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I was listening today to the guy's show (I catch it every once in a whlie) and there was a discussion going on about hip hop. One of the callers called in criticizing the Blacks who are in a position to change the status of hip hop and asked why they dont take more of an investment in controlling the distribution side of hip hop. The caller said that by controlling the distribution side, we have more of a say of what goes into our songs and what doesn't. He particularly referenced the 'Black or White' song by Michael Jackson where Jackson was told to remove lyrics from the song.

Dyson replied that he's for the first amendment and that the only way to change hip hop was for consumers to stop buying the albums that they don't like.

As a person interested in the hip hop industry I wasn't satisfied with this reply. So I called in and voiced my disagreement with Dyson by pointing out to him that a person can't buy the positive hop hop songs if the radio stations, tv stations, and major media outlets refuse to play them. I mean, if its as hard as it is to hear a guy like Common or Talib Kweli on the radio, just imagine how hard it is for other rappers. And I tried to stress that its not about 'good' lyrics vs 'bad' lyrics but about the consumer being able to have a plethora of things to choose from, rather than the monotone commercial form of hip hop today.

Dyson's reply was that thats why there's "underground Hip Hop".

I don't claim to be very pursuasive with my speech and I know that I don't always get my point across but, THATS EXACTLY THE PROBLEM I WAS TRYING TO COMPLAIN TO HIM ABOUT!

Why should I HAVE to look at the underground Hip Hop to find the creative rappers? Why don't more Blacks take roles in the production of hip hop, particularly people like Cathy Hughes who controlls Radio one who owns most of the rap radio stations across the nation? Her name always comes to my mind as somebody that's not doing enough because I wonder how hard it would be for her to feature some of these 'underground' artists, or to help some of these artists become more known. She doesn't have to do the stupid things these radio stations do of playing the top 10 songs OVER AND OVER AGAIN, with absolutely no variety in the songs or artists.
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I see the problem as there being too little variety in hip hop. Everybody's (everybody we see) playing to the same image, and has the same club song.

My solution is that these DJ's actually look for QUALITY songs rather than just hyping guys like 50 cent because they're 50 cent. Its an opinion of 'If I play this song enough times, they'll grow to like it; or they'll memorize it and just cant get it out of their heads.' And since people like Cathy Hughes (a Black Woman) is the owner of the company tha controlls most of the Black rap stations across America, she above anybody else should be stressing these things. That is, unless she enjoys glorifying Lil Kim for going to jail.
I was under the impression that song selection was a matter of business deals with the stations and promoters..

I thought that DJ's have some leeway in song selection but not much.... I don't know though...

I'm speculating....

Also, I suspect they are playing what they think the audience will tune in to hear and/or purchase...


and thus garnering the numbers needed to attract ad space sells...


I wish I had a solution, but until then, I can only control what goes on in my home.....


Peace,
Khalliqa
quote:
Also, I suspect they are playing what they think the audience will tune in to hear and/or purchase...


See, this is the quote they love to give me. No matter what I'm asking about its always 'this is whats selling.' I have this same conversation about the limitation of Black men to gangastas in the Black films and we say 'this is whats selling so why change it.'

You may want to call that capatilism, I call it hip hop becoming one big commercial. So what happens when somebody tries something new? They say 'well what we do works, so why change it?' and we get stuck into a continuous cycle of crappy songs that are made to sell records but have no content to them.

You may be right in that the producer should be the one I blame and not the DJ, but its all the same. And I blame the people above both of them because they're the real people in charge. Cathy Hughes has the opportunity to play some different songs on her radio station (the same way she plays some differernt shows on her TV station).

And Blacks with money and an interest in the industry can take part of the job of production away from Sony and all the other companies that have no interest in the Black communities. But this is farther down the road.

