We’re One And The Same

I decided to check out Fat Beats on its last day which, admittedly, was stupid and actually very “un-hip hop” for me to do so. I’ve lived in this city for a little over a year now, and I kept putting off a trip to Fat Beats assuming that, when I did decide to make a visit, it’d be there. Little did I know the place would go under, so instead of taking a casual stroll to the shop one warm, lazy weekend I ended up standing outside the spot on a surprisingly chilly Saturday night, amidst the throng of over zealous zealots, aspiring rapsters desperately trying to network their mixtape into the hands of whomever was in earshot and digital camera directors hoping to get indoors, like a jackass.

Where was I when this place was open and thriving? I could have and should have stopped by the store as soon as I touched down in New York, as I had done at the store in West Hollywood many times in the past. Instead, I’m in a crowd of a pissload of backpackers rapping to whatever Flip Cam gets thrust in their faces, a bunch of backpackers trying to muscle their way into the way-too-small store and a couple backpackers who needlessly felt the urge to try to start a “Fuck Solar!” chant when DJ Premier – the final guest spin doctor for the night – wafted through the crowd.

To be honest, there’s no difference between this hip hop audience – the “realist,” North Face Jansport rocking indie head – and their bitter archenemy/antithesis, the club –attending, bottle-popping, “all-blank-everything” mainstream head. The indie head will remain forever mired in the underground culture, refusing to come afloat for some much-needed air. They will be the ones you see at the front stage of a Duck Down concert, covered head-to-toe in paraphernalia and desperately trying to get a pound from Sean Price, all the while refusing to purchase the guy’s album. They will support a talented underground artist with their all (while the mainstream crowd – unaware of who they are – will ignore them) but will be quick to turn on them once they hit a certain level of success, as if that’s not the reason why most rapsters exist in the first place.

The mainstream crowd shares similar ideals also, albeit in a more “force fed” way. While underground heads will try to make an effort to discover new sounds, the mainstreamer will simply wait until the video pops up on their favorite countdown show or radio station. They eschew the lyrical aspects of rap for a more melody-driven, call-and-response soundscapes, and some will actually purchase the artist’s album when it drops (in stark comparison to the backpacker, who’ll just wait for the latest working RapidShare link).

Aside from the obvious differences, I see virtually nothing wrong with either, and I wished that they each would recognize and acknowledge that. While both hate the other and will engage in wanton nignorance in a public setting both are also fans of hip hop, which is by far the most valuable commodity in the culture, and both will show some form of support in their own ways. Despite my self-disgust with going to Fat Beats for the first time on its last day, I can at least take some quasi-solace knowing that there were others who wanted to take the time out of their day to do so as well, which is essentially how hip hop is still going strong to this day.

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  • Chilly Willy

    “Aside from the obvious differences, I see virtually nothing wrong with either, and I wished that they each would recognize and acknowledge that.”

    Well, maybe just one thing: they don’t buy shit, point blank. Is it because that’s what the music world look like today ? Is it because they’re lazy ? Is it because – insert apparently logical explanation here – ?

    I don’t know, but lack of support for the product CAN’T be right if you’re a fan.

    • http://www.twitter.com/classicmaterial c-dub

      they may not buy albums but they go to shows, which offsets the millions of fans of mainstream artists who buy albums but don’t bother going to shows.

      in all honesty, the artist gets more money if you see him live than if you buy his album, of course album sales are what generate more shows, so you got me there. article is right though, all hip hop fans are kinda the same

    • http://www.twitter.com/classicmaterial c-dub

      they may not buy the albums but they go to shows, which is something a lot of the mainstream fans don’t do, so either way the artist gets paid.

  • BrotherDante

    some cats who actually purchase a lot of underground and mainstream stuff, while not having any interest in becoming an mc, were there at fatbeats as well. where i’m from, we call those guys: fans.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    “Despite my self-disgust with going to Fat Beats for the first time on its last day,”

    ^ man you don’t know how I was gonna go in on you for blogging about it way before hand, knowing about it’s history, and STILL waiting until the last moment to see the place, like a fan, when you could have even did a nice expose on the spot while it was still open, inside the spot on some 2dopeboyz business, with the workers (shouts to Percee P), and got way more hits for journalism than shock blogging.

    Don’t be too disgusted.

  • The Professional

    Great post, i feel the same way.

  • Teddy

    Man, I wish we had something like Fat Beats here in the South. I didnt even really know what Fat Beats was until I found out it was closing. This isnt my fault thought. Out of sight, out of mind. I couldnt go there if I wanted to (Which I want to now.)

