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    Record Store Day 2014 | #rsd2014


    It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Record Store Day 2014 is tomorrow and you better get up and out early because this year is guaranteed to bring out some bangers, as well as, some classics that will be re-released. There will even be some new-to-vinyl exclusive releases. You can check out where you need to be tomorrow by clicking here. And for a complete list of records being dropped you can go here. Happy hunting, hip-hop heads!

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    Nuvo Lists 100 Best Hoosier Albums Ever


    This week in Nuvo, a committee of more than 20 has put together an all-out 100 Best Hoosier Albums. There’s a grand list, and they’ve even opened up the forums for discussion of anybody they might have missed for you to nominate. Ones that they listed from the hip hop genre, and associated genres that we might share, are listed below:

    DMA – Pheel Phree (2013)
    Dorsh – Neapolitan (2012)
    Freddie Gibbs – The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs (2009)
    J Brookinz – Gateway 3 (2012)
    Mudkids – 4trackmind (1998)
    Oreo Jones – Betty (2012)
    The Proforms – Atavism (2011)
    Scott Matelic – Primitive Pessimist (2004)
    Sirius Blvck – Year of the Snvke (2014)
    Twilight Sentinels – Meanwhile (2007)

    Those are definitely a great group of projects that if one was delving into Indiana music, would be a great start. Many of these albums have actually been nominated in our more in-depth hip hop and Indiana voting in the last couple of years. Below I’m going to share an additional five releases that happen to be some of my personal favorite releases from Indiana hip hop artists (minus my own because of course I think my own are great):

    Sirius Blvck – Ancient Lights (2013)
    Mr. Kinetik – Black Hole Rap (2012)
    Echomaker – Concrete Seeds (2012)
    Cas One – The Monster and the Wishing Well (2013)
    Tony Styxx – It’s Bigger Than Me (2011)

    Make sure to head on over to Nuvo and check out the rest of the article, and get hip to some good Indiana music!

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    Ace One Covers Nuvo | @ACE_ONE_


    The Rap Monster, also known as ACE ONE, is featured on the cover of Indianapolis’ Nuvo this week. The Cut Camp representative goes into detail on many things, and the interview comes in support of his recent BDTB sponsored Rap Monster: Remixed and Remastered album. Check a snippet of the article below, but head over to our friends at Nuvo to get the full story. Congrats to Ace!

    It’s well past midnight on a snowy Tuesday night when Ace One pulls up to Sam Ash, a music megastore on Indy’s Northside. Music shops like Sam Ash can be a sort of repository for unfulfilled dreams. Nearly every customer who walks through the door has some desire to achieve fame and fortune in the music business — and very few will ever come close.

    Ace One is a bit different, though. The MC has achieved an impressive level of success in Indianapolis music. But Ace isn’t at Sam Ash on this night to pick out a new piece of expensive music gear.

    He’s there to clean the carpets.

    Over the years I’ve often heard the charismatic rap veteran, born Michael Cobbs, referred to as the “the hardest working man in Indianapolis hip-hop.” I always assumed the title was a nod to his energy-fueled stage presence and rigorous live performance schedule, or perhaps even his large and tangled lineage of group affiliations and artistic collaborations. That’s all definitely part of it. However, while writing this story I would learn of another, entirely different dimension to that designation.

    It’s an irony I can’t help but notice as I observe Ace preparing for our interview, his first major cover story, while simultaneously readying himself for a night of hard manual labor. After several days of negotiation, this was the only time Ace could find to fit an interview into his relentless schedule of band practices, live performances and work obligations.

    “I work for a company doing carpet care. I’m the chief crew technician. I’m really good at what I do.” Ace says this with a tone of pride. “I try to be good at everything I do. I don’t believe in wasting my time or anybody else’s.”

    “It’s a physically draining job,” he admits, as I strain to hear him over the noise of his carpet vacuum. I’m asking how he balances his intense work routine with his even more intense artistic life.

    “It’s not about balance. It’s the realization that it has to be done. The music has gotta get done and it’s gonna get done no matter how tired I am. You take a shot and you keep going. You smoke a joint and you get busy.”