Hip Hop today is a lie because the radio and tv stations want you to think that its only these ten songs that they play on the radio.
Check the definition of Underground Hip Hop at Wikipedia

Alternative hip hop or Underground hip hop is defined as a culture rather than just a musical genre. Underground hip hop includes the arts of turntablism, sampling, producing, breakdancing, visual art, graffiti, spoken word, beatboxing, freestyling, cyphering, and more. The music itself is distinguished by artists who are not promoted by major record labels, often because of their experimental musicianship and lyrical content. Many underground artists are also using hip hop to successfully communicate issues of social justice, global and political change, and collective consciousness. Underground hip hop beats are often characterized by the fusion of loops sampled from all genres of music, including classical, jazz, funk, rock, and punk. Although some listeners may associate live instrumentation with alternative hip hop, this distinction is invalid because mainstream rap acts such as J-Kwon use live instruments as well. Underground hip hop artists generally do not achieve the same level of financial success that commercial rappers achieve, although their work is often critically acclaimed.

Artists labeled as "alternative hip hop" musicians usually record and perform in styles that are more closely related to the original concepts and styles of hip hop music and hip hop culture, as opposed to their more popular commercial counterparts. DJ Kool Herc once said in an essay about hip hop, that "it's not about keeping it real. It's about keeping it right." In this sense, many would argue that alternative hip hop might not be so much an alternative as much as it is a continuation of the original concepts and ideals of hip hop.
quote:
Originally posted by Blake Manner:
quote:
Also, I suspect they are playing what they think the audience will tune in to hear and/or purchase...


See, this is the quote they love to give me. No matter what I'm asking about its always 'this is whats selling.' I have this same conversation about the limitation of Black men to gangastas in the Black films and we say 'this is whats selling so why change it.'

You may want to call that capatilism, I call it hip hop becoming one big commercial. So what happens when somebody tries something new? They say 'well what we do works, so why change it?' and we get stuck into a continuous cycle of crappy songs that are made to sell records but have no content to them.

You may be right in that the producer should be the one I blame and not the DJ, but its all the same. And I blame the people above both of them because they're the real people in charge. Cathy Hughes has the opportunity to play some different songs on her radio station (the same way she plays some differernt shows on her TV station).

And Blacks with money and an interest in the industry can take part of the job of production away from Sony and all the other companies that have no interest in the Black communities. But this is farther down the road.

Hip Hop today is a lie because the radio and tv stations want you to think that its only these ten songs that they play on the radio.


That was an attempt to highlight that the industry is motivated by money....

certainly not any sense of sociological duty...

I was saying that right now, there is not just a consensus among youth in taste... but adults as well {alas even I (jazz/soul fanatic) have bought the bullet a time or two--hence my "Closet Jams" thread}

I'm not so sure the solution begins in the radio stations....

there has to be some leverage in negotiations with a profit driven industry....



Peace,
Khalliqa
But see, even the youth today desire and need this. In the 90's I supported Gangsta Rap as freedom of expression in a hip hop world of many different opinions. But now, there's one opinon of hip hop. It may not be 'gangsta rap' but unless we give the kids a choice, today's hip hop world can ruin their minds much worse than the way people feared 'gangsta rap' would.

Even the kids recognize this. Thats why Underground hip hop has such a strong following. But the problem is that even though the an underground artist can go gold or platnum with no help from the radio or tv or magazines, radio stations still refuse to give these guys any air time.

I don't think there's a unique solution to this problem. Somebody much more clever and more witty than me may come up with a better plan. But until then, I'll be advocating for the radio stations to give the real hip hop artists some air time because what they play right now is just garbage.
Blake, I think it's incumbent upon this generation to make solid efforts towards contolling more of the hip hop industry and image. Maybe the problem has to do with the most influential within the industry aren't the most "positive ones." The older generation, unfortunately, just doesn't relate.

Their disdain for hip hop would make more sense if they had embraced hip hop earlier and did their best to stir portions of the industry to make "positive" rappers viable, at least as an off-set. It would have, perhaps, made sense of Bob Johnson to invest in hip hop futures.

Now, I don't know. I'm not much of hip hop buff but I think it's a dying art. It may be around for a long time but it's going to take something incredible to bring it back to vitality.
DJ's have very little leeway in the songs that they play, only the order of the songs that the program manager has already selected.

The program manager selects the songs based on the deals cut between the label and the distributor. The distributor only moves the music that it has an ownership interest in, e.g., marketing deals. This interest is often hidden.

