Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogging Has Destroyed Hip-Hop In 2009

Recently XXL released a list of the top 10 "freshman" in the hip-hop game. Gracing the cover of the newest issues of granted, one of the more mediocre hip-hop publications, were Charles Hamilton, Wale, Kid Cudi, Asher Roth, Corey Gunz, Blu, Mickey Factz, Ace Hood, Currensy, and B.O.B.

For most of you following hip-hop blogs in 2008, these ten guys run the blog posting scene. Period. And in the minds of most hip-hop fans lately, they run hip-hop. How could they not when nearly every day there is a new homemade video in the studio, "freestyle" spit over a recycled beat, or mixtape dropped. It makes sense.


The truth is a mutually beneficial relationship has been built between hip-hop blogs and up-coming artists. The artists produce quickly and ship to the blogs, which have to produce content equally as fast to satisfy the appetite of obsessive fans with growingly shortened attention spans. It works something like popular news channels: there is such a tremendous need to provide new stories and new dialogue 24-7 that often the information provided is shabby, short, and empty. This leads to an uninformed audience accepting of whatever whatever.

While this moment is tumultuous for the music business (the death of record labels and the birth of god knows what), it is no excuse to add to the void with the praise of mediocrity. For these 10 guys to be the future of hip-hop is an anomaly that needs questioning.*

The fundamental problem is that XXL, and much of the hip-hop community at large, are taking their cues from the blogs. Which isn't inherently bad if the content remains focused. But it hasn't, and the quest for fast food entertainment has jeopardized the better artists. Artists who dip out of the scene for a good year or so to create a real album are penalized and forgotten, while those who produce quickly are rewarded even faster. And while everyone is of course waiting for a new Outkast or Nas song, they are so few and far between that their longevity isn't what it used to be.

There is a lot I have gotten from becoming a part of the blogging community and from the very blogs I speak of, but this just had to be said. It is a time of watered-down politics, music, and intelligence.

Let me just conclude with this: I can hardly swallow the economy, the war, the possibility of McCain. If you take away real hip-hop I'm not sure what we have left.

*Wale, Blu, and Kid Cudi have been rightfully excluded from all of this.

28 comments:

upset the setup said...

Bravo.

Notorious K.E.V. said...

couldn't have said it better myself. Fuck quantity, give me quality.

oksoundsgood said...

totally agree and yes especially blu and wale and i suppose kid cudi as well are exempt

Enigmatik said...

I don't know if hip hop is destroyed for next year, but good post nevertheless. "Blog" rappers are an interesting wrinkle in the ever evolving hip hop landscape but I don't think they're going to take it over. If the music is wack, people will say so and move on to the next post, etc. But it is interesting to watch the politics that are involved.

Dart Adams said...

I feel what you're saying but at the same time of course "blog rappers" would dominate. We're killing publications by posting up material daily and while they have to wait thirty days to publish we publish DAILY.

In the four weeks it takes Harris Publications to put out a new issue of XXL how many iPods across the country are loaded with new Curren$y, Charles Hamilton, Kid Cudi, and Mickey Factz mixtapes? I doesn't surprise me at all.

I just wish that some of those spot would've been occupied by cats that could spit better (Blu, Wale and Kid Cudi excluded).

LOL.

One.

Rob said...

