It’s no secret that hip-hop is forever changing, but when you're living in the culture day in and day out, it can be hard to get enough separation to truly see those changes. The days when No Limit was jumping out of tanks and Puff Daddy was shooting million dollar videos may seem recent, at least to those who lived through it, but the current hip-hop landscape would be almost unrecognizable to someone even ten years ago.
Polygraph recently made tracking rap’s dramatic changes simple with several info-graphs that’ll have hip-hop heads spending hours being immersed in their breakdown of the rise and fall of hip-hop labels. Do you ever think about Young Money’s huge rise and what it means? What regions were successful in what years? There's so much to think about.
Since there is an incredible amount of information to dig into, here are five things we took away from looking through these info-graphs to get the conversation started.
Young Money’s Dominance in Only Five Years
As a label, Young Money has only been active for about five years. Despite already branding the name in his music, Lil Wayne’s label didn’t really begin to sniff the charts until 2009. In such a short time, they’ve become the second most successful hip-hop label of all-time, surpassing their parent Cash Money, No Limit and Roc-A-Fella. Out of 83 songs that they've placed on the Top 50 charts, Drake deserves thanks for a huge handful of them. Applaud the man.
If the label continues at this pace for just a couple more years (although that might be impossible), Young Money might knock Def Jam out of the all-time top spot. This about this: Def Jam has been active since 1989, and YM has more than half the amount of hits they have in just half-a-decade. Without exaggeration, Lil Wayne really did put together one of the most successful labels of all-time.
Grand Hustle is More Commercially Successful Than Shady Records
In terms of charting singles, Shady has had three more than Grand Hustle. Where T.I.’s label really wins is the number of weeks they've charted, thanks to artists like B.o.B and Iggy Azalea. It’s interesting, because we don’t talk about T.I. achieving a great deal of label success, Grand Hustle rarely comes up in powerful label conversations, but TIP really has ruled over an empire.
Delicious Vinyl Was Bigger Than Def Jam in 1989
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For those born in the late ‘90s or later, the name Delicious Vinyl probably isn’t familiar. Don’t just sit there, bust a Google search. Young M.C. (“Bust A Move”) and Tone Loc (“Wild Thing”) had a bigger Billboard year than Slick Rick, LL Cool J, 3rd Bass, and Public Enemy.
The following year, Delicious Vinyl took a huge dive by losing Tone Loc and failing to duplicate chart success with Young M.C. By 1992, the label was non-existent. While it's legacy lives on primarily in the "underground" context, the rise and fall of DV is a powerful reminder that today's underground can be yesterday's mainstream.
The South’s Got Something To Say
When hip-hop was first starting out, Atlanta wasn’t even on the map. Literally. There wasn't a single label south of the Mason-Dixon line with any commercial impact. In the ‘90s, labels like La Face and Wrap saw some success with Outkast and ‘95 South (“Whoot There It Is”) respectively. It wasn’t until the mid-2000s where they sought to takeover. BME, Grand Hustle, Collipark and DTP all took turns running up the charts in 2005. It only grew from there in the following year, when Grand Hustle became the biggest label worldwide with DTP coming in second.
It’s become a huge staple in hip-hop that remains strong to this day thanks to contributions from Rae Sremmurd, T.I., Migos, and more. In many ways, the story of the South's rise is the story of hip-hop over the last decade.
The Midwest Has Never Had a Huge Impact
Over the years, the Midwest has produced a ton of promising artists who went on to sign with major labels and soar up the charts. None of them, however, tried to start a label based in their region that would go on to be successful on Billboard. G.O.O.D. Music, despite being spearheaded by Kanye West, is considered NY-based and for good reason, too.
Believe it or not, Nelly is the only native son to have success in the Midwest, his Fo' Real Entertainment delivering one of the year’s hottest singles in 2002, “Air Force Ones.” But short of Nelly, the middle of the country has never seen any truly significant commercial success.
These are just five things that stood out to me, but there’s plenty more to look at. The rise and fall of No Limit, years that Def Jam wasn’t on top, Rap-A-Lot’s up and down movement on the charts in the early to mid-90s and much more. Dive into Polygraph's report and unleash the inner rap nerd in you.
[By Sermon, who wonders what future label/artist will dominate like YM. This is his Twitter.]