When I was first asked to write a comparative of Jeezy’s “Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition” and Common’s “The Dreamer, the Believer”, I was a little confused. When I was told WHY I was asked to write the comparative, the confusion subsided. If you’re like me, you pretty much like a little bit of everything. And being that I’m a Young Jeezy enthusiast, expert, fan, lover, stalker, and supporter, while also being a very big Common fan, I do my best to be unbiased & objective.
When the first week sales figures came in, there were many people that were left a little perturbed, surprised, and utterly shocked to find out that Young Jeezy sold almost 4x as many albums as Common. For one, seeing as though Jeezy had very little marketing and/or promotion, while Common had very strong, creative, and saturated marketing. Not to mention the fact that Common’s album was preceded by a book titled “One Day It’ll All Make Sense”, and he also had songs on the soundtrack for The Muppets Movies and a voice over in Happy Feet Two. So how could Jay Jenkins outsell Lonnie Lynn, Jr?
One key factor that may have played a part in the lackluster sales of Common’s album would be his marketing strategy. Not saying that the marketing itself wasn’t great, because it was very clever. The strategy and execution of it, however, was very poor. I understand wanting to push your artists and have him in the forefront, but what exactly are you trying to market to the consumer? And also, who are you targeting with your marketing? What’s your demographic? First, it was the book. Then it was Happy Feet Two. Then it was the TV show Hell On Wheels. Then it was the movie New Year’s Eve. Then finally it was the album. Not to mention all of the interaction with fans on Twitter and the YouTube streams. By the time you get to the album, you’re pretty much all Common’d out. So what happens is the anticipation for the music is taken away by all of the other appearances and projects that are being released. Whereas you have Jeezy, who kept it simple with a few radio and TV appearances and interviews. And the fact that the album had so many setbacks (being pushed backed 3 times). It only made the anticipation for the album even greater. Sometimes, artists don’t believe in the “Less is more” concept. For the consumers, less is always more. Too much of something feels like it’s being forced. If you’re main product is the album, push that to the forefront & keep that as your focus.
Another reason that may have contributed to the sales, or lack there of, is the core audience. As Africa Allah always says, “The who that you think is the who, is not always the who.” Translation: the people that you think are listening to your music & buying your album are not the majority. Common has so many more fans overseas in Europe, Asia, Australia, & Germany. Whereas Jeezy’s main fan base is here in the US. Therefore, his album should’ve been made available for his fans in those markets. Except for Europe and the UK, other countries do not have access to digital sites such as iTunes or Amazon. And that greatly affected his numbers. If you go on iTunes and/or Amazon & search each artist, Young Jeezy doesn’t have albums with a UK version or European version. However, Common does. Even if the artist markets his album in overseas countries, if you don’t make it available for purchase to them, you’ve just defeated the purpose of global marketing. All of Young Jeezy’s sales came from right here in the USA, but he also kept his marketing strictly in the states. Simply because he knew that his album would not be made available for purchase in those overseas markets.
Lastly, one reason that could’ve affected Common’s sales is the content of his music. Now, you may say that this doesn’t affect the amount of records an artist sells. But when you you look at the state of the industry right now, & the music that’s being played on the radio, it does. Let’s be clear about this. Everyone labels Common as a “conscious rapper”. And yes… he can be. Truth be told, he & Jeezy talk about the same things. Just the delivery is totally different. They each talk about sex, money, cars, etc. Only difference is the verbiage. And not a diss to Young Jeezy at all, but he is not even on the same playing field as Common. Lyrically, Common is on a whole different level that Jeezy has yet to reach. Young Jeezy won’t refer to hip hop as H.E.R. And he won’t say GO when he speaks of sex. He will, however, speak of selling drugs metaphorically by calling it his “girl” (listen carefully to “I Do”). Where as Common uses much more vivid & descriptive words to speak about the same subjects, except for drugs of course. Jeezy makes it much more simpler for the people to understand, whereas you have to decode Common’s lyrics to understand what he’s speaking of. Today’s audience doesn’t want to be intellectual. They want it plain & simple with a few punchlines & hot metaphors in between.
There are so many other things that played a part in the sales for both of these albums. I could name a few more. These are just some of the key points. Common could very well break 100k. Only time will tell. It’ll be very interesting to see how it plays out. I’ll be watching.