Han’S Hip-Hop Report: Rap Economics
I am no economist, but let me break this down in a way that seems to be the preferred dialect in hip-hop these days: business. Whilst everybody seems to recognise that greater product output equates to greater cash flow, few seem to be acknowledging the subsequent serious quality deficit plaguing the genre...
Being professionally confined to at least keeping an ear to the mainstream music world, it is damn near impossible to escape the ever-increasing amount of complete garbage currently polluting the charts and airwaves.
In fact, I don’t know the last time I turned on the radio and actually enjoyed what had been lined up for my listening ‘pleasure’ and as for hip-hop induced eargasms, let’s just say it has been a lengthy dry spell. Now, I am not necessarily asking for a grand epiphany, complete with light cascading from the heavens as I reach for my pen, per se, but it would be nice to hear some lyrics that at least spark an idea or two.
Frankly, I preferred being a hip-hop lover when it was terminally uncool in the UK and in economic terms having Wu-Tang on your walkman could result in negative cash flow after several lunchtime ass-kickings. I may have been the only kid in my school donning the baggy white tee, New Era Lakers fitted and matching jeans – yes, tragic I know – but at least my music was pure. Our genre wasn’t the multi-million enterprise it may be now but the end product was exciting, experimental and expressive.
That’s not to say that today there are no noteworthy indie artists whose stock is rising in the HHHR quarterly projections. Like many Golden Era fiends, I’ve already grabbed my front row seat (and hard hat) ready for the complete hip-hop reconstruction promised by Fresh Vetz' forthcoming album, 'Fresh 2 Def'. Similarly, any true head should be eagerly awaiting the solidification of Donny Goines' 'Ich!Ban' claims with his long-anticipated project, 'Success Served Cold'. Thankfully, there does remain a small minority that ‘can’t abandon the culture’ and keep resuscitating my hope in the game.
To be frank, if I published some of the complete nonsense that some artists spew on a regular basis, it would have some serious repercussions. Firstly, most of my readership would assume that I was taking a cocktail of illicit substances and revoke their support. Secondly, I would probably be slowly disembowelled by my Editor – alright, perhaps that is a tad drastic but it is a safe bet that I would at least be forcefully removed from the MTV virtual premises. Unfortunately, this is yet to happen to some of the usual suspects in the rap world, as it may provide the much needed wake-up call.
From what I can gather, apparently it should simply be expected of the mainstream. After all, how dare we ask for more or even suggest that the standard be raised? Perhaps we should merely appreciate the constant flow of new product and gloss over this considerable quality deficit? Maybe I’m just an old fashioned hip-hop connoisseur but as far as I’m concerned, the equation (like most rap lyrics) is pretty simple. No matter how you do the math, monotonous bars multiplied by the constant drone of a generic cookie-cutter beat, even with a frosting of bling - no matter how expensive - still equates to a load of bollocks with the intellectual capacity of a banana.
Words: Hannah O’Connor (@HipHopSuperhan)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)