Support Your (Local) Hip Hop Artists
By Mofo Hari
If you were around in the 90′s and early 2000′s, you may remember a time when artists favored specific music sites such as SoundClick (followed by MySpace) to share their work on. They jumped online with anticipation knowing that traditionally on a certain day of the week, new tracks would be uploaded on the site that day. It was an enjoyable ritual to check out and support each others’ work. People networked for collaborations..they connected..they gave feedback good and bad..they communicated..they shared the music of other artists they appreciated! If they heard something they liked and the artist was not in their immediate circle, they often made an effort to connect two or more good artists to see what they would create together.
That WAS A MUSIC COMMUNITY in its glory days. Another thing to remember is, Hip Hop Artists recorded on ridiculously difficult, often expensive analogue equipment in those days. They had to improvise, teach themselves, be creative..they had to be innovative and resourceful…AND THEN Uploading their work in the days of those slow-ass modems meant they must have really wanted to share their work, and folks respected the effort they had to put in to get it there! Not everybody could do it!
FM Radio played a lot of the music everybody loved at that time and wanted to hear more of. Fans would run out and wait in line to buy an album they were looking forward to hearing. To go to a concert and hear these same artists LIVE? HELL YEA..that made life worth living!!! Those things were the talking point at school, work, home and socially for a long time afterward!
If you were around at that time, you may also remember that at performances of unsigned artists who were not worthy of being onstage, or even a well known performer having an “off day”, they would literally be boo’d off the stage!!! Major artists were generally revered, treated like superstars and divas..and occasionally let it get to their head..but hey, we accepted that was their steez and all part of the entertainment! They were kept apart from the rest of us, protected and inaccessible..keeping that element of ‘special-ness’ and, in a sense, a little bit of mystery. Kids modeled their futures on their favorite artist..grew up wanting to be them. Publicists made sure to keep the halo overhead, or at least kept them intriguing to the public and any paparazzi bullshit to a minimum.
Fast forward to the present. Music sites, social networking sites, fan reach sites etc are springing up everywhere you look as well as AM/College Radio and internet radio. Technology has advanced so fast that state of the art recording equipment can be bought by anybody with a little cash, and have been simplified, streamlined and made user friendly..anybody can record! Beat makers (those using instant beat creator equipment as well as those who spend time and effort creating unique instrumentals) engineers and producers of all skills are jumping out at us from everywhere we go. Promotion is now a mega business and companies with ‘entertainment’ at the end of their business name are springing up everywhere to (apparently) meet the needs of these masses of aspiring artists, which, like herds of cattle on a rampage, or more aptly a swarm of locusts descending on the music industry, are literally choking the life out of the internet..and music appreciators too.
Veteran artists, ever anxious to stay on top of the business and maintain presence, are becoming so accessible you can call them by first name..many have their phone numbers posted on websites, and yet more are posting a little too much personal info on sites such as twitter and FaceBook..Not a good look if you want to be respected by fans for the talent and skill aspects, as opposed to flaws in your actual character.
SO I propose we go back..(to an extent)..no wait hear me out.. not like ‘oh let’s take it back’..Too many artists love saying those words while closing their eyes, licking an index finger and holdin’ it up to the wind for guidance..naahh not that at all..I’m saying lets go back to SUPPORTING THE GOOD HIP HOP ARTISTS (eh although the correct term is Rap Artist..we all should know that Hip Hop is a culture..Rap is a genre) and being honest with the ones who..(being kind here)..just don’t “have what it takes”..we need to let these folks know instead of patting them on the back and applauding their efforts without moving them back to let the talent of the gifted shine through the masses…the locusts need thinning out..NOT EVERYBODY CAN BE A SUPERSTAR! Many of these coming out now are not willing to spend time, effort and energy to developing themselves..those should be the first to be weeded out. Rappers with ‘that certain something’ need to be pushed forward. They may not have a gift with the flow, but they have a certain style or unique rhythm or “something” that stands out about them..We are both advantaged and DISadvantaged by all this technology..You can get any album for free if you want it bad enough. But that in itself is also killing the art. It is dictating that recording should be a hobby, since it doesn’t pay. Nobody buys! But if we change how our minds view the whole process, we will realize that every single one of us has to do our part to bringing back the good artists..by reaching in our pockets and buying the work they put out, speaking their names out of our mouths, passing the message..GOING to their performances..connecting them with other skilled artists or producers..WITHOUT THAT ATTITUDE the wack artists will continue to swaggify us to death, continue to puff their chest out and tell us they are the best thing we will ever see or hear..and we will smile, nod..maybe listen real quick then look the other way. Do NOT complain about the state of music today..CHANGE CANNOT COME unless each one of us does our individual part to show support to those who are skilled in their art. Start right now, today, with your local artists. Get out there and actively support..LET THEM KNOW you appreciate their work and are behind them. Spread the work and the word around..send it for them to internet stations or AM/FM stations who accept music from unsigned artists..and keep requesting the tracks! Watch how fire spreads when you light a fire. THAT’S how we do it as music appreciators…the hip hop community needs to work together on this one..its the only way forward.
Side Note: No no I was not ‘around’ the music for the most part of that era, but i owe a lot to my mentors and others who were there, who experienced it first hand and have stories to tell..they are my inspiration..and I supported them enough to leave the UK and bring myself and my child to start a life in the US to be nearer to and show more support for these artists who I believe in with my life..but that is another story.
(Donna H) aka MofoHari (CEO, ZBM United Entertainment)
RADIO ZERO – every Friday, 8:30-10 pm eastern time
(launching March 1st)