Short article on a topic heavy on our minds. Link (via)

Yet as Scratch and others have seen, plaudits for hip-hop legends have not translated into profits. Sales of vintage rap discs are sluggish or nonexistent. For the week ending Nov. 12, according to Nielsen SoundScan, Public Enemy’s landmark 1988 album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” sold 400 copies. LL Cool J’s 1987 album “Bigger and Deffer” (home of one of his biggest hits, “I Need Love”) sold half that amount. Run-D.M.C.’s “Raising Hell,” which includes the group’s groundbreaking collaboration with Aerosmith on a remake of “Walk This Way,” moved only 100 units.

Among the exceptions are the Beastie Boys’ “Licensed to Ill,” another period touchstone that continues to sell several hundred thousand copies a year. And Bill Gagnon, a vice president of catalog sales for EMI, says the label expects to sell as many as 200,000 copies of a forthcoming anthology of the gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A.

Yet in general, the founders of rock, like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, fare better in stores than the founders of rap. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” still moves nearly 10,000 copies a week.

Jim Parham, senior director of marketing at Sony BMG, said reissues of some hip-hop albums sell better than jazz, classical and “old-time” country acts like Bob Wills. Yet he admitted that the audience for the label’s recent compilation of Whodini is largely “white, suburban college-age kids” rediscovering an era when hip-hop, R&B and dance music first merged.

The situation has left some in the rap business bewildered or miffed. “With rock fans who are over 45, their kids are going into their record collections and pulling out Dylan and Procol Harum,” said Darryl McDaniels, D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C. “We’re not at that point yet.”

Bill Stephney, a former Def Jam executive and producer, said he believed there was “clearly a market” for vintage hip-hop, but added: “There’s a terrible disconnect on the executive level in terms of exploiting this music in the market. They just don’t think about it.” Mr. Stephney said that last year he attempted to produce a 20th-anniversary Def Jam reunion concert that would feature both vintage and current rap acts, but abandoned the idea for a lack of industry support.

“Hip-hop doesn’t promote its history,” Mr. McDaniels said. “Mick Jagger and Keith Richards will talk about Little Richard or Howlin’ Wolf. A lot of rappers now will cite Rakim, but they don’t promote him. People in the industry don’t want people to be focused on anything other than what is going on right now.”