Radio Politics 101: West Coast Motivation

Next up, not many West Coast artists have recently had true hit singles. I don’t believe it’s necessarily a regional issue, but rather a combination of things. Labels haven’t signed many artists from the West Coast in recent years, and those that have never really been “pushed” or released a true single with big budgets behind them (yes, it costs money to market, shoot videos, tour, and hire radio promoters—all necessities in breaking a major record).

More recently, the “West Coast” sound hasn’t been popular in the masses as the South seems to have a chokehold on what music consumers want to hear. L.A. also doesn’t have the true street outlets other markets/regions do that break records before radio, a la how mixtapes used to be in every corner in New York City, or how most Atlanta records usually break in strip clubs before radio.

Add to that the fact that L.A. is a jaded market, where consumers are used to being able to see the biggest artists and shows in the world every night, or even run into a celebrity at a club. The incentive and desire for most locals to go out and watch new talent isn’t the same as it is everywhere else (even big name artists often have trouble selling out venues).

In addition, I do feel that certain artists who are successful can step up and do more. Many artists (not just West Coast) don’t want someone to come in and outshine them and are hesitant to open doors because of this. What they fail to realize is that if someone blows up under them, it actually makes them bigger—just look at Dr. Dre and Eminem. Em has sold more records than Dr. Dre ever will, and Dr. Dre has become bigger than life largely in part because of Em’s success.

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  • Worley

    I do not listen to the radio. The sh*t is trash. Now survey that.

  • abdulnasir

    thanks 4 shedding some light on the issue of radio as related to popular music (that which is heard most of the time, regardless of genre). I like how u mentioned that sometimes artist have to let other people blow (II) under them to be big also, like u mentioned dre let em.

  • Phillmatic
  • Avenger XL

    Commercial radio isn’t worth a shit and hasn’t been worth a shit in years. THE END

  • Trackstar the DJ

    great job presenting both sides. knowledge and communication is key as always…if artists and critics had more of an understanding of the DJs point of view–esPECIALLY radio DJs–everyone could work together to improve the situation. but as it is, folks think they are OWED something, and assign more power to some of these DJs than they have.

    as you said, most radio DJs I know don’t like being handcuffed by playlists and would LOVE to work in more local/unheard music–but they also want to eat better than Ramen and eggs. can’t do that with no job…

  • El Tico Loco

    The Coolio platinum fact is incorrect Coolio was in WC and the Maad Circle who is afilitiated with Ice Cube who was in NWA, and I’m sure Kevin Bacon might be connected somewhere in there too.

    • kid chris

      hahahah had me rolling!!!

  • General

    Nice blog Skee, but I do think the problem on the West is due in large part to the radio stations and labels. I think saying that artists aren’t making “big singles” is a cop out to not play West Coast artists…

    I would like to see West Coast radio be a little more biased towards West Coast music, hell that is what New York has done forever and it is what the South has done as well…

    Besides saying that surveys show what people want to hear is bullshit, because if you never play the artists and people haven’t heard it how are they suppose to know if its any good. Of course surveys are just gonna show the usual bullshit because that is all that is played…

  • Fon Z

    K DAY is da only station I listen to when hitting da radio… everyone else is re-runs of da same weak songs!

    K-DAY got more WestCoast hiphop than Power & KIIS combined!! nuff said!

    • NotTheOne002

      KISS FM is a POP station!

  • AZ40

    Who are the listeners who want to only hear the small selection of certain artist that are already being played is it the labels that pay for their artist songs to get played?

  • The $ykotic Don Mac

    December 5th, 2009
    at 6:15 pm

    $ykotic/Don McCaine says:

    If anything the LA scene needs more people like all 3 of you(Skee,Gibbs,Brooklyne), being in those positions to big it up beyond the normal West representatives.

    You B. Gip actually have the more powerful forum, so use it wisely(correspond anyone?)…this is what I’m saying.

    ^^^ Let me find out y’all actually read the comments…

  • Curtis75Black

    A real nice perspective. I agree with General though, If the west coast were a little more biased toward they own, it might help them rise above the rest and get the locals more exposure. As far as the vets bringing the rookies up, it is what it is. I see that example of Dre and Em very good but most artists are still spittin’, So the competition is always gonna be a factor plus, Dre had a Label to run, fuck being shady and stingy when money is to be made after leaving Death Row.

