The State Of Hip-Hop In 2014: What We Are Anticipating And Looking Forward To

Posted: January 9, 2014 by ericbernsen in Business, Features, Marketing, Music, News
Tags: , , ,

2013 was a monumental year for the hip-hop genre has there were album releases from many rap heavyweights such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, and J Cole. Whether you are a fan of the more radio-friendly style of hip-hop or if you stick to the independent and underground side of things, chances are you had plenty of awesome music to keep you entertained. The story-lines of 2013 were endless as Kendrick Lamar shook up the industry with his “Control” and BET Cypher verses while Kanye West was the subject of many headlines for his experimental Yeezus album and media outbursts. Some of these stories may carry over into the new year, so let’s take a look at what we are looking forward to in 2014. 

TDE Takeover

While no member of TDE released a project in 2013, they certainly stayed in the news as Kendrick Lamar rose to stardom after the release of his critically acclaimed album good kid, m.A.A.d city. Although there is no doubt in our mind that Kendrick will continue to be a prime subject in hip-hop news (see Grammy’s later this month), it is the other artists on TDE who are likely to start 2014 off with a bang. After much anticipation, ScHoolboy Q will finally be releasing his album Oxymoron in February. Sample clearances delayed the project from being put out in 2013, but the extra time has allowed Q to craft the album and from what we’ve heard so far, it should be a great project. Ab Soul is also expected to put out a project in the early part of 2014 and it will be interesting to hear how he follows up Control System. What Jay Rock has planned is less known, but what we do know is that the young guns of TDE are primed to have a breakthrough year. Isaiah Rashad already has the internet buzzing with tracks like “Shot You Down” and singer SZA is building a fan-base of her own. And although the biggest question will be whether or not Kendrick comes out with an album this year, even if he doesn’t TDE should still supply us with an abundance of great music.

Clipse/OutKast Reunions

The Clipse and OutKast are two groups whose resumes speak for themselves. While they dominated much of the early 2000’s with their respective unique styles, the members of each group have been more focused on their solo careers in recent years. Well it looks like that is about to change as it has been reported that the Clipse are in the studio recording with The Neptunes, and it has been officially confirmed that OutKast will reunite as the headline act at the Coachella Festival in April. All music fans rejoiced after hearing this news and the buzz surrounding each group should continue for the rest of the year. While it is no guarantee that the Clipse and OutKast will bless us with more music in 2014, each group is certainly heading in the right direction.

Will Artist’s Continue To Surprise Us With Creative Marketing Behind Album Releases?

As the social media and digital departments of the music industry continue to be an essential aspect of the business, many artists have decided to switch things up and release their music in unique ways. This concept was executed in the summer of 2013 as the Watch The Throne stars (Kanye West and Jay Z) put out their solo projects with no promotion in the months leading up to their album release dates. West only promoted Yeezus with worldwide video projections of the album’s music and live television performances, choosing not to release any official singles until the project was available. Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail was made available for free digital download for Samsung customers by the JAY Z Magna Carta app on July 4, 2013, and released for retail sale on July 8, 2013. The album was promoted through various commercials presented by Samsung, but was not preceded by any retail singles. Influenced by the sharp business mind of her husband, Beyonce released a visual album in December that surprised the entire industry as most of the project was recorded in secrecy. Along with these high-profile artists, California rapper Nipsey Hussle also proved to be boldly innovative with the release of his mixtape Crenshaw. While the project was available for free download, it was also released in a limited first edition format with the first 1,000 copies going for $100 each. The $100 version also contained additional promotional incentives, and many artists supported Nipsey for his independent grind form of marketing. With all of these projects garnering coverage, it will be interesting to see what other artists come up with in 2014 as the digital marketing behind the presentation of music has never been more important.

What Is In Store For Kanye West And The Rest Of G.O.O.D. Music?

Even though Kanye West has voiced his aspirations in becoming a influential force in the fashion industry load and clear, it seems like he is still focused as ever on making distinctive music. In November, Kanye announced that he was in the process of recording his next album that will supposedly be executive-produced by Rick Rubin and Q-Tip. The musical direction of the project is anybody’s guess, but it will certainly be intriguing to hear how Kanye follows up Yeezus. Speaking of Q-Tip, the Tribe Called Quest producer/rapper should be releasing his upcoming solo album The Last Zelu in 2014, while fellow G.O.O.D. Music member Pusha T will  also be releasing his project King Push this year. And if almost-forgotten rapper Cyhi the Prynce comes out with an album as well, 2014 could be a very strong year for the G.O.O.D. Music family.

Will The South Continue To Hold Reign Over New York On A Commercial Level?

It is no secret that the majority of hip-hop you hear on the radio is influenced by the trap sound, which originated from cities like Atlanta and Houston. This fact has become a center of discussion in the Mecca of hip-hop as New York radio stations are financially inclined to spin the records that get play in clubs…regardless of their origin. While NY veterans such as Jay Z and Nas continue to hold down the legacy of their city, there is a lack of new artists from NY that are in a position to succeed on a commercial level. While Harlem-born A$AP Rocky has had mainstream success, using him as an example is invalid to many who claim that his sound is inspired by Southern production. There are many NY groups that are loosely affiliated in the Beast Coast movement that are gaining prominence nationally (Pro Era, The Underachievers, Flatbush Zombies), but their styles do not cater to the interest of the mainstream audience. Other artists such as Action Bronson and Roc Marciano continue to represent New York strongly, but the issue still remains of who is up next. While there was much backlash in NY when Kendrick Lamar (the good kid from Compton) claimed himself the “King Of New York”, no rapper of his generation is currently wearing that crown. Once upon a time, hip-hop used to only have a few homes with New York and LA being the definitive locations. As the genre continues to expand across the country and the world through the power of the Internet, it becomes harder for New York to hold the reign it once had. The progression of hip-hop and the culture is a great thing, but it will be interesting to see if New York will be able to keep up and somehow regain the glory it had grown accustomed to.

 

 

 

 

 

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