What motivated me to want to do topics on the Record Industry politics is the letter that was emailed to Def Jam by Nas. Nas voiced his complaints about how Def Jam is mishandling his career,his Lost Tape 2 album and their attempts to silence him. What puzzles me about Def Jam is that Nas is a gifted artist. Probably one of the top 5 rappers to have ever lived voicing his concerns about corrupt label politics then we have a serious problem in our hands In Nas’s words “The Wrong people are in control of our music”. It’s hard to believe that guy the notoriety of Nas is going through changes within the machine.
Even though Nas filed a complaint, I was thinking that this is nothing new, Artists have aired out their differences with their labels all the time. But then the following week, Shyne started speaking out against the Def Jam label claiming that LA Reid Doesn’t give two middle fingers about Hip Hop and that he’s very displeased with the directon of the label. He even voiced his distaste for them making a former correctional Officer(Rick Ross) the main focus of their label masqueraded as a Miami Drug Kingpin. But what really made me get off my ass and actually do a followup on the Industry is the treatment Atlantic Records is giving Lupe Fiasco.
Anybody that knows me would tell you that I’m not Lupe Fiasco’s biggest fan. I feel that he tries too hard to be extra lyrical but to his credit, He’s made some good music and respect his stance. Lupe started venting out his frustrations with the label as he feel that they aren’t doing their job to help build anticipation for his next album. Lupe even went as far as to have call out MTV and claim that they are the “Illuminati’s favorite Network” This video is where Lupe is exposing the corruption behind Atlantic Records
The Illuminati remark proved to be a very sensitive accusation made considering that Rappers becoming affiliated with Masonry, devil worshipping cults, along with promoting satanic imagery in videos have been the hot topics for the past two years. MTV responded to Lupe’s remarks within 24 hours and actually tried to give him sound advice on how to handle his mishandled career. The letter while made some valid points proved to be nothng more than disrespectful. Especially going as far as to say that he should be like B.O.B.(which is an insult).
Where Lupe’s career is gonna head from here is pretty much a mystery at this point, He’s possibly burnt a lot of bridges with a lot of the big time figureheads or companies who may not want to promote or play his record.Despite all of this we have to give it up for Lupe for actually taking a stand and fighting for his artistic creativity whereas many would have just fell back, kept their mouth’s shut and let their career just fade away.
The Industry is full of crooks, thieves, snakes, and people who would love you when you’re hot but would soon dismiss you faster than your head could spin once your records stop selling. Just ask people like Hammer, Ja Rule, Nelly, Chingy,and many others who were hot commodities only to fade out into irrelevancy due to people clinging to the next thing. The Rap Game is not loyal at all and it’s a harsh reality many face soon as they see their career stop fading. Check out Cee Lo’s verse off Goodie Mob’s where he talks about how a struggling rapper finally reaching fame but soon as the record stop selling, He stops getting support from the fans, label and eventually fades away just like many before him:
Now this is for up and coming artists thats trying to get into the game thinking that they can become the next JayZ, 50 Cent, P-Diddy or big star overnight. SNAP OUT OF THAT! This rap game takes ALOT of work, a lot of dedication, and like any job or career Its gonna have its headaches along with its bullshit. Your boy to give you the game real, rugged, and raw on what to get your career popping off on the right foot and what challenges you may have ahead of you.
#1. Study the Market and Find your audience.
You have to study the Rap Game. Listen to the radio(if you can bare it), Check out websites, blogs, magazines, DVDs and be alert so you wouldn’t fall behind with the times. You don’t want to bring an outdated mentality into a new field. Another thing is listen to people’s opinions about the game, the artists and what they want to hear. Pay attention to people’s likes, dislikes, along with learning how to get your record out there.
#2. Have at least 50-100 songs already recorded or tons of material lined up.
The days of recording 3 or 4 songs on a demo and shipping them to Major labels are over. Not only does doing these numerous amount of songs develop your work ethic but it also gives you a chance to find your sound, voice and whatever style gets the most positive feedback. The average Cd could hold 18-20 tracks so you recording 50-100 songs could save you less work and give you the chance to release mixtapes to keep your already established audience satisfied. You’ll definitely have material already lined up to feed your audience. Lil Wayne did this by his consistent work ethic and was eventually to feed the audience different styles of himself ranging from hip hop, r&b,reggae and even rock music
Build yourself a solid team that willing to have their best interests for you, your vision and your music. You never want to have a bunch of yes men around you because its gonna harness your creativity. A lot of artists can’t stand criticism so they hire a bunch of yes men to tell them everything that they put out is good when it reality its 100 % Grade A garbage. You need people on your team thats gonna be brutally honest about your music, or your direction because it can help you develop your sound and would not have to endure humiliation from the public if you’re wack. A team of at least 4 or 5 people who you can most likely trust is good.