The label only produces music that the label's owners approve of. And, oh yeah, the label is not owned by Jay Z or Combs.

So there will never be positive rap/hip-hop. It is not in the plan.

quote:
Thats what it has always been. I want the industry controlled by the artists, not the producers and distributors.


That will not happen until the money is to be made the pre-Beatles way, when the money was made through concerts and touring; rather than pressing out pieces of encoded plastic.
just some hasitily tapped out thoughts....

I believe only independant media promotes diversity of music and musicians. In Australia it's only the non-commercial radio stations who not only play variety, but actually 'program' their music selection, rather than auto cue the same old stuff on high rotation. And do I listen to them? Hell yeah! Are they creative and do they sponsor outdoor events and quests to find new, insigned bands? Hell yeah!

We have a few indie stations in Sydney, but the rest rely on chart "hits" or retrospective "safe" blasts from the past that weren't that good first time round. Lyrics written by record company execs not struggling singer-songwriters. But I digresss.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but more money is made from the marketing - t-shirts, badges, posters, etc. than the concerts these days, whether it's rap or christian gospel music - and that's because the power of the 'image' is always more powerful - to the mass public - than the lyrics.

However, the reason why not everyone CHOOSES to listen to indie stations, and another reason why the simplistic messages of mass market music continus to be so successful - through each generation - is because I believe the majority of people don't want to think too much about politics or being conscious while they drive to work, listen to the radio at work, or get down on the dance floor.

If people are working and have disposable income to spend on cds, concert tickets and marketing items, after a hard day's struggling to pay off their credit card or mortgage, most people just want to chill out and not think. Thinking about music with REAL lyrics - really listening to them and thinking about them - isn't too far away from reading and thinking about poetry.

The above doesn't just apply to hip hop music, but hip hop's quite unique (IMO) global reach, cultural 'capital' and power in image and dollar$ is phenominal. And what is it people are 'buying' when they buy hip hop? Not just music, social captial.

A lot of people want to buy the image not the message. Look 'this way' without having to live that way. That's why so many white people buy the cds and the clothing but not the actual thug lifestyle, or the reality behind some of the conscious lyrics.

On a positive note, access to technology and recording is more economical, (as are marketing courses and broadcast video cameras and video-editing software!) and more musicians are able to do their own thing. But success usually depends on marketing and DISTRIBUTION. Today's challenge for smaller or indie players is about finding a creative way to market themselves. Using 'new' tools like the web and viral marketing to push their music.

Mass market will never change - lowest common demoninator and/or 'manufactured' bands/music - if you're an artist or songwriter, it's about finding new tools and new ways to develop and promote 'your' cultural capital.

Getting really smart and innovative. Finding 'acceptable' and ethical ways to do business and still tap into the power of cross-promotion - the most powerful marketing tool of all. Designing your own 'spin'. I've read about hip hop artists in New York designing their own rap clothing to help build a unique style to link to their unique view of the world through their music. A sort of back door 'in'. In an ideal world it should all be about the music, but these days it's not - for most people, it's all about image. sck

however the record execs are getting older and the music industry itself has been very slow to embrace change - eg. technological and music delivery - I believe there are still opportunities for those who can respond faster and more creatively. Do conscious artists become mega-stars or are they fulfilled by earning a comfortable living writing credible lyrics?

The flip side of the coin is... what happens when indies become successful? Do they 'give back' run their own projects, fund smaller labels? Sure some do... and some just buy the consumer bling and BS themselves.

No easy answers... the twin worlds of music and fashion are full of reptiles [and great people as well] Big Grin I've worked in both... my 2 cents.
hmm... that turned into a bit of a rant ...sorry. Smile
.
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"... It's bigger than Hip Hop..."

-Dead Prez

"... He who controls the media, controls the mind..."

-Noam Chomsky

"... the bigger the lie, the more times you tell it, the more people will belive it..."

-Josef Goebels

The negativism that is portrayed by so-called "main stream" hip hop is based on controlling young minds, more specifically, young Black minds... This "mind control" is attained by presenting an image and then bombarding the airwaves with that image until the mind accepts it as reality...

