Monday, 4 July 2011

Detox - The Big Pushback

Did Dr. Dre's free publicity around "Detox" rumored release dates inspire artists like Game, J. Cole and all of Def Jam's roster?

Looking for that new Weezy? What about Jeezy? Detox?

Hold that thought. So far, 2011 has been the year of the pushback. Sure, delays in Hip Hop are nothing new, but as we celebrate halftime, it’s evident that the promise of a new release - and its subsequent delay (or delays, in most cases) - should be taken with a grain of salt, now, more than ever.

The Art Of The Album Delay

Blame the game. In an age where albums leak nearly months ahead of scheduled street dates (see Beyonce’s 4  and Big Sean’s Finally Famous ), labels are quick to rearrange their release calendars for a variety of reasons. Say, if their artist doesn’t have a hit, then it might be to their benefit to send him or her back to the studio to crank one out. If said artist doesn’t have their head in the game or is too busy on tour, then the label might push back their album until they’re ready to give it 100. After all, record labels are businesses - and businesses, especially the music industry, can’t afford to take any L’s.

Or, maybe, the game ain’t to blame. Consider: some rappers want to be perfectionists. Take Dr. Dre, whose elusive Detox - now almost a decade in the making - seemed to be all but confirmed for a 2011 release. The Good Doctor even dropped off a few singles (“I Need a Doctor” featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey, “Kush” featuring Akon and Snoop Dogg), picking up some mainstream steam. Dre himself even said that the album was almost finished - back in November 2010.

Then came the release dates, and the setbacks. An April 20th release date came and went - still no Detox. Last we heard, the mythical album would arrive on July 26th. Doesn’t seem likely, given the little amount of promotion or lack of confirmation by both the label and man himself. Here we are, in the middle of 2011, with nothing but a string of broken promises to lean on.

What Kanye West & Jay-Z Could Be Learning From Dr. Dre

Fellow Rap titans Jay-Z and Kanye West took a similar approach with their joint release Watch The Throne (to be fair, they haven’t been cooking it up for a decade). Originally conceived as an EP, the big-and-little brothers kicked off the New Year with a bang, announcing during a New Year’s Eve performance that the album would arrive in just one week. It didn’t, but its single “H.A.M.” did a few days later - and it was D.O.A.

So back to the lab it was. The promise of a January release thawed with the changing seasons, as Yeezy updated his Twitter fans with a new release date for March. For good measure, he also told fans that the follow-up to last year’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would arrive this summer. (Soon after, though, his Twitter account went silent - our punishment for a botched Matt Lauer interview). By March, Watch The Throne was “essentially finished,” said engineer Young Guru - yet the recording sessions continued. As of press time, there is still no release date.

Unlike top dogs who create pop-up studios and record at will, some rappers don’t hold the key to their fate. Lil Wayne, who promised to release his supposed final album Tha Carter IV, was supposed to drop the (now mildly anticipated) LP the same day he was unchained from prison - November 5, 2010. Delays came, of course, with Weezy later claiming in March that the album, which was entirely finished, would drop on May 16th. It wasn’t, and it didn’t. Now, it’s set for an August 29th release. A supposed tracklist hit the web. Several singles have graced these internets. It’s still wishful thinking to mark the end of summer as the official street date.

Mainstream Rappers Who Tease Fans With Album Release Dates

The list of rappers who dangle release dates in front of fans’ faces and quickly snatch them away isn’t just a string of coincidences. Just check the record: 50 Cent, Game, J. Cole, Ja Rule, Young Jeezy and more all promised to hand in albums that are yet to materialize, for an array of reasons.

The problem here isn’t that rappers are being put in label purgatory or that the game is changing to the point where artists can’t even drop an album on their own terms. Those are self-contained problems, independent of themselves.

It’s the trust issues. As the listening public, we’re allowed to feel disappointed or even lose interest when there are more album delays than tracks that make the final cut. Sure, this isn’t the film industry, where studios don’t announce movie release dates until they’re sure of it (those often come a year ahead of schedule). But that’s no excuse for this growing trend that leaves fans consistently unsatisfied, even if the wait was worth it.

And rappers wonder why fans are quick to bite the hand that feeds them - or to choose not to support the project. Listeners play the waiting game according to what labels and emcees tell them. For most, music isn’t just a luxury - it’s a way of life, and to temper with that passion can slowly sap whatever faith a fan has in the art.

