Last year Meechy Darko of the Flatbush Zombies had a lyric that went, “sometimes the artist becomes bigger than the art that he presents.”
This is a vivid painting of the landscape of the current hip-hop fandom. But this has been written about before, not only by ME, but also others. That is the cause, the following is the effect.
I haven’t been a fan of an artist in years. I’m a fan of rap music in general. I’ve loved lots of music over the past few years, and have even been impressed with many who create it. However, I haven’t been a fan of any particular artist. In my experience with listening to rap music religiously for nearly the past decade (and even being more than casual before that), I have heard many artists that have released excellent, beautiful, genius works of art. Music. Then I hear the same artists somehow lose that sense of musical genius or poetic intellectualism or scorching passion in subsequent projects. It’s a loss of hunger. A vast amount of these artists “make it” and suddenly can’t eat no more. They get fat and lazy, and their hunger is gone.
A lot of excuses fly up when these subpar compositions are released as well. Label problems are probably the most prominent excuses of them all. That proves that the focus isn’t on the music though. The only reason why anyone would want to sign to a label is for money. When a label tells an artist, they need to make this or that type of song, it’s because they want to make money off of that artist’s song. This doesn’t go to say that one shouldn’t try to make their music marketable, but if that rapper is truly great, they wouldn’t have to sacrifice the integrity of their craft for a bit of “cash”.
When these musicians are on the come-up, they develop a brand for themselves with their hunger. Many of them slack off once that brand is well-established, and it is further enabled by hype-puppeted fans. Ergo the quote from the introduction. This furthers the “rap for the money, and not for the love” institution.
A tastemaker’s duty is to completely obliterate artistic credit for hype and acceptance of artists’ laziness. This will ensure hunger is maintained from passion and not just struggle or lack of recognition.