Oh snap! The Full Clip just posted an entry called "Blogging Has Destroyed Hip-Hop in 2009!", which means Dukes thinks things are so bad right now that the outlook for next year is pretty dim. This all came about because of XXL's upcoming Top 10 Freshmen in the Game list, which includes Blu and Wale and warrants three covers. So, we mostly give XXL kudos for stepping out there and recognizing a lot of the cats that have dominated the Hip Hop blogosphere recently. But is print using the Internet as a crutch to gauge the pulse of the scene? I wouldn't blame it if it was, blogs are killing it right now. So, haha. However, let's examine Dukes' argument here:
The truth is a mutually beneficial relationship has been built between hip-hop blogs and up-coming artists. The artists produce quickly and ship to the blogs, which have to produce content equally as fast to satisfy the appetite of obsessive fans with growingly shortened attention spans. It works something like popular news channels: there is such a tremendous need to provide new stories and new dialogue 24-7 that often the information provided is shabby, short, and empty. This leads to an uninformed audience accepting of whatever whatever.
The fundamental problem is that XXL, and much of the hip-hop community at large, are taking their cues from the blogs. Which isn't inherently bad if the content remains focused. But it hasn't, and the quest for fast food entertainment has jeopardized the better artists. Artists who dip out of the scene for a good year or so to create a real album are penalized and forgotten, while those who produce quickly are rewarded even faster. And while everyone is of course waiting for a new Outkast or Nas song, they are so few and far between that their longevity isn't what it used to be.
Even Q-Tip at some point criticized the effect blogs have on the appreciation of music. And, "Bloggers" come in at #16 of our 25 Things That Killed (and are Still Killing) Urban Music. So why are blogs bad? Why are they good?
- The reason cats like Blu, Wale and Charles Hamilton dominate on all these Hip Hop blogs is because they came along at a time where the opinions of bloggers became more influential than those in old media, when it comes to these particular artists' interests. The quality of their work is all subjective (SB, however, rides for Blu and Wale) but until bloggers started speaking up for cats like this, who else was going to do it?
- The downside to all of this is sensory overload, and Dukes has a point regarding the rate at which some of these artists put out music. Everything is a buzz single nowadays and they come at a steady clip. Emailing tracks to a blogger (new model) is way easier than getting into a programming director's office at a local radio station and handing them a cassette (old model). And since an MC should always be writing and always be in the studio creating, it is no wonder that the really dedicated ones have a handful of new songs posted online every week. The problem is that a lot of bloggers just post all kinds of shit indescriminately, oftentimes with no context or commentary. The key to being a tastemaker is sifting through the rubbish; these artists should still have to work to get their stuff heard.
- I also agree with the aforementioned relationships artists have with bloggers. Full disclosure: we have our favorites here, but that is earned. We don't just go posting tracks all willy-nilly because we're trying to get invited to some party, or become these Internet micro-celebrities. Also, I'm more likely to follow the recommendation of one of our readers than a PR person. I'm just saying.
- And when you think about it, the blogs that post about the usual, more mainstream suspects tend to be more popular and have more pull with the industry anyway. And there are also more of them, at least to me. Sites that constantly post about Blu and his ilk are closer to being part of the solution than the problem, if one was to look at this in a larger context.
- xxlmag.com > XXL.