Which is why it’s frustrating when a producer and rapper like Statik Selektah and Freddie Gibbs (who himself is guilty of delaying releases), can hit the studio and record an EP’s worth of tracks in under 24 hours. There may not be a middleman telling them what they can or can’t do, but they promised they would do it, did it and released it for our purchasing pleasure. Seems easy, no?

At the risk of sounding unappreciative, we understand that not everything is in the artist’s control, or even the label’s. Delays happen; we get it. But as the buzzer rings and the second half of 2011 begins in the next few weeks, all we ask is for a little more caution before blurting out what promises to be a broken release date. Even if its part of a grand marketing scheme. Because in a world where information moves at a mile a minute, the last thing we need is to wait another decade for an album.

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  1. Album delays in todays times are caused by piracy issue's. Period.

    If the Generation 'Y' would stop expecting the world to be free and having it yesterday, we would still have a stream of albums (quality) released and descent artists to listen too.

    Instead, we got Autotuned lollipop garbage.
    It really shocked mne that Snoop Dogg released a dance track on his latest LP.

    The Game... as it used to dead.

    Weak ass dance music is all thats ahead.

  2. Piracy isn't the real issue; leaks and whatnot happen regardless if there was rampant music piracy. If CD sales are slow, it's because the industry is slow to adapt to the times so they resort to dumb shit like filing absurd lawsuits against random people, to scare others, because they're pissed they don't have a stranglehold on music sales with jacked up prices for albums that they used to. With the internet, we live in an age of free information where a lot of copyright laws are antiquated and need to be intelligently rethought. Digital distribution is the way to go because CD sales are down not because people pirate all available music but mostly because your average person simply doesn't buy CD's. They prefer digital formats for their smartphones, iPods, or Zunes. Vendors like iTunes, Amazon, or smaller, more genre-focused ones like Beatport are doing it correctly. If you make legitimate digital music freely available at an appealing price for decent quality files, people do bite and pay, or these services would go under since their overhead covering licensing costs from major labels is huge. You're never going to get rid of piracy but it's really stupid to think anyone who pirates an album or movie had any intention in the first place of buying it if it wasn't freely available. People like me pirate things but will buy the product if we do end up enjoying it and have the means to spend what we have. I'm not paying for albums with a few songs that are decent with the rest being filler, and neither are most people anymore.

    Anyway, the obvious answer is that album releases, acting as the income revenue for the label, are produced to sell copies. It's an investment a label puts into an artist they think will move sales. To do that, lead hit singles and radio play are cranked out to promote the album and the artist. The article had it right. If a heavily-invested artist turns in an album without any real hits, even if the entire album is decent as a whole, the label will send them back until they have a single. The labels pick the singles for this purpose. Delays happen either because of early leaks (which really aren't that common or a big deal as long as the whole thing doesn't come out) or because the label doesn't feel there's a single they can use to move sales. Either that or the label is spacing releases against their other artists' releases to maximize their investment. That's why you don't see Em and 50 albums out at the same time.

    As far as blaming piracy for shit music, that's just incorrect. Lollipop or autotune hip-hop is produced and sold because there's demand for it, period. If no one was buying it, no one would make it. The major label music industry is a business dictated by the bottom line, plain and simple. I can't understand how one could even connect the dots between internet piracy and shit production. Piracy isn't hampering artists' creativity because they don't even make their income from album sales but from touring and selling merchandise from said tour after costs are covered. If no one liked the music, they wouldn't pay ticket prices with marked up fees and the expenses to go to a show and buy a t-shirt. It's simple economics and understanding what a corporation is, how it works, and what they do.

  3. The money comes from product placement & endorsements, that’s why the music industry is utter shite right now, as they only need a half-decent looking singer who can sort of hit the right note (& auto-tune does the rest). Em’, Dre etc. are selling off their reputation, they haven’t been a decent track in ages.

    The music industry has got exactly what it deserved regarding piracy. We used to have independent shops selling US import CD’s for an affordable price in the UK, then they were all closed down & only the big name chains with inflated prices were left, and that’s when people had to start pirating music.

  4. As I said. Generatuion Y. That's the attitude.
    Just MOST of your comments are of this thinking.

    EG: "People like me pirate things but will buy the product if we do end up enjoying it and have the means to spend what we have" - what a load of garbage. 2/10 more like it.

    "It's an investment a label puts into an artist they think will move sales. To do that, lead hit singles and radio play are cranked out to promote the album and the artist" - Think about what you just typed!!!!!!!!

    "Piracy isn't hampering artists' creativity because they don't even make their income from album sales but from touring and selling merchandise from said tour after costs are covered" - Again. Fool.