  • artbyMUNGO

    No mention of the underground factor. The hiphop scene on the westcoast has been bubbling over with hot talent. The marketing and distribution is there with new media but revenue for vultures along the way is gone. Agencies are obsolete but creativity has legs. Don’t beg online for fans, earn your BigUps.

  • westcoastaggie

    Interesting perspective on the lack of Locally focused Radio stations in the LA market. A bigger issue in all of this is the fact that the same 2-3 corporations own the majority (60-75%) of the radio stations due to the Deregulation of radio after the passing of the telcom. act of 1996.

    As as result of this, many radio stations are consolidating their operations and with that added to the fact that the music industry is falling apart, major labels are putting all their eggs in their basket involving only big artists that have a major pop appeal. As a result of this, many local artist, whom do not have a national backing are not getting major air play on the radio.

    So until artists like U.N.I., Nipsey Hu$$le, Pac. Div. break until the mainstream or the major label economic system completely breaks down or the gov’t start increasing regulations on radio station ownership, LA radio will get worse.

  • Mr. Q

    Thanks, Skee! Great explanation and insight! Being born and raised in the L.A. area, I stopped listening to am/fm radio a long time ago. If you really want to hear something specific now-a-days, you have to pay for it…hence, satilite radio (sirius/xm). If you want to hear West Coast hip hop then listen to Soul Assassins radio or Skee’s show. We all must be active listeners and search for what appeals to us, as true hip hop heads. We can’t expect everything to be given to us, we have to be willing to go out there and find it, and support it. Everyone wants free immediate satisfaction, but nobody is willing to work for it. Sometimes, good music IS MORE than just a click away. Get out there and dig, kids!

  • Enlightened

    I’m sorry sir, but I had to stop reading this shit on page 3. As soon as you came with that “the radio plays what people want to hear” argument.

    Get. The. Fuck. Outta. Here.

    So, all of a sudden fans in NY, Atlanta, LA, Memphis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Omaha, Seattle and every other city in the country all of a sudden developed the same taste in music?

    No. That’s bullshit.

    You’ll never get me to believe that people demanded to hear Waka Flocka Flame until AFTER they heard it a million times.

    I’m not on the west coast, but tell me they aren’t playing that bullshit out there.

    • General

      “You’ll never get me to believe that people demanded to hear Waka Flocka Flame until AFTER they heard it a million times.”

      Thats the comment of the day right there…

      I’m with enlightened on this. The only reason some artists have what Skee called a “big single” is because radio shoved it down people’s throat until they swallowed

    • Mr. Q

      I completely agree with Enlightened!!

      I know that if radio stations out here, in L.A., played some Little Brother or Souls of Mischief or Jake One…people would dig it!! Instead, the new kids of the culture are fiending for this cheap a$$ audion crack, that is being supplied by people that don’t listen to hip hop or it’s participants.

      That “Waka Flocka Flame” comment was solid! Well put, Enlightened!

  • Joe Morgan jr.

    Has anyone here ever known some one wearing one of these pager like devices ?




  • The $ykotic Don Mac

    You know west coast radio lost when listeners request “Empire State of Mind”…does a radio DJ realize they are helping the same status quo they are complaining about?

    • NotoriousAGC

      yo syk, when you comin down to the west again? let me know ill get the bbq grill cookin and the 40´s in a cold ass chest of ice..

      yes, i am watching the nuthin but a g thang video

      • The $ykotic Don Mac

        I’m with that homie…the calendar says May…

  • DV8

    I dont listen to the “hiphop” stations anymore for lack of actual hiphop being played. If you asked me college radio back in the 90′s was the last true hiphop stations (for a 2-3 hour block). Radio period sucks it all started around the turn of the century when that payola shit resurfaced and Nas put Funk Flex on blast. Ever since then (2000) radio has been garbage.

  • NotoriousAGC

    i love LA….

  • Caino

    C/S DV8 – dudes on point. College radio used to play the real shiit we wanted to hear.

    l enjoyed this blog, l thought it was done really well. But like peeps said before me. Due to the radio playing the same song over and over again it becomes familiar and people are happy to hear it again! If you aint got the money you aint gonna be played!! LA Djs do need to be more biased towards LA acts, just like NY and Atalnta are to their acts.

