On Tuesday (October 8), Nipsey Hussle offered up hard copies of his Crenshaw album at a Los Angeles pop-up shop with a whopping price tag of $100. The purchase doubles as a ticket to the rapper's upcoming hometown concert, and fans like 20-year-old Compton native Louis Gray lined up to buy "the world's first $100 album" — as it was billed — with no hesitation.
"I was surprised, as anybody else would be, but I wanted it either way. I'm a die-hard fan and I wanted to be a part of history," Gray told MTV News on Tuesday afternoon. "There was only 1,000 [CDs] made, and I wanted to have one because that's my favorite rapper. I've gotta support."
The Crenshaw project is available online via mixtape outlets but Nipsey presented it both in L.A. and for sale on his IAmProud2Pay.com site. And with only 1,000 hard copies available, some fans were willing to shell out the big bill. At press time, every last copy (and more) had sold at that established price, which has the rapper pocketing six figures.
"If it's an artist I really connect to and they motivate me, I won't trip about a price. No price is too high," Gray said, pointing to Nipsey's upcoming studio debut, Victory Lap. "No matter how much it costs — if I paid $100 for this, the album can cost $500 and I'll still buy it. Money is no object when it's all game right there on the track. On the CD, they're giving away free game, it's like a blueprint."
Nipsey recently described this profit model to Rap Radaras "the price of Rebellion against an industry that has tricked us all into making products that have no soul, for fear of not being heard if we don't.
"I have over 400k followers on twitter 140k on Instagram and 400k on Facebook but what good are they if they don't mobilize around my releases?" he said. "If only 1000 of those people are engaged to the point of brand loyalty then that's who I'm focused on."
It's a point that's hard to argue, since Nipsey reached his goal of selling 1,000 copies in less than 24 hours, beginning with Louis Gray who was the very first fan to purchase the album after lining up at midnight.
Earlier this year, Samsung purchased 1 million advance copies of Jay Z's Magna Carta ... Holy Grail. The mobile company offered the project for free for the first 1 million Android phone owners who downloaded the album app. That marked a major power move for hip-hop business and, Nipsey's move was similar in that he removed the middle man and chose a price that he felt suited the time and energy dedicated to the project.
In today's climate, artists are facing a steep decline in sales, coupled with a very small percentage of profit from each sale. This is a true progress report, not only for Nipsey but also for fans and supporters.
While some detractors scoffed at the move — questioning why fans would pay up 10 times the price of a normal album — the independent hustle is a strong force in 2013. Artists like Tyler, The Creator, Macklemore and Mac Miller have all so far shunned the dream of signing to a major label, and they've more than supported themselves and profited in a way most would've never envisioned. Perhaps Nipsey will inspire other artists to do the same, knowing that real fans like Louis Gray are still out there.
"I did it for Kendrick, when he dropped GKMC," Gray said. "I pre-ordered that and listened to the whole album throughout the day; that was the only thing I listened to that whole day. And I just pre-ordered Dom Kennedy's Get Home Safely. I'm just waiting for that to drop."