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The Chance You May Pass Up (again)

If you’re a songwriter or Emcee, think of the power you possess. For reals.  If you have a captive audience or fans that keep in touch with you and lend an ear (from time to time), you have a chance to say something.  Take time to critique what you’re talking about.  Of course we do music to entertain but, what about inspire, provoke or teach?

An artist or entertainer can be only that for so long (in my opinion).  You’re still human.  There are still things in this world that affect you, motivate you or make you take a stand on an issue.  At some point, you get to a stage where you don’t want to produce music of no substance that falls on deaf ears.  At some point, you’re going to get the pen and write about something that probably a lot of other people are thinking about too.  Something you give a damn about.

This can show you’re human and connect you more with the public or turn off (and maybe lose) some of the following you have.  It’s a thin line, have you ever thought about it?  Would you go down that road?  For me, the answer is given.  I think, I examine, I share and continuously learn.  And on top of that, never shy from engaging in topics that I know little about or teaching someone what I know.  So yeah, I’ll speak my mind and try to move a group of people.

I guess the point is, realize how powerful you can be.  The 60’s and 70’s are memorable, not just for the great music that was created but also from the reporting that was done by bands and musicians.  The songs are classic and catchy but they also had a message if you listen to the words.  The 80’s was exploring new sounds and making radio jingles so a lot was lost and so on and so on…..

Next time you start writing a song, imagine how far those words can reach when you cut the track and produce your record.  Don’t be scared to share what’s on your mind.  Yeah, we all know you’re hard, have a story and dislike certain things in pop culture but you’re also educated.  In some form or another.  And you have the power to share your experiences.

I call on all Emcees, freestylers, poets, and songwriters to show how creative you are by not just coming up with a catchy jingle but make a jingle that catches peoples attention and then makes them realize what they were singing.  Relevant subjects.

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Lil Wayne / Drake or Rakim / Wu Tang

This one’s long.  Sorry about that but, it is a good topic.

Here’s something a lot of underground Cats have been saying about the current state of Hip Hop – IT’S WACK!  Ok, now I have a few questions:

– Based on what?  Radio, sales, public opinion?
– Based on which Artists (or groups)?
– Based on what content?

You get the picture.  I think those who are voicing this opinion are the ones opposite of the Emcees getting major exposure.  And that’s what the public constantly sees so they interpret that as Hip Hop.  Well….we all know the public can’t think unless they’re told what to think about so I don’t invest too much in that.  (I’m one of those who feels a lot has been dumbed down)  Next, who’s to say what real Hip Hop is?  Those who know – know!

For example, take Country, Ska music, Alternative, Rock….you don’t think there’s some watered down acts in those genres as well?  You don’t think the true bands who built from the ground up, aren’t on a higher level?  Of course they are.  I’m sure when Billy Ray Cyrus was getting mad exposure, it made a lot of Country artists shake their heads.  I’m sure fans of Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd or the Eagles wouldn’t think many other bands are comparable to these legendary Artists and I would agree.

I know what Hip Hop is, what it sounds like, how it makes me feel when I’m at a venue, what the elements of Hip Hop are and what they mean.  There are some young Cats who understand the history of Hip Hop and what the ‘Art or Rap’ means.  They know that everything that happened before them, gave them the outlet they have now to take poetry to new heights, to put pen to paper unlike other lyricists, to talk with their hands on the turntables, to give fashion to a culture, to illustrate murals around the world like modern day Egyptian hieroglyphics which reflect our society.

