True art inspires. And I know that one’s personal truth is relative. Often I get disappointed with this culture and the industry that continues to abuse it. The wack artists, the fans who love them, and the bloggers who get rich off of misrepresenting the artform, sometimes cloud my sunny days. Then all of a sudden something gives me clarity and puts my vision back into focus.
Yesterday that something was Ice-T’s film, The Art of Rap. Everyone in the game and anyone aspiring to be in the game should see it and support it. For some rappers it should be required before entry! It is truly educational and inspiring.
Here’s what’s up; some of you are just not ready yet. It doesn’t mean that you never will be, but you want success before putting in the time or hard work. It could also be that you’ve put in the time, but you still haven’t found your voice. You have talent, but there’s nothing different about you. You’re afraid to take chances. You think that you must talk about the same ol shit. “I’m gettin money! And I’m fuckin yo bitch!”. That’s the central theme of most of the rap that’s sent to me.
But what the fuck do I know? Some kid rapping that same lame shit signed a major label deal, right? Yeah, I know. We’re living in the time when labels are only giving away their crappy 360 deals to rap artists with the most YouTube views and Twitter followers. And they’re not signing that one artist; they want his whole crew of undeveloped noobs on the roster. Now everybody is screaming, “I gotta get my views up!”
I don’t blame the artists. Some of these kids are young, born into some fucked up situations, and now have been given an opportunity for a way out. That was and is the usual story of the hip hop artist. But when did it get so easy to stroll into this culture unchecked, undeveloped, and unchallenged. Into a landscape where even the established artists jump on the bandwagon and cosigned the industry’s shortsightedness. They’re thinking…”I better do a collab with that kid! He may be wack but he’s hot, and you know the shelf-life of a famous rapper is short.” So they pile on like vultures, not knowing that they’re giving a boost to what may be they’re replacement.
Now everybody want’s to work with that rapper’s producer and have their videos shot by the same director that shot his. Why? Because they think they can copy the formula and become successful. This game can become increasingly frustrating if you’re only in it for the payout. If that’s what’s fueling you, you’re driving on bad gas, homie. I know artists right now that are recording music that they don’t even like themselves. They tell me, “Man, I’m just doing this to get on.”
Hip hop is far from being dead, but don’t think for a second that we can’t lose this shit, or that it can’t become irrelevant. We’ve already almost destroyed female representation in hip hop. The electronic music scene is killing right now. It’s underground and the DJ’s are rich as fuck. There’s no reason why hip hop, independently, can’t build the same movement. Dope live shows that are SAFE is the key to making that happen. Lots of people love hip hop, but they don’t like the liability that often comes with it. Gang-banging on wax aint smart for business.
Hip hop has been great to me. It provided me with a career. I run this blog to give back to it and express myself in ways that my music can’t. You should give back to hip hop when you can. Support good projects not just with your words, but with your money. If we’re just taking and looking out only for our own self interests, they’ll be nothing left. Don’t let the major labels and radio dictate the texture of the culture. They only care about “hits”. They’ll strip you of your creativity. Listen to those who have come before you and paved the way. There is much to learn and many mistakes to avoid. I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead