Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This week the Baltimore City Paper rolled out its annual Big Music Issue, and it's got a lot of interesting stuff in there, can't wait to read all the articles. The one I wrote is called Might Don't Make It: Baltimore hip-hop may never go mainstream--is it up to its iconoclasts to carry the torch if it doesn't? I hope it'll start some conversations and some arguments; it might seem like I'm trying to shut down all the talk about if/when Baltimore might blow up, but really I just wanted to debunk some of the more naive and dated theories and strategies and get people past them, so they can set more realistic goals and maybe make more meaningful accomplishments. Most of the article is kinda me ranting, but I also used it as an opportunity to talk to some of my favorite unheralded underground hip hop artists and get their perspectives on the subject: The Black Sunn, Sean Toure', ScholarMan, Kneel Knaris, Born King, and Singodsuperior.

(cover by Sam Holden)

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Funny, 10 years ago, City Paper did a feature article on the same subject, I remember reading it. Anyway, I printed, i'm about to read it again and then read your article and see if there are any parallels. 'Cause on the real, Baltimore is still at the same place with the same potential to blow as 10 years ago.
oh right, this article:

I'm a big fan of that, of course, but it wasn't my aim to write any kind of update of it or anything similar (for one thing, Lee's old piece is about 5 times longer than mine). I don't even like doing big 'state of the scene' kind of things generally and prefer to hone in on narrower subjects, but it seemed like a good time to get some thoughts off my chest and big up some lesser known artists at the same time. Sometimes I feel like there's a false dichotomy between the older generation of Baltimore hip hop keeping it real and the new school that's just out for money and fame, so I wanted to shade in that gray area a little more.
Okay, I'm done, not too many parallels, both depressing, lol.

I was part of the fray in 2000 making my songs trying to do my thing, I never understood the club music excuse. I always told people, make that OUR sound, and today, it pretty much is. I'm dissappointed when an album comes out minus a club/hip hop hybrid. Seriously.

Today, the whole system has changed. Back in 2000 being signed was a real goal, today, I laugh at people who say that. Being able to live off the music independently is like the goal. Check the blogs, look at all the artists that has NEVER had a bit of radio play yet are doing shows all over the country, WORKING! Baltimore needs that mindset. At this point, I think my favorite artists might just be LAZY!

If I had the patience for hip hop these days, I'd be out and about, it's not easy, but the current system is WAY more assessible than 10 years ago. Dudes is getting co-signs from major web sites and you just gotta travel. I think these dudes today are not only lazy, but plain afraid to go out. They're afraid to go out and depend on their music. If they had any faith or belief in what they said on their own songs, they'd just pack a bag and go for dolo.

My example, and I ALWAYS use them, 2 of them, Little Brother for 1, and Tanya FUCKING Morgan!!!! Now especially the latter, those dudes just DID it. 2 dude from different cities, Cinci and NYC. And Donwill from Cinci was actually living in PG(I believe) at the time, and was shuttling back and forth to NYC in his Civic between his 9 to 5 and his dream. And guess what happened, hid DREAM happened.It's because he believed!


Isn't it ironic?
I definitely got that tone from your article. As I read, I saw how you spoke to a LOT of the lesser known and 'left-field' artists. Not even really left field, per se, just not the artists with the mainstrem frame of mind. It's good they get the exposure, hopefully folks will read that and google them.

As far as The Black Sunn, he's young and has potential, I'd really like to see him along with 810 just improve and really come into their primes as artists. They definitely are like offsprings of the native tongue movement. As far as Kneel Knaris, I hope he doesn't quit, but just like me, and I'm not nearly as old as he, age does play a huge factor, and as you grow, you evolve, and sometimes you have to leave it behind.

One more thing about the previous article, Charm City Records FUCKED UP!!!! I'd realy like to have someone do a tell all on their situation. That album they put out was pretty damn good, Backland was NICE!!! And that is why I don't like some of the more recent Backland music because it isn't the same, at all. He 'evolved' I guess. I would like to hear what happened with them, I remember putting them on to EVERYBODY I knew. I'd always make mixtapes for my homeboys and I'd always put local stuff on it, and I'd ALWAYS put something from their album on it.

On a sidenote though, Ooh and (what's the other dudes name and WTF is he) destroyed them with that diss.
the "big music issue" is not that big..

and an article about someones boombox collection seems out of place
The BMI has always featured about the same number of stories, and usually has at least one kind of offbeat article like the boombox one. Don't really see your point, unless you're bitching about a shrinking pagecount that nobody at the paper is exactly thrilled with themselves.
Its so crazy that I remember the model from 10 Years ago and it was a clearcut one - GO INDIE with the mindset of creating enough buzz for a major to scoop you up and back you! Hung Jury, Stashhouse, Brawler and Charm City Records all made tremendous strides in using that model but for one reason or another that music model imploded. Blame it on the internet, lack of consumers, lack of local radio support, payola, etc. but the bottom line is there is no "tried and true" standard that anyone can adopt for themselves. It will be the culmination of business savvy, connections and an impeccable sense of networking that will be the deciding factor in determining who "sinks or swims".

Personally I have been disinterested in "the business of music" since the late 90's and found more intrinsic value in using it for therapeutic purposes. As narcissistic as it may sound I am very selfish recording artist and my assholish personality makes me very hard to get along with musically but personally im like the nicest dude in the Universe. Just dont fuck with me and my views on music or it gets UGLY lol. Its why I was never able to get past the hurdle of "playing the game" and its my greatest strength and biggest weakness because it involves INTEGRITY.

What artists need to understand is simple - THEMSELVES! What they want out of a career in music has to coincide with what they want out of life. Is it the autonomy to control your own destiny? Is it the ability to share of yourself honestly with all of the criticism that comes along with it? Is it a quick hustle that may or may not unlock riches beyond your wildest dreams. The question is simple: Would you make music if there were no payoff involved and it were the equivalent of a lifetime internship? If you can answer that for YOURSELF the rest is easy.......
"The question is simple: Would you make music if there were no payoff involved and it were the equivalent of a lifetime internship? If you can answer that for YOURSELF the rest is easy......."

Hip hop and music in general would be AWESOME if we eliminated these folks. However, we'd lose some of the mindless gems that we've gotten.

Man, what to do????
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