FEATURE: Blueprint

For our 12th Anniversary issue, XXL came up with a 12 Step Program for rappers to improve their chances in this ailing music industry. Steps included: Negotiate a contract that makes sense for you, do your own marketing, and stay out of jail. Along with the steps, we spoke to a “sponsor” who offered advice for each; they also provided their own suggestions on how to get the rap game back in tip-top shape. Below are their personal steps.

Pick up the September issue for the complete package and to see the full interviews from each sponsor.

FLO RIDA: “In order to be a great leader you must be a great follower. I feel artists of today and the new up-and-coming artists/producers need to study the history of music. You should never feel afraid to try new things.”

MAINO: “Some of the elder rappers need to step aside. Out wit the old…in with the new!”

MALICE: “The Internet could either be the demise of your career or it can propel your career. So you need to just try other avenues of making yourself available and accessible to the people. You can’t just wait on the record company to do everything. Just do everything that you can for yourself. Even in our hiatus, [the Clipse] were putting out mixtapes and doing a lot of shows and just staying busy where the record company couldn’t help us.”

PRODIGY: “People need to be unique. That is the key: being yourself. Not following what everybody does. Just because you hear Jay-Z ‘swagger’ doesn’t mean you gotta say it a million times, call your record company Swagger, now you got rappers named swagger and you got clothes called swagger. Stop following what people do so much! Everybody tryna copy what everybody else is doing and say what everybody else is saying, dress how everybody else is dressing, cut your hair like everybody else got they hair cut, do this, everybody got a fuckin’ Mohawk, everybody got the peasy afro, everybody got the fuckin’ Ray Bans on… Yo cut it out. Be unique and that will save muthafuckin’ music.”

SLIM THUG: “Focus on the music and give people a quality album instead of just hit songs. It ain’t like it used to be when you had a few greats. People get lucky ’cause it’s more muthafuckas who can record on a fucking computer. Anybody can do it now, so people lucking out and having a hit song but that’s all they got. So if an artist focus on the music and give people a solid album full of good songs, its not only gon’ give em longevity in the game but it’s gon’ give em that quality brand.”

MICKEY FACTZ: “Rappers need to be themselves. Now, there’s a ton of clones in the industry and nobody really wants to try to improve what’s going on in music especially in hip-hop, I think the stage shows aren’t creative enough. I think it’s just a lot of the same thing over and over again instead of innovative situations.”

BOOSIE: “It’s gon’ be hard to improve the rap game ’cause computers done took over the rap game, really. Putting out mixtapes and putting out more music will help the rap game instead of just one album every couple years. When I do my mixtapes, I do ’em myself and ship ’em to a distributor.”

BUN B: “Destroy the World Wide Web. It’s made consumers and artists too lazy and compromising.”

WENDY DAY: “Do the homework. Learn how the industry works inside and out.”

CORTEZ BRYANT: “Build up your management before your deal. That only makes you more attractive. If you got a banger and a good team to work it, put together a marketing plan to establish what kind of artist you’re going to be. Establish your brand. From there, that’s when you go get a contract.”

JOELL ORTIZ: “Surround yourself with people who believe in you as much—if not more—than you do. People who believe in you as a person. Sky’s the limit from there, because when you got people that push for you on days when you’re discouraged, tired or ready to give up, nothing will ever stop you. You are your team. I have a machine team—me, Mike Heron and Dennis Wynn. It’s been us three the hard way since the beginning, and that’s not gonna change.”—Clover Hope

  • Silly Willy

    I can’t believe what I’m about to do, but I’m actually cosigning Flo Rida and disagree with Bun B…….

    You can all move in for the kill…..

    • Curtis75Black

      @Silly Willy,

      Why ? because you don’t particularily like his music ? No one said its a rule to agree with whom you’re a fan of constantly !! I myself agree with Flo-Rida. Peeps need to try new things and be able to follow. Baby steps are the key to a nice career. You come in thinking you’re the shit and peeps will ignore you !! When you try new things, fans notice. They might not at first appreciate it but years later, it will sink in.

      As far as Maino goes, Kiss my Ass !! Make your own lane !! What, you too scared to have some competition ? I thought you was Hardbody !!

      • Silly Willy

        What’s good, Curtis ?

        Actually, his statement just surprised me. I didn’t expect him to say that, which is great because you shouldn’t judge a book by his cover,…even though the cover gives you an idea what the book will be like….

        I guess Flo Rida is the anti-SDN…smart on interviews and on songs not so much…

        And Boosie looks confused ….

        • Curtis75Black

          That happens to the best of us, especially when you’re dealing with a emcee you happen to like, he comes off sounding like a jerk or trying too hard to be what he raps about and is just ignorant.

  • Quan

    In the words of Oh No;

    “Who The Fuck Am I To Complain About Hip Hop Nowadays?
    Im Gonna Evolve It To The Next Stage”

    Hip Hop is going downhill. Lets Destroy and rebuild.

  • http://callmephlip.blogspot.com/ Phlip

    I actually agree with Flo-Rida, but only what he said after the first statement.

    Maino sounds like a disrespectful ignorant-ass… Imagine that.

    Prodigy was spot-on, everyone is starting to look like everyone else, it is almost like someone is selling a “build your rap career” kit on ebay or craigslist.

    Slim Thug’s statements are true, but ironic since he is not exactly heeding his own words.

    Bun B was actually about half right. The internet has made artists and fans lazy, the artists inundate us with a new mixtape every 3 weeks and the “fans” get spoiled on getting the shit for free, the product is spread thin and quality suffers, and the “fan” thinks that this is how the shit should be. Then the actual released product is similarly shitty. Vicious cycle. Also, let us not forget that the internets does NOT buy albums.

