In between the snow, wind, rain, and so-on of the past seven or so days, I legitimately haven’t had much time to peep some of the hip-hop happenings of this week. Add in the fact that I’m also working on my own musical projects at the moment (Ed. Note: #Thanatos128 is the first single from my next album, and it drops everywhere on 1.28.14) and I’ve had my eyes and ears away from most music that doesn’t contain a “Speed on the Beat!” dropped in there somewhere. Thus is the tragedy of a hip-hop blogger/artist/brand manager. Sometimes, you get overwhelmed and miss some stuff.
But, enough about me (I’ve got all next week to rave about me). This week, I want to talk to the aspiring artists out there. No, this won’t be a retread of my “Dear (Internet) Rappers” series. Because those, well, those are for the rappers who just started out, or those who have the business sense of a fresh-in-the-booth artist. Today, I want to talk to the rappers who’ve done everything right, but still find themselves losing out.
You may find yourself asking, “Why can’t I get on?” especially if you’ve dropped tape after tape after tape of halfway solid material. This can lead to a lack of faith, resulting in you switching your style up completely (in other words, you go from Kendrick Lamar to Gunplay in a matter of seconds) because you feel that style B is more complementary to what’s “hot.” That is the first step to failure. If what you’re doing isn’t reaching an audience, perhaps you should try a different audience.
Take for instance, myself with the whole “no-fi” thing. A lot of traditional rap blogs/fans were a bit hesitant to embrace it. Heck, who can blame them? I was making music that intentionally sounded like I recorded it underwater in the 1990s with 1980s equipment. I was distraught when I received my first couple rejection notices. But, then I thought to myself “hey, since ‘no-fi’ is more of a grunge-type of approach to music, I should find bloggers that know about grunge and hip-hop.” Surely enough, I began seeing my name appear on more blogs and saw the Speed on the Beat brand grow as a result of fine-tuning my efforts. Yes, casting a wide net is cool, but you’ll often end up with more water instead of fish. If you’re as dedicated as you say you are, you’ll find blogs and fans that are more likely to be receptive to you. If you can amass a large enough following from the so-called “little guys,” eventually the bigger fish will have no choice but to follow suit.
Simply put, the indie artist is Daniel Bryan to many a “big blog” (Ed. Note: I would’ve said CM Punk, but Bryan’s appearance is more “everyman” and therefore further illustrates the connection).
Sure, the indie may be technically sound. The indie artist may have a decent fan base and a small amount of recognition from some prestigious places. The indie artist may even be the so-called antidote to what ails “mainstream” hip-hop. But, some bigger blogs feel that they’re just like the next small guy to approach them. This is often because many indie artists do exactly the things that I, and others like me, advise against. If those faux pas aren’t committed, then it’s up to the artist to make an effort to get himself recognized, if even for a catchphrase, by the big boys. Then, it’s up to both the artist to make himself known and accessible and the bigger blogs to find smaller acts to replace/complement the bigger ones. Let’s face it: Lil’ Wayne still draws views and hits, but Lil’ Wayne will not be around forever.
However, if this route doesn’t work, even after you’ve followed the “Dear (Internet) Rappers” posts to a T? If no one, and I mean NO ONE, has responded to your inquiry about hosting your song on their site, then it may be time to give it up. And while many of you may not want to hear that, it’s a simple fact. If you follow the “rules” and “etiquette” to a fault, build a fan base, build a rapport with artists/bloggers/etc. and still can’t get an iota of shine, you wouldn’t have been long for the music world anyway.
Most of us have it in us somewhere to be great. Others, well, don’t.