I agree with something Gooch said in his “King of the Internet” post.
Artists who have yet to embrace the online space are pretty much dinosaurs. On the flip side, MCs who solely rely on the web got it wrong. Per Gooch, up-and-coming MCs now think they’re sure to blow up if their music is featured on nahright. With all due respect to Eskay, that’s a pretty myopic way of thinking. No MC has ever blown up off the blogs alone.
The truth is internet buzz has yet to translate into sales. Sure, Soulja Boy struck platinum, but the web constituted only a portion of his hype, not the end all be all. In addition to countless viral videos, SB had a strong TV and radio presence. His record wasn’t only getting views online, it was also all over video countdowns. “Crank That” also garnered plenty of spins-even landing atop Billboard’s singles charts for seven non-consecutive weeks. All those elements put together helped SB reach a deafening buzz. When it was all said and done, everybody in elementary schools and retirement homes knew who he was. These new kids, not so much.
I doubt I can walk to a random “urban kid,” even one of them skaterboard-ish looking ones and say, “Hey, how about that Jay Electronica?” Chances are they don’t know who blog fixtures like Jay, U-N-I or Donny Goines are. The web’s a great tool, but it ain’t enough. Look at what XXL’s Freshmen 10 cover did for the featured MCs. It helped them get recognition beyound computer screens. Some would argue that the internets are now the streets- the artist’s breeding ground and the place where we get our music first.
The thing is, the mixtape- the street’s premier platform for an artist to gain recognition- seems to have connected in ways the internet has yet to. We knew who Fabolous was when all he did was appear on mixtapes. We knew who 50 Cent was. We even knew Papoose and Uncle Murda. The same thing applies down south. Young Jeezy is just one of many southern MCs who spark a heavy buzz from working the mixtape circuit. Come to think about it, minus Soulja Boy, the last new artist to be successful, Plies, is a product of the streets, not the net. But The Real Testament is already two years old and the game has definitely gone more digital since then. Maybe the web has replaced the street as the official breeding ground. I guess we’ll find out when one of our Freshmen 10 finally drops an LP.-Jackpot