Why Using Controversy To Promote Hip-Hop Albums No Longer Works In 2018

08.16.18 10 months ago 3 Comments

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Nicki Minaj and Funkmaster Flex may not be able to stand each other, but it seems both are willing to put their differences aside for the sake of generating buzz. The rapper appeared on the radio personality’s show Tuesday to “hash out their differences” over the course of an 80-minute interview that did more to dredge up controversy in the form of a heated reaction from Nicki’s ex and onetime collaborator Safaree; the two engaged in a Twitter tiff that rivaled anything from Saferee’s current occupation on Love And Hip-Hop.

It was mildly entertaining if you’re into that sort of thing, but wound up being more detrimental to Nicki’s overall goal — to promote her new album, Queen, which could use all the help it can get after receiving a lukewarm reception from fans outside of her loyal contingent of Barbz. Nicki’s not alone in trying to use controversy to gin up interest in her latest release, but she and anyone else who tries to use that method should beware. In 2018, it just doesn’t pay to distract from the actual music.

At the beginning of the millennium, if you wanted to sell a rap record, the order of the day was, “Beef sells.” This is sort of a degradation of the old adage that “controversy sells” or maybe that “all publicity is good publicity.” 50 Cent became a multiplatinum, internationally renowned star partially from capitalizing on his ongoing feud with Ja Rule and Murder Inc. Jay-Z solidified his self-proclaimed GOAT status with the scathing “Takeover” diss aimed at Mobb Deep and Nas. Nas’ return-fire track, “Ether” resurrected his dormant revered position as the vanguard of “real hip-hop,” which had been tarnished by lackluster, commercially-oriented releases like “Oochie Wally” and “You Owe Me.” Beef was indeed big business.

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