As a youngster growing up, I fell in love with rap music & hip hop culture. Back then everybody mimicked the New York style, after all the ‘Rotten Apple’ is the birthplace of hip hop. East Coast rap reflected the cold winters, hot summers, big city lifestyle and of course had the criminal influence of the ghetto streets from which it was birthed (how else could these poor Black teenagers afford the big rope chains, custom-designed leather jackets, Jeeps & European whips?)
In the late 80’s the West Coast began to have a real presence in rap. Their music was influenced by NY hip hop, but even more influenced by Cali living – palm trees, sunny days, gang violence & crack sales.
The 90’s saw the emergence of numerous indie labels owned by young Black men who either actually or allegedly had ties to the streets. During this decade rap became much more blatantly street influenced. The majority of young rappers came from poverty stricken families who lived in crime-ridden neighborhoods; and even if the rappers themselves weren’t “gangsters” the music became more and more about the only people these kids saw living a ‘good life’.
Moving from the 90’s into the 00’s saw more of this street-influenced rap come to prominence as the young Black label owners of the 90’s became the moguls of the rap industry.
The East Coast, West Coast, Midwest & South all had their own styles of music, their own rap “SuperStars” which the public loved. The success of these artists led to collaborations that brought artists from these different areas together to bring each region’s music to the masses.
Sometime during the late 2000’s & 10’s the combination of improved technology and the millions made during the “music boom” drew attention seekers like flies to honey searching for the gold & platinum plaques and big dollars that appeared so easy to get in the music industry. I mean, all you needed was a nice beat and some fly lyrics right?
Which brings us to the present day “rap game”.
Today there are plenty of rappers who aren’t artists, beatmakers who aren’t truly producers, DJs who can’t mix; and of course an ocean of sharks labeling themselves as managers, a&rs, consultants, promoters, marketers, talent scouts & more; lying about label affiliations in order to impress the newcomer “wanna be’s”. These snake-oil slingers & all-around con men make their living by promising riches and fame to every starry-eyed novice with a dollar and a dream…..leaving them with a dream deferred or derailed, and a bank account as empty as the promises used to fleece their victim.
In today’s music industry, technology has left all of us with no excuse for ignorance. Anybody with a computer, smartphone, or tablet is able to find out the truth about how things really work in the music industry.
If you’re an artist, producer, songwriter, etc. I suggest you use the tools at your disposal to protect yourself from the cons & scams that occur everyday. Google can be your friend if you’ve got enough patience to really research the people and companies that claim to offer the services or connections you need.
We live in a time where a lot of the answers we seek are available to anybody with a little research and determination.
Be determined. You’ll learn more on your own than anybody can teach you. Then once you’re armed with a solid foundation of knowledge, you’ll be able to seek out those who are qualified to teach you the things only learned through experience. But, you must lay your own foundation in the beginning. You are not a baby to be fed a bottle by another person. You are embarking on the path to your dreams. You must be strong enough & well equipped in order to survive.
Give yourself the best chance possible at success. Do your research.
Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A Scratchy Throat. A Scratchy Throat – the brainchild of music industry mainstay Wendy Day – provides professional social media marketing specifically designed for today’s aspiring artists.