There was a time when I could turn on the radio or TV, and hear Ice Cube on the same station as Arrested Development. Sometimes it’s easy to forget shitty pop rappers existed, but having to hear Gerardo hurt a lot less, when it could be followed by a range of music like Public Enemy, De La Soul, Masta Ace, Leaders of The New School, or Cypress Hill. We even got to hear weird hippie shit like PM Dawn. I wasn’t a fan of everything I heard, but I heard everything, and it made me feel like I had a choice.
You can’t blame people who grew up with more, for wondering what happened once the business men came in, and decided their template of success is the only one worth perusing. If you lived through it, the diminishing quality of radio isn’t a myth created by elitists, it’s a fact that music fans and artists should both have a problem with. Some annoying fans think it cool to be the only one who knows a band, but the most common question I hear asked, is “why isn’t this on the radio?”.
There is something else Tyler was correct on, and that’s reminding people that’s it’s 2012. If you have an internet connection, and you’re complaining about not being able to find good music, while allowing MTV and the Radio to continue to dictate it for you, that’s your problem. As far as I’m concerned the internet has made both of them irrelevant. Not being able to hear music you like on the radio, says nothing about the state of hip hop. There has never been a time when dope emcees vanished from existence. Sometimes you just have to look for them.
Today it’s easy to find blogs that cater to your taste of music, as well as internet radio like Pandora, that will build a play-list for you based on similar artists. There is social music sites that make sharing music easier than we ever imagined. So who cares if MTV dropped the music from their name. We don’t need them anymore. The growth of technology has made music more accessible than ever, and it will only keep improving.
This is a point that artists need to embrace as well. Internet is the future of music. I still hear too many emcees talk about “I ain’t on the internet” as if it earns them cool points. In reality any artist with this mentality today, is just stupid. Do these people still see the internet as a nerd thing? The entire world plugs into it, and anyone with a half ass business sense should understand the value of that.
A while back comedian Louis CK self produced a comedy special, that he released on his own over the internet. He charged $5 to download it, and all the money he made, went directly to him. He was able to bring in over $1 million dollars. Typically all the middle men and industry people are paid first, while the artist are left to fight over scraps, so this makes perfect sense. Taking note of this success David Banner set out with his own 2M1 movement, in which he plans to release his album for free, while giving an option to donate $1 (or more if you choose) in hopes that his millions of fans will have no excuse to not pay $1. Even with that lower price, there is potential for him to actually make more money this way.
I believe the emergence of similar movements will eventually be what helps free artists from schiesty ass labels, that have taken advantage of them for years. The only reason they where able to get away with it so long, is because we had no other choice. There was no realistic way to get your music heard by millions of people around the world on your own. This is no longer the case, good music has so many ways to go viral today. The internet is already the best source for music discovery & listening outside of live shows, and it’s only going to get better and more accessible.
I hope one day, I stop hearing artists trash their own albums like Lupe did when he released Lasers, after his label insisted on giving him pre-made cookie cutter bullshit, and told him to rap over it. If artists are tired of fighting to have their best music released, it’s time to realize the potential freedom the internet can bring us. Labels will always have their place for managing careers but their leverage over us should become weakened. Guys like Louis CK and David Banner could show everyone, that once you build a respectable fan base, you gain the ability to take some of it back into your own hands. As this trend continues to grow, I have no doubt we’ll see a reemergence of creativity with it. It’s only a matter of time before everyone realizes we don’t have to put up with the old standard anymore. Any radio station or label that isn’t willing to evolve with us, deserves to die off. Music will be fine without them.