Eminem Proves Monumental Album Sales Still Exist in Rap
The summer of 2010 officially belonged to Eminem. The rapper can look back on the past three months with a sense of triumph, as he managed to dominate the Billboard charts since the release of his seventh studio album, ‘Recovery,’ in mid-June.
While Drake, Rick Ross and Fat Joe all released their albums — ‘Thank Me Later,’ ‘Teflon Don’ and ‘The Darkside Vol. 1′ respectively — in June and July, neither came close to the Detroit native’s achievement: scoring double platinum success in eight weeks. By the latter half of August, Marshall Mathers had racked up an astounding 2,113,000 copies sold. To date, he’s moved 2.3 million units and counting.
In an industry plagued with bootlegging and illegal downloading, Eminem’s success is the happily-ever-after the music industry has been longing for. He’s proof that ardent fans won’t search for a free mp3, but rather make a trek to purchase a palpable album. Hugo F. Gomez attests to that. The 20-year-old Rhode Island native was one of the millions who flocked to stores to buy ‘Recovery.’ “I do what I can to help the artist and do not believe in bootlegging albums,” says Hugo, who’s followed Eminem’s career since the release of ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ in 2004. “He manipulates words and produces verses like, ‘Wow!” Gomez adds. “He could probably be a writer like Gabriel Garcia Marquez or someone of that sort. [Eminem's] anger and emotion can be heard.”
‘Recovery’ is a return to the passion and quality wordplay that garnered the Shady Records founder a dedicated following early on in his career. Loyal supporters took notice through their purchases, however, so did the critics Em once noted “can’t even stomach me, let alone stand me.”
“This time around he really stayed true to his style of rap,” states DJ Yonny, a resident mixer on New York’s WXRK 92.3 NOW. Yet, while sticking to his original formula, Eminem took heed to the industry’s current trends. “He’s able to adapt to the times and evolve with the change of music,” Yonny says.
Producer Jim Jonsin, the mastermind behind the album’s guitar-laden ‘Space Bound,’ believes the former underground lyricist’s skyrocketing album sales have much to do with the work he put in while creating the opus.
“He has a vision and when he does, he kinda fights for that vision to get it right,” Jonsin told The BoomBox. “The momentum is crazy on ‘Recovery.’ I believe it’s gonna do even more worldwide; he’ll do 5 million records. He built a fan base from the ground up and that’s why people follow him.”
A goal of 5 million could easily be achieved considering the warm reception of singles like ‘Love the Way You Lie’ featuring Rihanna. The track entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 2 in early July. By the end of that month, it scored the No. 1 slot and currently holds the position 10 weeks after its entry on the chart.
“When it comes to requesting his songs, [Eminem] still has the biggest buzz in the game for the longest period of time,” says L. Boogs, a radio jock on WQHT Hot 97′s ‘The Best Show Ever.’ “His two radio singles did great for him, especially at the station I work for. Both ‘Not Afraid’ and ‘Love the Way You Lie’ were top three on our weekly Top 30 playlist at some point this year.”
New video releases impact his album sales as well. XXL magazine’s music editor Rondell Conway adds that a progressively charting song’s accompanying visuals stimulates a fan’s desire to support an artist’s project. “After the ‘Love the Way You Lie’ video premiered, the album spiked — it went back to No. 1,” Conway reveals. “So that proved right there that people are still single-driven. So if they like a single, that’s going to motivate them to go out and buy an album. [Eminem's] still an undeniable star in the game regardless of the time he took off and regardless of the first comeback album, ‘Relapse,’ not being his best work.”
More of a sharper effort compared to his last album, ‘Recovery’ represents what Eminem’s fans and peers admire most about his music-his raw storytelling.
“You’ve got to make bigger music, if you want bigger record sales,” says rapper Yelawolf, a fan of Em since hearing him spit on Rawkus Records mixtapes years ago. “The reason why people aren’t pushing records I believe [is because their music] is not culturally impactful. There’s people that have grown up with [Eminem]. His fans are like Led Zeppelin fans or Jay-Z fans or U2 fans. Instead of just having a record that’s hot, [he has] a story that really touches people. So just his story, which is the underdog, if you tell those stories about real shit, that’s usually what’s gonna work.”
Eminem’s chart domination with ‘Recovery’ — the album spent seven of 10 weeks at the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200 as of early September — proves that monumental album sales are still possible by serving a dedicated fan base music replete with authenticity and sentiment. Rap fan Hugo, who’s of Guatemalan descent, listens to Eminem for just that reason.
“I am under the impression that music does not see color — black or white,” Hugo continues. “If you have the emotion and talent to produce music, then props to you. I got Eminem’s alter-ego “Slim Shady” tatted onto my chest, over my heart, because I never want to forget Eminem and the impact he has had over the course of my life.”