With this being my third official year-end writeup for Planet Ill, it’s been crazy interesting to see how things have developed within the independent Hip-Hop music community as a whole for the past few years.
For better or worse, Hip-Hop heads are ALL using the internet in some way to promote themselves.
It’s a minor miracle to see a “street album” actually sold on a street corner, a mixtape that’s…well, mixed by an actual DJ or a music video that doesn’t make its premiere via Vimeo, YouTube or WSHH.
iPhones and a mic have given everyone their own reality TV show dreams on UStream. Filesharing services like Hulkshare, Mediafire, Megaupload and Bandcamp have become the “Big 4″ distributors of singles, “street albums,” mixtapes and EPs.
Even the sales numbers game is used more for talking about mp3 downloads than anything from a brick & mortar store.
This is not the worst thing ever…mostly.
It means more musicians have opportunties to control their careers by means outside of the traditional mainstream music distribution system to make ends meet while staying creative.
Where the technology moves, so goes the music industry…even if it’s kicking, screaming and sometimes streaming.
However, all is not good in the modern day Hip-Hop world. The growth of the Internet hasn’t stopped old school music industry bullshit and we’ve seen former & current influential Hip-Hop “tastemakers” devolve from fresh voices into freelance label PR hacks for a VIP pass, some ass and/or cold hard cash.
Payola has opened up a new penthouse above the radio station boardroom next to the Bloggers’ Lounge, where a small group of music websites decide there are only 10 – 25 mainstream-accepted MCs worthy of any sort of music article writeups unless the price is right. Grease the right palm and the rapper of the day suddenly has their mixtape/single/EP, video interview or conference call audio “hosted” by said websites with prominent placement – even if the music sucks.
The worst habit of them all that has carried over into the indie Hip-Hop realm has been copycat syndrome. A bigger segment of independent Hip-Hop music scene has making ass backwards moves by trying to duplicate the mainstream music scene.
Far too many MCs are imitating songs that get a ton of downloads and/or video views to the point were shit just gets tired.
If we wanted to listen to Drake, Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross, or any Billboard Top 100 Hip-Hop artist, we’d listen to those guys, not cheap sonic imitations from the music studio equivalent(s) of Big Lots.
No one really cares about your video “in the lab”, green screen pictures, the streets/in the club/you with heaux video treatment scenarios or bragging about hanging out with [A to C-list "star"].
I’m sure there are more than the same 5-7 DJs who can adequately host your “mixtape.”
Twitter & YouTube beef has become the music industry’s dollar menu burger – cheap and disposable but eaten just because it’s just there. Even the most trigger happy fans ready for any sort of creative conflict just yawn, wonder when MC a new album is dropping and shit starts poppin’. Plus, most diss songs this year just sucked.
And it’s annoying as hell that so many indie rappers think they made it without the help of the many independent blogs, PR people, magazines, radio shows, DJs, etc. on their upward career trajectory. Through some random miracle, they did it by themselves. It’s a fucking crock (and horribly disrespectful).
The MCs who did get both extra cred and cash had a few things in common – creativity, sincerity, a solid work ethic and a “I don’t give a fuck” attitude about what was supposedly “cool.”
Whether you’re personally a fan of these folks or not, folks like Childish Gambino, Mac Miller, Odd Future, Random Axe, Saigon, Pharoahe Monch, Lil’ B, The Roots (who might as well be indie the way Def Jam doesn’t promote them), Common, A$AP Rockey, Kool G Rap and plenty more didn’t just use the skills to actually be able to pay their bills, but kept their own unique creative integrity alive.
While some of these folks’ releases and promo gimmicks got a roll of the eyes from various corners of the rap world, they at least weren’t boring as hell. Keeping it real actually meant keeping it REAL for their lives, viewpoints and artistic direction. And it worked.
The guys who were original got the huge boost of attention from all music-loving corners and in the age of the mp3, that’s a wonderful place to be. Diversity continues to keep Hip-Hop remotely relevant as a creative or economic force after all these years, not some suit in an office with some spreadsheets tell an artist what’s funky.
The Golden Age of Hip-Hop music from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s was based off of both Boom Bap brains and boardroom smarts. We have that same opportunity right now, but with more tools to use than ever before to actually BE creative and make things happen. Imagine that.
