EDITORIAL:In The Era Of Business, Not Rap.
In The Era Of Business, Not Rap.
Somewhere in the course of the last decade, rap music became an industry in and of itself. It became this huge, record churning, hit producing machine that puts out not just mere rappers but business men. Heck, moguls even! Today’s successful rappers aren’t just successful artists, they are successful businessmen and the business of hip hop works on the same mechanisms as any other business.
For starters it’s all about the marketing. Success in this industry isn’t just about making good music, more often than not; it’s about really average music with a killer marketing plan. From album leaks to generating some pre launch buzz to special appearances at events to raise the profile and collaborations with other chart toppers; the businessmen and women of hip hop know how to get it done when it comes to plugging and pushing an album.
In this business, success is also inexplicably linked to fame and staying in the spotlight. So, when an album release is around the corner you’ll often hear stories about a breakup, shocking revelations to the tabloids or even a down and out run in with the law, which always grabs the headlines. Many people don’t realise that it’s simply all part and parcel of selling a product, in this case, their music.
The hip hop industry also operates like a business in that it has established a stronghold in a variety of different areas. No successful hip hop artist today just sells music; chances are they’ve got their fingers in a number of pies from fashion to perfumes and more. Hip hop videos sell a certain lifestyle to the fans, one of extravagance, designer clothes and the fanciest everything. The industry then takes it one step further by marketing the products featured in the videos to the audience, just like product placements on television shows.
Success thus, is less dependent on lyrics, a killer beat and street credibility. It’s more about creating a brand name, marketing yourself and making the most out of your name. It seems that in the world of hip hop, the business aspect often outweighs the creative. Successful rappers, the likes of Diddy, Fifty Cent and Lil’ Wayne all have diverse business structures sustained by their brand name, with clothing and jewellery lines, acting careers and more. The rappers that lend their focus solely to the music don’t tend to be as commercially successful, MF Doom and Lupe Fiasco come to mind here.
So in the battle of the smart rapper versus the smart business man, it seems that the businessman is winning by all accounts. Is he also creating better music or just music to supplement his income and empire? Well I suppose that is the real issue facing hip hop today.
There is nothing wrong with making it big on different fronts, there is nothing wrong with empire building and styling oneself as a mogul but, there is something wrong when all of this comes at the expense of the music. So can businessman and rapper co-exist? That my friends, that, is the question.