Interesting post. Now I happen to work at the "mediocre” hip-hop publication that you speak of and see quite a few holes in your argument. Actually, I see things quite differently. Blogging has helped to liberate Hip-Hop in 2008 and beyond. Much like the mixtape craze of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, blogging has put the creative control of our music back into the hands of the artists and away from the major label infrastructure.
It’s funny how you side with the labels when you talk about “the moment” being tumultuous for the music business. FUCK THE MUSIC BUSINESS! And this is coming from someone who “eats’ off the industry, but I’ll be damned if I’m not a fan first! It is the business of music that has destroyed Hip-Hop not the blogs. Remember how Hip-Hop (as a community) went crazy for those pre-Interscope 50 Cent mixtapes? It was new, it was different it was out of the box and there was no middleman (i.e. the record label). Mixtapes were a way for fans to have a direct connection with their favorite artists and blogs are now providing the same access. Is all of the material leaked on blogs superior? Of course not, but neither was all the mixtapes being released 8 years ago. Still, it was a movement that empowered our artists and our culture.
Now I read your disclaimer about Wale, Blu and Kid Cudi being excluded from your argument and while I agree with you that all three are dope; that’s a matter of your preference. Have you ever heard B.oB? I mean have you ever really taken the time to listen to homie? I think you should, maybe he isn’t your cup of tea, but there is no denying that he is dope. Mickey Factz is another one who is putting out quality music and he doesn’t do it haphazardly either. Actually I’ve never seen an artist more carefully choose what he releases and throws out to the public than Mickey. His Flashback mixtape was classic, he got his own video on MTV with “Rockin N Rollin” and united the whole underground with his song “Incredible;” much like Wayne did with “A Milli.” Corey Gunz is simply a beast on the mic and yes Asher Roth is white, we know; but damned if the boy doesn’t have something to say. Curren$y is probably the most interesting artist on the cover to me. After being signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint for a couple of years, dude simply walked away from being associated with Hip-Hop’s BIGGEST artist because he wanted to be his own man and do things on his own terms. Now if that ain’t HIP-HOP, then I don’t know what is.
Will each of these 10 artists go on to have long and fruitful careers? I hope so, but it’s highly unlikely. But tell me this; what other Hip-Hop mag takes a chance like this? These 10 guys are mostly unrecognizable and maybe this issue won’t sell a ton of copies, but it had to be done for Hip-Hop’s sake and I for one am proud of the issue. I’m more into celebrating the culture and not trying to knock it down. I love OutKast just like the next guy, but should the entire Hip-Hop community simply stand still until they feel like putting aside their differences and putting out an album? You can attend Hip-hop’s supposed funeral if you want to; me I rather revel in it’s bright future. Peace ☺ – Rob the Music Ed

Monique R. said...

You're going to need to write more than 435 words to defend this one.

MikeD said...

WAAAAHH! How bout offering your Freshman class sir?

I'm sick of people hating without offering alternatives. And unfortunately Nas is never going to be nasty again and Andre 3000 is going to keep gettin that Hollywood money.

Either stop listening to music made after '05 or shut the fuck up and sit down old man.

Dukes said...

In response to most of the concerns so far...

Let me say this first: I have been one of the few people on the "bitching" side of the fence who think current hip-hop is still dope. While most people were questioning if "Hip-hop is Dead" over the last 3 years, I have always argued that the scene is no different than it ever was. If not better. You just have to know where to look.

This criticism wasn't about everyone in hip-hop at this point, not even new acts in general. I dont even hate these guys. I put up some Charles Hamilton. I like a few Asher Roth songs. None of these guys are awful by any means. It is the thought that these cats are being taken more seriously than I think they deserve to. It seems more hustle than art to me.

Rob, I know you work for XXL, and let me say first I have mad respect for all you do. I also have respect for Noz and other contributing writers there. XXL is good at what it does, and yes this is a risk as far as sales to a degree, but it also has pull because people dont want to read the same interviews with old artists. I guarantee you this issue will do well. As far as my probably unnecessary comment about the mag I have always thought of it more as a trend-driven hip-hop publication versus say what Elemental used to be. Ive just never been an avid reader, so no offense to your hustle.

And I of course have listened to all of these guys. I have followed this movement in music just as closely as most have. I have the B.O.B. mixtape. I have watched his freestyle videos. I have the new Asher Roth mixtape. I know he is co-signed by everyone from Cee-Lo to DJ Drama. Mickey Factz used to send me a lot of tracks until I kind of dissed him offhandedly, and I have the majority of his singles. I have seen him in videos freestyling and he's dope, but then I the majority of tracks seem haphazard.

Mostly I just think that these guys are pretty average at what they do. The content is never that life changing. On top of that, anyone who does something all the time without a break to think or breathe slips up. A lot. For example if you lay out 200 tracks in 1 month, how much more is there to say for the rest of your career? Not much. Mobb Deep doesnt have much more left to say. Neither does Nas. But that's after a long career. These guys dont have much to say in the first place, and Im pretty sure that will dry up fast.

To MikeD, who tells me to stop listening to music after 2005 if Im just going to bitch about it, run through the archives of this site. I have an appreciation for modern hip-hop mostly. I rarely post throwback tracks, and I have a pretty good idea of what's going on currently because Im paying attention AND listening.

I take it youre mad because:

a) youre one of the bloggers Im talking about
b) youre one of the artists
c) you love this new shit. Which is fine but disagree with a little thought first.

BTW Im 27. So unless youre like 16 that comment makes no sense.

You want my side of the new "freshman?" Fine. I knew someone would ask:

1) Jay Electronica
2) Blu
3) Wale
4) Invincible
5) Torae
6) Kid Cudi
7) Little Vic
8) NY Oil
9) Spec Boogie

10) reserved for one of these guys to prove themselves

Dart Adams said...

