Many industry heads and guys who think they are music execs we’re scratching their heads when sales for Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter 4 came in at a million and in the two weeks since it’s release has sold close to 1.2 million. I don’t care who you are, those are pretty impressive numbers for any artist, let alone a rapper.
Now we can all agree that Lil Wayne’s buzz wasn’t anything like it was in 2008 when Tha Carter 3 dropped. In 2008, Wayne was on fire, doing an unprecedented number of guest appearances as well as critically acclaimed mixtapes. He also had “A Milli” and “Lollipop”, which we’re both monster hits.
Fast forward to 2011 and Wayne has put out two underwhelming mixtapes, two half ass projects (Rebirth, I Am Not Human), went to jail for a year, and dropped an average rap album with Tha Carter 4. Even his singles “6’7” and “How to Love” are not nearly as fresh (or as good) as Wayne’s previous efforts. So it’s safe to say it isn’t the quality of music that’s making a million people pick up his album. It’s something else, perhaps it’s because fans have grown up on Lil Wayne?
Lil Wayne is in the unique position of being a teen rapper that made the successful career transition into adulthood. Lil Wayne released his sophomore platinum selling album Tha Block is Hot in 1999. Now let’s suppose most of the people that bought Tha Carter 4 are between 15 and 30. In 1999, the 30 year olds’ of today we’re 19 and if they we’re fans of Lil Wayne we’re probably die hard fans -because honestly what the hell was Wayne saying on that album? You would have needed a translator.
So it’s pretty safe to say if you we’re buying Lil Wayne’s first few albums, you’re probably buying the whole Tha Carter series. To the unaware, Tha Carter marked a period in Wayne’s career where he took a quantum leap forward as an artist. In 2004, when the first Carter came out Wayne’s 15 year old fans of today we’re 8 and probably getting their first taste of the single “Go Dj”.
Now if you didn’t grow up on Lil Wayne, you have to go back to when you we’re 8 years old and insert whatever rapper was big at the time and imagine that instead of falling off after that hit single/album that rapper went on to become one of the biggest artists period. How would that affect your perception of the artist? How would that make you feel about that artist’s brand? My guess is that you would continue to be a fan. So since Lil Wayne was able to grow up right beside his fans, both at the younger and older range of the cd buying sweet spot (15-30), Lil Wayne has been able to capitalize big time.
This is obviously not the whole story. Many people grew up on Lil’ Bow Wow and are now between 15 and 30 and his ability to sells albums at this time is up for debate. However it is interesting that Cash Money signed him, possibly seeing a “Lil Wayne type” play for the future.