Pharoahe Monch Talks Sales Decline And The Current State Of Hip Hop

As sales continue to decline, Pharoahe Monch says he's still a fan and emcees at all levels are forced to do their best because consumers have other options.

There is no shortage of discouraging statistics about album sales, as physical sales decreased another 12.8% last year, bottoming out at 236.2 million units. According to Nielsen SoundScan, this is the fourth consecutive year sales have dropped. But in a recent interview with “The Come Up Show,” Pharoahe Monch looked for a positive spin on what seems to be another sign that physical albums are slowly dying out.

“It’s beautiful because, from a consumer’s perspective, the shit got way out of hand,” Monch explained. “The consumers were just like, ‘That’s not hot.’ You’ve got artists from the upper echelon all the way down to the underground doing their best right now because the shit ain’t selling. They’re grinding. Because of what’s going on, everybody’s putting in work. That’s dope for Hip Hop.”

Pharoahe said he’s still a Hip Hop fan, and shouted out artists such as Blu, The Roots and Sean Price. While many inside the industry are privy to free albums, Monch says he buys material from the artists he likes and gives his free, promotional copies to fans.

Monch said the change also impacted the way he put together his W.A.R. album, as he specifically chose more underground beats, even if they were made by producers who weren’t necessarily underground themselves. From a business perspective, Pharoahe changed his approach by changing some of his more complex rhyme patterns and aligning with Duck Down Records. He said the changes naturally shifted some of the pressures and rewards of being a professional artist.

“It’s on you,” Monch added. “What you put into it is what you get out of it. Going from coporate—I’ve always been on a major [label], and now I’m independent. It’s up to me…what I get out of it.”

47 Comments

  • da1

    I have to disagree, I don't think artist are trying there hardest. The true reason why music sales keep falling is because music in general SUCKS. We are a long way from the 90's and early 2000's. I don't even listen to the radio anymore because all the songs I hear are so lifeless and uninspired. Of course, Itunes may be responsible, aswell as illegal downloading, but the biggest reason why sales continue to drop is because songs aren't what they use to be.

  • chitown

    What Pharaoh said is only partially true. Downloading is only one of the reasons that sales died. The other is horrible cd's. How many of you used to buy a cd that had 20 songs listed only to find out that 5 were bad skits and 10 were terrible raps? I think most people just got tired of spending money on bullshit so they started downloading the 2 good singles instead of buying the a cd that was garbage. The rappers that are true artists and care about how their cd sounds still sell. The one who care about singles don't.

    • huffy

      AMEN brother were sick of buying shit like you said my man how many cds you buy just to skip through half the album man that joell ortiz album sucked ass bad!!

  • Scott Yo

    tytghiu..... look at all these white people on a black hip hop site commenting on hip hop like they black... every since eminem came out they think they black... 97 percent of hip hop & rap is black... we created hip hop.... that shi!!! looks so funny in the hood when you see a bunch of black dudes and like one white dude, and he have on a doo rag on and be sagging his jeans trying to fit in... yo that white dude that be walking wit those black dude is dangerous as fuk, because he proberly will do anything to win those black guys approval... plus you know no black chick from the hood ant go fuk wit no white dude that act black,they think shi!! is tooooo funny... i have a test for all the white people that trys to act black... put on a yellow doo rag wit grillz in your mouth and look in the mirror while bobbing your head and say (your what up son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)or try and dance like us, its never gonna come out right.... check out the (sundrop soda commerical) wit the white girl dancing to (drop it like its hot),man thats like the funnyiest ... white people have no thype of bone structure to to move like us... that why its looks so funny when they try and dance like us

    • GUNTER GUNTALK

      YOU ARE A RACIST. AND: SOMEBODY IN YOUR FAMILY WAS WHITE, LOOK IN THE MIRROR DICKHEAD. AT LEAST YOU HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH "CREATING HIP-HOP" YOU BITCH!

    • c

      Bitch you warship white gangsters!!

    • R

      those not matter ,black or white do yo want go back to the old days of black and white drinking fountains any hip-hop/rap is a urban thing from the under dogs of society not a black and white thing. your probably just some rich kid

    • Psyntax

      Hahahaha actually everyone looks f*cking retarded when they wear doo rags and sag their jeans! Sadly most black people now-a-days SUCK TERRIBLY at rapping and dancing... You think that doing the 'duggy' or whatever retarded name you want to give it is dancing??... Sadly you probably have no clue who Pharoahe Monch is. Or that he has plenty of white people on the album: Marco Polo, M-Phazes, Adam Deitch, Eric Krasno... Come on dude how ignorant are you gonna make yourself look??

