In economics the law of diminishing returns states that in a production system with fixed & variable inputs (factory size & labor), each additional unit of variable input yields less and less additional output. Say one packet of corn planted in a field, makes a pound of corn. You’d assume that two packets would produce would produce two pounds, but the law of diminishing returns means that you’d get some amount between 1 Â½ – 1 Â¾ pound.
I was saying the same thing while I fought off sleep and got that C+ at OSU. But it’s funny how those things that seem so worthless at the time, make a way into your everyday life.
Change that packet of seed to lyrics and change the field to CD’s and you have the fixed inputs for the hip-hop law of diminishing returns. Variable inputs can be subject matter, beats, time between releases, and various other things. Basically, it can be anything that either keeps a rapper from advancing their music to the next level or causes their musical output to decline (doing the same thing over & over is decline.) This is usually by the artists own doing, but can occasionally it can be the result of outside forces.
The funny thing is that a lot of artist’s are able to sustain a career (or even build one) while diminishing returns is in effect. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the artist’s I’ve compiled below.
The same thing that takes you to the top is usually what slides you right down the other side of the mountain. 50’s willingness to engage in beef with any & everyone helped bring attention to him as he took over rap with Get Rich Or Die Trying, but he didn’t stop there. Beef remained his #1 marketing ploy despite moving from underdog to alpha dog & his focus moved more to making money than music. The result is two more CD’s that are almost carbon copies of his first and egg in his face from a 9/11 showdown with Kanye West.
Joey Crack was once a respected rapper with a limited fan base, but that wasn’t good enough for him. Determined to take the next step, he took the soup of the day approach and adapted whatever is popular at the moment. Whether getting the R&B singer of the moment or hi-jacking the latest trend, Joe has managed to stay viable. The only effects are lyrics that are slowly degenerating and a Terror Squad that exists in name only.
Originally one half of Gangstarr, Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal is another respected rapper who has lost his way. After a falling out with DJ Premier, Guru was forced to fend for his own. Luckily he had his Jazzmatazz series to fall back on and he was able to carry on. Along the way he hooked up producer Solar looking to recapture that magic he had with Premier. The only problem is that Solar sucks and the only thing he’s helped Guru do is regress as an artist thanks to his amateurish beats.
We know, they are the streets, but at sometimes you just have to let go. They’ve been in the game over 15 years and they’re still letting label issues hold them back. First it was Diddy & the “Free The LOX” campaign, then they want off Ruff Ryders, Styles P was competing with the Clipse to see whose album would come out last (he won), Jadakiss appeared to overcome the hump with “Why” and hasn’t been heard from since, Sheek is moving on with Koch but at this point his steam his over. Anytime they build up momentum some label issue is guaranteed to pop up.
The group that inspired what your reading now. This idea popped into my head while listening to The Re-Up Gang’s We Got It For Cheap Vol. 3. On the intro to “20k Money Making Brothers on the Corner,” Pusha T speaks on the Clipse’s “consistency.” His response to why they always talk about street shit is that they rap for their “20,000 niggas on the corner.” Despite who they make their music for, they’re still disappointed that they sell 78,000 copies their first weekâ€¦
The Clipse’s variable would be repetitious subject matter. Starting with Lord Willin’, their lyrics and endless punchlines set the benchmark for the new era of coke/street rap. Their bravado mixed with the right amount of morality for their exploits propelled them to mainstream success. When the long awaited Hell Hath No Fury finally saw the light of day things were different. Pusha T & Malice were still doing what they do best, but something was missing. The beats were a little off, punchlines were clever but expected, and the sense of hustler’s remorse was replaced with a kingpin’s arrogance.
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