11/21/2004 Add a comment

Today, two of the most widely read newspapers in the country are featuring long, glowing profiles of an Asian rapper named Jin.

Here's the piece from the New York Times (magazine) and here's the one from the Washington Post (note painful titular pun).

Jin hit it big over two years ago on BET's 106th & Park, winning the "Freestyle Friday" rap battle seven weeks in a row and getting signed to the Ruff Ryders label. In October, after many delays, he finally released his album to anemic sales despite the hired help of some of the rap world's top producers.

So why did both papers come out with a profile of him on the same day? The stories are nearly identical, using all the same facts, similar quotes, and emphasizing the same obvious theme: Hey, check it out, an Asian rapper!

Newsweek beat them to this story by two weeks, and the NY Daily News (note similar awful titular pun) had this story on October 17! Even the squares at NPR did a feature on him a month ago!

Here's my theory on how an all-but-forgotten novelty act made a leap to the top of the publicity pyramid: Jin's album debuted in the middle of October, and while sales were okay for the first week (#54 on billboard), they fell off precipitously. So someone at the Ruff Ryders label decided to stir up some publicity from the "mainstream" media and hooked a couple of sucker reporters.

It's a tried and true method of getting big kiss-assy profiles when performers release albums, but nonetheless, it's embarassing when both papers have the same lame outdated story. I haven't heard Jin rap, and some reviews have been positive, but unless Times and Post readers start buying the album, it's headed straight for the discount bin. ben