    • sHAME

      haha yay your back! i was waiting for your all knowing words ITS OK TO BE I-G-N-A-N-T =)

  • Keezie

    I understand them being mad about people downloading but I'm glad they have to grind harder. BS isn't getting the EZ pass now. Much respect to Pharoahe Monch. Dude puts in more work than a lot of people know.

  • Anthony

    Ghostface should of sold more than 13k in the 1st week. Apollo Kids was gutta. Like many i select a few artists i feel is worthy copping a cd. For ex: I like a few Pusha T cuts here & there but can i buy a solo full length cd from him? Not. Just saying

  • maximuspop

    one of the best ghostwriters in rap

  • X

    The reason people are not buying albums is because the music especially in hip hop has been on that garbage and rice. Instead of having people make albums, they have been making singles and the rest of the album is trash. Inteasd of making throught provoking material, people have been making only what is going to play in some ignorant club. Who wants to pay for that then. Shoot Raekwon's Shoalin Vs The Wu and Lupe's lasers were the last new albums I have bought in this year. Otherwise underground is where the talented artist are at. Notice that really the only dudes that are selling besides Kanye are old school dudes from the 90's. Current people on the radio are whack!

  • Anonymous

    I think these corporate organisations have been killing this shit over the course of about 10 years. They are scared of lyricsim, they hate to educate the young minds. They're fearful of educated brown people especialy, look how they treated tupac when he was alive. They do not want to bring anything like the 90s back!

  • Anonymous

    This has a good side. People aren't buying everything just because an artist's name (not talking about the great superstars). This forces the artists to produce quality music and convice the customer about the product they're trying to sell.

  • Anonymous

    It's the industrys own fault. From the beggining they used to call the downloaders enemies. But with more people downloading your music, theres a fan base that you can gain of. You can reach a much wider audience. People downloading your music and then decide to buy it is 10 times better than music nobody heard of.

  • Rua

    Why are decreasing sales discouraging? Fuck the industry, let it buuurn... they can't compete with free music

  • audio tech

    cot damnnn!! that nigga forehead look like u could run a freeway thru it..hang a billboard on that shit..dont act like ya'll dont kno what i'm talkin 'bout

  • SpikeyJamez

    See! I knew Pharaohe has the positivity to understand that Hip Hop is so far from dead. There still soooo many great rappers and DJ's of all racial and cultural kinds making good music like Anticon Record, Fake Four Inc, Def Jux, Rhymesayers, Deacon, etc. We know good music ain't dead and you know it.

  • Scott Yo

    white people on a hip hop website like they black... white people shouldn't have a right to comment on hip hop... hip hop and rap was created by black people... therefor only us blacks can really understand it... hip hop is not for whites really... you see how they make fun of whites acting black (malibu most wanted) vanilla ice ... white people have no rhythem what so ever when they try and dance or move they body like blacks... you ever seen a white boi wit a doo rag on and sagging his pants saying what up my ni!!a ... that shi!!! is to funny.. that shi!! just makes you stupid .... everytime we see a white dude in the hood wit a doo rag on and golds in hiz mouth and sagging his pants everybody starts laughing at him

    • Gary Rue

      I do agree about the white guys saying n@gga ! That is the only thing that is correct. I laugh at them too. I presume since I have been rapping for 16 years or so and have several black friends that it would be ok for me to speak differently and use words like that , NO ! Every dude who talks all twangy and rapped out sounds like an idiot. Makes no difference who you hung out with or grew up around. In your home you don not speak like that so please white dudes STOP. As for this racist twit , F him. Vanilla Ice rules , have you seen his home remodeling show on DIY ? It's RICK !

    • Travis Clinton

      yo son..why post the same shit on every hip hop website! hip hop is for the masses! cut that negativity bull sh!t out!

    • LeJames

      lmao this guy is hilarious

    • khordkutta

      Im going to presume you are autisic of some sort, hence your posts, if not.... go play leapfrog with a unicorn.