Regarding your list, Dukes:

1) Jay Electronica
2) Blu
3) Wale
4) Invincible (has a career going on a decade long)
5) Torae
6) Kid Cudi
7) Little Vic
8) NY Oil (is Kool Kim of the UMC's been in the game since 1990)
9) Spec Boogie

I'm surprised no one picked Torae, Drake, Shawn Jackson, Vandalyzm, Chaundon, Skyzoo, etc. for this list.

One.

Dukes said...

Word Dart. Thanks for the update on those, and Im surprised those guys didnt make a lot of thse lists.

I included Invincible and NYOil mainly because their impact is really signficant only over the last year or so.

DUKES

Rob said...

No doubt dukes. No need to apologize either. I didn't take offense, just wanted to give my two cents in an intelligent way. I happen to think XXL is great, but then again I drink the proverbial kool-aid so I could be biased.

We've considered a ton of people for the cover, a lot of the folks you mentioned but for one reason or another we've ended up with those 10.

I think Shawn Jackson, Torae and Skyzoo all have bright futures ahead as well, but it is what it is.

I do disagree with your list, but I can't comment on them because I don't want anyone to confuse my personal opinion and my professional opinion.

Zilla Rocca said...

Duke:

"On top of that, anyone who does something all the time without a break to think or breathe slips up. A lot. For example if you lay out 200 tracks in 1 month, how much more is there to say for the rest of your career? Not much. "

Hence, Papoose.

Church.

Zilla Rocca said...

And real quick...

I've been having the same "quatity vs. quality" discussion for a while now with fellow writers, MC's, bloggers, producers, etc.

We've all come to agree that quantity is better, and your point is dead-on: more quantity means shorter memory for the listener/consumer, especially at some point if the artist did make something of high quality early on. I call it the Ryan Adams Effect: his first two solo albums were classics. The next 16 releases in 7 years? Not so much...but because of those early classics, I and others AT LEAST bought/downloaded his newer shit. I was severely letdown by him, and if he puts on 3 LPs this year, I 'll probably pass on them but Ryan Adams collectors (not fans/listeners) will be overjoyed.

The hip hop fan now is more of a "collecter" of an artist's work. It's not so much "is it good?" It's "do I have that?" I'm not sure if it's a BAD thing--look at Frank Zappa fans. But if the collection supercedes the quality...yeah maybe the music itself suffers.

You're right about inspiration at least. Hip hop is the easiest music to make, and everything is so accessible, and the biggest artists release so much material constantly that newer heads think that's the approach. It's about instant gratification. Fast food music. But sometimes you just want to digest something quickly, sometimes you want to spend 2 hours preparing and enjoying a meal.

franchise said...

excluding mike d's comment but approving duke's response, this has been an intelligent conversation about some the new players on the hip-hop game. glad to hear most of us see wale and blu as the next torch bearers for lyricism and flow.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your input fellas. I have been educated this evening.

WordSmith said...

See, I agree with a lot of Dukes' original post. The analogy of blogging in 2008 being similar to the 24 hour news cycle of television media is fitting and accurate. Bloggers need something to post to compete with other bloggers to be "exclusive" and "first," and also to satisfy the increasingly short attention spans of many of their viewers, an attention span that is shortening partially BECAUSE of the emphasis that some blogs place on quantity over quality. It's the difference between emphasizing the NEW and emphasizing the GOOD, between striving for exclusivity and striving to promote only music that stands out as something better than the norm, music that meets a high standard of significance and creativity.

Talk about blogs giving artists back their independence all you want, but it's disingenuous to assert that the sort of 24 hour song cycle of blogging completely reinforces the recording and release of GOOD music from these artists directly to their fans. Yes, the popularity of blogs allow artists to release music directly...and when this music is carefully recorded and thought out, this is a GREAT THING for hip-hop. Unfortunately, it does not work out this way, because many bloggers have become so caught up in the "race for exclusivity" they instead contribute to simply the recording and releasing of MORE (but not necessarily good) music. The increasingly short attention span of most listeners is something the bloggers should be working AGAINST by posting only the music that is creative and significant, and not simply the biproduct of a hustle to generate buzz. This is the sort of blogging that sites like TheFullClip and a few others exemplify.

