Sebastien Elkouby's Confessions of a Failed Hip-Hop Publicist
It's time I throw in the towel. As a freelance publicist who specializes in promoting up and coming rappers, it looks like 2013 will be the end of the road for me. As a 40 year old Hip Hop head who grew up on Afrika Bambaataa, Melle Mel, Run DMC, Public Enemy and Rakim, my mission in life has always been to promote this culture I love. But the game has changed and so have I.
Throughout the 80's, 90's and 2000's, I wore many hats as a talent scout, freelance journalist, publisher, promoter and publicist trying to use my influence to promote rap music with substance. I was so committed to using Hip Hop as a form of empowerment that I even created one of the nation's first full time educational Hip Hop program for middle and high school students. Everyday for five years, I taught six periods of Hip Hop culture education to hundreds of students who never imagined that Hip Hop could be offered as a regular class. It was magic! Lives were changed, students were motivated to better themselves and I became an award winning teacher in the process. California's economic crisis put an end to the magic in 2011 when my program lost its funding.
I returned to the entertainment industry as a freelance publicist with the goal of promoting quality Hip Hop. How foolish I was! Between 2011 and 2012, I found myself turning down more potential clients then I was bringing in. The idea of working with aspiring artists who sounded just like Big Sean, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj or 2 Chainz disgusted me. And those few artists who did have something of substance to offer had little to no money or lacked the drive to take their music to the next level. Everyday my inbox would fill up with rappers requesting my services to help promote their songs about ass, weed, guns, cars, strippers, sex and money. As a freelancer striving to establish myself, I should have been thankful for generating so much business and could have watched my bank account grow, regardless of the musical quality. But as a husband, father and all around socially conscious person, I couldn't. As a man, I couldn't.
Behind every mainstream rapper glorifying money, sex and violence, there is a cast of managers, publicists, lawyers, program directors, DJ's, bloggers, journalists, producers and other industry executives working hard to make that artist a household name. Behind every Chief Keef, Tyga and Trinidad James, there are college educated men and women whose job it is to promote music that contributes to the dumbing down of our youth. Behind every music video full of half naked girls, there are casting agents and directors who would never allow their own daughters to portray themselves in such light. Behind every rapper who claims to be a thug, there are countless professionals who send their kids to private schools while promoting music which sends our kids to prison. Behind every mainstream rapper on BET, MTV, Hot 97, Power 106 and any other popular station in your city, there's a Clear Channel, Viacom, Emmis Communications and Radio One made up of powerful decision makers who would never in a million years listen to the kind of music they get rich promoting. And behind every rapper with a criminal record, there's a publicist spinning a story to make crime more marketable.
Enough is enough...at least for me. For years I've heard the lame argument that this is simply the nature of business. I'm sick and tired of it. Businesses don't run themselves, people do. Sure, these companies may only provide what the public is demanding but at what human cost? Aren't corporations supposed to have some form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) which ensures that companies operate in an ethical manner? Pardon my naiveté but is expecting people to place morals over profit completely unrealistic nowadays? Truth is, at one point, I was hoping to establish a successful music business model which would have been both profitable and “humane”. I guess I wasn't that smart.
It's obvious now that I'm not built for this. I'm cut from a different cloth than my music industry peers. So I'm out. No one will miss me. And while it might be hard to find another career path at 40, the idea of resurrecting my educational Hip Hop program sounds exciting because I'll be working hard to make a real difference in the lives of young people. Searching for funding won't be easy in this economy but it's worth pursuing much more than any corny illusion and destructive images the entertainment industry tries to sell. Don't get me wrong, I still love Hip Hop. I'll still support new and creative artists as I always have. I'll still make beats because I love music. I'll still be as vocal and opinionated as ever. I'm not giving up at all. I'm just finally free from trying to convince myself that this sick and twisted industry can really be changed. I have real work to do now and this is just the beginning. Peace.
Man Bites Dog Records Announces 2013 Release Plans
Courtesy Audible Treats.
2012 was a hallmark year for Man Bites Dog Records, and now, the burgeoning hip-hop label is excited to announce a string of high profile release plans for the first half of 2013. Starting in late January the label is planning releases from a mix of hip-hop vets and promising upstarts alike, with albums and mixtapes slated from Roc Marciano, Illogic & Blockhead, Harry Fraud & Eddie B, Vast Aire, Wais P, Curly Castro, Hayze, and more.
