Alright, gumshoes, get out your notepads. We have some mysteries to solve.
1) Where is Jay Electronica?
In a recent post, folks were wondering whether Corey Gunz is the best MC without an album, but my vote is still for Jay Electronica. He caught and held my attention when I heard “My World” on the Style Wars EP. And I think his most redeeming quality outside of that talent is he’s not a kid. He’s not some wet-behind-the-ears whipper-snapper. We need grown folks to anchor the game… but they need to put an album out first. With these unseen albums asunder in home studios and label offices, I have to wonder…
2) How many mixtapes are in purgatory?
If I had a dollar for every time an artist told me they had a mixtape coming out soon — and “soon” meant “never” — I’d have enough g-string money to finally make my maiden voyage to the shake club. Teef recently asked about alleged mixtapes from Pac Div and Diz Gibran. I’d love to see both of these releases come out fourth quarter — in fact I’ve heard Diz’ is being mixed down right now and Pac is about to head out on tour with Q-Tip, so I’m sure they’ll have product with them. But given the tenor of the times, I won’t hold my breath. With the term “mixtape” becoming synonymous with “free” on the Internet I understand it might take awhile for personally funded gems to see light bounce off their facets. Which brings me to my next question…
3) When will the MySpace rapper bubble burst?
We’ve been bouncing atop the rolly-polly, soapy opalescence of this eMC bubble longer than I thought its thin wall could hold. This shit is blowing up bigger than Bubbalicious, packed tight with Lil’ Such-and-So and MC Low-Kul. It’s only a matter of time before the gum pops and the industry has a bunch of bootleg half-rappers sprawling all over its face.
On one hand, the Internet made a path for a revolution — an upheaval of all those radio artists we’ve grown so weary of, and a swath of unsung heroes waiting stage left to take their place with an army of WiFi savvy fans. On the other hand, everyone on the interweb thinks they’re an unsung hero. The market is saturated with beats and rhymes so gawdawful it makes you call trash “gar-bahge.” I’d love to link to some gar-bahge examples here, here and here, but I’d hate to give their pages anymore hits or hearts anymore hope. It’s time to hang up the Radio Shack mic and call it a day.
Let me note: I do think the bubble is about to burst like the housing market. This is a musical pyramid scheme — there is a devastating end to the glory. A pot of dookie at the end of a shit-smeared rainbow. And this brings me to my final recent-history mystery…
4) Are there more rappers than fans?
Too many rappers, not enough fans. This is my mantra. I said it before, I’ll say it again.
It’s okay to not rap. It’s okay to play your part in life.
I love Hip-Hop too, but you don’t see blessing the mic with these fiery bars and magma flames. For all intents and purposes there is a niche waiting for me: I’m a female, I’m white, I grew up in metro Detroit, I can keep a beat and I’ve been writing long enough to know how to rhyme. But knowing how to rap and being a rapper are two roles separated by an expanse of skill greater and graver than a canyon.
It’s a pity and a shame I’ve been to a couple shows where there are more folks on stage than in the audience. And that’s a testament to a poor sect of fans as well. Supporting good music is vital, whether by purchasing albums or catching the shows or — gasp — both.
But the most upsetting factor in the “number of rappers > number of fans” equation is the fiscal success of MCs and producers who clearly aren’t fans of music themselves. I’ve never claimed my tastes are fact, but I do think I have an ear for artists who didn’t grow up imbibing music with a fervor — playing and wearing out every piece of cassette tape and waxen groove until it was stretched, scratched and unlistenable. Because that’s what it should take. That should be the test. Rapping is a profession; professionals study their craft. Writers are ardent readers, mechanics know the minute instrumentation of cars and chefs have tasted all the spices that go into a kitchen. If you’re a rapper or producer who hasn’t studied myriad musical realms with an insatiable passion, you are a fan of only yourself… and I’ll gladly show you the industry fire escape by which you should see yourself out, with your tin ear in tow.
Alright, gumshoes. Time to weigh in with your conclusions. I have Col. Mustard in the billiards room with the candlestick.