As an artist myself who writes and records on a consistent basis, it doesn't make sense to create and release art as frequently as - say - Charles Hamilton, at least not when trying to really make something unique and hot with each song. There simply isn't enough true inspiration per day that can be channeled into creating something really special. No one has THAT much to say within that short a period of time that they will not at a certain point exhaust their ability to create stand-out tracks. Yeah, you could argue that this is my own personal experience, but I have yet to see an artist proves otherwise. No artist that has ever put out more than one or two mixtapes in a month has impressed me with the consistent quality of the material on each release. Talk about Lil Wayne all you want, but with the exception of a couple of his mixtapes, there aren't many in which the majority of the tracks have consistent replay value and in which each adds something unique to his catalog of songs. One could argue that if an artist puts out a full mixtape every week, he or she is simply creating music to retain buzz, not for the actual purpose of making music that will *satisfy* (not merely satiate) the fans, it becomes more hustle than art. In perpetuating that hustle rather than the art of the culture they claim to represent, many blogs fail to achieve their potential as centers for the support and cultivation of good music. Don't get me wrong...blogs aren't "destroying hip-hop," but they have the potential to either perpetuate a culture of quality or of quantity, and too many choose the latter, something that contributes to the dilution of the music as a whole. Hip-hop DOES have a bright future regardless, but bloggers have a chance to create one that is all the brighter. These sites are so-called "taste makers," not merely Wordpress versions of Limewire. Selectivity is key.

eskay said...

Eh, it's all a matter of opinion. Dukes is clearly of the opinion that the music these guys put out isn't (always) worthwhile.

I can tell you that, for the most part, I don't post anything on my site that I don't believe in.

Some artists and tracks may be stronger than others, but that's how music works and again, it's all subjective.

If, for example, Mickey sends me a track that I'm not personally feeling as much as previous tracks he's sent me, does that mean that I shouldn't post it?

Who the fuck am I to say that you shouldn't check out this song or artist and make your own decision?

Basically, all of the comments I have read here and across the net that take offense to the XXL cover and the rise of "internet artists" are from people who don't like one or more of these artists.

I've been posting about 9 of the 10 Freshmen for the past year or longer. Clearly, my ex-coworkers agreed with me that alot of these kids have talent.

If the cover had 10 artists you like, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But as we all know, nobody will ever be 100% satisfied.

But to suggest that blogging, or the net, is killing hip-hop is beyond absurd to me. Let's be serious, none of these artists are that wack (with Ace Hood being the only possible exception) that we need to be making statements like that. And you even said so much in one of your follow up comments Dukes.

Nobody is putting a gun to anybody's head and forcing them to listen to every single song or artist that gets blog love. And certainly, nobody is telling anybody what they should and shouldn't like.

Bloggers are going to post what they post and it's each reader's personal responsibility to weed out what they deem wack.

WordSmith said...

I mean, you can argue that bloggers should post what they want, and it's the responsibility of the readers to "weed out what they deem wack," but that's a very specific kind of blogger ideology. With that philosophy, one might as well just post every major rap album or track that comes out each month, and this makes blogs no different than any file sharing network or program where albums are shared. I personally feel that the purpose of the ideal blogger is to post music that THEY like, and that they think their readers will like, to expose them to a pool of music that is hot and might not be found otherwise.

Obviously sometimes bloggers do know that their readers are more fond of certain artists than they themselves are, and here things get more complicated. It becomes a question of how bloggers find a balance between catering the demands of an audience and just selecting the music they really care about. I guess it's just a complicated situation, but I feel like blogs should be selective and act as centers for the appreciation of significant music rather than posting fifty or so songs a week that readers must "weed through" in order to find the few songs they really want to listen to.

This debate may have run it's course, I don't know, but I'm glad that this original post provoked some thoughtful debate and productive discourse.

Dukes said...

For a follow-up criticism of my post and a good number of comments continuing this discussion, head over to No Trivia:

http://brandonsoderberg.blogspot.com/2008/10/why-hip-hop-wont-suck-anymore-in-2009.html

Though comments should continue here too.

DC to BC said...

phenomenal fucking post. like i think this is the best thing i've read in weeks.

swap skyzoo out for cudi if we're talking hip hop though. mickey factz needs a spot. so does drake.

awesome though. lol on some real shit, you broke it down to the nth degree. that's something i've been wanting to say for a long time but could never word it / sculpt it properly. goodness. it IS 2008/2009 though. that old shit where people used to sell albums and have videos that cost more than my neighborhood isn't around anymore. the internet is the only real way people can get that publicity. remember when little brother came out? their internet buzz was INTENSE! but in north carolina, people were like, little brother!? who the fuck is that!? my little brother's at home playing the game cube. shit. but it started like that. those viral videos and stuff are pretty awesome in spreading the good word about an artist. that's why bloggers are the new DJ's. radio stations? haven't heard one in like a year. nahright.com gets like 100,000 hits daily, i'm assuming. that's more than WPGC or WKYS (i'm from maryland. that's what i jam to. you don't like it, eat me.) probably get jamming their station daily. they've lost. bloggers win. now, are these guys performers, studio MC's, i don't know. i've seen most of them live, and they rock crowds. but don't be fooled by the bammas who are nice on a track and then they give a live show and you want your money back. they got you with that viral video. reeled your ass in.

