Over the past couple weeks, we’ve seen releases from newer artists such as Logic and Stalley. These artists, while not “new” in the traditional sense, are enjoying the fruits of their first mainstream LPs. I’ve reviewed both of these collections upon their releases and have noted that both, while disjointed in parts, are solid debuts. They’ve got something for everyone without completely falling for all of the tropes of hip-hop (or inverting them in a way that’s new and original). However, I’ve noticed something in the comments section to a lot of newer releases, mainly comments that go along the lines of:
“Oh, it’s cool. But, it’s the same old shit we’ve heard from [Nas, Jay, Em, Drake, Kendrick, Lupe, etc.], so fuck this CD and fuck its fans, y’all simple-minded hipster niggas.”
|“If I had a quarter for every time I heard that about [insert artist here]…”|
With that said, are newer artists doomed since so many other greats have come before? As a “new” artist myself, I wonder this every time I record a song. “Will people fuck with this? Will they think it’s too artsy? Will people brush this off as a pale imitator of [random artist here], because of similar topics?” Often, I’ve noticed a divide in comments. Some will say “oh, wow. This ‘Speed-Fi’ thing, it’s brutal on the ears, but I get it.” Others will say “that Speed kid needs to off himself. Fast.”
The thing with newer artists is this: even if we were all collectively amazing (and, let’s be honest, a lot of us aren’t), we’re playing catch-up to fans, listeners, and so on. Since this is the era of “anyone can pay a couple bucks, load a CD onto CDBaby/Bandcamp/wherever and sell it,” potential fans are given a lot of crap to digest. And, at the end of the day, a lot of potential fans won’t have the time/patience/willpower to power through that last “twerk it for daddy song” or that last “I went to college, so I’m better than you. Let me lead you to prosperity” track to get to you.
Seems pretty hopeless, right? I mean, without a San Andreas money cheat, most artists will probably go unnoticed (or shunned because they are, to put it lightly, a “struggle” rapper who is sincere, but doesn’t exactly have any collateral to get on). And money still isn’t a proven way. Look at Trinidad James for more proof. Well, to the new wave, I say this.
Don’t stop believing. Yes, it’s trope-y in itself. But, if you’re as dope as you think you are, people will find you. And people will love your music, come hell or high water, if you are consistent, level-headed, and just all around a good person to talk to/work with/listen to.
Just don’t get discouraged by the naysayers. Let’s face it: every artist sounds like one another at one point. It’s what you do with your story, your beats, your lyrics, your team–that will take you from ordinary to…legendary (yes, that was a shameless plug).
Pursuing Happiness by True God
And, of course, you’ve got to find your own voice. Can’t just fuck around and copy what’s popping (in case you forgot about my “Dear Internet Rappers” series). You’ve got to believe in the you who believes in yourself to do anything in this world, dammit.