So I was listening to some collection of Primo mixtape intros someone made and uploaded it on a site, and it struck me as odd how each year he, Prmio, kept saying things were going to get back to “real” Hip Hop. The problem is, and I’ve said it more times than I can count, it’s no longer about the love, it’s a hustle now. All the laws that once governed Hip Hop are erased from the subconscious of Hip Hop heads today. Now it’s pay for play, follow the trends, look the part. And yes this is nothing new in the world of music, it is something that Hip Hop heads never really indulged in willingly until recently.
You didn’t pay DJs to play your music or pay them to get on a mixtape. The job of the DJ is to break the hot new shit first. They are the pulse to underground and all the new shit bubbling in the cut. Depending on what your taste was you knew which DJs to check for. It was a mutual honor to be asked to get on a DJ mixtape. They thought you were sick with it and wanted let the world, even if it’s a few blocks, know it. You most likely knew of the DJ and knew this was big step up in some form. Now DJs want you to pay for a slot on their mixtapes. Even big time dudes are doing this shit, which makes it even harder to respect those DJs and take an artist resume of accomplishments seriously. Yeah it looks good to say you were on DJ such and such mixtape but the truth is you paid to get there, so any fool with five hundred dollars could have gotten on the same damn mixtape. It shows that the DJs aren’t listening to music anymore because if they were half of the shit they play on the mixtapes wouldn’t have made the cut. I mean is there a money back guarantee if they don’t use your shit?
And this decade has seen radio heads and dick riders become the source of what should or shouldn’t be relevant. You see this bull shit all the time online people writing someone is old and they need to quit or so and so is a hater. You check the profile of these people and they’re in their late 20’s mid 30’s screaming who is too old or who’s no longer relevant. Most of the time it’s people who if the artist aren’t on the radio or BET all day they have no idea who they are. You know the people who hear a song 3 to 4 months before it blows up and never even acknowledges it, then it blows up and that’s the shit in their mind. Most of these same people have no sense of history either or the appreciation of ones longevity Perfect example, when Nelly and KRS was beefing a chick called up to radio and said “KRS is old and played out and Nelly is what’s hot now’. Now of course that’s the obvious by radio standpoint, but it’s a beef so skills count not spins. The morning show people explained that point to her and her only reply to them saying Nelly was a sub par “rapper” was “I bet y’all like that white boy though”? They told her about how Em was nasty with the word play and Nelly wasn’t. Her comeback was something about not supporting your own people. And then she wanted to hear “Doin It Well” by LL. By record releases LL been in the game longer than KRS One, I mean “Radio” was featured on the Crush Groove soundtrack. She may have not known that or the whole ‘old” thing didn’t apply to an artist with a history of steady radio rotation.
That does bring me to Eminem now. No, I have nothing against the man I think he’s hands down the BEST MC of this Decade. And there lies the problem. Not that he’s nice but he’s the only one that can go in that list of best MC of the decade that wasn’t considered a vet before 2000. Has anyone ever stopped to think how many radio Hip Hop artists have come out since 2000 that could keep up with Em a tiny bit? Since Em came in the game the only people who stepped their game up were those already in the game. It’s like KRS in the 90’s. From Return of the Boom Bap to I Got Next KRS was a beast on the mic, and why because the new guys were upping the ante. Nas, Biggie, Jay, Snoop, Buckshot, Dre 3000, Kurupt, Redman, OC, Big L, Pac and so many others had stepped the game up. Em stepped it up and those from the 90’s answered the call, however those who came in with him and after him never even submitted their contact numbers. A lot of this goes back to the race thing also in my opinion. Once The Source went at Em for that “black bitch” comment in a rhyme about his then ex girlfriend, which always got lost in the discussion somehow, The Source went on some crazy ass attack claiming Em was a racist and shit. They even gave a CD away with that issue and had people on the CD and in the magazine it self talking about the comment. That stunt backfired tremendously. Em still went on to sell mad units, did tracks some of the people who had negative shit to say about him in that issue and The Source fell apart soon after all that. What it did do though was start an inevitable magazine war between The Source and XXL and put it out in the open to just be “black”.
Hip Hop is a “black” thing to closed minded people and that Source issue helped drive that point home. So it seemed like overnight all the black artists stopped worrying about how tight their bars were and focused and being the most hood motherfucker you ever seen. Say the most gangsta shit poppin and the hood will follow you. It worked and hasn’t stopped working since really. So much so that now unless you are not going the gansta/pimp route not only does radio and video outlets not play you but major websites and blogs overlook you as well. Benzino, who was running The Source at the time with dave Mays, didn’t want to give The Minstrel Show 4.5 mics rating because no one knew who Little Brother was. The irony in that whole situation, a magazine that loves to pat itself on the back for being the place that brought you new talent that went on to big things whether on Unsigned Hype, the Independent page or just with giving certain albums 4 to 4 and a half mics now doesn’t want to do their job.
Last decade has seen a few shining moment but way too many bad moments plagued it. I would like to think the next big movement is that the good to great artist on music sites that haven’t already sold their souls will end up blowing online and forcing radio to play them while still not dealing with the major labels. Hip Hop was at its best when artists did it their way and got air play because the songs were good. Right now there are small groups here and there that you can count on to give you that real shit, you just have to hunt for it. No quite a needle in a haystack, I like to think of it as the California gold rush. You got to dig through shit and mud for those gold nuggets.