange, URB, etc. etc.... Now my real estate agent and the hipster at the local supermarket are building massive 33 1/3 collections.

And when I reach out to the great old and true school artists, the leading figures in holding it down for the hip-hop underground, asking when their next 12" is dropping, I get, "LOL wut?"
Seriously, vinyl is up 46.2% just this year, while CD sales are still plummeting so fast record label CEOs are slitting their wrists in their high-rise offices,and NOW is the time you guys pick to abandon vinyl? I'm sorry, but my best, most thoughtful response to that is, "you suck!"
Now, I appreciate that a lot of indie artists are on low to no budgets... but you know who else is? Me! And if you want me... and by extension, I daresay, the rest of us remaining hip-hop fans who haven't completely given up on the notion of supporting you artists and voting with our dollar, to just downloading all your albums as illegal mp3s for free. If you want us to show you some love, you've gotta get your acts together.
Records are back! But a time for celebration turns into a pitiful day when we see Madonna and Elvis Costello proving to be more hip-hop than Pace Won or, say, the entire roster of Koch Records.
[Edit to add: it occurs to me that my "Mini Posts" are actually all, like, really long. Maybe I need to come up with a new name for 'em; what do you guys think?]

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