    Spending time with Ace, one gets the sense that he’s ready for anything at any moment. In fact, that’s how he earned his name.

    “Ace is an acronym. It stands for Always Come Equipped,” he says. “That name came around 1999 when I started doing music with Justice League and Wormusic. We would get together and do all night sessions — meet each other around noon and not leave until the next day type of shit. Whenever we would get together I would always have a backpack. The amount of stuff I would carry in my backpack was ridiculous; it was almost like a suitcase. So if somebody cut their finger, I’d literally have Neosporin and a Band-Aid.”

    Read the entire article by clicking here.

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    Deckademics Launches Weekly Classes Today | @deckademics


    The brand new, and first and only, DJ school in Indianapolis opened its doors on Saturday, but today the new school has started their regular weekly classes.

    Founded by DJ MetroGnome and “Sir” Doug Morris (of Old Soul Entertainment), Deckademics will operate Monday through Saturday with multiple classes each day for aspiring deejays. The classes aren’t just for beginners either as they offer classes for four different skill sets. The skill sets are listed below:

    NOVICE: An Introduction To DJ’ing (6 weeks)
    This introduction course will provide the framework to becoming a great DJ. You’ll learn the fundamentals such as the basics of scratching and mixing, counting BPM’s and recognizing song structure, dropping the song on beat, as well as historical and functional training. This class will set the standard for becoming the best DJ you can be!

    AMATEUR: Application of Fundamentals (12 weeks)
    This 12-week long course will allow you to build on to the knowledge base you gathered in the NOVICE class. In the AMATEUR course, you’ll delve deeper into scratching and mixing mechanics, beat-matching, and how to use a hands-on approach effectively with both the gear and the music simultaneously.

    INTERMEDIATE: Studying the Craft (12 weeks)
    This 12-week long course will allow you to flourish as you explore and implement new techniques. Here you’ll hone in on the art of blending, incorporating scratch combinations, utilizing the digital platform(s) & functions, learn how to effectively use different transition techniques and EQ’ing.

    ADVANCED: Practice Makes Perfect (6 weeks)
    This 6-week long course will provide you with final set of skills to master the turntables. You’ll focus on controlling a crowd, beat juggling, advanced scratch techniques, creating scratch sentences, and incorporating digital effects into your mix effectively.

    Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Still not sure if you want to commit? Well, Deckademics also offers something they call a “Weekend Warrior” crash course, which is a four-hour class held each and every Saturday that is an ideal economic option for those wanting to get familiar with the art of DJing, but may not want to invest that type of money or time right away.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m interested.

    You can check out more information on their classes schedule here, and go and check out their website here.

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    BABA: How Indie Artists Can Combat Bootleggers with Copyrighting


    FSD shared a new article yesterday about Chance The Rapper‘s Acid Rap and the bootleg and copyrighting issues that came along with it. This is crucial information for all of us independent artists out here, so make sure you give this a few minutes and take in the information. The article was written by John Miranda.

    Chance the Rapper has famously suggested, much to the delight of industry futurists, that he may never sign to a label. But this summer, Chance’s camp experienced at least one downside to flying solo with a major release. In August, Billboard reported that Acid Rap bootlegs were selling enough copies to make headway on the charts, despite the fact that Acid Rap was released exclusively as a free download. This happened because Billboard charts are calculated using retail sales statistics, so if a bootlegger distributes a product to retailers (including online retailers such as Amazon and digital outlets, such as the iTunes store), the bootlegger’s sales will be reflected on Billboard’s charts. Apparently, since Chance was distributing his hugely successful mixtape as a free download, an unscrupulous third party decided to cash in on its success by selling physical copies.

    Without the legal infrastructure of a large record label, Chance’s intellectual property holdings proved especially vulnerable to infringement. Unlike signed artists, he could not rely on a continuous influx of legal department interns tasked solely with sniffing out bootleggers and issuing cease-and-desist letters. Additionally, he found himself without the aid of the record business’s notoriously zealous trade association, the RIAA. The RIAA has been working its legal department overtime since the Napster days, and it briefly focused its Eye of Sauron on unauthorized hip-hop mixtapes in the mid-2000s, raiding record stores that sold “mixed tapes and compilation CD’s featuring one or more artists.” Unfortunately, the RIAA is not much help to independent artists who are victimized by bootleggers.

