Let me start by saying a recording contract is a privilege not a birthright. Just ’cause you think you can do it, don’t mean you can. Just ’cause ya hoop dreams died out and now you struggling to find another way to get Paid In Full, and you see how much money the rap game is rakin’ in these days, don’t mean you can too. Just ’cause ya mans and em got a studio and you don’t have to pay for studio time, don’t mean you got what it takes to do it. If it was that easy everybody would be doin’ it; wait, everybody is doin’ it, my bad. Seriously, like everything else, to be a rap artist you have to hone your skills and practice. And to be an emcee ya better be nice and bring ya A game.
You don’t just spark a blunt, go in the studio, say whatever blunted reality is goin’ on in ya head over some music and you get to be a rapper. Or, better yet, it don’t mean you deserve to be a rap artist. And let me say this, If You Ain’t Livin’ It, Don’t Spit It ’cause someone, somewhere will test that ass, best believe it.
Oh, and before I go any further, just ’cause you can’t get a deal don’t make you underground or too real, sometimes it means you suck or, more politically correct, you don’t have what it takes. Too many heads are flooding underground hip-hop with wackness that many real fans don’t get to hear some really good emcees ’cause they gotta dig through stacks of wackness. So those that are really holding it down don’t always get the love they should. Now back to the subject at hand.
I hate to sound like a disgruntled old school artist hatin’ on the new jacks cause they getting cake. Never that, but yo good is good and wack is wack, plain and simple. I don’t care how old you are or when you came out. I will say this you couldn’t make a record back in da days until you could rock a crowd right and you paid ya dues and build ya props. Now you got cats with platinum plaques getting straight booed off the stage cause while track was enuf to make the crowd move in da clubs and u lip sync well on ya video with all the ho’s you can’t pull and hot rides you don’t own and may have never even ridden in, you still don’t have the skills.
I interviewed a comedian awhile back and we were talking about the Def Comedy Jam days. It made me pull out the tapes and want to see them. One thing I realized is while a lot of the comedians were funny, too many other remember comedians like Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy who do curse a lot but they were funny. They could make you laugh with mere facial expressions and stepping out on the stage without saying a word. But a lot of the new comedians were just cursin’ and weren’t really all that funny. It made me think of hip hop now, just ’cause NWA back in the days and cats like 50 Cent now curse a lot and tell all kinds of gangsta tales and make mad cake, they had skills. Now too many rappers just curse talkin’ about all kinds of gangsta stuff they don’t know nuthin’ about. That’s why they end up getting stuck up every time they go to L.A. for the Soul Train Awards and anywhere else when they run into some real cats, who know you ain’t livin’ what you talking. So again I say, If you ain’t livin’ it, don’t spit it.
That’s the main reason many old school heads be frustrated when ya record plays every 22 minutes on stations Where Hip Hop Lives. You know you are just killin’ the game, saturating the airwaves and taking some talented artist’s spot. As soon as you aren’t the flava or the week anymore the label is just gonna drop ya like it’s hot. You were just some quick cash or in most cases probably just a tax right-off for the major corporation that now owns your name, your image, your domain name online and since you aint do ya homework probably your publishing and your masters. You back on da block tryna chill again with the cats you dissed during short time you actually saw some cream and what you thought was fame and your joints are appearing on all kinds of compilations and 99 cent bins and you don’t see a dime.
Now that I got that off my chest, if you do happen to get lucky enough to get in da bizness, at least take the time to learn the business. Understand while yes its rap and ya might not need a high school diploma you better recognize it is a business. You better handle your business or it won’t be too long before you don’t have any business to handle.
What really gets me, is now with the internet, there are so many more resources of information at your disposal that you can get without even leaving ya house. Many artists that came out in the late eighties and early nineties did have these resources, all these music conferences, all these books and websites. There are websites like Wendy Day’s RapCoalition.com and books like All You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman (there are many more, you just gotta look) that you don’t have to know anything about this business to understand. All the info you need can be found now-a-days.
We had a thick book calledThis Business of Music that you damn near had to be a lawyer to understand and get through. There really isn’t any excuse these days. Many heads felt there wasn’t an excuse then, but now if you still don’t know about the business as messed up as it sounds you kinda deserved to get served, cause it wasn’t important enough for you to find out about.
If you don’t pay attention to anything else I have written here, pay attention to this:
Your manager and record company, publicist have other artists, other clients that will pay their bills if you fall off, but you only have One Career!
I try to bang home this point everywhere I speak. Not only do you have to work on ya skills on the mic, on the turntables (those of you who still get down like that), behind the mixing board, you gotta make sure you got ya head game together as well. You gotta read everything you can. A lot of successful people in business will tell you Knowledge Is Power! Well it’s also true about the music business.
But this business wasn’t created for the artist to make money. Record companies, distributors, producers, lawyers, they are gonna get their money. Many artists before you have been jerked, at least once; that can still happen with you knowing a lil’ sumthin’, but if you don’t know, man, you just lookin’ to get took. Do ya homework. Read everything you can and get ya game up as far as ya skills before cluttering up the rap section in the record stores, makin’ it hard for fans to find the good stuff.
So what’s the moral of this lengthy story? Mama don’t let ya babies grow up to be rappers – we really don’t need no more. And if he or she does have the skillz, make sure they are educated on the business side of things.
And just because you were successful in some other business, this is the music business and its a whole ‘nother animal, so don’t think cause Master P did it, Cash Money did it, Diddy did it, Dame and J did it that you are just gonna enter the game and do it. Many have wasted a lot of money tryna get involved in the music business unprepared. There are a million and one failed stories in hip-hop, don’t be a million and two, cause you didn’t do ya homework.
This concludes this rant, you will now be returned to your regularly scheduled program which is already in progress.