Once upon a time signing to a major record label was a stamp of validation. Not only did it confirm the status of a rapper, but it was a bold underlining statement to the listener that they had stumbled upon something original and enjoyable. In this current digital world where grade school students can record their own viral music videos, major labels struggle to make music a profitable venture. With the power to create public figures who can entertain you with their personal drama, extreme sexuality, drugs and violence; the only validation you can find in the new age rap hero, requires a trade-off to your sense of morality. We can hypocritically tell the under aged listener they can’t buy this music, but allow our ears to become heightened to the stimulation of forbidden fruit.
Great hiphop music still exists and rap does not equate to simply violence, money, sex, and fast beats; so why allow marketers to manipulate your perception? In this media driven world impressive emcees acquire way less attention, and the newly invented rapper is paraded across our television screens reducing the title and culture of hiphop itself in to the new modern day soap opera. Music lovers, we must refocus our eyes and retrain our ears when we fail to define the message in music. We are actually observing the difference between public rap entertainers and hiphop music.
I recently witnessed some of the greatest show casement of hiphop music that I’ve ever experienced live. To my surprise it didn’t take place at the Verizon Center or a grand venue seating thousands. Medal detection, drug sniffing hounds, and undercover police weren’t needed to provide hours of outstanding entertainment. Just a few mics, a DJ, and some of the greatest talent DC has to offer. It was in a small club in Washington, DC, housing about 100 people. Taking a realistic snapshot of what this actually means; there are over 114,000 residents who are of age and could actually attend a hiphop show in DC alone. Could this really mean that only a little over 8% of them are actually supporting the abundant music scene the nation’s capital has to offer?
Last night, March 13, 2015, the element at The Treehouse Lounge on Florida Avenue would have made the average listener jump up and down with excitement like a kid in an inflatable bouncy house, relax and vibe-out to calming beats and poetry, smile in amazement like you just won a prize, and nod your head fiercely in agreement with the incredible display of lyrical ranges and abilities. Enoch 7th Prophet put on a grand album release party with the help of Nonchalant, Matta Fact, M.C. LOGIC, Prowess the Testament, F.A.R. EXP, Freedom Black, Def-I, Baltimore Son, Alex Britney, and PersiaRed. People literally went from waving their hands to blood pumping hip hop music to chanting in unison. There is absolutely no better confirmation of how alive hiphop music really is, and the only detainment of its glorious redemption to mass appeal is the consumer who has been fooled by rap entertainers who make a claim to hiphop music but don’t accurately represent the culture.
Why should you pay attention to indie rappers? Here are 10 undeniable reasons to love hiphop like new.
1. Labels are competitive businesses. This often means if one label finds unique talent in 1 artist, the rest look for the same exact thing to gear the attention back to them. This births an era of a bunch of rappers who sound exactly the same. What you will find in indie rappers is an overflowing plate of originality.
2. The underground is the new music industry. Listeners are no longer limited to the radio and television. DIY rappers are making music in their basements and bedrooms, and uploading it to the world. That means you don’t have to buy a 13 track album and skip through to the 3 songs you actually like just because said rapper wants to fulfill a quota and get out of a crappy contract. Hip hop music is available now in a way that it never has been before.
3. A Grammy isn’t needed to validate great music. It’s loads of fun to cheer on your favorite artist when they win best rap album, but is this award truly valid? Indie rappers put out really great albums all the time and are rarely credited for their work in the form of an award. Validation comes in a new award system called views, likes, and shares.
4. Indie rappers are real people just like you. Let’s face it, they aren’t the wealthiest but their music is relative to real life. We may wish, hope, and prey for expensive cars but how many of you really live that lifestyle? Be honest now…
5. Discovery is an incredible feeling. When I can introduce someone to a new artist and they then love them too, I feel like I have discovered a cure for the common cold. With indie rappers, discovery will always be a grand element that makes you feel special.
6. Conscious consumption is more responsible. As consumers, we create a demand for wack music by buying, watching, and listening to it. Radio and TV is convenient but it certainly isn’t the boss of you. Who cares what type of soda so and so rapper drinks? We don’t care about that kind of stuff when it comes to indie rappers only because they are not glorified as people who are classified as “better”. This should wave a flag for us. Why would a famous rapper be better than the people who make them rich in the first place?
7. Underground music is often stolen. If you think some A&R founded the greatest of talent by chance, there’s a chance you’re mistaken. The 300lb basement rapper, who makes incredible music but doesn’t have lawyer money, is way more likely to find his music coming out of the mouth of a much more attractive 190 lb rapper. There is no proof behind this accusation, but I know of many indie rappers who have some pretty valid claims. Why not just go straight to the source and get unlimited dope music?
8. Fun and affordability is very appealing. I have paid hundreds of dollars to see certain major artists, and had way more fun seeing local rappers for $10-$20. If you venture out to check out your local scene, you’re going to have a blast without sacrificing your light bill money. (we’re going to start listing some upcoming shows on livevolution.com)
9. You make indie rappers great by attending their shows. Nobody magically has a great performance without practice. As an audience member, the performer will learn from your engagement and critique, and the good ones will keep getting better.
10. Opportunity and exposure mean everything to indie rappers. When we don’t show up to shows or don’t tell our friends about the cool music we’ve discovered, indie rappers aren’t able to create an audience, which can mean no more shows for them and even no more music. What would life be like without indie music? Every genre you’ve ever enjoyed was created by an indie musician.