When The East Is In The House. - State Of Nyc Hip-Hop|
Author: Rasheedah Andrews
When the east is in the house OMG (DANGA!) - Blazay Blazay
That was the mid-90s, fast-forward to 2006 and ask yourself - Is the East in the house? Short answer, yes. It’s been “in the house” for quite sometime, very sheltered and remaining awfully quiet. I’m patiently waiting for the east to come back outside to play; honestly I’m getting bored. By nature, hip-hop has always been territorial. There is a sense of pride knowing your region is on top and the genre’s stars are people from your own community. In listening to Tru Life’s “New New York” I understand where this rap artist is coming from. To hear New York artists spitting about “trapping” or “getting crunk in the club” or “going dumb” makes me feel awkward. I would welcome this lingo with open arms had it came from artists in the areas the jargon originated. Observing this tells me upcoming artists in New York City have major identity issues and are simply looking to mimic whatever is “hot” at the moment.
As a recording artist, industry professional and most importantly as a fan, I attend hip-hop showcases in New York City rather frequently. New York City is the Mecca of hip-hop, an emcees breeding ground. The city is flooded with aspiring hip-hop stars, I’m willing to bet New York City has the highest number of rappers per capita in the world. Do these artists have talent? Many of them do – but does talent always translate to commercial success, NO. This is what many artists fail to understand, once you start looking for external sources to finance your career, you are an investment. Of course you’d like to feel like more since after all, the lyrics are your personal memoirs (accurate or fabricated) and the music is something you’ve poured your time, life and money into. Despite the previous statements, one thing that you should never lose sight of is the following: the music business is just that, a business. Grey areas are to be expected since the ultimate product stems from creativity but where there is a company, there is a bottom line – period.
If you walk into a bank looking to secure a loan for your business, you will have to demonstrate to that financial institution that you have the ability to pay back, plus interest. You’ll have to supply supporting documentation, income projections – you have to have a plan. They don’t want to sample your product (or in this case, evaluate your demo). They want tangible evidence – previous sales, spins, shows, web traffic, celebrity endorsements etc. Unlike a bank loan, where they will hunt you down, destroy you and take everything short of the clothes off your back if cannot repay – with a record label’s investment, if things don’t pan out…you walk with almost no consequence (aside from difficulty securing future deals or possible shame). Taking this into consideration, they should reserve the right to be selective and invest in those acts most likely to meet certain sales criteria. Simply stated, right now – New York doesn’t appear to be that. Being well versed on both the business and creative sides of the spectrum, there are many artists I enjoy listening to personally but had I been an A&R, I still wouldn’t sign them. Why? Because I’d like to keep my job and part of my job is to scout talent that will inevitably bring money to the company I work for.
Where do New York artists fit into the scheme of all this? How do the previous statements about business and investments relate to the changes currently taking place in the hip-hop landscape? Easy. New York City artists have to prove that they aren’t poor investments. You must also bear in mind that many of your predecessors as of late have failed to meet the target. These facts damage your reputation to potential investors, it’s like a bad credit score. You can argue to the cows come home about “real hip-hop,” more than likely you are not going to change popular opinion. Attending showcases lately in NYC, it’s like…if you’ve seen one – you’ve seen them all. In terms of fashion, every artist looks the same. With regard to content (or lack thereof), every artist is addressing the same issues. The repetitiveness in subject matter has reached new lows. Some artists become remarkably frustrated at the prospect of not having a deal after years of hard work. This anger eventually finds it’s way into their music and as a potential fan; I don’t want to hear about it. I’ve attended shows where rappers felt obligated to express their displeasure with the likes of Chingy and D4L during their performances – it’s ridiculous. I can take this opportunity to start plugging my music as a New Yorker and discuss in great detail how I can revolutionize the game, but I’ll summarize now. New York City is known as the birthplace of rap music. New York rappers are famed for being lyrically proficient, fly by default and envied by rappers of all regions. We have that Big Apple swagger. We don’t follow trends, we just set them. Please don’t ever forget that. So in conclusion, don’t obsess over the current success of other regions. Rather, make a point to create material worthy of carrying the Empire State’s torch. Understand what investors are looking for and what fans want - incorporate your personal style (after all, no one wants a clone of an artist who already exists). With this newfound outlook and your talent, hopefully we can see the genre returned its owners. Peace!!!
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R.S. Andrews, BBA MSA - President/CEO of Sheer Badness Entertainment, professional songwriter, performer and hip-hop/rap recording artist p/k/a SHEE. More info: www.SHEEmusic.com, [email protected] or call (908) 245-6467