The Cool Grown Ups
To hear the tastemakers tell it, the worst album of Lil Wayne’s career is the best rap album of 2008. And one of just two rap albums mentioned on Pitchfork’s year end wrap up (not even honorably). 
No Jeezy (whose OMG! RECESSION! hook was almost tailor made for the pitchforkian “we like rappers who are smart but not smarter than we are” perspective) or Killer Mike (he of twelfth best single of 2006 fame) or Gucci Mane (who should’ve been this year’s Cam’Ron to people whose entire relationship with hip hop entails laughing with/at? it) or Z-Ro (who wallows in misery and self doubt better than any of the unwashed white folks who made the Pitchfork list). Not even The Fucking Roots (who put out a better album this year than all the other ones they put out in the ~eight year period when non-rap critics were fawning over them.) And yeah, The Mixtape About Nothing was cute, but not even Wale would try to tell you it was the second best rap album of the year. 
But none of these acts need Pitchfork love. With the exception of maybe The Roots, it’s not like pitchfork kids were actually buying these types of records or going to those artist’s concerts, apart from their one off date at the Knitting Factory. Jeezy and Gucci will survive. Street rappers will always have the streets.  The artists who truly suffer from this are the old guard yackpack true school hip hoppers, the type of rap artists that indie rock listeners were jamming back when they were still talking down on people who listened to Lil Wayne. The type of artists whose only source of media attention were such so-called forward thinking or alternative publications.
Thes One, of perennial indieground favorites People Under The Stairs , made an interesting post on soulstrut recently, the gist being that, while their new album Fun DMC  is well on its way to selling 10k, it hasn’t received a lick of press. Not even from XLR8R, a magazine I had just assumed covered People Under The Stairs exclusively, is returning their calls. As semi-deserved as the “hey gangsta/southern/poor people rap is smart after all” critical movement of recent years was, it’s now having something of a scorched earth effect on hip hop coverage in non-rap and half-rap publications. Even the nerdiest ones (Urb, XLR8R) have absorbed the superficiality of rap popism and are now way too cool for what was once their bread and butter. So instead they just put the prettiest motherfucker on the cover. (Enter Charles Hamilton.)
This all means very little for an act like PUTS (or, say, Scarface, another [and, of course, better] rap niche legacy act whose triumphant final album was like kryptonite to national magazines this year.) because, like Thes said, they’ve built their fanbase. That’s the secret about backpack rap: PUTS and Hieroglyphics and Kool Keith and (some of) the Living Legends still sell records and cake off tours. They still bang in dorm rooms and Germany. It’s just that nobody acknowledges it. This is partially because many of these acts are boring and redundant, but I suspect it has as much to do with their inherent uncoolness. Being boring and redundant has certainly never kept Charles Hamilton off of a magazine cover.
It’s an embarrassing time to be a music critic.
 I vaguely recall predicting such a phenomenon last year over at the then day job, but the problem with deleting old blog posts is not being able to say “I told you so.” Not that I would ever say such a thing. Not in the body of my text, at least. Maybe in the footnotes.
 He’d probably try and sell you on the damn Circle Boys or some shit.
 This is the point I was trying to make about the Diplo/Paper Route allegiance last week – solidify a regular people/rap listener fanbase first, then round up the hipsters. Because only one of those audiences is going to stick around long enough for an artist to sustain a career.
 Who, for those unfamiliar, sound exactly like you would expect a group named “People Under The Stairs” to sound like.
 I know.