On January 23rd, Man Bites Dog will celebrate their first release of the year with Wais P's PV$$Y RICH mixtape, a free offering that includes features from Action Bronson, Devin The Dude, and more that will serve as a prelude to Wais' official Man Bites Dog debut, Pimpin Saved My Life, out this March. Next, on January 29th, will be Vast Aire's A Space Iliad EP, a collection of B-sides and remixes held over from his OX 2010: A Space Odyssey, that includes features from Sadat X, Guilty Simpson, C-Rayz Walz, and more.
Moving into February, Man Bites Dog is excited to introduce fans to one of their newest signees, Philadelphia rapper Curly Castro, who will release the free album Fidel, and the label will close the month with another free release from one of the label's freshest faces, Hayze, who will release his Smoker's Section mixtape. March will see the release of Paper, Piff & Polo, a collaborative album from super producer Harry Fraud and up-and-coming rapper Eddie B, while April will cap off the spring schedule with two of the label's biggest releases of the year. Up first will be Illogic & Blockhead's Capture The Sun, followed by Roc Marciano's first ever producer album, Marci Beaucoup.
"Looking back at last year, I feel musically we progressed and personally we saw through projects that took years to complete," says R.M.L. "We worked more feverishly than ever this year, and with the releases we have coming, it's really something special."
Beyond the label's exciting release schedule, 2013 proves to be a breakout year for R.M.L. and Man Bites Dog Records in a number of other ways, spearheaded by the label's opening of a brand new office space, complete with an in-house studio, where the label will now record, mix, and master 100% of the albums to be released this year and beyond, a process that will not only allow the label to optimize and strengthen its creative process but also allow for streamlined business operations, an advantage in an ever-changing music industry landscape. "We opened a new office this year, and had the shit Feng Shui'ed by a master," boasts R.M.L. "We got all our shit in positive directions and no bad arrows. Everyone needs to hit up their local witch doctors, card readers, shaman's and catch up. Cats are back-masking while we're clearing the chakra with singing bowls."
More info on Man Bites Dog Records can be found on the label's newly launched website: https://www.manbitesdogrecords.com .
Madchild, from Canadian hip-hop legends Swollen Members, has dropped a brand new video for his solo track "Last Emperor" online. Since dropping his debut solo album, "Dope Sick", Madchild has simply refused to rest. He recently completed a sold-out Canadian tour alongside Tech N9ne, and went right back out on the road on a 40-date headlining tour across the country. Madchild is currently recording material for a new digital EP for release later this year.
North Carolina’s own Supastition releases 'The Blackboard EP', a FREE 8-track digital EP. The project serves as a “thank you” to the listeners who continued to support his music after his sudden departure from the music business in 2010. The Blackboard is about returning to the basics of emceeing and rediscovering that vintage sound that Supastition has been known for since his debut album in 2002.
It’s time for another Elevated Ruffians album! The duo of Elevated Soul and the Magnificent Ruffians are back at it with Kingsmen! After the huge success of their first double cd, (Magnificent Soul) the Elevated Ruffians knew they had to work together again to create more fresh hip hop for the fans. This album however has a specific dedication to the great Ben E. King. Hence the name, “Kingsmen”. Each song on this EP has a beat that was flipped or sampled or inspired by a previous work of Ben E. King.
Quick Bio: Cheeks fully started concentrating on the art of emceeing at age 21.He began to work with Tree City, assumed a role of affiliation until 2008. Joining the group was inevitable. After releasing two critically acclaimed projects within the ranks of Tree City, he then released a solo project titled, "The Potential". Cheeks decided to push forward and expand the Ann Arbor brand of music into the Pacific Northwest by moving to the Seattle area in 2011. After a slight hiatus and working with Man in Charge on COMN GRND material, his 2nd solo release is slated to drop by the spring of 2013. Be on the lookout for any upcoming music, videos and news from the one and only Branch Out Collective.
Dan-e-o and Promise go back and forth on this soulful joint detailing the lack of love that sometimes exists within the various relationships we have - be they with your girl, your boys or your father figures.