Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
I think a huge, overlooked reason for the decline in rap record sales has a lot to do with the fact that everybody is, or is making some feeble attempt at being, a rapper. Those who don’t rap, “make beats” & call their bathrooms/closets “recording booths,” but that’s for another day. Point blank, they’re just too many people picking up the mic to bust raps. & that’s not to say there’s no talent, it’s just that it seems in life, talent & passion often get confused, & what’s left is a sincere outpouring of heartfelt mediocrity. Word. If everybody’s an artist, so to speak, then by default, everybody’s also a critic, & there’s no room in that cycle for appreciation, unfortunately.
The thing is, it’s okay to not be a rapper, but somehow that message got lost between the “stay in school,” “don’t do drugs,” & “roughly one in a million make it to the NBA” speeches, if such things even exist nowadays. But I digress. I tried for a long time to be a rapper (whatever the hell that means), & those of you guys who found me through Google or Bing have probably come across my rap misfirings somewhere on the ‘Net. For what it’s worth, I went extra hard, meaning I took it serious, & it really was a labor of love. Fame & fortune were the furthest from my mind, as opposed to the possibility of turning a hobby into a life-sustaining career. Anyway, mad songs, performances, cameos on “established artist’s” albums, videos, the whole 9. &, for all that effort & prayer & talent & what not, nothing came of it. & believe, that’s cool with me. Especially knowing that blessings come in all shapes & sizes. Cats in the know ask me, when they see me, “what’s up with the rap game?” Very few can understand that it’s not for everybody. & while there’s theoretically no age limit to rap, there’s definitely a age cut-off for entrance. Kind of like the Army; if you make it in while you’re young, you’re welcome to ride ’til the wheels break, but it’s really no country for old men. It’s not easy for an over 30-year-old popular rap cat to make it these days, ‘Net buzz or otherwise, so one can only imagine the prejudice a “rookie” who’s the same age as the veterans would face. Especially if the music’s average, at best & foreign to most. Aside from all that, though, do you really want a record deal or do you just want to be famous? I think that’s a valid point.
Old people used to tell me all the time, when I had no choice but to sit there & listen to them talk, that people will always pay you for something they can’t do. That said, I know there’s a living to be made off of rap music, without mass appeal, mainstream coonery, & completely dropping deuces on one’s own artistic integrity. Take my homegirl Kandi Cole, who is out of Southern Cali making moves without a mainstream push. She’ll eat off rap (no, really, eat off rap. Quote me.) until she finds another avenue for her artistry, & if half the amateur rappers in the country took that same attitude towards their art, rather than solidifying their brand, not only would the music generally be better but a lot of cats would just simply phase themselves out. Think about it for a moment.
Point is, for the most part, there comes a time where it’s a hobby or a career. If it’s a career, though, be open-minded to the possibility of not being my favorite rapper, if only because there’s so much music out there right now. (Whether that’s good or bad is purely debatable.) That doesn’t mean I don’t support the movement of the culture, for better or for worse, it just means it’s not my cup of tea. Or perhaps, you’ve sat on the proverbial shelf until you expired & it sucks to be you.