On “Relevancy” Records….

 |  January 19, 2011


If you pay attention to the purported wild west also known as e-rap you’ll notice these heads put out free mp3s  every single day. I’m not complaining as listeners are bound to run into gems here and there. But I can’t help but feel like the business model, or lack thereof, when it comes to disseminating records online brings down the overall value of songs and their production.

Of course this is nothing new. It’s almost like when a new hot song would come out and every rapper on earth would hop on it for the remix: a practice that’s still alive and well. Instead the phenomenon of cheapening a record is now spread throughout an artist’s discog: largely to stay relevant.

Let’s be honest. Users have to hold their fair share of the blame since we have microwave attention spans. Ergo, rappers aren’t trying to be yesterdays news. And since a few hours feels like a day in e-time many deem it necessary to put out tracks or “leaks” just to keep fans interested.

A few entertainers shirked this model. But they’re M.O. about it is so individual that most of the peers can’t pull it off without some sort of backlash. For instance, Jay Electronica seemingly drops a song a year. Yet his deft lyrics, wordplay and compelling “mystique” keeps heads interested every time some considerable news about him comes up.

MF Doom’s fans go through long spans without hearing new material from the super villain. Yet he’s celebrated by hip-hop nerds world wide whenever he releases a new song. Granted his fan base predates the emergence of blogs. With that in mind it’s apparent to see his fans come out the woodwork online whenever some new DOOM loosie hits the internets.

Alas, these cases are unique and not everyone can emulate them. Such is especially true when a rapper made their name by dropping an extravagant amount of free songs throughout their career. Picture this. Imagine if Lil B stopped making records between now and the end of the year. His fan base would go into a violent relapse and honestly it’d be pretty funny to witness. But I digress.

He built his brand off of dropping hundreds of records about why hos are on his dick and likening himself to a myriad of female celebrities. Take that constant input away cold turkey and heads will roll. It’s an extreme example. Nevertheless, apply that situation to a more tempered artist with regular drops like Wiz Khalifa  or Curren$y to name a couple and the point still stands.

Not to single them out, but they’ve built their brand off of dropping a torrent of records over the years and continue to do so. The method obviously works for them. Yet I’d like to see them, as well as other rappers with similar output, develop more substantial projects that take time to develop in lieu of constant releases. It’ll be a new challenge and, if it catches on, can increase the quality and care that goes into the everyday song. More importantly, that work will translate into an MC’s album which will have far more staying power to an artist’s legacy and bottom line than a throw away song of the day. Let’s not forget said songs may not be available for download, let alone remembered, years from now and it turns into a game of “don’t work harder, work smarter.”

The obvious solution calls for consumers to stop demanding new material at a ridiculous pace. Thing is you’ll need more than good luck to get the whole internet on the same page. Conversely, you could do your part by not checking for new music everyday. Slow down the process of turning records over at an insane pace and maybe these rap heads will take notice. Or, just wait until the best ones usually find their way to your favorite rappers mixtape. Until then we’ll still get tons of one and done records for the sake of staying on the radar.