The last installment of a five part series by J-Zone on the death of hip-hop
THE INTERNET by J-Zone
Oh boy. Talk about a double edged sword. Never has it been so easy to get your music heard. If I make a dope beat, I can put it on my myspace page and it’s up in an hour (depending on the servers, it may be “processing” for about 3 years). No more spending money and wasting time for records and test presses. Now people in Arkansas that only have MTV and the internet can hear my music. Limited distribution isn’t as big a problem as before. Everybody is almost equal, shit we all have myspace pages. But look at the flipside. Everybody is almost equal, shit we all have Myspace pages. There is so much shit out and the internet lurks with a million people doing the same thing, its virtually impossible to stand out.
Back in the day, you had to work your way up in the business. Havin a record was in most cases a privilege and a reward for your hard work. Catalog meant something. We’re in an MP3 world now, and somebody in their bedroom is on an equal plane with somebody that’s paid dues and worked hard. That’s great for the kid with talent and no vehicle to get heard. That sucks for the no talent hacks on myspace that post advertisements for their wack music on your comments page. The internet also killed rap’s number one asset. Anticipation. How many can remember buying a mixtape and hearing 3 dope joints from an upcoming album on a mixtape? You couldn’t wait to cop the album. And you didn’t hear the album 3 months in advance cause there was no way to spread it that fast. And in rare cases where the album leaked, you had to get a tape dub and even when you did, you still bought it. I remember hearing “Lots Of Lovin”, “Straighten It Out”, “TROY” and “Ghettos Of The Mind” from Mecca & The Soul Brother 2 months before it came out. But I couldn’t find any other songs. That drove the anticipation up and got everybody talking. We were all eager to support.
In 2007, the album would leak months in advance, you burn it and that’s it. I’m not complaining cause that won’t change things, but that was a large part of what appealed to me and many others about music, especially rap. No more. No artwork & physical cd to read the credits and shoutouts (remember those!?), no anticipation, it’s old news by street date, the shit don’t sell and here we are. Tower’s closing, the legendary Beat Street is closed, Music Factory is a wrap…people don’t realize that rap as we know it is done. Labels are fuckin suing common civilians for file sharing! A physical copy no longer matters unless you’re a collector. Back in the day, you would never see internet beef. It’s just stupid junior high shit. People leaving threats and talkin shit via myspace, people getting hurt over e-beef at shows, kids on message boards flexin muscle and actin hard. Great! Now that we have a bunch of killers on wax, we got a bunch of em posting in forums. Cute. You can sit in a bedroom in Mexico and talk about knockin out somebody in Finland and it will never come back to you. Hip hop bravado and the anonymity of the web…it don’t get more junior high.
The internet was the blessing and the curse of rap music. I may catch heat for this, but I think the best thing is to blow up the industry and start over. There is still great music and I will enjoy making this music til I pass on, even if only as a hobby. I will still be diggin for records, makin beats, playing instruments and watching old movies for inspiration. But sometimes things need to fall apart to give birth to greater things. The fall of rap in its current state may give birth to something bigger and better.
It’s what I’m banking on, cause realistically, how much longer can it go down this road? I’m not saying go back in time. Classic rap artists may have been influenced by Cold Crush and Melle Mel, but they took that influence and added something different on to it to create something new. “We need to bring it back to 88!”. NO WE DON’T! Ultramagnetic didn’t say ‘we gonna bring it back to ‘74’ They just did them, and until that principle can be followed again, I say fuck fixing an abandoned building. Hit it with a wrecking ball and rebuild!