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Monday, March 11, 2013

Rap Radio and growing up

So I have just been put on with the Combat Jack show and initially it was due to an interview with the program director of Ny's Hot 97 Ebro Darden ad he went and addressed some of the issues regarding urban radio, song selection, and playlists. I definitely want to get into plenty of the things he brough up and I will try to get up the links to the interviews but you might as well go to the Combat Jack site and check out the entire archives because they have me inspired about a lot right now.

One issue I want to talk about is why people seemed to be concerned about the radio and what gets played on it. Why is it even a big issue for us right now where we question the content. Point blank, hip-hop is growing up and we don't know how to handle it. We are having adjustment issues. Look Jay-z is in his forties and is still considered in his prime, he is "Young Hova". Rick Ross is in his late 30's, Kanye, Wayne may seem young but he is in his early 30's as well. The founders of the genre are solidly in their 50's and approaching 60, meanwhile other genres like rock and Country have gone through these changes already. What changes? the changes that money brings.

You see it took until the late 90's for hip-hop to become accepted and monetized properly, so the next decade, that of the early 2000's saw an explosion in the popularity and truly saw the labels and corporations get involved with the direction of the music. This was also when technology exploded with Napster and file sharing leading to itunes. The technology was also in radio where instead of the old Nielsen recording books, digital means of measuring listeners came into account and that along with the consolidation of media companies due to relaxed rules and oversight by the FCC led to a shrinking of available air time. With fewer companies controlling more market share they have to maximize profits and found new metrics and means to do so.



If you have time to take a chance and listen to what Ebro is talking about he breaks down how songs are selected and the decisions on what is heard and how many times, and it is all based on numbers. It's no feeling and these companies overall are in it to make money and don't care to aid the community as an overall aspect of their business (which is why I am especially apalled at Radio One Markets they should care about their people). With that said, the radio is aimed at a young audience and leisure listeners so at the end of the day you know what you're going to get. They aren't going to shoe horn Dead Prez into a block because they might just lose listeners and you might not come back for a while. So while 1/3rd of the audience might gain something, the numbers point to keeping them at bay and avoiding anything that might turn off listeners.

With that said, overall, rap and hip-hop are healthier than ever, the issue is knowing where to find it. You see today's artists have moved online to get their breaks. Twitter, facebook, and youtube are the new MTV and Radio Stations as well as street teams. Datpiff.com and Bandcamp.com are the mom and pop shops where you find new music, the issue is, it's overwhelming. It's hard to discern through all of the noise, just which artists have the potential and sound you are looking for and it can be frustrating. Clue tapes used to be the barometer, now, mix tapes are anything that isn't always in best Buy yet sometimes make it into stores like amazon and Itunes. So for the older generation who is used to finding their music tradtionally, they are lost in a sense, hell I'm starting to have trouble keeping up on social networks so i know it can be daunting.

To find music now you have to rely on friends, and friends of friends. Suggestions on your Pandora account or through the Genius on itunes and you're going to have to take a risk at the outset. You're not going to know everything or a person's history and it is very risk and reward based now. If you're my age and you like more content, you're going to have to actually take the time and do it now. There is no longer a singular authority. In a way it can be more fun because when you find a Don Trip, Big Krit, Childish Gambino, Joey Badass, or a B.O.B., and you are the first of your circle it feels good to introduce everyone to something new and great. That feeling of hearing that new record at night can now be had at 7 am before you finish fixing up your morning coffee. Here is to good music hunting and let me know if you find anything worth hearing.

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