RapReviews.com Feature - As Fans, We Are Failing Hip-Hop
Author: Adam Bernard
Hip-hop is on the verge of eating itself alive.
I know those are strong words, but hear me out. Over the past few months
I've noticed a growing trend when it comes to conversations about hip-hop,
specifically on social media - the majority of hip-hop's "fans" are only
focusing on what they don't like.
In a very hipster, contrarian, way, hip-hop heads feel like they can raise
their nose in the air, and prove they're smarter, or more hip-hop, than the
next person, by tearing down something they know is popular, but that they
weren't going to listen to anyway. Not only does this serve no purpose,
other than being a self-serving display of ego, it actually works to
destroy hip-hop, because time that could be spent talking about an artist
that person loves is instead being spent tearing down someone else creating
hip-hop music (and please, let's put away the "it's not real hip-hop if it
doesn't fit in with an abstract concept of what I consider real hip-hop"
arguments. Those arguments all boil down to "what I like is hip-hop, and I
refuse to accept anything else").
Blaming the fans seems like something only an angry artist who has lagging
sales numbers would do, but the truth of the matter is we all have a voice,
and most of us are using that voice poorly.
Last month, in hip-hop, we had the completely fabricated Grammy controversy
regarding Macklemore taking home the award for best rap album. All of a
sudden, an artist who'd worked for 14 years to blaze a trail for himself
was being labeled a culture thief, and having his indie status called into
question (the irony that hip-hop, which was originally a place for the
outcasts, and the voice of the voiceless, would now try to make someone an
outcast, and silence someone who worked so hard to get his voice heard, was
apparently lost on everyone doing the name calling, and that's really what
it all amounted to, name calling).
This past week Nicki Minaj found her back in the news thanks to her new
single, "Lookin Ass Nigga." Not only did her Malcolm X cover art become a
day-long topic of conversation (it was stupid, it was going to be changed,
there was no need to make it a crusade), but her lyrics were also dissected
by everyone with a Facebook, or Twitter, account. I even saw people, people
I love and respect, taking the time to say they were refusing to listen to
What does someone hope to accomplish when they take the time to say that?
All it does is mention a song you don't want to listen to, and quite
frankly, it turns you into one of Nicki's promotional pawns, as she's
managed to get you, someone who has no interest in her music, to talk about her.
When detractors decide to dedicate their time to talking about how much
they don't like an artist, what they're really doing is pushing the artists
they do like to the side, in effect dooming them to never being heard.
The next time you want to go on a hate filled rant, feel free to write it
out, and get it out of your system, but before you click "post," here are
some ideas for what you can share instead, that will help hip-hop progress
in a much more significant way.
* Take the topic you were originally going to rant about, and flip it into
something positive. For example, "Everyone's talking about Nicki Minaj.
Here are a few women in hip-hop I prefer," or "Macklemore winning the
Grammy seems like a great reason to check out these dope hip-hop artists
from Seattle you might have missed."
* Post a video, or a song, of a current artist you like that you wish was
getting more, or any, airplay. You don't have to demean the artist you
originally wrote your diatribe on, just share something you love, that's
current, to show people there's great hip-hop being made right now that we
might be unaware of.
* Post a link to the most recent album you purchased. In these times of
free streaming, and so many artists embracing the iTunes singles based
culture, actually purchasing an album shows an extreme dedication to an
artist. If you tell everyone you put your hard earned money into an
artist's hand for something, it's going to catch people's attention, and
spread the word.
* Post the flyer, or Facebook event listing, of your favorite artist's next
show. Seriously, they'll appreciate it, A LOT.
Right now, as a fan base, we aren't being progressive, we're being whiners.
It hurts to hear that, but it's true. Let's see if we can change our ways,
and turn back into being progressive promoters of what we love, without
feeling the need to tear down everything around us. Whether we like it or
not, when we tear down an artist, we're tearing down hip-hop, and that
energy could be used to build something, something that is being ignored in
our desire to be thought of as some sort of ultimate judge of hip-hop
authenticity and greatness.
When we rant about the artists we don't like, we really aren't all that
important, but when we discuss the artists we love, we have the potential
to be an incredibly powerful fan base. Let's reach for the potential.
Feel free to tweet all love, or hate, filled messages regarding this article to Adam at
@AdamsWorldBlog and follow RapReviews.com @RapReviews.
Originally posted: February 18th, 2014