redman-ihh

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I read Reggie Noble’s excerpt on his label from HipHopDX and I can’t say I disagree. The following block quote can easily be misconstrued as a tirade against his employer. But I read it as an honest critique and he doesn’t seem like he’s calling heads out like his labelmate Shyne Po. Anyway, here’s the block quote.

[Def Jam] are not leaders like they used to be,” Redman said. “In the ’90s they were leaders. They were the label that you considered the mechanics of Hip Hop; they’re under the car. They were the ones under the car getting greasy, getting dirty, fixing that muffler that drags when everybody loved that shit and was following it. Now they’re playing the follower. They’re followers. They’re not building artists no more like they should. And that’s just the game.

At worst he sounds like he’s nostalgic for the good ‘ol days. But more importantly, Def Jam’s issues with artist development isn’t unique to them. It seems like rappers on the come up linger in a waiting room otherwise known as the internet until a label swoops in and signs them. Then, if they’re lucky enough to get picked, they either blow up or fall off in front of everyone.

Labels prefer grass roots rappers who have a visible following online. They don’t have to worry about cultivating talent at that point because the train is already rolling with what they’re offering. All that’s left is sealing a cosign from a major name and they’re good to go. Of course this process is easier said than done. But when you look at how J. Cole, Drake and KiD CuDi got on it’s easy to see how the formula unfolded for them. Wiz Khalifa would fit the format to a T as well if not for his penchant to not look for a cosign.

Ultimately, it’s just the nature of the beast: especially considering how artist development is increasingly expensive. That’s not to say I’m fond of it. But the industry as we know it is staving off implosion as most labels didn’t adjust to the internet’s affect on music distribution. Meanwhile heads can make records and videos at a fraction of the usual cost: another phenomenon Red touched on. Therefore, there has to be some leeway between acts and major record companies as profits are the name of the game.