    So how can Chance and other independent artists obtain legal relief when their music is bootlegged and their copyrights are infringed? The first vital step occurs before the music is even released. Artists and their legal counsel should always take care that all original works are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office (the U.S. has copyright agreements with most countries, so there is no need to register in copyright offices all over the world). Although copyrights theoretically “arise as a matter of law,” meaning that they begin to exist as soon as the artist records the work, registration is practically mandatory for anyone who wants a serious career in the music business. Registration entitles the artist to statutory damages, which can be as high as $150,000 per infringement (if a bootlegger distributes one hundred unauthorized copies of a “Chain Smoker” single and ten unauthorized copies of a “Cocoa Butter Kisses” single, only two infringements have occurred). Additionally, in the event that a copyright owner goes to court against a bootlegger or other infringer, Copyright Office registration is extremely important for proving copyright ownership.

    If a copyright is not registered, then if the artist takes the infringer to court and wins, the artist cannot receive statutory damages but instead is limited to “actual damages” (i.e. lost profits), which can be difficult to prove. For example, with Chance the Rapper’s bootleg charting case, the issue of actual damages could have hypothetically resulted in prolonged litigation, since Chance was giving the album away for free, so lost profits would have been difficult to prove (at least in terms of monetary value). Additionally, copyright litigation could have posed a different set of complicated problems for Chance and his team, since artists and labels often bypass the sample clearance process for free mixtapes. But the headache-inducing topic of sample clearance and copyright law is best left for another day…

    So after the copyright is registered, how should an artist handle bootleggers? The next step is to actually track down the infringing company or individuals. This can be the most difficult part, and if infringement is rampant, it can be nearly impossible to track down all of the guilty parties. The best way to begin the hunt is to obtain one of the bootleg copies and study it for physical clues. In the Chance case, Chicago Reader investigative reporter Leor Galil located the infringing “label” through a logo that appeared on one of the illegal copies. He was also successful in looking up the product’s UPC code on gs1.org, which is an online database of product UPC codes. However, if the bootlegger simply copies the logo of the original label and successfully reproduces the UPC code, then you must look into the chain of distribution to find the guilty parties.

    To start, artists should search for infringing copies on the product pages of Amazon and other online retailers. In the Chance case, the distribution company that delivered the illegal copies to Amazon was located through information available on the product’s Amazon page. If you can trace the illegal copy to the website of an illegal manufacturer, distributor, or retailer, then you can use WhoIs.com to find the owner of the domain name, who will sometimes be the owner of the business enterprise. If you find an illegal copy in a brick-and-mortar record store, deliver a cease-and-desist letter to the store owner and ask that the store owner give you information about the product’s distributor (perhaps in exchange for immunity). Remember that distribution companies and retailers are just as liable for copyright infringement as illegal product manufacturers, so always send cease and desist letters to distributors and retailers in order to make sure that circulation of the illegal copies is stopped at every step of the product-to-market process.

    Once an infringer is located, send your cease-and-desist letter (templates can be found all over the internet) and demand an “accounting for sales” and payment of damages representing lost profits. If the bootlegger does not cooperate, you may consider filing a Complaint for Copyright Infringement in your local federal district court (you’ll probably want a lawyer if it goes this far). Hopefully this will result in a nice out-of-court settlement from the wrongdoers, and you can go back to focusing on your art instead of chasing bootleggers. It is neither an easy nor simple process, but in today’s music business, independent artists must be diligent and aggressive in protecting their copyrights, especially since they do not have the advantage of major label guard dog lawyers.

    John Miranda is a Chicago-area lawyer, consultant, and music enthusiast. Learn more about his background and services here.

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    Iconic 5 Pointz Graffiti Painted Over Last Night


    The iconic 5 Poinz graffiti spot/warehouse in Long Island was painted over white last night. The warehouse, which has played host to graff writers since the early 90′s, is owned by developers Jerry and David Wolkoff. The word is that the buildings will now likely face the wrecking ball for the development of high-end condos.