If you think about the images that hip hop has gone through since is popularization (Rapper's Delight), one can see a correlation between the level of negativity and the amount of money being made by the artists... The more negative the image, the more money made by the artists... So what's the incentive for the vast majority to change?

Hip Hop exploded with the advent of "conscious rap"... they also realized at that time that the influence was much larger than they (the record execs/"powers that be") had ever imagined... We as a people were on the verge of a revolution... Young Black kids were beginning to question the status quo, the mis-education that they were receiving, the role of the mis-educators in their destiny and indeed why they were being mis-educated... Young Black kids were starting to *gasp* embrace Africa again... it was "the sixties" all over again... A REVOLUTION was at hand... and they can't have that... In the sixties, Black people loved themselves... after all, "Black was beautiful", was it not?...

What happended right when the revolution was about "get up a head of steam"? Gagsta Rap!! Uh... I mean... Gangsta... What's the best way to distact a man from his goals? Place a big butt and a 40 on front of him... then give a gun and tell him lies about his former friends and how they were overheard talking shit about him... *BANG* That's the sound of conscious rap being shot... Everytime a revolution was about to bring some serious change, a gun is somehow involved...

When Hip Hop was in control of it's own destiny, it's image evolved and grew aprox. every 6-8 yrs... Gangsta rap? 15 yrs and counting...
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Understand, my motives are not to promote 'positive' hip hop. If you asked me to define the word 'positive' I don't know what I'd say. I have nothing against the commerical artists of today. The problem I have is against the industry saying "THATS ALL OF HIP HOP".

As an example, think about Tupac, one of the greatest rappers ever. This is a guy who made songs about whatever was on his mind. I wouldn't classify him as 'positive', but he damn sure wasn't commercial.

Statements like 'people don't want to buy music that talks about anything' is contrary to the very reason that Hip Hop began. It was an expression of things in Black life - things that weren't talked about in the other industries.

Even the commercial rappers today realize that. Thats why they try to portray the image that their songs talk about Black life. The problem is that all they're giving is that one side of Black life and like Audioguy said it has the power to control the minds of the Black youth listening to hip hop.
When you look at people like Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Nas, and many others you see a list of people who are very successful even without being able to get their songs in the regular spin.

I'm not saying that I want the radio stations to play the rap songs that are about politics. But the rap industry is MUCH more creative than the industry gives them credit for. And this creativity is what I'd like to see.

For example, Nas has a song, 'Rewind' where he tells the story backwards. Thats creative work.

Some of my favorites are songs by Mos Def called 'Mathematics', where he relates all the problems of Black America to math. 'If you wanna know how to rhyme you betta learn how to add'. And 'Mr. Nigga' which is a joke about how Blacks get treated in America.

Common has a song 'The Question' where he just talks about different aspects of Black life.

Talib Kweli has a song called 'Get By' and the stories he tells in this song are just great.

Talib Kweli and Mos Def came up with an album 'BLACK STAR' thats an all time classic in Hip Hop.
All this is done with little to no help from the radio and TV stations. And when I say classic I dont mean by my standards, I mean by general hip hop standards. This is one of the things I was told that got me on to Talib Kweli and Mos Def (I didn't get a chance to hear it when it first came out).
Audioguy, I agree with so much of what you're saying.

But I disagree on gangsta rap. I for one believe that it started out of the same conscious rap you're referring to. I mean stuff like "fuck the police" was a concious message talking about the treatment of Black America by the police. And thats often labeled as a gangsta rap song.

I say the same thing about Tupac. Whether you classify him as gangsta rap or not, I've heard many negative songs like "fuck the world". But as a young man growing up, that song, and indeed the whole "Me against the world" album talked about some controversial issues, and wasn't afraid to speak negatively while doing so.

The problem I have isn't with gangsta rap itself, but rather the commercialization of the gangsta image. 50 Cent talked about it in his first release 'Wangsta'. Unfortunately 50 Cent is now promoting that commercial gangasta more than anyone else right now.
If you look at the music of previous generations, you see what I mean by creativity. The temptations had a song 'Ball of Confusion', but they also had a song 'I wish it would rain'. They had 'Treat her like a lady' and they also had 'papa was a rolling stone', 'runaway child running wild', 'psychadelic shack'.

