So, I may get some “outsider looking in” looks on this one. But, it’s got to be said. Why is it that DMV artists are barely even put on within the DMV? Yes, we had Wale getting burn on DJ Alizay shows and getting a lot of O.G. approval. But, since Wale, many artists within the area have popped up–only to get shown love more by folks who aren’t even from the area. For all intents and purposes, the term “DMV” in this piece includes the entire D.C., Maryland (yes, including Baltimore), and Virginia area.
For instance, let’s look at Logic.
Logic’s initial rise included getting a lot of burn from MoCo and PG heads, since he hit that college age crowd. Hell, I remember the first time I heard Logic, it was at a concert he did at the now-defunct Thirsty Turtle bar on Route One. However, you don’t really hear Logic on the radio out here. TITS is an album that, while it didn’t change everything, it was still a pretty legit album. But, the only time I hear Logic playing in the DMV is when I hear him on my computer or someone else who’s a fan’s blaring his ish. Again, while he’s got singles, you don’t hear him on the radio out here.
The same goes for a lot of artists who’ve sprung up in the DMV. Unless they’ve got a track with another, more-established artist (or the backing of a more-established artist/group), you’ll often hear something from them blazed at 10:57 PM. They could have a fan base, but they’re still getting that sympathy burn late at night.
BUT…I’ve got to ask, though. Is it the fault of the DJ/radio personality for playing an approved set and usually regulating local acts to, at times, passed-over segments of the show? Is it the fault of some of the artist(s) themselves for not knowing how to approach an influencer (even when so many folks, myself included, have tried to give them pointers on what to do/what not to do) and/or only focusing on their own social media influence? Should artists really even look to the radio to aid their rise anymore?
I don’t have all the answers. I really don’t. However, I believe that it’s a multi-layered answer. And I’m not related to Logic. So, I’d like to offer some more advice to the up-and-comers. First, a lot of your success is on you, especially planning things out. It’s not on DJ Heat, DJ Alizay, Shawty da Prince, DJ Quicksilva, Porkchop, or whomever, at least not completely.
Yeah, I’ll say it again. A lot of your success is on you, especially planning things out.
Anyone can hop on a computer and record their tracks. That doesn’t make them inherently radio-ready, even if they’re mixed and mastered. Hell, that barely even qualifies them as being ready to pass out to your boys. Having that one track that you feel’s gonna be “the one” is great…unless you don’t have something to follow it up with. So, you’ve gotta have a catchy song and then also have follow-ups. Your shit doesn’t have to be the G.O.A.T., but at least have a plan versus just dropping one track and praying the TL pushes you to the fuckin’ moon.
Shy Glizzy, for instance, had “Awwsome.”
Now, “Awwsome” wasn’t Glizzy spitting multi-syllabic bars, but it caught someone’s attention. It kind of became his, especially to newer fans at the time, his signature track. Afterwards, he had the “Awwsome” remix. Again, it caught a lot of attention off the fact he was on a song with 2 Chainz. Finally, after that ear-catching track, he had projects that you could push. Oh, you need more examples?
Tate Kobang had tracks on tracks to go/push further once “Bank Rolls” blew up. President Davo got folks hooked with his “Don’t Wanna Be a Playa” revision and had stuff ready, even if it sometimes became more singles. LOS took advantage of his miscues with Diddy to prep projects and still drop stuff to keep him in the eye of the public. Trel and the Slutty Boyz had a lot of shit ready to go off. Jay IDK had freestyles and then had Subtrap in the works. D.R.A.M. had EPs out the ass ready when “Cha Cha” turned into one of the songs of the summer of 2015. Hell, my Team DAR brothers had the rest of the Leviticus album ready before the “Sky High” video dropped. And we’re working on fifty-eleven different things at once.
Fuck it, we can go back a decade-plus. Bossman and Mullyman had “Oh” and “Home of the Realest,” but had their albums prepped in the event those songs blew up. And a decade-plus later, both artists have still been able to carve out niches of their own to remain in people’s heads.
That’s kind of a problem with artists in general, though. But when it comes to DMV artists, from what I’ve seen, many focus on one song that’s slightly catchy with absolutely no follow-up. Stop that! If you want to help raise awareness to the area, have more than just that one track. You’re not Fetty. Hell, even Fetty had his album kind of ready after “Trap Queen.” And even if the album isn’t going to sell a million copies, you still need to make sure you’ve got shit prepped.
Second, a vast majority of the artists who’ve dropped from the area, they’ve got this “you gotta listen to me, my nigga” energy that throws people off. Yeah, you have the dope follow-ups and you’ve a following. If your personality/ability to talk to people is all fucked up, you need to rework it. Truthfully, I get why some folks are hesitant to put local artists on. Many of them don’t know how to talk to people and don’t show any humility.
Now, I’m not saying kiss everyone’s ass. No, never that. However, be cognizant of your abilities, but humble in the presence of folks who can aid your push. No matter how big or small the outlet is, give thanks to folks who support your push and believe in you.
You, as the artist, saying “hey, thanks DJ so-and-so” will keep that DJ’s eyes open for more stuff from you and from the area. Same thing with bloggers and writers. Why? Well, it shows these folks that not all DMV heads are putting their carriages before their horses. And when that happens? More artists will be able to get on. They may still not get as much airplay (that’s something you’ve gotta talk to various PD’s and radio heads a bit more about; again, I don’t have all the answers), but people will be listening for more than what’s on the radio. Be humble, build a rapport with these folks and then be humble if/when they blaze your shit.
Third, don’t get a big head off of one track or one project. If your boys were the folks who initially helped push your shit, don’t just be like “fuck y’all” after you get some buzz. Am I saying give everyone in your squad a track or two? Nah. Some people in squads are meant to not drop bars. Remember that. That’s where weed carrier tracks come from. But also remember that your squad is part of the reason you’re able to push your shit to the levels you are.
If you start to get a bigger buzz than the team, use that buzz to help elevate the team while still keeping your own stuff on the rise as well. Essentially, in this game, especially in the DMV, you’ve got to be on your multi-task shit if you want that buzz.
Fourth, don’t just start dissing folks. Just…no. Unless you’ve a legit beef with someone, there’s no reason for you to try and get on off the strength of you saying “fuck you, rapper who’s bigger than me.” Yes, that includes going after Wale.
And finally, here’s something you should already know. Use everything at your disposal. No, seriously. Everything. If you’ve got DJ friends, go back to points one and two, then hit them up like “hey, man. Can you give this a listen?” If they rock with it, cool. If it sucks to them, cool. You’ve at least gotten someone else to peep your shit. If you’ve “Twitter Honeys,” hit them up and ask if they can peep your stuff or help you promote. Ask questions of that PD or DJ you follow (in a way that isn’t outright intrusive). But also make sure of one thing: you can’t do everything through social media. You’ve also got to get out off your ass and talk to folks in real life. Twitter fingers don’t make the world go ’round.
All in all, though? It’s kind of a game of chance.
You’ve just got to be willing to play the game–even if you’re still playing by your “own rules.”
In closing, though, I don’t have all the answers. If I did, all of my albums would have millions of streams and #DARBusiness would be trending all the time, every time. But, I still get the game. You don’t have to be the G.O.A.T. to know it and give advice on it. Take these words and apply them, and you, too, can get some of that shine you feel you deserve.