Fans from the Golden Era of Hip Hop knew that’s when it was taking it’s true form.  It wasn’t when Afrika Bambaataa or The Sugar Hill Gang dropped their first song.  It wasn’t even called Hip Hop then.  There’s so much to this story.  We all appreciate new Acts who understand that and pay homage.  So my opinion is, the one’s who are jumpin’ around on videos, not sayin’ much from song to song, and giving it a wack exposure; are making their own beds that they’ll have to sleep on.  You can play joints from Guru, Damian Marley, KRS ONE, Nas, Ice Cube, E-40, De La Soul, Cypress Hill or Tribe Called Quest from 2 years ago, 5 years ago, or 10 years ago and it’s still quality!  The joints that are hot right now will be forgotten by Fall of this year. No??  Can you name which song was blazin’ hot exactly a year ago?  I can’t.  They die faster than they came up.  My point?  Real Hip Hop isn’t here for the top charts until the next joint is dropped.  Hip Hop educates, reports, kicks philosophy, stirs conversation, entertains and remains relevant throughout YEARS!!  I think the real question is, why can’t Emcees with dope skill, original thought, craft and wit; get exposure and paid like the ones who aren’t sayin’ shit?  But we all know the answer to that question….let’s not play naive.  That game’s been goin’ on too long.  Plus if no one was eating it, it wouldn’t be getting exposure so, who’s the fool?

I don’t care if the current state is wack.  If it is, I missed it cuzz it’s definitely not what I’m paying attention to or playin’ in my earbuds.  Like I said earlier, those who know – know.  Now, I will say this in the defense of any style that may seem soft or wack, this generation didn’t grow up like us.  The hustle was a lot harder, gang bangin’ was the only option, there weren’t as many resources to get our street block activity out to the next City, State or Country.  You can hear it in the music (the words).  These days, there are!  There’s actually no excuse for any Independent Artist, so many resources are available.  But back to my point, didn’t we struggle, fight, kick and claw our way from that current state to one that we could enjoy and breathe a little easier?  Didn’t we do that so our younger brothers and nephews didn’t have to go through the same struggle?  Well here they are, and without the same drama we experienced, they can’t talk about that (like we did).  We had so much to voice our opinion about.  Things are easier these days.  So what should these Cats be talkin’ about?  If they talk about a fake hustle life, then that’s really contradicting this art and we wouldn’t want that; would we?  I think they’re still figuring it out for themselves or maybe they are just saying whatever sells.  Not my problem, they’re not taking my money.

Remember, Hip Hop is original.  When it started, it took millions by storm, scared many who couldn’t relate and seemed foreign to overseers.  Like anything else, once something is figured out…the masses see how they can benefit from a trend or movement.  That won’t change but you will.  Or will you?

I’ve said this before “I did not create Hip Hop but I am Hip Hop which means, if I stopped doing all that I do; Hip Hop would die.  Now think of that as a group or a collection of people.  We are Hip Hop.  We may not have created it but without us, it wouldn’t exist.”  We give it continuous life and shape it, different than how we received it and available for the next generation.  Don’t ever stop doing what you do in Hip Hop.  You’re an important piece to this moving puzzle.

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Donate Your Time, Money, Interest

Projects like Kickstarter are popular in this day-and-age to get a jump on films and even full length albums.  Fans show support by purchasing a “pre-order”, they donate money, the project gets funded and when complete; the fan receives their copy.  Pretty cool idea and I think a win/win for both sides.

What happens a lot though these days, is how much music and how easily music gets downloaded.  You like your Artists and support them, true.  But, how do Artists make money if their music isn’t being bought?  Don’t get me wrong, sales are still made but with so many ways around buying; most find it convenient to just burn, borrow or illegally download.  That’s just fact and sadly, a way of this generation.  My nephew has a grip of songs on his iPod and I would put money that he’s never put out money to buy 5 of the songs on his playlist.  It is what it is….

So Artists make money with YouTube views, touring and maybe radio spins.  A lot goes into a much needed return but, that’s the chance all Artists take who choose to walk this path.  With so much effort, time and money that goes into an Album, by the time it’s complete, the public gets a copy within seconds.

SO, I’d like to ask if you donated $5 (or so) to your favorite Artist, would that suffice the music you casually get?  Would your donation to their studio, marketing, videos, promotions, etc be well spent?  I guess if they’re talented and you’re a true fan – yes.  So it’s  a new way of thinking on how music & money is exchanged.  Not a wild concept to grasp and could be a way to keep independent music alive.

