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Editorial

The Thin Line Between "Selling Out" and "Crossing Over"

There is no denying that at some point in their careers, all major hip hop artists would like to get paid. After all, this is their career, and they can’t survive in this career without making money. But in order to do that, some artists must resort to what has become known as “selling out” or intentionally making a record that is more pop than anything else. However, sometimes it can be a bit confusing as to whether an artist is selling out, or simply making singles that cross over into the main stream unintentionally. Let’s look at some examples.


Jay-Z – After his classic album “Reasonable Doubt,” he followed up with “In My Lifetime Vol. 1” which undoubtedly contains many commercial singles. These include “The City is Mine,” “I Know What Girls Like,” and “Always be my Sunshine.” In the years to come, he would also release “Hard Knock Life,” “Big Pimpin,” “Give it to Me,” etc.

Nas – Following his classic debut “Illmatic,” he released “It was Written” which contained commercial singles “The Message,” “If I Ruled the World,” and “Street Dreams.” Some of his other songs also fit this description such as “Nastradamus,” “You Owe Me,” and “I Can.”

Ja Rule – After a very gutter debut album, he began singing on every recording he got a chance to.

Big Pun – “Still Not a Player” became a huge crossover single, but was this really considered selling out?

Mobb Deep – Managed to alienate a lot of their hardcore fan base after releasing the single “Hey Luv” with 112 off of their “Infamy” album.

Fat Joe – I’ve already touched on him, and there is no denying he recruited whoever was hot at the moment to get on his latest single.

50 Cent – After dissing Ja Rule for singing, he ends up doing the same thing throughout his career.

JadaKiss – Making songs with the radio friendly Nate Dogg, Pharrell, Mariah Carey, Carl Thomas & Ne-Yo.

These are just some examples of the point I’m trying to get across. I’m not doing anything besides making observations on the choice of singles some artists have decided to make. Many of the songs mentioned above turned into major radio hits, but was it because of crossover appeal, or were these artists selling out?

Let me state as a disclaimer that I have nothing against artists striving for growth and trying to put money on the table to better themselves and feed their family. The purpose of this article is to debate whether certain artists intentionally sold out or whether the songs just become crossover hits on their own.

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