Just a little something to think about for my MCs & producers for the next time y’all roll up in a studio and do the 1000th imitation Rick Ross-lite song/production scheme who actually want to make a real living in music without whoring yourself for pennies.
Let’s make 2012 the end of the world for sonic snoozefests and truly make it a new day for the Hip-Hop world.
On another note….
As a year-end gift from yours truly, here is a free collection of tunes I’ve chosen as The Best 60 Indie Hip-Hop songs of 2011, including tracks featuring the following artists:
Pete Rock and Camp Lo, A-Alikes , Kool G Rap , Astronautalis , Sutter Kain & Darko, Blu, J.Davey, Childish Gambino, Declaime, Kev Brown, Dirt E. Dutch, Hawl Digg, Dutchman, Breez Evahflowin , DJ Premier, Nas, The Berklee Symphony Orchestra , DJ Priority, DJ Shadow, Posdnuos, Talib Kweli, Donny Goines , Doodlebug, Don Will, Moka Only, Dres of Black Sheep, Jarobi of A Tribe Called Quest, Elucid, Fonzworth Bentley, FREEBASS 808, Fresh Daily, Gods’Illa, Substantial, Kingpen Slim, Immortal Technique, J-Live, J-Rawls, Kokayi, Kyle Rapps, Joell Ortiz, L.A.W. , Lil’ B, Magnificent Ruffians, Mo Kolours , Murs, Naeem Oba, Notes to Self, Evidence, Nujabes, Cise Star, Oddisee , Phil Ade, Phonte, Pharoahe Monch – We Go Off, Pro’Verb, yU of Diamond District,Psalm One, Random Axe, RoQ’y TyRaiD, Ryu Black, Mega Ran, Saigon, Silent Knight, Skyzoo, Slakah The Beatchild, Soul Khan, Stalley, Superstar Quamallah , Tai Allen + Vicelounge, The Cool Kids, Ghostface Killah, The Freshmen, The Heliocentrics , Timbo King, R.A. The Rugged Man, Truth Universal, Vast Aire, Willie the Kid, LAD (LA The Darkman), Wise Intelligent
The download link below includes a PDF file listing all of the songs along with the artist name, labels and websites to visit as well as the past 2 years worth of “Indiesent Exposure” writeups for heads to read.
If you like what you hear, PLEASE support ALL of these independent music artist projects (and others who you really like), shows and other things in the future.
The creative community will NOT grow without that type of monetary support to be able to fully make great art on their terms & straight to the fans.
Enjoy the tunes and see y’all in 2012 with a BRAND NEW weekly Indiesent Exposure article series that won’t just be covering independent music, but movies, books, websites and more! ^_^
A Planet Ill Indiesent Exposure Special Music Collection: The Top 60 Independent Hip-Hop Songs of 2011 (Compiled & Selected By DJ Fusion of the syndicated FuseBox Radio Broadcast, BlackRadioIsBack.com & AfroRadio.co)
Download Link: http://www.divshare.com/download/16416247-e6a
Fill up your iPod and Catch up on the all of Planet Ill’s Indiesent Expsoure article series & FREE music downloads at anytime – click here to get details of the great Indie Music artists we’ve already covered!
DJ Fusion’s E-Mail: email@example.com (Back Up: firstname.lastname@example.org) w/ the Subject Line “Planet Ill Indiesent Exposure”
DJ Fusion is the creator and co-host/mix DJ of the syndicated FuseBox Radio Broadcast (hit up http://FuseBoxRadio.podomatic.com for the radio show archives + podcast and our overall official site at http://www.FuseBoxRadioOnline.com) which has been dropping Black Radio vibes since 1998 and the blog BlackRadioIsBack.com, two areas trying to fight audio B.S. one day at a time…check folks out around either way when you can.
Feel free to touch base with a sis on the Twitter Expressway at http://twitter.com/FuseBoxRadio.
If you dig the music vibe I’m on & want to download some free mixtapes from the FuseBox Radio/BlackRadioIsBack.com collective, hit up the constantly updated Bandcamp page over at http://FuseBoxRadioBroadcast.bandcamp.com.