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Making It As A New Rap Artist Today
Anyone looking to break into the business of rap or hip hop in this day and age has a lot to contend with. First of all, the popularity of the format as well as the abundance of artists already in existence has made it a very competitive field. Then there are the rap artists that have gone beyond the music to produce, act, write or create and launch their own brand of clothes, jewelry, etc. If those aren’t enough obstacles there’s the fact that a majority of the major labels out there expect you to be successful before you succeed. Meaning the days of nurturing and supporting an act from obscurity to fame are long gone. It breaks down like this:
+ Either you have amassed amazing street vibe or a street appeal that has attracted the attention of labels who see your potential earning power or
+ You have the fortune of having an “in.” And by “in” meaning you either have a relative, a best friend or a posse member (A la Eminem and D12) who can get you on the fast track to stardom.
+ As a byproduct of the current reality show trend there is also a new generation of celebrities (American Idol, Making the Band, The Real World, etc) who have been able to extend their fame past the life of the show.
That’s not to say that all hope is not lost. The rules may have changed slightly but by no means does exclude you from playing the game. From a hip hop perspective there are in fact things that makes this journey down the road to success slightly different that other genres of music.
1, 2 1, 2 Microphone Check
There is one advantage in rap and hip hop that doesn’t apply to rock and pop -- the “live” element isn’t quite as important. Because so much of the music, style and personality of the artists take precedence over a stage show, a lot of hip hop up and comers get signed without much stage time at all. This doesn’t necessarily negate the stage skill but makes it one less challenge that a newcomer has to struggle with as they would in other genres. Although touring is a major source of income and in fact a great way to get your music out there for independent artists, a lot of stars have been made with mediocre live skills.
Another major difference is that so many of these newcomers can take the DIY approach to recording, so many artists with the right drive and initiative will have already begun their own local and regional distribution self made CDs before an A&R scout even enters the fold. The ability to make relatively high quality music using little more than a computer has only increased this.
Lastly, in the rap and hip hop world the artists have this trait known as the first week phenomenon. Particularly from a regional standpoint. A CD or single could get airplay, and take off in just one week then continue to remain popular. When someone like, for instance, Nelly, was up and coming he may not have had national recognition but he did have a strong presence in the southeast (New Orleans, Atlanta, etc). And if you have a regional artists with a “hot new sound or single” soon others begin to pay attention. There are even several cities that proudly boast their own sound thanks to the popularity of artists from the area.
It’s all about the dedication
Everyone wishes they had a Dr. Dre, 50 Cent or Diddy in their pocket who could not only get them in the studio but use their enormous fame and power in the industry to put them on. The challenge for everyone else is to get their discs made and out to the streets, clubs, and DJs who’ll get them the spins to get them the recognition.
Even more so than that is the challenge of finding a sound that will connect with the listeners while attempting to be original. At the least, attempting to put a fresh spin on an old variation. Either way, committing to success, pursuing more than just one avenue and staying true to your sound will not guarantee success but will at least put on the right path.
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