    Read more over at the New York Post.

    5pointz_white bdtb

    New York Graffiti Landmark 5 Pointz Continues To Appeal Demolition

    Read More »
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    BABA: You Might Be Failing As A Rapper Part 1 – You’re Not Honest With Yourself


    Last week I shared a bit about some often noticed, yet less notified things that rappers seem to commonly screw up on. It happens, I know. Today, since I got such a huge response last week, I’m going to talk more in depth about the first part: You’re Not Honest With Yourself. And, I’m going to start a new series called “Lone’s Weekly Tips” Be A Better Artist that will touch on stuff like this. What I shared last week is below, and I’ll add commentary afterwards.

    You are not being honest with yourself, and you do not have QUALITY ORIGINAL CONTENT. Those last three lines are capitalized for a reason! Maybe you’re simply not that great at what you do yet, and fall victim to the societal brainwashing that content in any form is better than none. You’ve been mislead. One thing many artists seem to lack these days is a good quality control system. Sounds funny when written, but not everything you do needs to be heard by the masses. The information age has changed the whole “pay your dues” process (for lack of a more descriptive word at the moment) because of how easy it is to do music. I honed my craft for 3-4 years before I ever tried to let the masses hear it, yet that doesn’t really seem feasible anymore because of the information wave. Still, this does not mean that bloggers, writers, and everybody that is looking out for talent will be less critical of your music because of that reason. It’s important to take note of that.

    Sure, share your songs to your friends, but us bloggers do not want to hear halfway done, non-mastered and unpolished confusing raps. Especially if you’re new and it’s your first impression to us. Maybe you don’t have any great producers around you so you jack beats. Maybe then you think that nobody will notice. Maybe you try to say that you’re paying homage? Well, we’ll not only notice, but we’ll classify you as that certain type of artist. The blog world is fast – we don’t have time to learn about all of the things that make you cool – you have to strike quick, confidently, and with a certain type of respect and class. As a blogger, if we don’t know who you are to begin with, and you don’t have original music, we cannot take you seriously as an artist. It’s that simple. You need to show us you are taking yourself serious before we can try to.

    I think the thing that is the hardest to comprehend is that yeah, you really have to be polished to be well received in this music world. Or, have some sort of crazy gimmick; intentionally or not (see Lil B, Riff Raff, Kreayshawn, Turquoise Jeep, etc). Not to be locally famous, that’s easy; I’m talking about the pulsating fame/success you desire. You simply won’t see a lot of unpolished acts make it much bigger than the local stage to even opening for a medium-range tour act without a gimmick or specific uniqueness. What do I mean by unpolished? Well…I’ll touch on that later.

    questlove

    I recently listened to a lecture/interview that ?uestlove (of The Roots) did with Red Bull, and he touched on just how much work it takes to master a craft. 10,000 hours. Yep, 10,000 hours was the number buzzing in numerous music heads and producer circles alike when this video dropped (I highly suggest you find two hours and watch it). I think how we interpret that says something about what type artist we are. You know? Are you an artist that is willing to work to where he/she needs/wants to be, or are you going to give up at your 1,483 hour mark and say f#*k it I’m going to smang this shit? Quest touched on it in his book, Mo’ Meta Blues, which he actually took from a book by Malcolm Gladwell. ?uesto stated:

    Gladwell in the book basically says that perfection and genius becomes and starts when you reach 10,000 hours of practice. That’s where he breaks down Bill Gates’ genius. The fact that Bill Gates spent 10,000 plus hours in college inside of his computer lab which led him to invent the PC. He breaks down certain soccer players, how many hours they practice a day and that type of thing. He broke down The Beatles, he breaks down pretty much everyone that’s applauded in history. You go in thinking that this person is just naturally genius and then you leave saying, “Wow if I just put in 8 hours of practice a day, that could have been something.” That’s pretty much my advice.

    Even if you feel as though, like “we play this song every night so what’s our motivation for doing it here.” I don’t know but there’s this feeling that you get once you a song under your thumb for so long that once you’re on stage it’s like second nature. Then you able able to elevate the performance of the song. People still (confuse) entertaining and performing a song. It’s easy to perform a song, it’s just doing the song that you wrote. It’s another thing when you entertain. It all starts with practice with me. That’s important.

