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FLIPPING THE DEMAND FOR HIP-HOP FASHION INTO ALBUM SALES

In Pusha T’s “What Would Meek Do?,” Kanye West proclaims that Yeezy, his fashion line with Adidas, is “the newest billion-dollar baby.” While it’s easy to brush this off as ritualistic hip-hop hyperbole, recent numbers show it might actually be closer to the truth. Following in the footsteps of Diddy, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, hip-hop/R&B artists are capitalizing now more than ever with branding, merchandise and endorsements.

According to Forbes, recording artists have surpassed athletes’ influence in the sneaker-reselling marketplace, a market estimated to be valued at over $1bn.

“According to numbers from the sneaker and streetwear marketplace Stadium Goods,” the item reads in part, “Kanye West sells 70.9% more sneakers than [former] NBA MVP Steph Curry, and he makes 9.4% more overall sales than LeBron James. Pharrell Williams makes double the amount of celebrity sales than James. West and Williams sell 80% more celebrity sneakers than Paul George, Damian Lillard and Steph Curry combined, and Rihanna, Travis Scott and Drake sell 3.3% more sneakers than Paul George, Damian Lillard and Steph Curry combined.”

The demand for hip-hop-affiliated merchandise has sky-rocketed. Travis Scott recently showcased his strength in moving merch last week when he topped the charts with ASTROWORLD. Bundling merchandise sales with digital downloads of his album catapulted his first week numbers to the second-biggest debut of the year.

Maybe they’re not traditional album sales, but the fact that fans are willing to spend a ton of money on physical product is a win for the music biz. Whether it’s Kanye and Adidas, Tyler, the Creator and Converse or Kendrick and Nike, the cultural impact of hip-hop artists with fashion continues to grow, fueling an enormous new revenue stream in the digital age.

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