    • Reality Check

      Have you ever seen a black person try to swim, that shits funny! They should stick to what they know best and just smoke bud, rob cars and rape women. What I just wrote is as stereotypically offensive as what you wrote in your comment about whites. I don't mean any of that above, im just trying to make a point, and its a shame that you are so ignorant and arrogant that you genuinly believe white people shouldnt be able to listen to hip hop. And by the way i'm a black African and I wish racist cunts like you didn't exist, the world would be such a better place. There is nothing wrong with appreciating other peoples cultures, you should try it, you would probably learn a lot from your sheltered existence.

    • Ross Huey

      Seeing that 75-80% of all hip hop is purchased by white folk, I say that we have more than a right to comment on hip-hop. I'm willing to put money on the fact that I have forgotten more hip-hop than you ever have known.

    • Anonymous

      fucken dirty mexican with a hitler mustache and an asain last name. im black and i think you should shut your fucken mouth before i beat the shit out of you

    • fuck outta here

      says that cat who looks white.

    • Alex Hayford

      Damn son, you stay posting the same shit. I saw this same exact post from you last year dude. Give it up, nobody's listening.

    • bud

      lol guy posts the same shit on every page. if white people cant enjoy hiphop are you also saying black people can't enjoy european classic music or rock music? does that mean they're acting white? it's ridiculous, i hope you're just a troll and not serious, otherwise you are a moron. keep on truckin dudeeeeee

  • it's me

    felt really bad about torrenting this one but I swear down I'm gonna buy it on the 25th when it comes out here

  • Anonymous

    $WonDough$ is a pharaoh perverted monk

  • ghgh

    sales are down cus ppl get the shit off the internet for free now....it has nothing to do with anything else period....and i dont feel bad cus im sure none of these rap fags feel bad about me not selling a car for the week

    • Anonymous

      You right on the money Khordkutta...There are a lot of sips in between as the cup gets passed around. There are lots of other people that are involved that are needed to create the album, not just the artist.

    • khordkutta

      You dudes are hilarious, so if you wont cop a cd, why should someone cop a car. that 10-30 gs goes quick, you fellas dont understand who else gets paid and taxes. How bout you do the ish YOU love so dont complain about other folks jobs. Yall sound like some 2 dolla hoes. School these dudes Stickman.

    • Stickman

      I never understood why people have this mentality. Just because a person makes a good living doing something that they love, it doesn't justify stealing from them. What you need to cosign is getting a job and save up the $10 dollars it takes to buy an album.

    • illness

      cosign son cosign...these rappers get to fucking rap to make a living...are you kidding me?? i am broke as fuck and will download thier shit ALL day and night...if one of these dudes gets 10, 20, or 30 g's for doing a fucking show then he needs to shut the fuck up aight...atheletes, actors, and musicians do and get to do the shit they LOVE so i dont want to hear them bitching about ends...

  • Vencire Damones

    Album is stellar like evry other PMonxh album Pharoahe is the fuckin boss

  • Lima

    I don't understand what he means. How are declining record sales good for Hip Hop? Doesn't that just mean more artists are trying to sell mainstream singles rather than quality music? I dont know what that has to do with the artists "grinding"

    • StickMan

      I think what he means is that you can no longer release a half-ass album and expect to sell on just the strength of your name. Alot of these cats would release albums with like 16 tracks on them, but only 2 or 3 would be ill and the rest was hot garbage. So you were basically paying 12-16 bucks for only a few songs Now that itunes allows you to buy individual tracks, I think the artist is pressured into making good music from beginning to end each because each track could potentially go platinum or gold etc. Its a good way to maximize your money.

    • Lima

      I still don't get it. He's saying you have to be more on your grind now than you had to be back in the day? That still doesn't make sense, nor do I think it's true. The singles market of today reflects an audience cracked out on iTunes and catchy radio tunes. It has nothing to do with a rebuilding of anything

    • Mosmoi

      Because Hip Hop is going back to the Grind. Building up Artists and artists doing their own production actually working for the numbers they get. The singles market of today is the residual effect of what the industry did yo hip hop 5 to 10 years ago. Right now is kinda like a rebuild effect. YES to diversity in music.

  • Tyrone

    His album is pretty good. Copped it on Itunes! If I can go drop $8 on a fast food meal, I can support a brother trying to make an honest living selling good music. Respect!

  • divine1-2

    That W.A.R. album is ridiculous! That's a must cop for all ya'll true Pharoahe fans. Divine, PEACE!

  • Mal Moe

    PM is the man and album is dope

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