“…this rap sh*t is really just like selling smoke…” – Andre 3000 (of Outkast), “Myintrotoletuknow” Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
“…So we cook it, cut it, measure it, bag it, sell it…put that CD on your tongue, yeah that’s pure man…” – Kanye West, “Crack Music” Late Registration
On Jay-Z’s second album, In My Lifetime, Vol 1, he has a song called “Rap Game/Crack Game” where he draws the various parallels between the dope game and the music industry. As evidenced by the first quote, Jay’s song wasn’t the first time such a parallel had been drawn. Kanye West tackled the same idea, though somewhat clumsily and definitely with less focus on his classic second opus.
Point is, various rap artists have made the connection (no pun intended) between the vocations.
And now, there is another parallel just waiting to happen. You see, it turns out that that that blog game is a whole lot like the current music model these days. This whole process that we’ve been going through here at VSB has illustrated it for me quite clearly. And being the benevolent soul that I am, and since I do believe that sharing is caring, I decided to do what writers do and write. If I was a rapper, I might drop a song explaining it. But I’m not and I know my father. Anyway, let’s walk through the process using the current internet based music model.
As the dead ninja Tupac said, “follow me!”
1. WordPress/Blogger/MT4 vs ProTools/Logic/Reason/FruityLoops, etc
The barriers to entry to music are minimal these days. Five hundred dollars and computer are all that you need to have a studio in your home. Hell, I have one. You don’t even need hardware anymore. A software package like Ableton Live will do it all for you. Basically, ANYBODY can become a music producer nowadays. And with an additional hundred dollars you can get a decent microphone. Now, I’m not saying they can be a good rapper/producer, but a rapper/producer nonetheless. The same goes with blogging. All you need is to sign up. Period. You sign up via one of the CMS platforms and write your first sentence, and voila, you are a blogger. Not necessarily a good one, but a blogger nonetheless.
2. Blog Posts vs Releasing Songs via Popular Aggregator sites and New Music Cartel afficionados, etc
For those of us who have long given up our aspirations to rap (too many degrees, too old, can’t go back to jail) without losing our aspirations to write, blogging is the best thing. You can write freely. Whenever, wherever, whatever. And about anything. The point is that hopefully whatever you write will connect with somebody who will like it enough that they will either talk about it or share it with others. This is akin to rappers releasing songs on to the net. From Wiz Khalifa to Crooked I, these rappers drop song after song hoping that one of them will resonate enough for folks to check out their work wherever they can find it. Whereas bloggers have their own websites to drop knowledge, the rappers use as many sites as possible, which is easy since the big ones all post the exact same sh*t anyway. Basically one song gets posted 100 times. Us bloggers hope that as many people as possible come to read and then comment, letting us know that folks reading.
And don’t get it twisted. If a blogger tells you that they don’t care about feedback they’re full of sh*t. We’re narcissistic by nature. We write because we feel like what we have to say is important enough for somebody else to want to read. Just like song downloads, comments indicate to us just how much people give a sh*t about what we’ve written, even if the numbers are skewed for various reasons. Point is, if a blogger didn’t care about views, he or she wouldn’t be blogging. Even people who try to be as anonymous as possible get excited the very first time they get a comment. It’s exhilarting to know that somebody, anybody gives a flying f*ck what you have to say. Word.Life.
3. Twitter, Facebook, Digg It, etc.
Nowadays, rappers, writers, scuba divers, skinny dippers, dopeboys and gang bangers all use Twitter, Facebook, etc for the same purpose. Promotion. Hell, folks were selling a certain strain of “legal” weed on Ebay. Point is, right now, it’s all self promotion and it’s up to you the writer or the rapper to figure out how to use these tools to your advantage.
4. Self-published book vs Mixtape
So Far Gone may go down as one of the best mixtapes ever because of what it did for Drake’s career. From Thom Yorke and Lykke Li to Bun B and Trey Songz, SFG was a self-generated, self-promoted, hands on affair that Drake wanted to put out to the public that made him a superstar. For the degree’d ninja, books are the new mixtape. Yes, every last one of us writing arse ninja arse bloggers is trying to secure a book deal and probably secretly hating other ninjas who are doing it like we are who manage to do so. It’s all competition. Competition for eyes. The thing is, every rapper is putting out a mixtape. If you don’t have one and you’re a rapper you’re failing. Bloggers on the other hand just assume that if you keep writing a book offer will come. That’s why we f*cked up the game by dropping a book. Anybody can blog, but apparently not anybody can put out a book, despite how many people have books out there. Have you BEEN to Barnes & Noble? Everybody has one. But for some reason bloggers miss out here because self-publishing rarely crosses ninjas minds. But au contraire, books lend legitimacy. You drop a book and wait for the reviews (mixtape reviews or all the fans saying how dope it is) and all of a sudden, news outlets come calling. Bloggers are cool, but bloggers turned authors are better because you can’t hold up a printout of a website on national television as a means of crediblity. But you know what a news anchor can hold up? A book.
Hello television. Hello radio. Hello nurse.
4. Radio spots, television appearances, interviews
Bloggers and rappers have the same plight now. You drop a book and hope somebody gives a sh*t. The difference is this: rappers use the downloads word of mouth to dictate how good they’re doing. Bloggers? Perception and word of mouth. Dropping a book to the reading ninja crowd comes so far out of left field, especially self-produced that the work it took to do it adds a layer of significant legitimacy. The excitement of your homeboy (cuz face it, at VSB, Champ and I are your real friends) doing something for the teams lends to the perception of doing what Drake’s SFG did. Now all of a sudden folks come calling about doing interviews and television spots and placements in internationally syndicated newspapers. Wiz Khalifa is a prime example on the rap side. His Kush and Orange Juice took him to heights I’m not even sure he expected to go. But rappers and bloggers who are trying to make it in the game go through the same thing, proving that you’re a marketable commodity, ultimately to get to…
5. A major distrbution book/album deal
Being the hottest ninja on the block or in your blog circle is great, but once you have a dope mixtape or book and you realize that its taking off, the goal is to get it to as many people as possible because really, up until now, you’re not making any money. All the work has been free of charge. But if you secure distribution from a major label or major book publisher…all of a sudden you’re making real money doing what you love. Of course, the hope is that a major comes to you because of the following you’ve created via your website or mixtape releases. Majors put you in all the outlets. Here’s where it starts to differ though, rappers ain’t making no money off of album sales because nobody’s selling albums and record deals are so backloaded on the incentives most rapers never really make dough that way. They make money off of shows which is great because they’ve cultivated an audience through their hard work. Just like bloggers turned writers or authors with deals who then manage to actually possibly make money. Ask JK Rowling, the Jay-Z of the writing world.
Rappers and bloggers/writers are one in the same nowadays. All of college educated ninjas who wanted to rap while in college but realized it wasn’t going to work but had to get our words out started blogging and then for some of us it took off. But the hustle is still the same. Rappers and bloggers have the exact same path to stardom. It used to be that the degrees are what separated them, but not anymore since so many rappers have been to college now.
Rapping and blogging. Same hustle.
We both spitting that dopeness. I mean…
…are you not entertained?
-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST
NOTE: For all XM/Sirius Satellite subscribers, The Champ and Panama Jackson will be live with Shawna Renee and Cocoa Mode Radio on Power 169 tomorrow morning, March 10, at 930am talking about their book and other relationship issues. Come on join the chorus, the mighty mighty chorus.