    Now, I’m not saying that you should wait until you hit five digits in the crafting-hours mark before you put out music or rock an event, but I do feel you should be conscious of what your skill level actually is. I used to be great at sampling melodies but horrible at getting knocking drums and bass. I took about 6-7 months and studied bass lines. I tried things out. I experimented and finally got the grooves down. I did the same thing with drums. This was over seven years ago when I was working on music at least 4-5 hours a day. We know you feel entitled to make music, and you are, but know that damn near everybody else wants in on it too. Stand out in a good way.

    fighting

    Sometimes you want to put stuff out there to get a feel, and that is completely fine. That is what your social network is for. That’s how you build your first fans. That’s how you test the waters. Understand its limits though. Sure, you might argue if this is really the best route for your music career. One could certainly argue that if you are a perfectionist, and a lot of you really try to be, you may be that artist that never puts out any music. Everybody knows this person in their local music scene. “Yeah, that cat is dope…he just doesn’t put any music out.” No, you don’t want to be that guy either. You do need to know what areas you are NOT good in yet though. What are some specific areas? Well:

    • Maybe you have great lyrics but a horrid delivery. What good are great lyrics if it’s a pain to listen to you?
    • Maybe your recordings sound really bad. Maybe your vocals are grainy. Maybe your track is over-compressed. Maybe it’s too soft and not mastered. Maybe your adlibs drown out or conflict with your vocals (remember Silk The Shocker?). Maybe the mixing is just a train wreck. Do you understand transitions? Maybe it sounds great in headphones but not in a car. Maybe your adlibs are too loud. Maybe your song is structured bad. Maybe your fake trumpet sound is too loud. Do you need reverb? Your bass might sound good in your no-bass-having system but it could still sound HORRIBLE in a decent one. Do you need to cut more of that mid-range on the vocals to get it to pop and not sound muddy? Know these things or hire someone to!
    • Maybe your beats miss the right swing. Are they too quantized? Not enough? Maybe your bass lines suck, or worse, aren’t in key. Maybe you use corny stock sounds. Do you know chord structures? Do you know how that can elevate your sound? Maybe your drums don’t really knock the right way and sound…fake. Does your music actually sound like…music? Or, does it sound like a bunch of strange sounds that seem to be trying to act like it’s music? I mean, I’m semi-joking, but I’m also serious. Maybe you’re a great rapper but only decent at beats. Maybe flipped. Know what you’re lacking and build on it! Build, learn, and go the extra mile.
    • Maybe you have a great delivery and voice, but you aren’t saying shit worth remembering. I’m personally biased because I feel if this is you, you should just stop making putting out music altogether until you find a purpose. Put some more time into your craft.
    • I know that there is music for all occasions, and I know this is just my opinion, but I just do not buy into the argument that it has to be ignorant. And, you’re not being honest with yourself if you think a site similar to BDTB will share this type of music. This goes into the whole “know your lane” part from last weeks column. Not all blogs are built and run the same. This seems like common knowledge, but there are a lot of confused artists out there. Don’t expect respect from people with a certain type of taste if you make a certain type of tasteless music. Be honest with yourself; aspire to be great – not lame!
    • J dilla

      The last thing I’ll say is that I’m not trying to discourage anybody. We all have stepping stones and areas we can grow in; even the greatest. Learn to push your strong points to the front while you work on your weaker areas. Be smart. Do NOT find excuses for being wack though because people will love to point them out. God speed.

      Read More »
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    BABA: The Top Ten Reasons You Might Be Failing As A Rapper


    You can call me a blogger that has no taste. You can say I don’t know anything about being an artist. Well, you will also be wrong.

    Being a blogger, musician, engineer, show promoter and manager of sorts helps me see multiple sides of this music world in a way that most just don’t have the luxury of seeing. So, instead of just chiming in when I see something on Twitter, or dropping a couple ideas upon people exclusively in random studio sessions, I’ve decided to take the time out to share with you a few things I’ve personally had experience with.