Food for thought…..bon appetit!

(And in case my blog was convincing….Click the donate button below to send any donations to Taurus Entretainment. [Hey, can’t blame me.  Maybe I’ve made a strong arguement]   Thanks!)




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Turn the Radio Off or Up??

So Hip Hop has this gripe with FM.  We say “Turn off the radio” but some still chase radio play.  And some Emcees get spins which helps propel their sales, shows and fan base.  Which makes the hesitant Emcees think, ‘Well, maybe some airplay wouldn’t be too bad.’

I think there’s more than one story here.  The first is the gripe Hip Hop Artists (including myself) have with radio, we know what real Hip Hop is and when radio plays that watered down bubble gum RAP (not Hip Hop) and classifies it as Underground Hip Hop; that’s our first problem.  Don’t claim to spin Street Hip Hop when it has some R&B singer doing the hook.  Real Hip Hop would be Guru, KRS, Chino, Quasimoto, Juice, Jada, The Roots, Jeru, Crooked I, etc etc.  And when was the last time you heard those Cats on the radio – 15 times a day?  Exactly.

Now, there are some Emcees who balance on both sides of Hip Hop and radio play – maintaining their credentials.  I’d say Jay-Z, Eminem, Biggie (R.I.P.), Common.

The next thing is recognizing that radio still is important (if not necessary) to help build your career and following.  How you get on radio and navigate through those waters, is another subject and discussion for another time.  A lot of politics with that but, we can talk about ‘how to’ get on radio.  I think a lot of Cats don’t look at every avenue, they’re only thinking of the one or two local stations they hear everyday.  There’s a lot more throughout the Country and the world.

Here’s some food for thought (and yes, this is digging into my bag of ‘resources’) – think about college radio, independent radio, online stations, blogs, website music reviews, THEN you can build your way up to the big FM stations.  The other thing to remember, even some college radio pays royalties so you’re still entitled to publishing from that.  And the stations that may not pay publishing, you’re still getting exposure which is one of many steps down this long road of the music industry.

OK, I’m done.  Now it’s your turn.  Post a comment below or leave a reply on facebook

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Vinyl or Laptop?

The debate continues with a lot of my (DJ) friends.  Most prefer vinyl and so do I.  There’s something about diggin’ through the crates and finding that record.  Then getting your pitch right and blending in the mix – NO SYNC BUTTON.  I think it’s a skill and shows the crowd that you can run the decks by ear and make it happen.

Now the reality is, we all do shows and tour so to drag all the crates around, would be a chore.  So my same DJ friends do use laptops, Serato, etc.  Contradictory?  Not really, cuzz you can tell which DJ’s got that talent.  And it makes sense to do what’s convenient in those situations.  Now when given a weapon of choice, wax is always selected.  So when there’s shows where DJ’s can setup and get in the groove, the crates are close by.  I think that’s when I notice DJ LOS, Innalect, Nocturnal fuck it up even more.  Funny thing is when folks think they can wreck shop, my Fam who’s competed in DJ Battles and have come in 2nd at the DMC Competition – tear it up right before their eyes.

#Turntablism – When DJ’s speak with their hands, a language understood: Worldwide.

What’s your thoughts, what do you prefer and what does your crew work with?  Let me know….

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Your Last Music Purchase

So when was the last time you bought a song?  Either on iTunes or at a record store.

Here’s what I’m trying to figure out, what approach to have with fans or peeps at a gig.  Obviously this world has gone digital and the majority of the public buys their audio electronically.  So if you could buy someone’s music on CD (at a gig or venue), would you?  If not, what would be most convenient for you – digital download card or weblink?

I got ways to accommodate either request, just taking a poll to see how most purchases are made.  Post a comment below or leave a reply on facebook

 

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