    Peace !

  • ShowTIme

    NY radio is not biased.. they play that south shit.I moved a year ago but trust me hot 97 is playing whatever the south is playing. Eversince Southern music became popular its been like that.

  • Chiliz

    Man i think i have outgrown sitting @ my crib & listen 2 actual live radio…..

    Mebbe i’ll do it again in my 60′s.


    first and foremost,L.a radio stations are one of thee most ass kissing disk jockys on air, I mean when The Mobb was poppin back in the day, Power 106 had two fat mexcian dj’s named, The baker boys, these two dumb fucks kept saying “what up dunn, what up dunn” Dunn? what fucks a dunn in l.a. but they were sucking so much new york ass at the time that I thought it was a fucken joke, right now what evers popin power sucks they dick, south aint poppin no more, new york is clinging on life suppport and the west is living off reserves, the day of the radio d.j is dead…….

  • The1987Kid

    This is what happens when hip-hop fought so hard to be mainstream now you got people who dnt give a fuck about hip-hop or the culture running things now, Hip-Hop always wanted to be in the country clubs & now their in the country clubs but hip-hop is not running hip-hop, the people who own the country club is running the last muscial thing we have (Look at what happen to Jazz & Rock & Roll)

    I think its a bigger issue some of the DJ’s are mearly there to leach of the music cause its easy money, they have no sense of history so they are going to play what the coperate machine wants them to play, and then you got payola going on where their getting paid by the major lables to play the songs they tell them to play (Thats why you hear the same songs get played all day & night) So i think thats the problem its no sense of history or care for the culture but thats the price you pay, hip-hop was sold down the river a long time ago, im not knocking any mans hustle but the wrong people are taking the profits from the people who actually care about it, but its business as usual people are at the top in hip-hop have gotten too comfortable to do anything, they dnt want to offend anybody so they go along to get along, Thats the Radio Politics from a fan of real hip-hop….

    • DV8

      Hiphop didnt fight to become mainstream. The Mainstream saw the lucrative possibilities (in other words back when people actually bought cd’s, tapes, and albums) that hiphop was generating and decided to get in the mix. Some people got rich and liked it (as they should have) and forgot what hiphop was all about in the process there for we now have this bullshit today. Hiphop is not played on the radio or displayed on BET (Black Embarrasement Television) or eMpTV. It is underground and on the internet.

      Other then that I pretty much agree with what your trying to say.

  • John Cauner

    I live in L.A., so I can relate to this problem(since ’95) of radio stations here not making West Coast/L.A. artists more accessible to listeners. I believe that the problem comes from the artists themselves. I’m going a little back here, but during ’92-’95, the sound was more diverse. You would hear The Pharcyde, Tha Alkaholiks, Freestyle Fellowship, Ahmad, Coolio, Funkdoobiest, The Coup, The Wascals, King Tee, Kam, Souls Of Mischief, Saafir, Del, The Nonce, etc, on all of the “rap” stations, daily, at all times of the day. After ’95, the sound/artists changed. The gangster style(Death Row, Westside Connection), aggressive style(2pac, Mobb Deep, B.I.G.) became more favorable to the listeners. Which left no room for the “regular” artists. Record companies stopped supporting those artists, and just focused one sound/style, gangster/aggressive. In my opinion, this has been haunting the L.A. scene since. You have little glimpses of a non/gangster sound here and there, like Ras Kass, Xzibit, Defari, Dilated Peoples, but it wasn’t enough like before. Ras Kass and Xzibit both had “good” first albums in ’96, but eventually gave in to the aggressive style towards the millennium. Defari, Dilated Peoples, and Jurassic 5 had their buzz in ’97, but didn’t seem to have that personality to keep listeners interested(myself included) like The Pharcyde or Tha Alkaholiks pass the millennium. Their sound became too rigid/boring to enjoy for the casual listener. I see and hear the next generation of artists from here, Jay Rock, Glasses Malone, Nipsey Hussle, Bishop Lamont, etc, but it’s the same story we’ve been hearing for years already. There’s gotta be more to L.A. than The Game, Black Eyed Peas and these kids jerking right?


    I understand.