Do Hip-Hop Blogs Break Artists Anymore?

 |  January 25, 2011
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So over the weekend I was having a conversation with Sickamore, Rich Hil‘s manager, about how I felt Rich needed more of a presence online.  He said something that I initially thought was crazy talk.  “Blogs don’t break artists”.  “No way” was my response.  “Odd Future, Lil B?” was his.  I thought about it, and he was right.  Both artists had critical acclaim from progressive sites such as Pitchfork and Fader.  However, the majority of hip-hop blogs gave these artists some shine only after they had already been established as force to be reckoned with (or they flat out still don’t acknowledge them).

Take Waka Flocka for example.  A lot of hip-hop blogs treated him like some sort of a disease.  Most of them wouldn’t even acknowledge his existence initially (we did).  But guess what?  Dude is crazy entertaining, and the people love his antics.  Plus he has HIT records, which is what really matters.  The fact that people f*ck with you in real life.  I don’t care if a rap nerd thinks you are cool.  I do if the general public does.  A lot of people want to credit blogs for the success of Wiz Khalifa.  While I think they have been an integral part of making industry folk aware of his presence I guarantee you that the average Wiz Khalifa fan heard about him from word of mouth or Youtube as opposed to a hip-hop blog.  Did Wiz get the attention of the same major label that dropped him from a mixtape or from a commercially released record?  While most bloggers would attribute it to his mixtapes, I attribute it to the fact these labels saw that the kid could SELL records.  Plus did Wiz’s fans get his mixtape from a blog or from his twitter/facebook?  Even artists like Travis Porter & Jackie Chain, who either have hit records or are about to, have garnered little hype and/or attention from these “taste making” hip-hop blogs.

So as much as these hip-hop bloggers like to take credit for people’s careers, at the end of the day I honestly feel that they overvalue themselves.  Facebook, Twitter and Youtube break artists.  Hip-Hop blogs don’t.  Am I saying hip-hop blogs don’t matter?  Of course not.  They matter a lot.  While they may not break an artist I feel like they are integral in maintaining their relevancy.  They help promote their material, and allow people who may be late to the game on an artist become aware.  Plus they are going to fill you in on the information that an artist may not want you to know about them.  Information allows people to have the best overall perspectives on things.  And blogs are an integral part of providing that perspective.  My point is that these bloggers who want to call out DJ’s for not breaking records need to look themselves in the mirror.  Neither do you bruh bruh (Plies voice).  Step your game up!

P.S.  Also do people like Kanye West & Snoop Dogg go to bloggers offices?  (Ohh, that’s right they don’t have offices).  Or do they go to Facebook & Twitter HQ’s?  This has nothing to do with breaking artists, but I thought it was a valuable point.  The artists are going to the entities that REALLY matter.

Edit:  My man Charlie who manages Travis Porter just hit me with a powerful tweet.

charlietweet

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  • Maurice Garland

    what is this article trying to say? it reads like it is talking in circles. it seems like people want to blame a system when it doesnt work for them. so Sick thinks “blogs dont break artist” because not enough blogs post Rich Hil music? as far as Odd Future and Lil B…there are tons of people who dont know what a Pitchfork or a Fader is, but they do go to CocaineBlunts and surf around on Tumblr.

    And what blogger actually goes around saying “i broke this artist” anyway? I can only speak for myself, but, I can take credit for “breaking” artist, but I dont. Thats up to the readers to decide and for the artist to bring light to.

    As far as the re-brewing of this DJ vs Blogger debate. Again, I can only speak for myself, but I think the frustration at large with DJs is that these cats have a way larger influence on the masses than blogs do. These guys are in the clubs, in the streets and on the airwaves. The frustration lies within them practically working for or working with the artists that they “break.” Most of these DJs have these artists locked into some sort of marketing or management partnership so the integrity or thought that they really even support that artist and believe in them is thrown out the window. Plus, the people listening arent really even given a choice as to if they want to keep hearing from that artist because the DJ is gonna shove them down your throat any damn way.

    The other frustration comes from DJs not really knowing what the people want. Not saying that all the people want only what is on blogs, but that is where many people are. So to see a guy like DJ Enuff second guessing himself about wanting to play Jay Electronica is sad. Obviously there were ALOT of people who liked the song, why not take it from blog land into radio land.

    But yeah, this article is kinda confusing, not sure what was really trying to be said. Maybe the article was trying to say “blogs dont break HIT records”…

  • http://twitter.com/SamPattillo iHipHop Sam

    Why are you talking about DJ's like they have a choice on what they play? Major labels pay program directors. Program directors tell the DJ's what to spin. I think you are like most bloggers in that you don't understand how the music business REALLY works. You are concentrating on how you would like things to play out instead of how things work in reality. This is a business. NEVER FORGET THAT! Bloggers don't determine who gets to the money. The people do. Bloggers don't break artists. The people do.

  • John Gotty

    Yeah…Lil B, Wiz and Waka. You need what I see there?

