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Two Concrete Ways To Gain Influence As A Rapper

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Progression is fickle in the musical environment. It’s both the most important method of measuring improvement, but at the same time, utterly meaningless unless it’s the right type of improvement. Over the past couple of decades, rapid advancements in technology have completely changed the way that we communicate with each other. In 2007, a majority of high school children owned flip phones, ten years later we have fully functioning computers capable of replacing our home desktops. In short, with the rapidly changing world, the path to stardom rapidly changes every single day. What may have worked for artists like Nas, Jay-Z, even Young Thug, may not necessarily work for artists in 2017. It’s important to realize that every artist begins at a different starting point on the road to glory. Take this in stride and create the right type of progress to push yourself in the correct direction.

This type of progress is what I wish to push in this essay that I’m writing today. While I love popular music as much as the next, I spend a majority of my listening time on Soundcloud. In addition to this, I am fortunate to call a number of excellent musicians my friends. Furthermore, I listen to around 75% of music links that I find online. Lastly, I read and listen to a lot of musicians interviews about coming up out of sheer curiosity. The point of explaining these points is that while I’m not directly affiliated with the music making experience, I know quite a bit about what it takes to “make it.” My ear for music constantly changes, allowing me to adapt to what’s hot at the moment as well as what will be hot next. As I sit on the sidelines watching artists’ stories unfold, I’ve come up with two factors that influence the rate of progression. For 2018 and beyond, I’d like to discuss these parameters so that all of the amazing hip hop artists I know are able to sprint to the finish line, regardless of where they started in the race to success. Quick Disclaimer: everything that I’m going to talk about is my own personal view. I’m well aware that these rules may not apply to everyone.

Create a spectacle.
In order to be anyone of importance in the world, you must be a spectacle. Act like an anomaly to attract an audience. Let’s face it; the days of getting noticed for sheer lyricism are long gone. It’s still possible in rare cases, like J. Cole or Kendrick Lamar (two artists who worked extremely hard to get in the positions that they are today) but don’t bank on it. That’s why so many artists go unfulfilled in their quest. Give the listener something to remember you by. What would you want your fans to say about you when they describe you? Bring the spectacle to your music. I’m not saying to have just one sound, but add similar characteristics so that we know can follow the growth in your music. Without remembrance, artists come and go quickly. Future’s trademark shtick of warbling charismatically originated on his Pluto album. It also consisted of songs such as Same Damn Time that featured traditional rapping styles. After seeing that his experimental sound garnered better reception, he would go on to use it heavily. This was the creation of the shtick.

Be confident in your shit. seriously.
One of the biggest killers of could-be great music comes from the artist: portraying their uncertainty on the track. Trust me, if you think you sound nervous you do. Even if it takes more than one hundred takes of making the song, keep going. Once you finish, begin experimenting with different cadences and pitches. Have a circle of friends who will give you an honest opinion. Make sure that you are confident in your work. Tee Grizzley’s “First Day Out” oozes with confidence that makes itself evident from the first line. How did it manage to amass tens of millions of views over the course of a few weeks? People gravitated to the song. The confidence Tee Grizzley conveyed captured the listener’s interest. That and the beat is ridiculously beautiful. When your confident in your work, it shows.

Apply these two rules and you’ll be well on your way to success.

 

Editorials

Drake Should Have Kept City Girls’ Verses On “In My Feelings”

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Drake’s “In My Feelings” has become a viral hit thanks to internet comedian Shiggy’s challenge. It’s also a good song with enough switchups to keep it interesting. One of the more interesting switchups comes in the second verse when City Girls, Quality Control’s star signees, come in for snippet’s of suave verses that are equally energetic and laid back. But we only get glimpses at their verses, the rest were locked away. Now, we’ve gotten them again since they’ve released the extended version of their verses.

This reminds me of the time when Rick Ross’ “Aston Martin Music” came out and glimpses of a powerful Drake feature were apparent in the tail ends of the choruses (sung by Chrisette Michelle). Drake confirmed that he’d recorded a verse for the song that was ultimately cut with “Paris Morton Music,” a standalone release that proved him to be one of the game’s hottest up-and-comers.

With City Girls’ release echoing this earlier sentiment, I’m surprised that Drake did in fact not include their verses. They fit the vibrant energy of the song, so building around them would have been instrumental to capitalize on their fanbase as well as showcase their artistry. It would give them a chance that he was robbed of earlier in his career.

Regardless, check out the City Girls version of “In My Feelings” below.

 

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Editorials

Lakeith Stanfield Needs To Stay Far The Fuck Away From Rapping

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Photo courtesy of GQ

Lakeith Stanfield plays Darius on the FX’s hit show Atlanta that has been renewed for a third season. He’s the weird, idiosyncratic best friend of rapper Paper Boy who always knows more than what he lets on. Viewers fell in love with his demeanor that, according to Stanfield, isn’t that much different from him in real life. In fact, all of us blacks have traces of Stanfield’s Darius inside of us. Society may paint us as one-note stock characters, but, yes, like Darius, we talk about quantum physics and the possibility of simulation universes just as much as we can about smoking marijuana or having sex.

He may be winning over audiences and critiques as an actor, but he also wants to do the same thing as a rapper. When Stanfield was interviewed by The Breakfast Club in November of 2016, he revealed to the trio of Charlamagne Tha God, DJ Envy, and Angela Yee, that he was also a serious rapper. Charlamagne challenged him to rap, and what spit from his lips was some of the most garbage, try-hard lyricism that has been released in the last five-to-ten years. Charlamagne wasn’t impressed; the rest of the room remained equally silent. Instead of taking a hint, he’s kept at it. He recently released a song called “Mango” with Tune-Yards from his recent film Sorry To Bother You. Stanfield’s vocals are horrendous bordering on simulation-like.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with what he’s saying, it’s how he’s saying it. Stanfield’s vocals feel flat, like he’s just doing this to get it off of his chest. Of course, we know that his demeanor is normally like that, but in rap that won’t work out as well as it does in the acting and interviewing world.

Maybe time will tell. If that’s how he truly conducts his artistry, he’ll have a hard time becoming and remaining relevant in the rap game.

 

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Editorials

Please, Don’t Take Nicki Minaj’s “Barbie Dreamz” Serious

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Nicki Minaj’s fourth studio album Queen released with a hilarious flip of Biggie’s “Just Playing (Dreams)” from his final studio album Ready to Die. Lil Kim also created a steamy version that centers around men as sexual toys, but, for some reason, Nicki’s has ruffled a few feathers. On “Barbie Dreamz,” Nicki uses modern rap males as her playthings through a series of verses that are clearly meant as jokes. Don’t take it serious.

On the song, she names 31 different people – from Quavo and Karrueche, to Lil Uzi Vert and Drake. Many have apparently “had sex” with her – Meek Mill and DJ Khaled have failed recently supposedtly – but, as stated above, it’s jokes, nothing more. She even tweeted as such after the uproar hit critical level.

Nicki has long been adamant that she’s never been one to sleep with a number of industry men. She’s went on record, and in interviews, to reiterate the fact. There’s also the fact that male rappers have built entire careers out of trolling. Can we let Nicki have her fun?

Let’s just enjoy the music and dissect it later.

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