oh, and U-N-I is kinda vicious too. as is tanya morgan. i woulda never heard about those dudes without 2dopeboyz.com.

in short, blogs are just the new age radio. simple. and you either fuck with that, or you don't. i do. clearly. cuz i have a blog. ha.
-modi.

http://DCtoBC.com

DC to BC said...

and plus, without the internet, soulja boy wouldn't be as great as he is!!!


HOP UP OUT THE BEEEEDDDDD, TURN MY SWAG ON!

RP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Incredible insight, great post, great debate. I do believe that this fast food type of music is not in the best interest of Hip Hop but I am glad that we're not forced to listen to what the labels force fed us.

Hip Hop is Alive & FREE!

Only thing is that I would have to include Joel Ortiz in that Top 10 but that's my personal opinion.

Btw, anyone here check out FacedDADA.info? He's posting a new freestyle every day for one year! He's up to 80-something now. The Kid is crazy!

Peace to all

markb said...

This post is absurd.

How are the "better" artists:
1) jeopardized?
2) penalized?
3) forgotten?

Furthermore, the author claims that blogs--because of their 24/7 nature--water down the hip hop world with mediocrity. The problem with that argument is that, we as people, live 24/7 lives! It's not as though the world of hip hop stops and starts each time XXL puts an issue on the newsstand--or each time Nas releases an album. Hip hop happens every day, all day.

I refuse to believe that hip hop fans are so desperate for ANYTHING hip hop that they will embrace stuff that's wack just because it's new.

If anything, blogs do a tremendous service to hip hop by providing an opportunity for more stuff to be heard--and for fans to react--without the filter of a know-it-all editor or some empty Record Exec. suit.

Feeling threatened? You should.

Because ironically, it's the "old" media (magazines and massive, big label distribution) which, for years, has gone unchecked and unchallenged. For years, the old media has presented a very narrow vision of hip hop. Blogs give more power to the people, to choose and to decide, with less of a filter.

So in sum, if you find these artists watered down, explain so. Name them and state your case.

But what does it even mean to attack blogging? Should people not have opinions? Or should people just not have opinions you disagree with?

Dukes said...

Im not sure what I should feel threatened about, but no, Im pretty sure that is not an emotion Im having right now.

People are allowed to have whatever opinions they want. Im not disagreeing with anyone's "opinions." Im disagreeing with the movement of blogs into a race to beat each other with content. That this is happening is a FACT. If you are on RSS with any of the larger hip-hop blogs (and their subsequent followers), you are inundated with a consistent load of trite and pointless information from artists that are, I promise you, interested in promoting themselves by any means necessary. Which is fine, but in this case it means keeping up with a pace of promotion that is 24/7. Which as far as art goes, just doesnt coincide with quality.

For me to run this blog and find things that I deem worthy...and by worthy I mean I listen to something A LOT and then deem if I think you (the audience I think I have) will want to listen the song to 10 times or more. I have to spend my entire life looking through garbage if I am keeping up with current hip-hop content on blogs.

And since blogs are leading the way into the new frontier of music, I think it is our responsibility to elevate the culture to a point where success is not measured by the speed at which you produce but the quality at which your content stands on it's own, let's say, at the very least, 5 years from now.

Disagree all you want, but this post caused reactions on a lot of external posts lately at only 430 words, so it's on pretty much everyone's mind as at least a half-truth that needs to be addressed.

markb said...

1st, my "feeling threatened" comment was directed toward "old" media types (magazines/record labels) who are certainly, by now, feeling threatened.

But to your point, is it wrong that blogs discuss and disseminate both the good and (perhaps) the bad in hip hop?? Or in other words, do all blogs seek to be arbiters of "the best" in hip hop? Not necessarily. Maybe some blogs are just interested in dissecting the good AND the bad. In the end, won't the readers decide?

Yes, blogging is a new form of media. But just as it happened in the magazine industry--and in every other industry--reputations will be shaped over time. Certain blogs will become known for always producing good quality, and other blogs will become know for, well, producing.

In the end, I just don't see how blogging "has destroyed hip hop" as you say. Crappy music has been getting produced and distributed for years. What's changed?

Praverb said...

I love hip hop...woooooooo nice read fam...

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