Stray Shots - A Take on A HipHopDx Editorial
HipHopDx.com is one of the main sites for new hip-hop music these days, and I would assume news and commentary, although I feel like commentary has become second in importance for a lot of fans of hip-hop these days, and especially to a large extent the written word. I mean there are some videos which end up getting seen, if you go to youtube, plenty of people are posting but they aren't really getting a lot of exposure. I feel like podcasts to a certain market might be doing a little better. All of my whining and editorializing about that done, let me get into the feature of this latest post. It's about 5 strange things we learned about hip-hop this year, well maybe some people learned, but it is a new column for them so it makes sense to use that term.
For me the first thing they bring up, the idea that classic albums come and go now is a serious one. Truthfully can a classic album really come and go? Isn't that one of the hallmarks of what we consider a classic? That it has longevity, staying power, and will be discussed for a long time after. The argument that there is a lot of music doesn't hold for me because you don't actually have to listen to or try to listen to everything. I think that even journalists who get paid professionally, don't have to try and hear everything and be experts, you will never come close to getting finished and thus rush through everything and never really get the full immersion. This isn't even taking into account the other obligations one may have in the media regarding tweeting, following instagram posts, and whatever actual work/life there is to do. There simply isn't enough time and it seems more important that if an album is anywhere within the realm of classic, you have to take the time with it to make sure. A lot of us are just throwing terms out there and the result is the world classic gets more devalued than the term elite when talking about nfl quarterbacks.
The second point is about memes and also ties into points 4 and 5 which are about social media and branding respectively. So to tackle this thing about memes and how suddenly they are so important to the zeitgeist of social media. This is part of the hype generation who I must admit are so clever and witty that half of the time listening to something is about trying to find out how to be the first person to come up with the perfect meme so as to spread it along the web. This leads to people thinking an album or song is great because it has one part which is memorable, for the other things associated with it. The conversation on social media has hyped and creates such monsters that they are immune to criticism and breakdown. If you happen to stick your neck out to go against the popular opinion - or have a social media circle that isn't mostly insulated with like minds, you are likely to be attacked and since so many of these networks are built for quick communication, there is little time for clarification or thoughtful discussion.
All of that leads into the discussion about "branding". This is a piece of jargon annoys me because you have a bunch of people who are over estimating the value that is attached to their name and image. When you have every artist trying to convince you that their individual brand of alcohol, or jewelry, watches, clothes, headphones has some small difference from the next guy doing the same thing is counter productive. People are so over-protective of these "brands" that they lose the ability to be realistic as people and artists. Instead they are all characters running one long commercial.
Probably the one that ended up as being poignant to me was the idea that the ends justify the means. For these rappers these days, no amount of controversy is too much as long as they stay in the public's eye and are able to monetize the notoriety in some way. We see this in so many things from the Kardashians to the career of Paris Hilton. Too many people in my opinion have decided the journey doesn't matter if you're able to get to a certain destination, but the journey indeed has a value or a price attached to it. For example Amber Rose is trying to change her image and usage for the term slut yet at the same time, her past prevents her from being taken seriously. For an artist like Drake to be able to still have no effect from having a ghostwriter, "stealing" songs, and it still be alright because he is popular and made it. High school has blown up in essence. Point blank the fact this is now a thing leads me to believe that we need to do something to re-establish the idea of integrity.