    This is the attitude towards music today.
    Oh well. I won;t be the one having to listen to this bulshit music in 20 yrs from noiw because I'll know and have CD's in my collection and not a failed HD sitting in a boo hoo box.

    Think before you speak (some) people.

  5. Well said. It's very easy to point the finger at piracy when music takes a turn for the worst. Songs always trend towards sounding like what would be accepted as a mainstream sound during any given period. Just study the history of pop music from the 30's up. Throw a word like 'Funk,' and you'll immediately be thinking, 70's. Say 'Synth-Pop,' and the 80's will come to mind.

    From here, go further and look at artists who have survived the last few decades. Artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson all have, to keep with trend, altered their image to stay fresh through the times. This is very hard to do and that's why artists like them have become the most famous of the lot. Other artists who aren't as good as the best would resort to anything just to be famous and obviously, rich. The largest portion of artists you see on tv or hear on the radio are just that and pretty much let their labels do all of their thinking. The artist in the end places their face on the finishing product and takes it to the masses.

    I could go for hours but I'll sum up by using an example. Take Lupe Fiasco's latest album. It's repetitive, shallow, and chorus heavy. Hardcore fans were disappointed but the (majority) mainstream audience was fine with it. This is an example of how someone as credible as Lupe lost creative control over his album and was forced to produce the label's idea of hits and chuck them on otherwise they would not have released his album. Pure business. This is why I appreciate artists like Q-tip :)

  6. Nothing I said is foolish or incorrect. If you want to declare I'm wrong, then back it up with something more than name calling. I've been around, I've followed and even participated in internet piracy and distribution groups at one point years ago (though not for Western music). I have my ducks in a row. Who are you and where do you get your facts? I don't see any.

    One thing you lack understanding is 1) You're regurgitating talking points spit out by the RIAA as fact when it's their lobbying propaganda, and 2) The RIAA is a cartel that acts as a mafia protecting their racket. It used to be they could sell $15 CD's because consumers had no choice but to buy them to afford the one or few singles they actually wanted, or hear what they wanted via radio or TV. It was a total racket. With the internet, they've lost a lot of market control and these old suits were too stubborn to accept the digital age and too stupid to take advantage of it. People who download shit doesn't equal people who would've bought it at retail price had it not been free. Barring simple economics, it has nothing to do with the shit music that artists are making. This notion about the RIAA protecting artists' income is utter nonsense to anyone who has even a basic understanding of how the music industry works. CD sales = revenue for labels, and the labels could give two shits screwing over their artists and sucking what they can at anything that smells like money. They're in it for the money, not for the artist.

    If you want to keep buying CD's, awesome. I buy and collect rare vinyls. I have no use for CD's because I don't use a CD player, I use my smartphone with my Google Music cloud drive for my portable music needs. The CD's I do have and buy are for the purpose of ripping them at the digital format I prefer (FLAC 5/8). If you want to take a few moments to elaborate how internet piracy has any actual effect on the music an artist makes or prefers to put out, then do it, but I don't think you can. Lil Wayne didn't make autotune bullshit because some people downloaded The Carter III for free. The shit music you get is because it's the shit music people want.

    Blaming piracy for the woes (and gigantic, stubborn mistake) of the music industry is straight from the RIAA's mouth. They demand and lobby for tighter control of the internet, seeking to penalize anyone who pirates anything by using the government as their personal army to take away their internet, SO YOU CAN BUY THEIR SHIT AND GIVE THEM MONEY. They're mad they don't have an octopus strangle on selling music at profits like they did, dictating and controlling the artists as they see fit as they're just a commodity (and dumping them when they lose value). People will pay for good music if you sell it to them and give them an incentive. People with little to no money aren't forced to pay for an entire album with only a few songs they actually like, and that's a good thing. The mafia's racket is over. The internet is here. Nothing is stopping pirates from enjoying what they hear enough to buy tickets to see the artist perform, either. Get back to me when you can make a halfway coherent argument and we'll take it from there, thanks.

  7. Waiting 12 Years for Detox6 July 2011 at 05:22

    When the fuck is Dr.Dre going to actually give us some material, Relapse and Relapse:Refill aside, we haven't had any dre since 2005. I know he has had the odd track on albums from Young Buck, 50 Cent and Trick Trick but come on man your supposed to be a producer and when people say that Detox has not come out because Dre has been working on other projects is complete bullshit because where is all this other material he has been working on?

