Charisma vs Lyricism: What’s More Important in 2013? (Editorial)

shawn chrystopher entourage(I thought the picture was cool, Shawn Chrystopher is not apart an example of the topic.)

By Matt Albin:

I was given the idea to give my opinion on this topic from one of my twitter followers in February, and I have been attempting to try to put my thoughts into words for you guys to understand. And I finally believe that I am able to do that. And for the record, I am not one of those guys that only listen to ‘real hip-hop’. I do listen to it, but I have no problem with hopping in the car and banging to some Chicago drill music or some new trap music.

It’s quite evident that rap has evolved quite a bit since the glory days of the ’90’s & early 2000’s. In my opinion, the grand evolution of rap happened during the whole ringtone era in the middle of the 2000’s. Rap has not been able to make a comeback, in terms of quality, since then. How many one hit wonders can you remember from that era to now that aren’t doing a damn thing now? Too many. Many record labels turned to investing into artists that can make singles and then from that, the 360 deals came, and you know the rest of the story. So my real question is to find out is, what is more important in 2013, charisma or rhymes?

First off, I think people have to understand that not every artist is a lyrical mastermind. Not every artist is dumbing their music down to sell records. Some artists are just made to make those hot club or street records. I think this Ca$h Out tweet is a great example of that:


Ca$h Out gets a lot of hate for his simplistic lyrics on his singles, especially based off his hit single Cashin’ Out. He understands he is not a lyrical mastermind. But people expect every artist to be this next great lyrical mastermind. Accept artists for what they are, and you will have a lot less stress in your musical experience.

Look at some statistics from artists that have more charismatic styles than lyrical artists, and vise versa. Below are the top 25 rap/hip-hop albums in terms of sales in 2012 as of May this year:

(As of May 6th, 2013.)
TOP 10

KENDRICK LAMAR – Good Kid, m.A.A.d City : 836,801
NICKI MINAJ – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded : 835,581
2 CHAINZ – Based On A T.R.U. Story : 584,512
MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS – The Heist : 553,251
RICK ROSS – God Forgives, I Don’t : 530,079
G.O.O.D. MUSIC – Cruel Summer : 446,461
T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head : 446,170
NAS – Life Is Good: 362,256
WIZ KHALIFA – O.N.I.F.C. : 360,532
MEEK MILL – Dreams And Nightmares : 344,325

TOP 20

TYGA – Careless World : Rise of the Last King : 343,600
FUTURE – Pluto : 306,888
B.O.B. – Strange Clouds : 276,481
MAYBACH MUSIC GROUP – Self Made Vol. 2 : 271,365
PROJECT X – Original Soundtrack : 250,513
THE GAME – Jesus Piece : 220,258
LECRAE – Gravity : 211,196
LUPE FIASCO – Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 : 177,797
MACHINE GUN KELLY – Lace Up : 165,176
CHIEF KEEF – Finally Rich : 159,121
COLT FORD – Declaration Of Independence : 155,899
ODD FUTURE – OF Tape Vol. 2 : 117,482
SLAUGHTERHOUSE – Welcome To: Our House : 110,635
WAKA FLOCKA FLAME – Triple F Life : 104,334
BIG K.R.I.T. – Live From The Underground : 104,025

Lets begin with this, Nicki Minaj was the leader in sales in the hip-hop category up until the middle of April 2013 for 2012 album sales. That’s extremely sad, but the topic of lack of records sold is for a completely different time. You can say two out of the top ten top selling hip-hop albums were albums more towards the lyrical side and not dumbed down in any sense (Kendrick, Nas). I would put Macklemore & T.I. in the middle, but the rest you can definitely put more towards the charismatic side. Move onto the 11th-25th highest selling albums and, well, maybe three out of the 15 were more towards the lyrical side? Those three for me would be Lecrae, Lupe Fiasco, and Big KRIT, and then MGK & Slaughterhouse are borderline in the middle. But the rest are all in the charismatic category. So it’s obvious that albums that focus on the charismatic topics sell more than conscious based albums, unless your album is a certified classic.

I was going to make a whole paragraph about radio play, but lets be real, we already know who wins this category, charismatic based songs. Besides Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Swimming Pools’ track, name one song that has any type of message in it. I’ll wait for that response. For the record, I bet half of the people that listened to ‘Swimming Pools’ had no idea it is a song about alcohol abuse in Kendrick Lamar’s family.


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