observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Last Starfighter

Anyone with a pulse has borne witness to the ‘Kingdom Come’ marketing blitz. ESPN, TNT, Hot 97, XM and on and on like a Badu song.

As the owner of a marketing company I cannot help but be in awe of the stops they have pulled out. If there was ever a priority in a marketing meeting by gum this was it. But on the other hand I have to wonder why they are going so hard for an established brand like Jay. Does he really need this much of a manufactured push?
He is widely recognized as the best rapper on the planet. His sales history is as good as you could hope. He has gotten as much press in retirement as any current rapper could ever want.

But yet and still the Def Jam is running at full blast. Pourquoi?

Jay Z is the last starfighter. The last of his kind. The last old media superstar.
He is the only one who could pull together Budweiser, Dale Earnhardt, Cingular, and Clear Channel into a multimillion marketing plan.
He represents the last chance the old model can prove it is still relevant and effective.

Jay is the last cat (and the last one standing) to really become a superstar the way we used to do it (maybe Eminem, maybe Fiddy): Vinyl, commercial radio, MTV, payola and the fun stuff that prices out small operations.
Jay is not YouTube, Google or Myspace. And that is not where you feel the brunt of the “Kingdom Come” marketing push.

Regardless of what the bloggers say Jay’s sales numbers will be off the charts. The Hip-Hop intelligentsia and haters like Dip Set have been writing Jay’s death certificate since “Hard Knock Life.” He is impervious. Realize it.

And to ‘push-ups with a bird on my back’ Jim Jones – 100,000 is fantastic but Jay is gonna do a million. You may want to fight another battle. Right now you have a better chance of winning the war.

Jim Jones’ buzz is real. Organic. Not pre-packaged and predigested like Jay’s. And everyone not named S Dot should study Jim Jones, The Pack, and Hiero. That is the way it is gonna work from now on. Hot 97, Life Magazine, and MTV debuts are great but it is only going to work for the top of the Long Tail. For the rest of us the path to salvation is way down the graph. Mix tapes, mp3 leaks, and a deal with Koch.

“Kingdome Come” is the harbinger of the end of the music business. The last gasp of dinosaurs scared to death of the future. But in death there is birth. It will also be the birth of a new industry.
Marketing execs will attempt to duplicate the Kingdome Come campaign like A&R’s tried to duplicate Illmatic (huh? Another post – I promise). And they will fail miserably. And after losing millions of dollars in a contracting market the edict will come down. “FIGURE OUT A BETTER WAY OR YOU’RE FIRED.” These execs will then take a crash course in Web 2.0. Once they get it they will realize you don’t need acts like Jay Z to stay in business. It will always be nice, but not necessary. More niche acts will get deals and before they get a spot on The Budweiser Hot Seat they will have to generate 5 million hits on YouTube and amass 2 million Friends. BDS will matter less. MTV will matter less.

And then my friends it will be brave new world. At least for a while.


Blogger ian said...


Lots of great points made but I feel UR off in that there's no WAY he's doing a million first week. I'm guessing somehwere betw 6-800K is more accurate and that's being optimistic. Peep the facts:

1. The legit buzz-heavy final retirement "Black Album" did 464K first week.

2. Since then the mkt has gotten worse.

3. All the singles/tracks leaked/serviced so far from this album have been received with from poor to middling reception.

4. The streets aren't f-cking with Jay like they used to. It's all about Jim Jones and Lil Wayne for these young boys and he's not conidered the untouchable God MC he once was. It's gotten to the point that anyone feels like they can take shots at him in the MC beef fourm and legtimately have a shot to take him out. That would have been virtually unthinkable to try even as recently as a year ago.

5. "Show Me What You Got" is burning out fast at radio/video. They have already serviced "Lost Ones" and are rush-shooting a video for it. This is Beyonce Pt. II w/o an "Irreplacable" on the album to save him.

6. The overall leaked album has had very mixed word of mouth.

7. The comp is tough out there from other rap records. Game's buzz is retarded as is Snoop's. U got Nas and Jeezy still coming and even smaller but still high profile buzz/cult acts like Fat Joe, UGK and Clipse could potentially cut into Jay's sales while other acts who already have albums out that are still selling like Birdman/Weezy could be a negative factor too.

8. Justin Timberlake is no doubt one of the world biggest pop stars and had one of the biggest buzzes of the year. He delivered an amazing critically and fan-acclaimed album led by 2 smash radio singles, one of which coined a buzz term for the year and he only sold just under 700K first week.

Overall, it looks to me like Jay doing a million first is impossible unless Def Jam cheats to get there and I wouldn't put it past them to try.

But that's just my opinion....


November 17, 2006 9:35 PM

Blogger Swifty said...

good points as usual.
the million number was something we were throwing around the office yesterday.

maybe a little hyperbole

November 17, 2006 9:59 PM


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