2016 has been an incredible year for independent artists.
Chance The Rapper earned seven GRAMMY nominations on the strength of his Coloring Book mixtape and his contribution to Kanye West's "Ultralight Beam," Childish Gambino moved more than 100k SPS units of his funky new album "Awaken, My Love!", Young M.A's hit single "OOOUUU" rubbed shoulders with major label chart toppers, De La Soul's crowd-funded comeback album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Rap Chart, and Frank Ocean broke free from Def Jam to release Blonde, which landed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and, according to Billboard, generated more than $2 million in first week revenue for the reclusive singer.
There's also the continued independent success of veteran artists like Tech N9ne and Curren$y, as well as 2016 'Best New Artist' winner 21 Savage, who earned a Platinum plaque for his "X" single with Future and a Gold plaque for "No Heart."
According to a screen capture of his TuneCore (a digital music distributor) account, Nipsey Hussle also had an incredible year, earning north of $900k through sales and stream revenue during the current earning period.
Nipsey does not make clear the length of the time period in which he earned $908,312.09—we reached out to him directly for further details and we're awaiting his reply—but the commentary he affixed to the photo couldn't be more accurate. "The money's IN controlling ya catalogue," wrote Nipsey.
While Chance, Gambino, De La and Frank all had incredibly successful 2016 campaigns off the strength of their 2016 projects, Nipsey had a successful campaign based on the strength of his ever-expanding discography (and his guest appearance on YG's anthemic single "FDT"). Over the last two years, Hussle has released only one project (Slauson Boy 2), which is not currently available for digital purchase on iTunes or Amazon, nor is it available for stream on Apple Music, Spotify or TIDAL.
Incredibly, the West Coast rapper has accumulated significant music money despite never officially releasing a full-length album—his Victory Lap debut has been years in the making.
Playlists might seriously change the game in 2017, and crowdfunding initiatives are more popular now than ever before for up-and-coming artists, but at the end of the day, independent success is about owning your own masters, controlling your publishing, and building a loyal, dedicated fan base.
Just ask Nipsey Hussle.
By DJ Z, who loves arguing with you on Twitter.
Art Credit: ScaredofMonsters