    But yea man I think Naledge from kids in the Hall said it best though, “Ya see there’s too many Rappers & not enough Fans/ Too many Players, not enough in the stands…”

    Which is so true. Which is one of his points. Too many people are trying to be rappers and not enough are being good fans. Yes, everybody can rap, but not everybody can be good at it, and most definitely not everybody can make it mainstream or underground.

    So if your still young enough, go to college, and pursue your rap career, like J.Cole. cause if your 30 and you still aint made your probably not going too. Jay Electronica is an exception.

    So if your over 30 and your not even anywhere close, quite and become a fan. If your not at least as good as B.o.B, quite and become a fan. If your not your not rapping everyday, if your not booking shows every weekend, if youre not making enough to support yourself by the age of at least 25, quite and become a fan, cause your not going to make it. Sad truth.

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  • Nice

    True, true. “The mainstream crowd shares similar ideals also, albeit in a more “force fed” way.” That is the main difference though, a lot of underground fans still feel that DITC motto of original hip hop: having to dig in the crates type shit to find hip hop. BIG DIFFERENCE. At the end of the day though, all hip hop fans, mainstream or underground, feel a connection to dope lyrics and delivery towards a thumping beat of dope music. “We’re One And The Same.” Nice job.

  • doclvly

    didn’t buy nas and damian marley distant relatives, but paid $50 to see their show, they make more money touring anyway, I wanted a shirt, but hip hop show shirt culture (whoa) sucks!

    I’ve been a “all hip hop” person for a good while now. Still waiting for the “all hip hop rapper”.

  • King of you suckaz

    Fuck all dis positive shit nigga we about that gangstaness. Harlem all day fuck niggas

  • 6 100

    Meka, you were probably too busy in the Meat Packing District to go.

    I’m a person who studies the ways of the long term tourist in NYC(e.g. Meka), and I’ve noticed being a homo trumps being a hip hop enthusiast most days. After all, you’ve been here for over a year, so good on you for keeping the “black male out of towner = gay” meme theme alive.

    Fuckin’ clown

  • stp

    how does someone who writes this horribly get paid to be a writer/blogger? wow…

    your shit is borderline unreadable, son…and how does listing the superficial differences between “backpackers” and “mainstream” (while taking childish “jabs” at both) illuminate the similarites between them?

    seriously?

    can xxl hire someone who actually can write 3 coherent paragraphs and doesn’t sound like they dropped out of school in the 8th grade?

  • http://www.benfamous.com Ben Famous

    What about the 3rd genre of music listener? The one who creates… He has to listen to music with a different ear. He has to use discernment.

    Megatron Bombs…

  • Dub

    I feel the whole “be a fan, not a rapper” thing to a certain extent, but if a nigga whos a ex-dboy/thief/goon etc. finds it in himself to do something like rapping, I’d be more than happy. I’d rather a nigga make make shitty music than be robbin my house or sellin dope at my lil bruh’s bus stop. Granted, there are other avenues one could take, but if rappin seems their most viable option, I say let em go for it. I mean, you’d hate to see Gucci,Waka,OJ, Soulja Boy and all the other niggas you muffuckas hate in yo neighborhood raisin the crime rate.

  • http://www.hoodhype.com/ JMack

    I don’t know why there is this feeling that underground heads will generally disown an independent artist that makes it big. In my experience, thats never been the case. Ever. And speaking on a more personal level, I’ve never turned my back on an independent artist that has made it big.

    What happens is actually more to the contrary. That “artist” turns their back on their fans. Need examples? Take Drake for one. Room for Improvement and Comeback Season. Then compare to So Far Gone and Thank Me Later. What happened? He got signed, changed his sound, started singing and making straight music to sell records. Albums for 14 year old girls.

    How about BoB? From “Haters Everywhere” to “Nothing on You”? Who did who dirty? Who turned their back on who?

    Sorry Meka, but I can’t disagree with you more (that goes for everyone else who says that for that matter).

    The underground has NEVER turned their back on an artist for making it big. The artists are turning their back on the underground.

    All the artists who havent shit on their following still get mad support. A perfect example is Bun B, and personally I cant wait to see what happens with j.cole, big krit and wiz khalifa.

    Simply put, if you want to point fingers, start pointing at the artists who are ditching the original fans who got them the platform to get to a label. Only to turn around and spit in their faces by completely changing their music to sell records for their new label.

    • El Tico Loco

      Co sign

      You just described the main problem with most female rappers.

  • Dex

    I met this girl when i was three years old…

    How getting used to someone who pretends he doesn’t like you?

    It’s like a love story that will never work. I met her when I was 14. Love at first sight. In love. Liar. When it starts, it feels like you can do anything, then you start knowing her better and the more you get to know her the harder you can accept her. That’s what happened to me. I was such a fool: she gave me millions and millions of speeches to hold onto everyday. Whispers. Shouts. Betrayal. You meet her friends. I’ve been introduced to them, actually. They all had differents views. True, you can’t deal with everything… But. Can you handle that?

