At a time when St. Louis is struggling to stay relevant in the rap game after a succession of unsuccessful local artist releases on major labels, Nelly returns with his 5th solo album BRASS KNUCKLES, say what you want about "Mr Pimp Juice", but so goes Nelly, so goes St. Louis hip hop.
St. Louis hip hop has come a full circle...Its almost like its 2000 again as tha Lou nervously awaits the release of BRASS KNUCKLES, Nelly's 5th solo album (if you can call an album with all features except one single a 'solo' album)...but this time it's different. The dynamics of the game have changed....digital distribution, downloading and "bootlegging" have replaced physical distribution and selling cds in stores. The technology has changed and
unfortunately some are still caught up in the way the industry used to break new music.
What worked for Nelly almost 10 years ago will not work today, instead, it's a sure recipe for failure. Judging from the initial numbers (around 40-50k, down from over 300,000 for his last cd), no longer does having the corporate machine behind you....(and an album with all features except one single) mean success.
If it's that hard out there for our franchise player, what does that say for the rest of St. Louis hip hop? I've lost count of all the local artists who were "signed" to the big indies, major labels and distributors....from Potzee to Ruka Puff to Penelope Jones....getting on has never been the problem....its where the problem actually begins.
The problem isn't a lack of talent, we GOT talent...the problem ISN'T the music, yeah some of it is wack, but a lot of it is on par with mainstream music played on the radio, the problem isn't "bootlegging" (how is it bootlegging with the labels give it to the bootleggers to run with in the first place), all studies show that "bootlegging" has a nominal affect on sales. Bootlegging didn't kill the single...which was easy money...anybody could afford to drop $1 for a single, labels did away with the single forcing fans to buy an entire album for one single....hard money...the problem IS the industry, djs and artists have no idea of how to market or what to do with the artists/music we have (thats done locally....up until now cats had to move to NY, ATL or LA to get decent marketing and promotion. Today they don't...just as artists and djs have been coming up, we got industry cats grinding on the come up, but unlike other cities that nuture their industry, the Lou tends to belittle ours thinking if they had what it takes, they wouldn't be in St. Louis....UMMMMM, NO, they have what it takes and understand they have to be here...marketing and promo start at home and expands to the outside world). Thats why so many local artists have fallen off. The bigger, more established firms aren't gonna come to St. Louis to cover their show at Spruill's. Yeah, MTV and the Source might come through once a year, but who's covering the scene all the other 364 days a year?
The Industry thought they had a winning formula with Nelly, but they didn't appreciate all the variables that went into Nelly's success. They thought they did with Chingy, but they didn't understand that St. Louis was riding the wave at high tide. They thought they did with Kwon, Ebony, Jibbs, Huey, Penelope.... and on and on...and with each release the buzz and sales got smaller....and as of yet not one of them
has followed up with a national release.
To answer my own question, NO, Nelly can't save St. Louis hip hop, but he can be a wake up call. If Universal had an office in St. Louis they would've known they had problems, if Derrty Ent has problems pushing Nelly from St. Louis, they're gonna have problems elsewhere. If Ludacris had an office in St. Louis he could have foreseen problems with Slot-A-Lot promoting Chingy...if Chingy's promo ain't poppin from Lou beyond, it ain't gonna pop anywhere else...the same can be said for all the other artists I mentioned.
Industry ain't coming to St. Louis, we gotta build up, support and nuture what we got. It all starts here at home.