    Why am I doing this? Well, whether the information is coming from an artist trying to get his music on sites, a blogger reviewing music, a producer working with rappers, or the many things I’ve done in between, what I’m sharing with you is something that hopefully helps you acknowledge areas you might be weak in. Something like “don’t do that” or “fix this” with the hopes that it helps your journey to be the successful artist you want to be. You might be successful, and that’s great, but maybe this will help you be more successful. I mean, let’s be real, you rappers need guidance more than ever these days because the world is flooded with you aspiring spit kickers, know-it-alls, and it’s hard to know what information is worth accepting as good advice. So, read this thoroughly, print it out, put it under your pillow at night, and recite it every morning. Oh, and check BDTB daily. Ready?

    are you ready

    The Top Ten Reasons Why You You Might Be Failing As A Rapper

    1) You are not being honest with yourself, and you do not have QUALITY ORIGINAL CONTENT. Those last three lines are capitalized for a reason! Maybe you’re simply not that great at what you do yet, and fall victim to the societal brainwashing that content in any form is better than none. You’ve been mislead. One thing many artists seem to lack these days is a good quality control system. Sounds funny when written, but not everything you do needs to be heard by the masses. The information age has changed the whole “pay your dues” process (for lack of a more descriptive word at the moment) because of how easy it is to do music. I honed my craft for 3-4 years before I ever tried to let the masses hear it, yet that doesn’t really seem feasible anymore because of the information wave. Still, this does not mean that bloggers, writers, and everybody that is looking out for talent will be less critical of your music because of that reason. It’s important to take note of that.

    Sure, share your songs to your friends, but us bloggers do not want to hear halfway done, non-mastered and unpolished confusing raps. Especially if you’re new and it’s your first impression to us. Maybe you don’t have any great producers around you so you jack beats. Maybe then you think that nobody will notice. Maybe you try to say that you’re paying homage? Well, we’ll not only notice, but we’ll classify you as that certain type of artist. The blog world is fast – we don’t have time to learn about all of the things that make you cool – you have to strike quick, confidently, and with a certain type of respect and class. As a blogger, if we don’t know who you are to begin with, and you don’t have original music, we cannot take you seriously as an artist. It’s that simple. You need to show us you are taking yourself serious before we can try to.

    original

    2) You think you’re entitled to something. A lot of rappers, and managers for that manner, don’t understand that it is not a blogger, magazine writer, fan, or anybody else’s job to listen, review, post, tweet, like, share, download or support YOUR music. That thought is hilarious to me…and I’m an artist too. You are creating “creative” content and you have to realize that nobody has to like you. It is the blogger and writers job to fuel THEIR audience. It is YOUR job to fuel the audience and the blogger with great content. You are a pawn on their board, and as arrogant as it sounds you must understand this. You don’t pay them, the advertising money from their visitors pay them. It’s important to realize that, and believe me, they can do just fine without you. I haven’t even mentioned event booking, but I will later as this is a great segue to number three.

    3) You don’t understand the importance of building appropriate relationships with the people you want to help you out. Or, if you do, you don’t do it very well. I’m more interested in sharing somebody’s music I’ve had a conversation with than somebody that’s obnoxious and annoying. The same goes with event booking. It’s simple human stuff, man. Build relationships with the people you want to work with. Network. Don’t hit them up on Twitter and demand them to listen to your music if you don’t know them (hell even if you do). If you don’t know them, follow them on Twitter and strike conversations with them randomly based upon what they are talking about. Don’t invade or intrude, but be persistent. If you are in the same city that they are in, go to their events. Make yourself known with class and respect. Offer them something. You don’t have to kiss ass, but you must realize that you must add VALUE to whatever they are doing. Being socially pleasant is possibly one of the biggest skills you can acquire.