    Style, but not much substance. Credit given b/c they're all essential to the big picture of keeping rap in the forefront of entertainment. But beyond that, I think what you're saying lacks a degree of merit. Most “blogs” are attempting to “break” radio hits or mainstream artists b/c most of original, respected sites align themselves with Hip-Hop, not rap.

  • John Gotty

    “need” = know. Excuse me.

  • Maurice Garland

    Sam, Im talking about DJ like they have a choice on what they support period. I know exactly what goes on at radio, thats not what im talking about. However, the very DJs that are in question do have small slots called “mixshow” where they have a little more freedom to take a risk, if they believe in it. And they are on satellite radio too.

    I believed you missed my point. The point I am making is that “blogs dont break artist” anymore is an empty statement that was made by and is usually made by people who work with artists that blogs do not support as much as they would like.

    When I say “Thats up to the readers to decide” thats the same as you saying “the people do.” So we agree there. I was just confused as to what this piece is really trying to say.

  • http://twitter.com/SamPattillo iHipHop Sam

    I align myself with what people care about in real life. Don't be an elitist blogger who tries to define what “real” hip-hop is. (see this article http://www.ihiphop.com/?p=7141…) . I used to be a purist too John. Then I realized this shit is called the ENTERTAINMENT industry. There is a place for everything. Just because something lacks “substance” doesn't mean it isn't awesome. Waka Flocka and Lil B are awesome, and if you don't recognize that then YOU are disconnected from the culture.

  • http://twitter.com/SamPattillo iHipHop Sam

    I'm loving this dialogue though. No one better catch feelings.

  • http://twitter.com/SamPattillo iHipHop Sam

    Do you think that most artists are discovered on blogs or Youtube/Twitter/Facebook? That is my question?

  • Maurice Garland

    If internet is the battlefield in discussion….then yeah, I think more artist are discovered on blogs. A person goes to a blog as a part of their daily routine and will see something new they like and decide that they like it. The blog is the filter. I dont know too many people that just go on Youtube/Twitter/Facebook and just set up a RSS for “new rap music!”

    Artists themselves though, they use the youtube/twitter/facebook to break themselves. So I dont think it can be said that “youtube breaks artists.” People usually be in the streets or on a blog or at a friends house and they hear something new. They ask the name and then they go on youtube to find more.

    The only artist twitter ever broke was Antione Dodson!

  • http://twitter.com/SamPattillo iHipHop Sam

    Is your point word of mouth is what breaks artists? Than I agree with you. Twitter/Facebook/Youtube is the 2011 implementation of word of mouth. Don't get it twisted. I think hip-hop blogs matter. They just aren't the end all be all. In the immortal words of Lil B…#Swag! (this has nothing to do with my point, but I wanted to throw that in there).

  • http://twitter.com/tarajane181 Tara Jane ☆

    I really like what you said here, making it clear that this is the 'entertainment' industry. I sometimes get so annoyed when certain artists of less substance are getting signed over the more solid artists, however at the end of the day it IS the entertainment industry as well as a business which means fans x potential money maker = SIGNED! And I'm glad you reminded me of that! Luckily with the Internet, social media and artist's taking things into their own hands – there is enough space in the industry for pretty much everyone; its just a shame that its often integrity vs money and not often the two combined?!

  • http://twitter.com/tarajane181 Tara Jane ☆

    I really like this article and think it makes for interesting discussion. But I'm unsure whether its either/or when it comes to Youtube/Twitter/Facebook breaking an artist or blogs. I think blogs help to ignite initial recognition for an artist, everyone has their fave blogs and checks them daily to see who the new artists are, they'd THEN go on to their Youtube/Twitter/Facebook to find out more about them and follow. A proposed future fan can't exactly go onto the Twitter page of someone they don't even know about. I definitely think that Social Networks are the prime source for developing an artist's hype and gaining a 'following', which record labels then see and hopefully sign the artist. In my opinion, they all work together to 'break' an artist, along with word of mouth; but I don't really think the social networks could work on their own, as I said earlier – you can't follow an artist you don't know about yet.

  • http://twitter.com/tarajane181 Tara Jane ☆

    I really like this article and think it makes for interesting discussion. But I'm unsure whether its either/or when it comes to Youtube/Twitter/Facebook breaking an artist or blogs. I think blogs help to ignite initial recognition for an artist, everyone has their fave blogs and checks them daily to see who the new artists are, they'd THEN go on to their Youtube/Twitter/Facebook to find out more about them and follow. A proposed future fan can't exactly go onto the Twitter page of someone they don't even know about. I definitely think that Social Networks are the prime source for developing an artist's hype and gaining a 'following', which record labels then see and hopefully sign the artist. In my opinion, they all work together to 'break' an artist, along with word of mouth; but I don't really think the social networks could work on their own, as I said earlier – you can't follow an artist you don't know about yet.

  • dante

    Tyler visited the Fader offices. They are a blog.

  • dante

    And really, you care about the general public? The general public is fucking retarded. Always has been always will be.