After a quarter century in the spotlight, rap may finally be dying from its excesses.
To judge by their lyrics, gangsta rappers are adept at seeing off rivals with a bullet and their women with a slap.
But America’s rappers are now trapped in a corner they don’t seem able to shoot their way out of, with either weapons or words.
Confronted with haemorrhaging sales, the most assertive popular music movement since the Sex Pistols has lost its swagger and is suffering a crisis of confidence.
This year rap and hip-hop sales are down 33 per cent, double the decline of the CD album market overall, which is under pressure from music download sites such as iTunes, where fans can buy individual songs.
In 2006, rap sold 59.1 million albums, down 21 per cent from 2005. Not one rap album made the American top 10 sellers of the year – a list headed by the saccharine tunes of the soundtrack to Disney’s made-for-television High School Musical. The bad boys of rap are now trailing the cowboys of country and the headbangers of heavy metal.
Rap has been deserted by many white fans and middle-class blacks, apparently tiring of the “gangsta” attitude to women, racism, violence and bling – the gold rings and medallions that have made hip-hop a byword for -vulgarity.
“The public has made a choice. They’re saying, ‘We do not want the nonsense that we see and hear on radio, and we are not putting our money there’,” said KRS-One, a rap legend from the Bronx. “Rap music is being boycotted by the American public because of the images that we are putting forward.”
Tom Vickers, a former talent spotter for Capitol/Mercury records said: “Rap has gradually degenerated from an art form into a ring tone. That’s why we’re seeing this backlash. There’s only so much bling the public can take.”
It took long enough.
Source: “Gangsta rap on death row as the US tunes out” (Sunday Telegraph)
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