Admit You Have a Problem
Sponsor: XXL

Hip-hop is a lot like a sick patient currently in a state of relapse. The glory days are behind us, and the past few years have seen constant change in and around the culture. In spite of drooping sales, a love/hate Internet revolution and a decrepit economy, though, hip-hop is still our No. 1 obsession, no matter how little money it makes. But what happens when an addict needs help? He might look into a 12-step program. From mild to extreme cases, this recovery process is designed for those suffering from any type of dependency or dysfunctional habit. A system of actions to heal the weak. Well, on the business side, hip-hop is in delicate shape. The combination of sales troubles, the Web, and record-label breakdowns has made it harder than ever for rappers to become superstars and have lasting success. Luckily, now is a good time to start anew. A new president is in place. Old systems are being overhauled. And the wheel is ripe for reinvention. It’s an age when everyone’s trying to figure things out, including XXL. Like a proud parent, we love hip-hop and its participants, but there’s always room for improvement, right? So, in honor of our 12th anniversary, we came up with a 12-step program for rappers to recover from the music-industry slump. The first step: Admit that you have a problem. Paging Dr. Carter… Dr. Mathers?

A revolution of sorts is already underway. See: Jay-Z lyrically eradicating Auto-Tune, Young Jeezy calling out “too much bullshit” in hip-hop, the cries of excessive swagger/too little quality, and fans hating on, well, everything. We’ll spare you the “it’s not you, it’s me” and simply say rappers need teaching. To that end, we updated some of the traditional elements of the rap game for MCs of today and tomorrow. These aren’t your parents’ rules, and they’re not merely for new faces, but veterans, too. Within the next few pages, you’ll find XXL’s proposed 12-step program for recovery, with help from a few sponsors. Follow our steps. It’s the road to success.

Step 2
Create a Buzz Record
Sponsor: Maino

The right song, the right hook, the right hit can change a career. Whether you’re a new artist seeking buzz or an established MC in need of a comeback, the buzz record is your entry point, and you must get it right (i.e., 50 Cent’s “Wankster” and Eminem’s “My Name Is”).
Before “Hi Hater” became a hood favorite, Brooklyn rapper Maino developed an underground following through rap battles and street-DVD cameos, shuffling through several bad songs before finding a gem. “We got plenty of examples of artists that were on the grind and had street records, but they wasn’t able to make the proper single to connect the streets and the radio at the same time,” says Maino, whose gold-selling second single, “All the Above,” features T-Pain. “As far as record spins, [‘Hi Hater’] did well, but it feels like it was bigger than it actually was. That’s because it was a novelty record, and it tapped into the culture of hip-hop, like with the shirts and the slogan, with everybody saying it. I was able to score not only a good first single but a record that you could never forget.”

The good part is that a song these days can be introduced in various ways—radio, blogs, virally, Twitter, P. Twitty TV… Whether it’s successful is all in the setup. “Once you got a record that everybody feels could work, a record needs a plan. [You can’t] just put a record out and expect it to work,” says Maino. “It’s no real formula. I had another record that I thought was gon’ work but didn’t perform as well. ‘Hood Love,’ with Trey Songz, came out after ‘Hi Hater.’ That was actually supposed to be my second single, but it didn’t move as fast, so I had to cook some more stuff up. So you might not always get it, but you gotta keep fighting.”

Until you find that number one.

To read more of the Detox feature, make sure to pick up XXL‘s September issue on newsstands now.

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  • chanson

    Man, hooking brothers in with the “Detox” article title is smart but shady. I’ll be back when you’ve got something to say about Dre’s upcoming drop.

  • Silly Willy

    First Step: Admit you have a problem


    Co-sign ! But unfortunately, we haven’t even left the DENIAL phase, which is the first phase of a healthy grieving process (too many people confusing criticism with hate). But it’s underway, and as soon as we admit the problem, we’re almost there…..

  • abdulnasir


  • abdulnasir

    damn u silly willy, when will a nigga be first?

  • http://www.divehiflylo.com PARIS PERSHUN



    http://www.divehiflylo.com ….. A.Dd+ BITCH!!!!

  • King Joffy Joe

    Damn. This shit is getting WAAAYYYY too technical. What ever happened to just BEING WHO THE FUCK YOU ARE?! I agree with creating a buzz, and having quality material, but the whole “image” shit has got to stop! I think that people get so caught up on an artist’s so-called “background”, that they totally ignore the music that he or she puts out. To me, it’s one of the MAIN REASONS on why hip-hop is in the current state it is.

    -K. Joffy Joseph

    • King Joffy Joe

      Oh, I almost forgot my shameless plug….

      “Be sure to check out and download FOR FREE my mixtape, ‘King Joffy Joe- The 13th Disciple’ on http://www.datpiff.com on 10/31/09″. THE SHIT WILL HIT THE FAN!!!!!

      -End of shamless plug….

      • The Southern Comfort

        I agree with you man, rappers focusing on getting the package and product right is bullshit.

        i know it’s whining but the problem with rap vs say rock music is that in hip-hop both the labels and the artist are thinking money money money. a real artist should be fighting tooth and nail to say what they feel and if that sells than all the better but it should first and foremost be for the love – the two aren’t mutually exclusive, shit the beatles, rolling stones, michael jackson were incredible artists first, biggest sellers second.

        that’s why i don;t fuck with jigga – dude wastes the skills.

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grands

    “Damn. This shit is getting WAAAYYYY too technical..”

    Co-sign. It shouldn’t take this much effort to hold on to something one loves. Maybe we need to follow the old adage, let it go & if it comes back to us, then……..

  • DevilintheFlesh

    Here is my opinion on what it wrong with hip hop. There are still a good number of talented artists out there but we never notice most of them. the market is so flooded with every tom, dick and harry (pause) that we never notice the true gyms. hip hop is too mainstream now and all the labels care about is the “sexy image”….hence gay ass Drake. AND THAT BUZZ RECORD ADVICE FROM MAINO IS EXECTLY WHATS WRONG WITH HIP HOP. ARTISTS SHOULD FOCUS ON AN ALBUM NOT SOME RETARDED CATCHY THEM SONG. Its just too easy to be a rapper…if these ignorant ass kids had to learn to actually play an instrument in order to be a rapper 85% of them would quit the first day.

  • jessica

    What happened to this loser’s face lol!

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

    I need 2 pee off hip-hop from my body system

  • 11KAP

    Hip Hop seems to have gotten old-fashioned now, so it’s time for some new and fresh ideas. I don’t know how else to put it. smh. what could be better than this tho? I’m listening.

  • http://www.lemondetoxdietreview.com/ Gwen Ashton

    Interesting article, thank you. It makes a change to read an article that actually means something connected to detox. I’m going to bookmark your site and come back to it.