    I am sure that there is more elaboration on these points in the individual interviews. I am not sure how effective the ideas presented will be, though. It seems that the industry is headed in in the wrong direction, where we have good shit that is completely ignored and not getting any promotion, yet “LOL Smileyface” gets a million spins a day.
    Apparently it is not just hip hop though, everyone is being saddled with and expected to accept shitty music and like it.

  • Sincere

    Prodigy was on point and still managed to take a shot @ Jay LOL. Sometimes i think P is smart as hell, sometimes it’s just damn this nigga is crazy.

    Flo Rida put in alot of work with people like Luke and Teddy Riley for years before he got on so his answer doesn’t really surprise me. Even though his shit ain’t my cup of tea you could tell that he knows music.

  • HIPHOP

    I cosign Bun, Slim, Malice, Flo-Rida, MIckey and Joel. The rest were just Cliche’ answers.

  • tronthadon

    Manio is a whack ass hata put up or shut up scar face flop flabby nigga..

  • 11KAP

    Give Soulja Boy a call.
    that’s it. lol
    ——————————
    Maino, u ’bout to be a old nigga too, son. wtf?

  • chillin mayne

    maino sayin those that put in quality and got experience in the game need to step aside for dudes jus cuz of they age??…i dont usually cuss but GET THA FUCK OUTTA HERE…

    Move on with that bullshit…da fuck??

    maino, u may know, absolutly nothig

  • chillin mayne

    *nothing

  • http://www.yahoo.com Arifur rahaman

    International mafiea being incarrage for revlitune 25th februari armi of bangladesh against b.d.r killing operation success.other wise mr.penak ambasador of india stratele trait if bd not aggri tepai esue and demortal b.d.r than india hit economical position of bangladeshi finence.Hallo i m fine,but u?kip it good.have a news that the helth menister of bangladesh declired “they have enaugh stock (Swine flue)protect medicine!

  • TxTitan

    Maino trippin…I rather listen my niggas Bun and Scarface than any of these new wack niggas aint sayin shit……Cory Gunz and J. Cole got next on some Trill shit!!!!

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    MAINO: “Some of the elder rappers need to step aside. Out wit the old…in with the new!”

    LMAO

  • http://XXLLMAG.COM I AMHIPHOP

    WHAT’S UP WITH THAT MAINO?IN WITH THE NEW OUT WITH THE OLD.THAT WAS A REAL STUPID COMMENT.IF NOTHING ELSE I BELIEVE MC’S/RAPPERS THATS BEEN IN THE GAME FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME COULD BE A GREAT BENIFIT TO TODAYS RAPPERS.LL COOL ,RAKIM,KRS1,SLICK RICK,BIG DADDY KANE,ETC ARE ALL LEGENDS.THE HIPHOP COMMUNITY NEEDS TO STICK TOGETHER AN PRESERVE THESE GREAT ARTIST.STOP CALLING THEM OLD SCHOOL,WHEN THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS RAKIM.LL COOL J,KRS1,BIG DADDY KANE,KOOL G RAP,SLICK RICK,ETC TO THIS DAY CAN STILL RAP BETTER THAN 99 PERCENT OF TODAYS RINGTONE RAPPERS.THAT IS THE TRUTH.RAKIM HAS A NEW HOT SINGLE OUT NOW.(HOLY),UNFORUNATELY;DUE TO POLITICS AN THE IGNORANTS OF SOME OF TODAYS RAPPERS I BELIEVE IT WILL PROBABLY NOT BE SUPPORTED.THAT IS VERY SAD.RAKIM DESERVES BETTER TREATMENT.TO ME HE IS THE GREATEST MC EVER.RAKIM-(THE SEVENTH SEAL).SUPPORT THAT ALBUM WHEN IT DROPS NEXT MONTH.SAVE HIPHIOP!!!PEACE!

  • 11KAP

    All the best emcees have a right to express themselves forever. fuck a age! Nuff respect to the elders in this thing of ours. real talk.

  • REAL TALK

    Maino your 35 years old thats the same age as NAS & 4 years younger than Jay-Z. LoL your the old so if it’s out wit the old you gotta go

  • http://www.rocbattle.com/AndreB AndreB

    hey I AMHIPHOP!
    all of those rappares maybe excepte of LL is OUT of the game long time ago. So i don’t think Maino was talking about them. What I think he was tryin’ to say that alof of older people (not rappers) don’t give the new mc’s an honest chance to show what they can do…

  • http://XXLMAG.COM IAMHIPHOP

    WHAT’S UP ANDRE-B YOU PROBABLY RIGHT TO A POINT.HOWEVER;I STILL SAY RAKIM,BIG DADDY KANE,KRS1,SLICK RICK,SCARFACE,LL COOL J,AN A FEW MORE MC’S FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF HIPHOP CAN STILL ROCK THE MIC IF GIVING A CHANCE BETTER THAN 99 PERCENT OF TODAYS RINGTONE RAPPERS.STRAIGHT UP BROTHER ! PEACE!!

  • KillyoSelf

    Co-Fuckin-sign H.N.I.C. Be yourself period!

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    alot of good ideas. Manio just want more money, but..no comment. florida was on point. the dude is prob smarter than u think. 1. his name is prob the most creative in hip hop. 2. the dude makes poppy songs but dang he keeps making hits. i think people get hip hop the culture and hip hop the buisness confused. they can coexist together. prodigy prob was the most direct, i don’t think he took a shot a jay i think he basically spoke the truth about the copy cats.