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Is The Recession Good for Hip-Hop?

The recession is a bad thing, no question. The job losses, loss of retirement funds, homes being foreclosed, etc. The negativity is enough to make anyone depressed but as with any situation there are positive effects from this whole thing. For example, Obama sailed to a supreme victory as soon as the economy tanked. Not to mention if you do have money to buy the extra things, you can usually find a blue-light special somewhere.

What about Hip-Hop? No question the recession made an already bad scene for the music business that much worse. Labels are cutting staff and budgets like your neighborhood barber and they’re not just doing shape ups. But it’s not all bad, here’s some positive effects on Hip-Hop I’ve noticed in this recession so far.

1. It’s a great time to be a new artist. A lot of your favorite artists are fading to the background rather than try to weather the rough environment. This gives young, hungry and technologically advanced artists’ a lane to come up quicker and get some air time that would normally be reserved for payola-paying label rosters.

2. The quality of the music is increasing. As the production lines of ring tone rappers come to a screeching halt, all of a sudden rappers who have skill but not a good marketing plan are able to be heard and seen more. Overall it seems like artists are being more creative and doing more with less. And without the label telling them what to do at every turn, they’re able to put out the product they want and let the fans decide instead of the A&Rs and marketing teams.

3. Live shows are getting better. As the money from record sales dries up, rappers have had to turn to their most reliable income-maker: the show. As the competition for the fans’ money gets more intense, the artists’ are forced to give a better show. I can remember a few years back when you would go to a show, stand around for five hours until the main act finally showed up so twisted they forgot their own lyrics and then did a 45min set and left. Now we have constant, quality shows like Glow In The Dark Tour and Rock The Bells.

4. Videos are getting better. Some people may debate this, but I’m thankful that video budgets have been slashed. It forces creativity and gives us more Rik Corderos and less Hype Williamses. At one point it seemed like every rap video was:

a. rapper drinking in the club
b. girls dancing in the club
c. a story line consisting of rapper showing up to the club and then
leaving the club with one of the girls

While I support the hot girls remaining in the videos (they have) the rest got real boring. Nothing is better than a well-executed idea either way, like Kanye and his “Best I Ever Had” masterpiece (I know Drake as Bball coach makes no sense with the song, but still).

5. Rappers don’t have as much money. I’m sorry, I wish wealth on everyone but speaking in terms of good quality rap, the best music was coming out in the late ’80s and early ’90s when rappers still lived and dressed like a lot of their fans. Once the Maybachs and white parties in the Hamptons became the norm, the average fan could not connect as well to what they were rapping about. I know about corner stores and living check to check. I don’t know what it’s like to go shopping in Paris, buy a mansion or being embarrassed by having a Benz and not a Rolls.

In the end, I hope the recession ends quickly so the suffering can stop, but let’s keep the pressure on Hip-Hop to keep getting better and not return to the ring tone production line anytime soon.-MikeD

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