A conversation I had with a couple good friends of mine that also work this radio/entertainment industry prompted this middle of the week post. I want to take some time to bring you into the world of radio and where the real changes need to occur in my view. I can’t tell you any of this is fact, but I can give you my logic and perspective and only hope you feel me.
One of the hot topics in the world of music and radio this year, is Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” album. The main topic of conversation is “It ain’t no radio records on the album”. I personally disagree with that.
Many say it’s no radio records on the album simply because it’s no “turn up feel” and it doesn’t beat you over the head every song with 808, drug references and promiscuity or if people want to get that fear out their chest; Kendrick doesn’t sound like Young Thug, Future, Migos and Rich Homie Quan, so it can’t be played. However, one could argue that a lot of that content shouldn’t be on the radio anyway and that’s why more Kendrick records should play. We often blame the messages sent out to the people through media and now we’re saying we won’t play a “positive song” because it “breaks format”? That makes no sense. How can Kendrick be the hot hand amongst the people yet get no terrestrial love and be on a major at the same time?
I remember getting an email when Kendrick’s album drop about “what record should we roll with”. They gave us “Blacker The Berry” “King Kunta” “Alright” and “Hood Politics” to “pick for radio” since “i” had already passed. Off one listen of the album, I asked “How come “You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)” isn’t being considered? That’s a universal, undeniable groove. That’s meme, vine and IG worthy. That line was in Friday. If “Bye Felicia” is popular again, how come that can’t work?
Another song I think would work, Complexion. In our conversation yesterday it was brought up that “Ain’t nobody trying to hear that self love and black empowerment ish”. My response was, see that’s the problem.
The records that uplift, empower and feel good are all out there. People just really aren’t in support of it because they think radio won’t be in support of it. Radio has always been about what’s hot and what’s supported . The balance of good and bad music on the radio is all about the people. I won’t deny “the playlist” and it’s detriment to the “Feel” of radio, but when the people aren’t expressing the power of choice, how can it change?
I’ll say it again. If you are going off format, you can play TPAB on Urban and UAC stations and some records would end up on Top 40. You can’t say it won’t cause one of the biggest Top 40 records of this year is about a woman willing to cook up and oversee a crackhouse for a man she’s in love with. DMX mastered vicious lyrics on uptempo records for radio.
No label pushed Migos records in the beginning. Before this year, every song they had was on a mixtape. One could even say the label deal and the official album drop took a little bit of their steam away. Meanwhile, Kendrick has been on Interscope for 2 albums. Interscope, the same label that consistently put out singles for albums that changes radio, music and the successful sales standards for a solid 10 years. There is only so much an engine can do. It still needs oil and gas to run.
Not being able to understand an artist who’s getting radio play is not new. How different is Young Thug, Future and Migos from Bone Thugs and Old Dirty Bastard as far understanding lyrics? To this day I can’t recite 1 Bizzy Bone verse.
How can Complexion not be on the radio when Common’s The Light is possibly one of his biggest radio records ever?
To me radio records should be based more off feelings and less off sales, but when people don’t support a record, it doesn’t draw the potential of paying clients because “We don’t look hip”. A lot of “fans” tell you such and such is hot, and go to their favorite free download site or send that “send me the link” comment or tweet response and will complain about “how music sucks”. We can’t have it both ways.
Some songs come on and you know with in the first beat you’re going to hit repeat on that song. Those songs use to run radio and they were added no matter if they matched the tempo of the number 1 song or not. It didn’t matter the content, it was all about the feeling. “Can’t I Get A” is about “F**k Gold Diggers and Broke N***as”, Country Grammar is about “Pretty N***as that’s down to ride and pull drive by’s” Shimmy Shimmy Ya’s hook is “Ooh Baby I like It Raw” and we know what Dirty was talking about. The one thing about all those songs is you can’t deny how you feel when the beat drops.
If Lauryn Hill dropped in the next hour and her lead song was Complexion, urban radio would play this ISH out of it. Why? Because they played “That Thing” and it worked extremely well and you can mix that song with Drake’s Draft Day.
The People and The Programmers all need to be on notice. Your open ear or your lack of support determines how you feel and react to music. This game and it’s music hasn’t changed that drastically. Puff was doing what Travis Scott is doing on the Press Play and Last Train To Paris album. Drake has literally been able to give you Ja Rule, Jay Z and Nas styled records and is from the Little Brother tree, but some of you never played their music either.
The jaded perception of the radio record exist because of the faulty support of the people who don’t want to challenge the radio playlist. Kendrick Lamar’s album and his singles are not platinum as of November 4th 2015.
Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar “Bad Blood” is currently at over 4 million sold. The Kendrick version is not on the 1989 Album.