16. Independent rap kept winning.
Hate it or love it, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won this year. The Heist, their debut album, might have dropped late last year, but it’s been selling like hot cakes through 2013, surpassing the platinum landmark in August. Before that, in April, the hit single “Thrift Shop” was No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for 12 straight weeks, becoming the longest-running No. 1 rap song in the chart’s history.
The bigger story behind the sales and the chart-toppers, however, was that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were independent rappers. Yes, they got help from the ADA distribution arm of Warner Bros. Records, and the video push was a huge part of their success, but they made the entire album independently, so consider them caked up without the hassle of needing to recoup.
Mac Miller had forged the white independent rapper path before with his debut album and followed it up with a No. 1 sophomore album in Watching Movies With The Sound Off. Dom Kennedy strong-armed Best Buy into distributing his physical album without any major label deal or middleman.
And perhaps the most viral independent story of all was Nipsey Hussle’s $100 mixtape, which contained the exact same songs available for free on DatPiff. Jay-Z was so impressed with the wildly successful #Proud2Pay business model that he bought 100 copies for himself off general principle. Needless to say, 2013 marks a year that independent hip-hop explored new possibilities and utilized unique marketing strategies to achieve better sales than anyone might have imagined.
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