    I’ve always felt this emptiness inside. A hole that I needed to fill in; that’s when she came to me with so much of self-confidence that you could drown yourself into her. First, you think that she will accept you as you are, then you know that it will be impossible to be completely yourself when you’re with her. You surrender to her love, considering it will grow stronger enough to get rid of all your fears. But it ain’t.

    It is this kind of love you can’t get free of. Dangerous but that still gives you comfort even if you don’t know how you can keep loving her. I wanted to know if she’ll succeed in accepting me as I am. She will in a way. Her gist will. Some of her friends will. The rest of it turned out to be a harsher task.

    What I mean is my love for hip hop music is real. But I’m gay (damn, man! “You homo niggas getting AIDS in the ass” Get it?). Period. Can you handle that? We are talking about an open minded and tolerant culture. I do believe in this but I can’t help thinking: would it help me if I was in trouble? I really want to be sure I can rely on what I love to be OK. Will it be?

    Why, then? Because no matter how strange or awkard it could be, experiences depicted on this music perfectly match with mine. How come? I can’t explain it at all, well, is that enough to justify it? Is that enough to say that I won’t be able to share anything with some people I admire? Won’t be completely myself if I ever meet any of them? Feels like I couldn’t tell everything inasmuch i’m afraid of rejection. Must I go that far?

    . . .

    I just wanna say if they’re trying to live, to be understood, to be respected, to be recognized as they really are, I’m trying to do all these things too. Do we have to do it separately or is a struggle unique?

    I could’ve tried to love something else after all. I couldn’t. Then, why remain unsure of something when it’s completely safe elsewhere?

    What if love exists just to teach people how it feels to fly?

    Brand new Eminem’s hook from “Love The Way You Lie” wonderfully exemplifies my statement:

    “I’m gonna stand there, watch me burn,

    But that’s alright because I like the way it hurts,

    Just gonna stand there and hear me cry,

    But that’s alright because I love the way you lie”

    That’s it.

    DE.

  • Dee

    I met this girl when i was three years old…

    How getting used to someone who pretends he doesn’t like you?

    It’s like a love story that will never work. I met her when I was 14. Love at first sight. In love. Liar. When it starts, it feels like you can do anything, then you start knowing her better and the more you get to know her the harder you can accept her. That’s what happened to me. I was such a fool: she gave me millions and millions of speeches to hold onto everyday. Whispers. Shouts. Betrayal. You meet her friends. I’ve been introduced to them, actually. They all had differents views. True, you can’t deal with everything… But. Can you handle that?

    I’ve always felt this emptiness inside. A hole that I needed to fill in; that’s when she came to me with so much of self-confidence that you could drown yourself into her. First, you think that she will accept you as you are, then you know that it will be impossible to be completely yourself when you’re with her. You surrender to her love, considering it will grow stronger enough to get rid of all your fears. But it ain’t.

    It is this kind of love you can’t get free of. Dangerous but that still gives you comfort even if you don’t know how you can keep loving her. I wanted to know if she’ll succeed in accepting me as I am. She will in a way. Her gist will. Some of her friends will. The rest of it turned out to be a harsher task.

    What I mean is my love for hip hop music is real. But I’m gay (damn, man! “You homo niggas getting AIDS in the ass” Get it?). Period. Can you handle that? We are talking about an open minded and tolerant culture. I do believe in this but I can’t help thinking: would it help me if I was in trouble? I really want to be sure I can rely on what I love to be OK. Will it be?

    Why, then? Because no matter how strange or awkard it could be, experiences depicted on this music perfectly match with mine. How come? I can’t explain it at all, well, is that enough to justify it? Is that enough to say that I won’t be able to share anything with some people I admire? Won’t be completely myself if I ever meet any of them? Feels like I couldn’t tell everything inasmuch i’m afraid of rejection. Must I go that far?

    . . .

    I just wanna say if they’re trying to live, to be understood, to be respected, to be recognized as they really are, I’m trying to do all these things too. Do we have to do it separately or is a struggle unique?

    I could’ve tried to love something else after all. I couldn’t. Then, why remain unsure of something when it’s completely safe elsewhere?

    What if love exists just to teach people how it feels to fly?

    Brand new Eminem’s hook from “Love The Way You Lie” wonderfully exemplifies my statement:

    “I’m gonna stand there, watch me burn,

    But that’s alright because I like the way it hurts,

    Just gonna stand there and hear me cry,

    But that’s alright because I love the way you lie”

    That’s it.

    DE.