    Now, I understand there are websites that ask you to pay, and there are promoters that either won’t pay you, or even ask you to pay to play. Fuck all of that shit, but make sure you gauge the value of the situation. If you get asked to open for Brother Ali with no pay, and you’re a little-to-no-name act, fucking open for Brother Ali and shut the fuck up. Sound harsh? Well, do you know how many people would PAY to open for him? Build that relationship. Nurture that relationship. Certain opportunities do NOT happen more than once, so grab that opportunity and push forward around that momentum. You must also find ways to work with rising artists in and a step above your bracket, as well as in and outside of your city. Find a way to be valuable to them. This rolls perfectly into number four.

    fuckyoupayme

    4) You don’t understand how to gauge value well. Maybe you try to do everything for free and you shouldn’t, which is something I’ve done wrong in the past. It’s not that people try to take advantage of it, it’s just that some really know how to capitalize on a good thing. Know your value and adjust accordingly based upon the value coming in. I know, it seems like common sense, but it’s not for everybody! Make sure everybody knows prices, costs, and anything expected UPFRONT!

    Let’s flip it though. Maybe you charge for everything and you shouldn’t. You probably don’t realize that investing in your career means that you must actually INVEST in your career. Oh shit, that was literal? Yeah, man. You might need to come out of pocket for that gear. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and not make any money at a show. Sometimes you shouldn’t charge for that feature. Sometimes you should pay extra to get that somebody on your track. Sometimes you should pay for that beat rather than jacking one. Not all investing is monetarily based, but a lot of it is. You need to remember that you get what you pay for, and you should realize that in this world where money seems to be what everyone is after, that what everyone is really yearning for is value. Not money. Well, at least the people that I want to do business with.

    Building valuable relationships is extremely important. Ask anybody that’s doing something that you wanted to do how they got to be able to do it, and I will bet you that 90% of the time it is because of a valuable relationship that they have built. Either that or they paid for it, and unless you have the money to just pay for it (and get labeled as such (or laughed at depending on if the person doesn’t roll that way)), maybe you should focus on this whole value system. You’ll get respect that way too, and yeah, that’s a cool thing to have in this crazy music sphere. Shake hands and build together!

    shake hands

    5) You are not good at turning criticism and commentary into positive results. A blogger, A&R, producer, writer, reviewer, fan, other rapper, and anybody that has ears are all important people to get weighed opinions from. You must decipher appropriately what is great and horrible information, and learn how to constructively fix the parts of your art that is lacking. You don’t have to change who you are to do these things if you are talented at what you do. At the end of the day you can always learn something new, and you can always be more efficient and effective. Let your peers talk; you know deep down if what they are saying is true or not. This plays into number six though…

    6) You have too many YES men and consider everyone else a hater. Be very mindful of the TASTE of the people that like and dislike your music. Understand your audience. Stop thinking you’re special because friends and friends of friends like your music, and don’t think you suck because somebody that likes Miley Cyrus thinks you suck. Find the good and bad in it.

    Taking from my own experiences, I’ve found that the best way to get an honest opinion from someone is to gauge your sound on people that don’t care about you. People that don’t have any incentive to like you or not. Close friends have other factors to consider, and so do colleagues. Relationships. Rappers are sensitive, bro. You know, you can be happy when people in an old folks home rock with you, but still don’t let it influence your productivity. Sometimes people will simply just not like your music because they don’t like you. Take it in stride.

    action bronson old folks

    7) You get caught in the hype machine. I’m sorry if you’re one of those “artists” that purposely or accidentally copies whatever is HOT in your POP media circle. It’s honestly annoying and disheartening to see talented people fall into this category. You know, you might be able to rap your ass off but you don’t seem to have an ounce of originality in you.

    Listen to me here: You will not have longevity in this or anything artistic by being a one-off imitation of someone/thing else, and you MUST create yourself to stand out in the best way that fits you. Frauds will always be exposed!

    What do Mos Def, Black Thought, Kanye West, Riff Raff, Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, Future, Danny Brown, Mac Miller, and Chance The Rapper all have in common? They are the best at what THEY do; they are unique. Sure, they may be similar to other artists, but they have defined themselves with distinct characteristics. All artists do. They are in the top position with who they are. Danny Brown is the only Danny Brown, and you don’t want to be the third best Riff Raff. You want to be the only Riff Raff, or better yet, the only YOU.

    riff raff

    These next one has multiple parts to it.

