We are in a very interesting time. A time where it still does take work to achieve success, but time is the ultimate variable. That holds true more than ever in the world of the music business. I want to make the distinction right now. This is not a hip-hop conversation. This isn’t about the culture and pushing it forward. This is about the buying and selling of brands, products and people. This is about my question of the day. Why do we like rappers now?
It appears that the last thing you need to know how to do in this era of rap music, is know how to rap. Thousands of kids are now telling the same story Trinidad James told in 2013, but they have added staying power to their blueprint. We don’t get many stories of “loving rap as a child” or tales of writing poetry in school or artist remembering their first rap from years ago. We actually get stories of how a young persons first rap goes viral when they “were just playing around”. You don’t hear many rappers saying “I been rapping for 5-10 years and finally getting a shot”. You hear, I been rapping for about 2 years now and I’m getting 10 racks a show. The hip-hop fan in me hates the over-saturation of viral sensations. The person who understands the music businesses purpose gets it.
The music industry still doesn’t have a firm grasp on what “Viral” means. They don’t know why and how music is moving so fast. They are not sure what is the best route to profit off of these young people. They just know they have to take advantage of it through a 360. This isn’t the days of “Gangsta’s and Hustla’s knowing how to rap”. This is the “I’m not a rapper. My songs just have hip-hop influence” era. That’s what a few of the current big stars are saying.
My theory is they do that because of the scrutiny. We are in a time where rap has different generations of fans. Now you truly do have to dissect by era. Wayne is the “O.G” and Jay, Nas, Big, Pac and Eminem are now somewhat disrespected when Top 10 conversations come up, because they are above them now. There is a loud section that says some of these young guys will never reach a legendary level of rap. So they counter with “I’m Not A Rapper”.
Why do we like rappers now? Is it really because of the raps? Is it the business? The branding? The association of people and things? The man or woman they are dating?
Even though “Get Money” was a song made now 22 years ago, the ideology is OD right now. Rappers want shoe deals and personal strands of weed more than they want classic albums. Rappers rarely collaborate because hardly anyone cares about being the best rapper. It’s about being the best businessman. We got to thank or blame Master P and Jay Z for that though. The narrative started changing the more their conversations broadened about their portfolios and less about the great albums that gave them those opportunities. It’s why Nicki challenged Remy to a “Hit making contest”.
Many people are not buying or streaming rap music. Rap fans have become the judge, jury and executioner of rap careers solely off the strength of memes, interviews and cypher clips. Most that are spun to create a negative narrative. Who was the last rapper you gave a chance? What was the last album or mixtape you listened to? Why did you listen? Was it really to see how whack they were? If you liked it, did you listen to more from that artist? Did you tell other people about them? Do you respect their craft or their popularity? Do you really only like them as a person? Think about those questions the next time you have a positive or negative conversation about rappers.
Be Safe. Be Humble. Live Hip-Hop.