Dear Internet Rappers, 2014 Edition

Dear Internet Rappers,

It seems that a new year is upon us, but I still see some of you doing the same exact foolishness that I thought I told y’all not to do last year. At least last year it was funny, but now? It’s just sad and infuriating. Therefore, as I tend to have to do, I’ve taken it upon myself to school you once more (hopefully, for the last time) about some of the backwards things you’re doing.

That’s right, Em. This one’s gonna get dirty.

What? You thought that because I’m writing for Boi-1da’s blog now that I won’t still be SOTB? #NeverThat. I may’ve cut down on swears, but my tongue itself is still a katana.

First, and this was actually touched on in my latest post for #TheeArteest, please do not intentionally sound like anyone else. We have enough Drakes, enough Keefs, enough Immortal Techniques, and enough Tech N9nes. That’s often the first strike artists will make when trying to come up, freestyling over industry beats. When that’s taken a step further (freestyling over “Started From the Bottom” with the same “no new friends” flow), you’re stepping in a pile that you’re probably not going to wipe off too easily. Not only does this sort of thing often get you thrown into the trash/spam folder with music bloggers, it also makes you look like a clown. If I wanted to hear Drake, I’d listen to Drake. I want to hear you, Random Cat 28103, and what makes you special. If you can’t show someone that from the jump, you’re doomed to fail and you should just stop making music. Now, if it’s done unconsciously, that gets a pass (there are only but so many styles in the world) but still gets a bit of side-eye. If it’s done intentionally? Just…stop.

Second, not everyone needs a trap beat. I get it, the sound is “in” at the moment on the radio. You’re probably sitting there, thinking “oh holy shitballs, I’m trying to get on. So, I should get a trap beat.” If you’re talking about unicorns and faux Utopia, you shouldn’t be dropping bars over a “Bands A Make Her Dance”-like track. It makes you look like a clown, and your potential target audience (people that like unicorns, but don’t like the non-“real” factor of trap beats) will be alienated. Inversely, even if you’re a trap rapper, you don’t need a trap beat. This goes back to the first point. If you’re going to do something similar, still make it different. Not everything needs to sound like a Young Chop/Mike Will Made It/DJ Mustard-like beat…even if the radio can sometimes seem like it does.

Hell, some trap beats aren’t even that good, but that’s for my Dear Internet Producers post.

Third, the namedropping. Correction, the overused namedropping. I went through my email and mentions one day some time back. About 50% of the songs incorporated some sort of Michael Jordan/Ric Flair/Miley Cyrus/clothing brand reference into the title/chorus/actual verse(s). Those tracks tend to get overlooked, even if they’re lyrically sound. They also tend to get clowned by bloggers (myself included). Let’s look at Papoose and his “Pipebomb” track (featuring snippets of the CM Punk “Pipebomb” promo). I’m not the biggest Pap fan, but it was an idea that was, when the track dropped, fresh and different from other wrestling-meets-rap tracks.

Plus, it gives me a reason.

Heck, Wale’s WWF references were one of the reasons why I enjoyed his earlier stuff more than his later tracks, because I’d never heard Bret Hart mentioned in a rap track…that I didn’t think up and rap in my head on the way to school in the early 90s. Yes, I’m older than some of you think I am. Deal with it.

Fourth, don’t just throw your money away to “promoters” to get a buzz. It takes a while for an “overnight success” to become one. Unless, of course, you’re running a “social experiment” and post Vine videos of yourself to get attention. Now I don’t wanna see a bunch of random rappers showing their dicks off to people. So, let’s not do that and say we…didn’t do that. Most “promoters” will send your tweets out to people, and a lot’ll be real. But, the actual clickthrough rates for that sort of thing tend to be pretty low, and that’s even if they’re on the up-and-up (this is coming from a guy who did market analysis on clickthrough rates for a good while, professionally and otherwise). The buy rate will potentially be worse, especially if you’re completely on the come-up. You’ve got to grind and get your name out there first if you want those “promoted tweets” to do you any good. If you do it in reverse, you’re falling for the thirst.

And the thirst for perfect lighting in
“sexy” selfies is even higher. The
thirst for “sexy” selfies with a
completely charged phone remains
the highest thirst of all. #TheFudgery

The thirst for success is far worse than the thirst for a woman among some people, and it can drive them to do even more insane things than they would for the attention of a woman they lusted after. Now, I’ve personally seen people lose their jobs, their minds, their family, and their lives just trying to get a taste of what we perceive as “glamour.” I’ve seen people drop a thousand at the strip club when they haven’t paid the rent because they want to perpetuate their rap balla lifestyle. I’m not lambasting fame or popularity, I’m critiquing what it can do to people that believe that they need it in order to be good at what they do. If you follow the steps laid out in these blogs, and don’t blow your $10/hour paycheck on a bunch of tweets and fake followers, maybe you’ll maintain the sanity to actually have a bit of a buzz around your name and, you know, some success.

I’ll say it one last time:
Don’t blow money you
could use for your career
on “dancers.”

Lastly, don’t base your reason for making music solely around making money. You are an underground artist. Chances are, you won’t make that much money from just making music. If you’re in music only for the money, it’ll show. You’ll look fake, and you’ll come off like a stripper saying that she loves you in the club while you slide a $100 in her G-String.

Now don’t get me wrong. Music should be a business, it should be a hustle, but it should be a love as well. If you don’t love the music, only money? Like I said, it’ll show. And you’ll look like a jackass at the end of the day. Plus, and I reiterate this. You are an indie artist on the come-up. The odds of you hitting it big right out the gate financially are slim to almost non-existent. It will come, but while it is? Enjoy the music, network with like minds, have fun (but grind) and do you.

Just don’t slide too many bills into strippers’ G-Strings. You’ve got minds to feed.

-Speed on the Beat

Speed on the Beat

Whatever you need to know about me, you can find out on

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