    8) You aren’t keeping up with the ever-changing revolution of internet media. Everything changes. Daily. Have you ever wondered why a site went from sharing Hulkshare and Mediafire to AudioMack and Soundcloud only? Have you even noticed? Do you understand why Bandcamp, Soundcloud and AudioMack are the best mediums you can put your full-length project on? Do you know the differences in them, and why certain sites and fans like them? This is VERY important for you artists that do not have somebody doing all of your stuff for you. Hell, it’s important that you do know these things so that you can make sure the person doing it knows what THEY are doing.

    Aside, do you understand what blogs are the best to submit to for your sound? Do you understand how annoying it is to receive emails from artists of completely different genres? Or flipped, do you understand how much time you are wasting sending your music to the wrong site? A rock blog is not going to share your jazz tunes. An eclectic hip hop site is not going to share your trap music. A trap music site is not going to share you boom bap. Understand your lane. Do you know how many emails get deleted before they even get read because they are either formatted wrong, too hard to understand, contain poor grammar, and/or don’t follow simple guidelines? A lot of you are really hurting yourselves in this area, and it’s completely unnecessary if you would slow down and target your distribution.

    Also, this does not mean that you need to be put in a box, but it does mean that you might need to adjust your target. You know, the difference between accuracy and precision. I know you rappers out there play COD.

    Another thing that plays into this is that a lot of you want to be posted on a website, but you act like you’re too busy to read the site’s submitting guidelines. Or, you drop a project, and don’t do the proper planning to put a release out. Look, there’s nothing more annoying to someone that wants to share fresh new music than some rapper hitting them up in a public place, on Twitter or Facebook, or in some way that has nothing to do with the submitting guidelines, and then expects them to randomly remember to share their music. To go out of their way. Yo, these guys are probably busier than you are. Sure, mention it to me, but follow the rules!

    Submitting guidelines are in place so that us bloggers can keep track of everything. I know it may not be the case for all blogs, as some don’t even take submissions, but if you submit using our form, we will not only be able to keep track of it, but we can put it in a queue to be reviewed and you will at least know that someone looked at it. If you hit us on Twitter, phone text, or wherever, it’s simply not going to be looked at. And you will be looked at with one of those angry kid faces.

    facemad

    9) You distribute your music horribly. You need to make sure that your music is easy to get to. Before that, you really need to plan out your releases ahead of time. I’m talking singles, videos, show dates, interviews, and anything else that you may want to do. And man, they all have to be high quality. Great videos. Hi-resolution, professional artwork. High production quality my friends.

    If you don’t plan ahead you are planning to fail.
    Proper planing prevents poor performance.

    You know what else? You should have a website. A simple yet effective and efficient website. A hub. Not for bloggers necessarily, but for your fans. Fans need websites more than blogs do, and sites appeal to people that want to book you. Don’t send me to Reverbnation, Live Mixtapes, Dat Piff, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, or anything of the like if I’m trying to book you. Sure, have these things for blogs (preferably one that is EASY to embed), but you need a central location so that everyone can find you. And yes, it has to be greatly efficient, pleasing on the eyes, and NOT automatically playing music when I arrive to your site.

    10) Success takes more work than you will want to do. And I repeat…success takes a lot more work than you understand. Years.

    Use to wish on a star that I’d have big plaques
    Big awards right here on the wall, everything that gleam
    Lamp shades, back stage, for this nigga askin’
    Tay, would you work ten years for your dream?
    Seven years later, now I see just what he mean… – Phonte “The Pressure”

    There is no such thing as overnight success my man/woman. Even the most horrible artists worked to be where they are. Sure, they may have caught a break, but they were doing what they needed to be doing when that happened. If you get that moment, really plan around it to make sure that you can piggy-back off of it continually. Keep your momentum going; it’s very important. Do NOT underestimate the phrases “work hard” and “hustle” because you gauge those things based upon what you consider hard work and hustle. You must work hard based upon the people you are in competition with. As sad as it is, hustle always outweighs talent in our world. And always: Kaizen. Continual improvement will get you to where you need to be.

    kazen

    If you have comments about something you want to know more about, or disagree with something, drop a comment. Let’s discuss some things. Good luck!

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