It’s easy to call a rap dude wack, but it’s hard to prove it. In fact, over the years, I’ve heard hundreds of critics & analysts (& haters) point fingers at certain rap cats, incessantly calling them hot garbage or room temperature sick-person’s trash. While it may or may not be a valid observation, a lot of those guys have tangible effects that denote otherwise.
See, in all seriousness, a certain level of success & achievement has to happen before one can even think about getting snack foods tattooed on their cheekbones, for example. Now, I’m anti-“how many albums sold,” but I’m also a realist. Somebody is paying these guys for their music. Can I, a man with a mixtape rotting on a Datpiff storage shelf, call those obviously gainful rappers “wack?” Absolutely – if it’s my opinion – but a part of me considers that belittling their “grind,” & God knows “we” need as many upper percentile unbanites as possible (but that’s neither here nor there). If it’s a matter of skill level, then it becomes a matter of preference. If it’s about the audience’s taste, then it’s also about their choice. As the spectrum of what “we” are exposed to broadens, so does the range of what people like & don’t.
The truly “wack” rapper is technically becoming extinct & here are five reasons why.
5. Fan Bases Are Created, Not Born
It doesn’t matter how left field an idea or concept is. If it’s somewhat new & refreshing (regardless of quality), people will eventually buy into it. The longer it takes, the better. That’s called “dedication” & according to old(er) people, it builds character.
Whereas before, when a rapper deemed “wack” was ignored by record labels & DJs & basically blackballed until he wasn’t “wack” any longer, these days, said rapper just keeps plugging away – in no particular direction – until the hustle pays off. At some point it obviously does, & there are dozens of rappers right now that illustrated this point long before I started typing. “Wack” is only wack until it’s not wack anymore, if you smell my cologne.
4. Record Sales No Longer Determine Popularity
How many albums you sold only determines who’s honest enough not to steal your music, not how many potential stans are brewing in the rafters. Popularity in today’s Hip Hop market is judged by Youtube views, Twitter retweets, concert audiences, etc. That phenomena can be blamed on the economy, the internets, or nothing in particular, but that’s where the true girth of an artist’s popularity dwells.
When rap was still a hands-on, brick & mortar enterprise, the effects of an artists music could be heard on the streets, at house parties, in the cars & headphones of the public. Now that the Singularity is upon us, it’s harder to gauge what’s hot or not if you aren’t plugged into the matrix.
Everyday, the line between real & augmented is further blurred (even in “shallow” things like entertainment & love), & rappers seem to be taking total advantage of the opportunity. Speaking of which, that leads to the question of what’s more important to have nowadays: internet fame or real-life celebrity?
3. Incredible Producers
Like it or not, the right music can offset even the most pungent rapper. These days, with music coming in such an unfiltered abundance, this is an all too common occurrence. Many rap fans attribute this to the popularity of artists like Lil B, ASAP Rocky, & a host of others, whose musical soundscape outweighs the songs lyrical contents immensely, thus making the songs enjoyable where otherwise, they might not be.
My prediction is that – soon – the producer will [once again] become the star of the song, based solely on all of the aforementioned. Also, I predict that’s what Dr. Dre is waiting on to make his triumphant return to rap music’s frontline, as well. (Editor’s note: No dice. Word is ‘Detox’ is never seeing daylight.)
One of rap music’s lifelong debates was/is whether or not a rapper’s voice is an additional instrument or an addition to the instruments, but one thing is certain; virtually anybody sounds good over high quality production.
2. “Bad Publicity” Is An Urban Legend
It’s as simple as 1 + 1 = 2. The more people that mention your name, the more others will want to know why they are doing so. Just as poignant, there’s always some poor, lost soul looking for a “movement” to follow. As the ‘Net restructures the definition of “famous,” words like ridiculous, outrageous, & disgusting are losing their steam, & very few things are shocking or surprising anymore. I saw Kim Kardashian get pounded, praised, rich, married, & treated like the Queen of Zamunda in roughly a five year span. Not for nothing, but I didn’t even see Herman Cain going down on a chick & he was chased out of town with pitchforks & torches. No shots, though, just observations.
1. Opinion Is The New Fact
Name your favorite rapper – in real life or real time – & someone in the vicinity will tell you why you are wrong. Name the worst rapper ever, & just as assuredly, someone will name 5 guys who are exponentially worse. This chain of critical thinking is the spinal fluid to rap music’s vertebrae, & without that pool of fact-based opinion to wade in, Hip Hop’s competitive attitude would certainly be homeless, so to speak. I’ve been a member of this rapgregation for the better part of it’s 40-ish year run, & never have I seen a 100% unanimous vote on an artist being wack. It almost happened with Soulja Boy, but he smothered his own flame before the people got a chance to.