Twitter: A Hip-Hop Revolution

There are some things in life you come to expect. Your mum doing your washing, prolonged rain spells, Christmas on the 25th December, Raekwon sending out a tweet. Wait. What? Yes people, it would be strange for me to visit my Twitter and there be no daily/hourly/minutely (believe me, some do it *cough* Noreaga) tweet from at least one of the many hip-hop artists I happen to follow.

Since the 140 character micro-blogging phenomenon stormed the Internet in 2006, a wide range of celebrities have been using the social networking site with popular persons such as Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears amongst some of the first to join in the Twittermania. But it’s not only film and (one-time) pop stars who took to Twitter. MC Hammer held the hip-hop Twitter-torch for a while all on his own before others started to see the value that it brought in promoting their work and connecting with fans.

One of the first real hip-hop successes was Raekwon and his Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. He adopted an aggressive Twitter campaign, with album news, leakages and other promotional aspects in order to keep OB4CLII at the forefront of people’s minds. After numerous set-backs and delays it was just what the doctor ordered (Dr. Dre related pun not initially intended) with OB4CLII smashing projected sales figures by putting up first week numbers of 68K. Having followed Capone-N-Noreaga over the past eight months, it is to little surprise that having recruited Rae as executive producer on The War Report II, that the Queensbridge natives operated a similar marketing strategy. OK, so Rae’s product may have sold itself. I mean, OB4CLII is a modern day classic. But in a current industry where pushing 300K units now is the equivalent of going platinum back at the turn of the century, Rae did just that and defied the odds of going up against Jay-Z’s Blueprint III.

The irony of all this is as you kick back chilling to Pyrex Vision it’s difficult to imagine Rae cooking up some crack in the kitchen, a teaspoon of baking soda in one hand, his laptop/Blackberry/iPhone in the other tweeting away about how he’s nervous about his upcoming tour. But as you think back and laugh when you imagine the late Notorious BIG, Tupac Shakur or Big L updating you that they are just nipping into Burger King before picking their kids up from school, what would we have all said back in 1995 if someone told us in 15 years Raekwon would set up a collaboration with Kanye West and Usher’s pop-sensation Justin Bieber via the power of social media?!

Raekwon is simply a good example of how a successful Twitter marketing campaign can have positive effects on album sales and particularly album sales of an artist, who at the time, was a long way from mainstream media attention. The strength of his OB4CLII and without doubt his continuance of Twitter-domination has seen Rae propelled into one of the most must-have features in the industry. Rae wasn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last MC to join Twitter. Eminem and Kanye are two high profile artists to have recently joined (although both seem to have no interest in following others – perhaps a transparent weakness in their promotion quest) and many underground and old school MC’s alike from Reef The Lost Cauze, Torae and Royce Da 5’9” to Big Daddy Kane, Mobb Deep’s Havoc and Eric B all now following that once unimaginable, yet important formula Rae laid down over a year ago. And now, as we all eagerly await Rae’s verse with a certain very popular 16 year old Canadian, perhaps a new level of fame and recognition awaits for the Chef, a level which him and the Wu Tang Clan have never witnessed before.

@MurrayOTU for OTU_Music

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