The As is Hip Hop Awards Return!
So the past few years have been really difficult for me when it comes to hip-hop. I haven't been too happy with the overall shift of the culture and where things have gone. much like most of the internet, instead of reaching new areas and growing, rappers have doubled down on their core audiences and topics without the pressure to really reach across sub-genres for radio play and acceptance. On the one hand it leads to some strong and thematically tight records, but on the other hand they are very much in the same vein and not very well rounded. There have been some interesting moments but have they been legitimate or created by the hype machine of social media?
Either way I guess it's time to get into what I'm going to do a condensed down version in a way of what I do because there is so much and it is so difficult sometimes to listen to and break down all of this material.
Quickly let's do a slight recap of some big moments:
4. Albums are better but less versatile - Now since radio plays slightly less of a part and the internet has changed marketing and promotional strategies so much, artists are being freed up to make the albums that they want to make and not the albums they have to make to appeal to a larger group of people. That has led to some really high quality projects in the past year but they also have seemed to be one note and artists choose to not incorporate the other sounds and song approaches that would appeal to a larger audience. It's a good thing and a bad thing. Being pushed outside of one's comfort zone creates growth when done correctly.
3. Streaming Wars - As Apple snatched up the Beats music service and flipped it into Apple Music and Jay-Z rook over Tidal and attempted to market it as the ultimate place for artists, the new record store- the streaming service wars took off in earnest. Sort of left in the dust in the fight over exclusives and name recognition were rhapsody, Pandora, Slacker, and Spotify who are afterthoughts at the moment. This is the new frontier in the non-ownership age and it will be interesting to watch the developments.
2. Young Thug - Thugger has been all over, beefing with people, driving old heads crazy with his style and the noises he makes that some mistake for music. He used controversy to promote a record/mixtape or whatever it was called and dropped it to less than stellar sales for all of the hype yet managed to stay in the spotlight through the use of social media.
1. Drake vs Meek Mill - this was definitely the moment of the year. It solidified both Drake as the force to be reckoned with and that social media is king. What it also did was make clear that the rules have changed for being considered the top artist by the public.The fact that Drake fans came out crazy to defend the ghost writing and reference tracks was a stunning revelation for an old head like myself. Meek also crushed his own credibility and that of Funkmaster Flex with his delayed- and then utterly uninspiring diss record.