Filmmaker - Musician - Photographer

let me explain my shirt

I bought a shirt that says "CORPORATE KILLED HIP-HOP". Its a firm statement to make and I believe it to be between 85%-90% accurate.

NOTE: Its not 100% because I feel like Hip-Hop isn't completely dead and there are other factors invovled besides major labels and corporations. I do, however, feel like 85%-90% of the responsibility falls on corporate and I think that is enough to constitute a shirt.

I really like this shirt. I think it looks good on me and, like I said, I believe the statement to be at least 85%-90% true. My only problem is that whenever I wear the shirt I have to explain it to people or defend it's stance. Not everyone agrees that Hip-Hop is dying (or dead) and not everyone believes that major labels have anything to do with it. I can totally dig that and I welcome any discussion on the matter, but it gets tired after a while. I decided to post a bulletin/blog explaining once and for all why I feel like major labels and the people who run them bear most of the responsibility of the destruction of the Hip-Hop culture:

When Hip-Hop was new and fresh the label needed the artist more than the artist needed the label. As of late, the tables have turned and artists now need (or want) to be affiliated with a label more than a label wants to be affiliated with an artist. Its a lot like the relationship with "Big Oil" and America. We need them more than they need us, so they make the rules.

Creating and releasing an album to the masses is very difficult to do on your own. Depending on how many people you want to reach (or how rich you want to get), you'll need a major label's help to promote and distribute your work to reach a greater demographic.

NOTE: The internet has made many artists self-sufficient in these areas, but it is still a task made easier when you have a street team in every state and advance checks for videos, etc.

Upon realizing its power over artists who want to be in the industry, the rules started changing. When you make your demo submissions to labels you now have to look a certain way, act a certain way, you need a certain number of songs on said demo, you need certain types of songs on said demo, you need to have a certain type of personality, etc. Think about singles. Currently, there is an unspoken requirement (or strong suggestion) that your first single be a "banger" or a club hit. Well, what if you're an artist who doesn't make club hits, but want to be associated with a label who imposes such requirements, or simply indicates that "the next big hit" is what they're looking for?

Conformity. Thats what happens.

Simply put, when you tell an artist that their work has to be one way or the other, then you're restricting them from tapping into their creative potential. This is what labels are doing. The major portions of the music industry have created a lot of silly rules that we (artists and fans) should follow in order to be successful.

"You songs should never be longer than X amount of time because people will lose interest."

"You should make a club banger because people like to dance. Thats what sells."

"You should work out and get your body tight because women like guys who look good and they're who is going to be buying your music."

"You should really wear less clothes because sex sells."

et cetera
et cetera

When labels imply things like this to artists, they say that the artist isn't good enough and should change the way they are (or the way they've been going). Artists who are hungry enough will cast their natural growth to the wind and conform to these types of requirements.

Imagine if Pablo Picasso had some art gallery executive (who probably doesn't know much about creating art themselves), over his head saying the work during his Cubist period would be too complex for spectators. Imagine if Leonardo Da Vinci was told that he should make the expression on the woman portrayed in Mona Lisa didn't have a definitive enough expression on her face. I could go on and on. Imagine if Andy Warhol was told that he should create more work that went beyond pop culture.

In summation (this is getting long winded): The reason why corporate is killing Hip-Hop is because corporate doesn't allow room for creativity. Artists with big dreams of getting signed and achieving world wide success don't know what to do with themselves. They're not making music for themselves anymore. They're making it to get attention of a label exec (who may or may NOT know about what good music really is) and letting them decide what to do next.

The best Hip-Hop albums that have been released recently are by the few artists who don't care what labels say and still do what they want with their music. I'm surprised that execs haven't (or refuse to) acknowlege that.

The end.

So there you have it. I wish the world read my blogs as opposed to the 10 or 12 people who actually do. That way I wouldn't have to go into this twice a day when I wear that shirt I love so much.