These are some creative songs.

Look at Marvin Gaye with 'Aint no mountain high enough', 'sexual healing', but also 'Whats goin on' and 'Inner city Blues'.

I won't even mention the creativity Michael Jackson showed. Same with Stevie Wonder.

To say that people don't want to listen to creative songs is just lying to yourself. We always have been able to be creative, and we have always supported creativity in the arts.

The only thing worse than the statements that the youth doesn't want to hear creative and a larger variety of songs is the fact that Black America hears this and accepts it as the truth, so we don't complain about how we're getting pimped by the record industry.
Blake Manner wrote:

"My solution is that these DJ's actually look for QUALITY songs rather than just hyping guys like 50 cent because they're 50 cent. Its an opinion of 'If I play this song enough times, they'll grow to like it; or they'll memorize it and just cant get it out of their heads."

I certainly agree with the tenor of your posts in this thread: I lament the decline of a musical genre that had been evolving into something great. But I think you may want to inform yourself as to some of the mechanics of the music industry.

The days when a radio station DJ decides what music is played on the air are long over. In fact, the concept of there being any decision-making about program content on the station-level is almost passe. The process of selecting musical content as it exists today is quite bizarre, and I will not address it here in any detail. Suffice it to say that it is a complicated system of "payola" in which independent promotional firms, or "Indies" in industry parlance, insert themselves into the relationship between record companies and radio stations. For "Urban" stations, Indies will send payoffs directly to radio station program directors to play certain songs, then charge the record companies for their often unsolicited promotional services. That's right, "often unsolicited": the Indies aren't necessarily hired by the record companies to promote their artists, the Indies just do this "promotion" of their own accord and the record companies get the bill for every instance one of their artists songs are played. The result of this pay-for-play system is that virtually every song one hears on a rap/soul formatted radio station is paid for. The record sales follow.

So let's be clear: you are quite right not to accept the explanation that radio stations play the artists that sell records. The actual situation is much worse: the average consumers of Rap/Hip-Hop music buy what an Indie promoter wants them to buy.

The idea that American consumers drive their own choices is a romantic notion, but it doesn't hold up to even the slightest scrutiny.

How else does one explain the popularity of SUVs?

XM
quote:
Originally posted by Blake Manner:
When you look at people like Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Nas, and many others you see a list of people who are very successful even without being able to get their songs in the regular spin.

I'm not saying that I want the radio stations to play the rap songs that are about politics. But the rap industry is MUCH more creative than the industry gives them credit for. And this creativity is what I'd like to see.

For example, Nas has a song, 'Rewind' where he tells the story backwards. Thats creative work.

Some of my favorites are songs by Mos Def called 'Mathematics', where he relates all the problems of Black America to math. 'If you wanna know how to rhyme you betta learn how to add'. And 'Mr. Nigga' which is a joke about how Blacks get treated in America.

Common has a song 'The Question' where he just talks about different aspects of Black life.

Talib Kweli has a song called 'Get By' and the stories he tells in this song are just great.

Talib Kweli and Mos Def came up with an album 'BLACK STAR' thats an all time classic in Hip Hop.
All this is done with little to no help from the radio and TV stations. And when I say classic I dont mean by my standards, I mean by general hip hop standards. This is one of the things I was told that got me on to Talib Kweli and Mos Def (I didn't get a chance to hear it when it first came out).



You're absolutely right ... By the way, I love Black Star. That is a classic. If you love Hip Hop it's a must have.
quote:
Originally posted by Blake Manner:
Audioguy, I agree with so much of what you're saying.

But I disagree on gangsta rap. I for one believe that it started out of the same conscious rap you're referring to. I mean stuff like "fuck the police" was a concious message talking about the treatment of Black America by the police. And thats often labeled as a gangsta rap song...
F.T.P. was promoted by... N.W.A. not a major label... they sold more records out of the trunk of their cars than any label did... it gained "fame" as a result of their tour and the controversy that surrounded it when the Fraternal Order of Police got involved in protesting against them and their message...