    Let me take you back to november 2004 when Eminem released Encore. About 7 weeks later The Game released Documentary in january 2005. 6 or 7 weeks later 50 Cent released The Massacre in february 2005.
    The combined sales of these were about 25 million so this shit about leaving months, even years between albums to get the most out of sales is bullshit, they seemed to do ok between 1999-2005 when they had alot more albums coming out. The only reason the whole shady/aftermath/gunit regime aint selling is because there music has dried the fuck up.

    Now 50 cent and The Game can barely go gold with there shit. People say that it is because of piracy (i agree it doesn't help) but 50 cent cant do shit anymore because he cant keep a release date and people get sick of waiting. before i self destruct would of sold alot more if it came out 18 months earlier when he first said it would.
    And also why the fuck is 50 cent half signed to shady and half to aftermath and then gets no shit for his album from em or dre. To be fair hes put together pretty good albums considering he has had to do it on his own since the get rich album so it aint 50s fault its the labels he is on.
    You imagine if 50 come with an album that had 14 tracks, 7 tracks produced by em and 7 produced by dre and had them both as guests. that shit would sell a million out the gate no doubt so why cant jimmy iovine, em or dre understand that? And Game can't sell cus he fucked up falling out with 50 cus at the time 50 was untouchable at interscope cus of the money he made so they fucked Game off the label. So i hope they kiss and make up and make hip-hop exciting again cus you can't deny the music was fire. They should be on the first detox single, now that would start a huge buzz for Dre cus nothings happening so far.

    Dre is the most anticipated producer so why doesn't he just get in the studio and give us dr.dre produced albums instead of saying in interviews that he is in the studio 18 hours a day, every day, and then we never hear any of it.
    Dre is a legend but you imagine how much more of a legend he could of been if he gave us more shit over the years. Prime examples would be Dre produced Ice Cube, Method Man, Nas or Jay-Z albums, instead he just says hes working on stuff that gets us hyped and then never comes through. He cant even work with the artists hes got on his own label (where the fuck are hayes and slim da mobster anyway) never mind any others.

    Man the fuck up Dre and just get on with it for fucks sake, I was 14 years old when i got into hip-hop about the time The Slim Shady LP and Chronic 2001 came out. I'm now 25 and all i have been doing is waiting for you to give me my fix of dope music and all you do is keep me waiting. Rap needs Detox more then Amber Rose needs hair so wake the fuck up.

    Stat Quo once said that Aftermath Records is the saddest story ever told and i couldn't agree more.

  8. Slim the Mobster just tweeted that the DOC is back in the studio with Dre, I think that's good news.

  9. I think Dre is not trying to only set the next trend but also recap all the previous trends. I have a feeling this album is going to be more blues orientated, which is what the general trend in music is right now. INAD is not really in that line but Kush is. The Die Hard song was more pop progressions also.

    I mean, I don't feel that hip hop is dead, or even that gangsta is dead, but I feel like things are not going as bad on the streets for the black americans as it was in the late 80's and early 90's. I mean, we have a black president for god's sake. So what have they really got to sing about. There's still plenty, but I think it really feels like a new era has begun and people are still trying to make sense of it.

    So I feel like Dre is trying to kind of sum up the last 30ish! years of hiphop and offer a platform for going forward. The industry needs it. He has shown how he can bring people together, even former "enemies" from east and west, and getting all these legends on one set of discs (I'm really starting to be convinced this will be a boxed set or at least a double with extras) is a sort of Hip Hop Anthology. I'm sure right now it's just figuring out what to pay everyone.

    The references to Eric Wright and the things we've heard about it being operatic or almost like a musical means there's a big tour show to put together and you'd want to do that quick to directly support the album. Could you imagine not only all the original crew but Jay Z, Eminem, Ludacris, maybe even the indie New York guys like GZA all on one big tour, but showing how they can raise it up even higher by all getting together? So, that's all speculation, but I think it'll be worth the wait--Dre and Aftermath are not known for pinching pennies, especially if it's got his muthafuckin name on it.

  10. Well.. alot of comments make sense..The Music industry is doomed.. and as for Dr Dre? well,i could only call him "Executive Producer" because Scott Storch (2name One)and MANY others do the REAL production on Dre's album... And not to mention that since THE D.O.C has left Dre's Camp things won't be the same.. Eminem writes Dre's rhymes now.. before,DOC wrote Doggystyle and all Snoops GOOD lyrics,when Snoop writes his own,they are like Nursery Rhymez.. Anywayz,hope DRE releases detox soon cauze itz kinda too late..were sick of waiting.. :) C-DAWG