We are in 2011, and who has been dominating the conversation for the past few months? Kreayshawn. To a lesser extent, V-Nasty. On the less controversial side, there’s Mac Miller, Yelawolf, and Machine Gun Kelly (who strangely reminds me of Milkbone, a 90s-era rapper from New Jersey who had a few noteworthy tunes- one, consequently titled “Keep It Real,” go figure- before fading to black).
And there are others. Macklemore. Hoodie Allen. Chris Webby. Sam Adams. Iggy Azalea. Action Bronson. Even Riff Raff. I could probably list twenty more white rappers who are semi-popular right now to the average high school and college kid, but who most rap critics and “serious” rap people never heard of.
But what difference does that make, really? It’s unfortunate, but rare as it is an Odd Future-like situation where the internet hype machine and actual fans are aligned in their interests in an act. Now, more often than not, tastemakers who feed the hype machine are feeding it bullsh*t that arguably nobody really cares about, and fans are making their presence felt with metrics on social networks that really matter- Facebook and Youtube.
The old system was built on a top down model, where the old guard- artists, executives, fans, “the industry,” etc- would have to give you their blessing for you to really make it in the game. Despite selling millions of records, Vanilla Ice never got that far. Eminem did. It’s this weird, sort of hard to define thing where artists who are perceived to be “of the culture” maintain some sort of relevancy in it. That relevancy is tough to fade. Look at Paul Wall. The guy hasn’t had a hit record in years, but his popularity in hip-hop circles is still high. No matter how sh*tty his music may be, Paul Wall is seen as being “down.”
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