I guess the point is this... conscious rap was borne out of struggle, survival and oppression... It's image, although negative, (PE's 1st 12"/album cover) was extremely powerful and it's message was even greater than it's image... when the youth started to ask questions, the "death knell" was sounded for conscious rap... Modern G-rap may have been spawned by C-rap, but it's growth was borne out of a marketing ploy...

quote:
I say the same thing about Tupac. Whether you classify him as gangsta rap or not, I've heard many negative songs like "fuck the world". But as a young man growing up, that song, and indeed the whole "Me against the world" album talked about some controversial issues, and wasn't afraid to speak negatively while doing so.
I don't disagree, but Pac is dead now, right? He was one of the most brilliant minds in hip hop and he was killed by some "masked unknown assailants"... In my opinion, that was no accident...

quote:
The problem I have isn't with gangsta rap itself, but rather the commercialization of the gangsta image...
Today's G-rap comes as a result of it's image, not the other way around... Marketing is the key to sales, not talent... Cats that wouldn't know a gangsta from a choir boy are some of the hardest looking mofo's out... not because of their tremendous talent, but because their image and their words do not feed the minds of today's youth...
I remember I had a discussion about this a while back similar to the point of this thread:

http://africanamerica.org/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/79160213/m...641037693#6641037693


I agree with both Blake Manner and Audio Guy on the status of Gangsta Rap. It did originally begin as a form of Conscious Rap. But it didn't grow that much outside of the working class inner city. It's GROWTH was promoted by Corporate America and was watered-down, materialized, and marketized to be allowed on the mainstream radio waves.

Ironically, this genre of Conscious Rap has been turned into a genre of Unconscious Rap. It only exists now to instill capitalistic materialism and stark individualism in the minds of Black youth while promoting the same values to it's White middle class audience. Except the White kids don't act out gangsterism when they get into the working world, they simply keep the materialistic cutthroat values.
Dr. Dyson said that Cathy Hughes was in studio with him today, so I decided to call in again to ask about her. This is what I said.

quote:
My question is about Radio One. Radio One owns many of the Rap radio stations that affect our youth. So why does it allow these radio stations to continually perpetuate the stereotype of Black men being nothing more than thugs and gangsters by limiting the music to songs that send these messages?

Dr. Dyson, you and I spoke last week about this and agreed that Underground Hip Hop gives a much different perspective of the Black culture, so why does Radio One not try to bring more of these underground artists to the forefront and showcase the creativity and individuality that really exists in the Black culture through Hip Hop?


He responded that people don't buy underground artists, so why support them. I did make a point to state that Spike Lee makes movies that focus on the issues he cares about, and is not driven by 'is ths going to sell or not'. He acknowledged this as true, but otherwise ignored that Radio One should do anything similar.

I wish I could have had longer to talk, because there are many artists who don't even go gold and get play on Radio One stations.

But I've been talking to more and more people about just starting an all out boycott of these stations.
And another point about this is the question of who's buying the Hip Hop. He says that Black don't want to buy underground hip hop, but truth is that the underground artists get most of their sales from Blacks and the other artists get their sales from a majority White audience. So he is basically saying "We'll only play what the White man agrees to buy." racist

I hope that he, nor Cathy Hughes and the executives at Radio One don't believe this. But if they don't, why won't they play more underground artists?

In particular, one of the guys I think about is J-live who is a great underground artist releasing classic after classic, but getting no media attention. 17
quote:
He says that Black don't want to buy underground hip hop, but truth is that the underground artists get most of their sales from Blacks and the other artists get their sales from a majority White audience. So he is basically saying "We'll only play what the White man agrees to buy.


I believe [well, I know] that the radio stations are driven by advertising dollars. The advertisers look to those places where their largest target market is located. One of their considerations is the demographics of the stations' listeners and the demographics of the purchasers of the music that is played.

That is why you don't see Indie artists of any genre on commercial radio. It's a vicious circle. No Indie artist show up on the advertisers' recording sales radar until they gain wide exposure. They can't gain sufficient exposure until they get radio play.

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