The Music Industry is a very complicated business. Theres alot of paperwork dealing with contracts, copyrights, publishing points, logo names, and many other terms of endearment that these snakes be using on young, hungry and at many time naive artists. Before you sign on the dotted line, Weigh out your options with your lawyer and actually take the effort to learn the meaning behind publishing points and contracts because they can either make or break your career. And for the record.. “JUST BECAUSE YOU SELL A MILLION RECORDS DOESNT MEAN YOU’RE GONNA GET A MILLION DOLLARS!”
“I came into the game not caring about the business, Just for the love of the music and you get FUCKED like that” Dr Dre
One of the main mistakes a new artist make is that they come into the game not thinking about the business side but only care strictly for the music and while there’s nothing wrong with that because the mentality is that you come into the game to MAKE MUSIC. Not go to law school. You’re heart can be with the music but also You have to somewhat become a business man/company and present yourself as such when you’re negotiating deals so you wont be takened advantage of by these big time labels talking selling you a good game and screwing you behind your back.
#6.NEVER depend on the label.
We’ve heard alot of the horror stories about how the artists despite all of their hard work and the records that they have sold for these labels DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. Alot of artists just coming into the game become very naive into believing that these labels are actually their big brothers and think that because they sold 4 or 5 million records that these labels were gonna be there for them and pick up the pieces. It doesn’t work that way, You have to develop an Independent mentality just incase the labels want to act funny style and pull promotion, marketing, singles, and video shoots from you. Many artists have fallen for the label’s manipulative schemes, When CEO’s such as Suge, Puff, and Baby tell these artists that they consider or treat their artists like family. It’s all mind control because their saying that now because your record is selling but once you stop going platinum and you start pushing 110,000 your first week, Their gonna throw you in the back burner in need for somebody hotter. Have a plan B if you’re on a major and DO NOT SIGN NO 5-6 ALBUM DEALS which leads to #7.
Anybody that’s an established artist that know the industry know that this is probably one of the worst lucrative deals the major labels have ever came up with to control their artist. They claim that if you sign this deal that they would promote you longer and take care of your entire career which is in reality another form of manipulation. The real deal behind this is that the labels seen a lot of artists making their money off shows, ringtones, merchandise, endorsements, guest appearances(probably 15-20 gz depending on your worth). The artist’s were waking up to the fact that the major labels weren’t doing anything for them and that record sales were on the heavy decline so what they decide to do is create a new form of paperwork for artists to sign so that they can get a piece of everything from shows, merchandise, your logo, copyrights to your name, publishing points, and your guest appearances
#8.Realize Just because you sign a deal worth a million doesn’t mean you have a million.
The label may give you big advances but their no different from home and bank loans that you would eventually have to pay back. Just because they give you a million deal doesn’t guarantee that they’re gonna give you a million dollars off the top. That million dollars is used for radio promotion, magazine advertisements, video shoots, singles pushes, production costs, and sample clearances. Being that the Industry is in a fast decline, the best way to save you a budget is to shoot internet videos along with find producers in your area that are young, and hungry instead of trying to pay half of your budget for a Pharell or a Kanye West beat. Understand that the label is gonna want that million back in advance so if you happen to luck up and do strong numbers then you should have no problems paying the label back the loan.
#9.DO NOT Alienate your core base
“I’d much rather have 100,00 True heads buy me than One million of your fake fanatics behind me”
This is one of the most frustrating/aggravating challenges an artist must face if their signed to a major label. The label don’t care about artistic integrity, They only care about money and numbers. They may try to force you to do a pop collaboration that you KNOW will have your core fans look at you like “What the hell?” or they’ll force you to do a pop song so they can cross promote you into faster and easy sales. What these people don’t understand is using hardcore artists for cross promotion purposes HURTS the hardcore artist in the long run because in many cases the core base wouldn’t know how to digest the new sound and would eventually turn away.It happened to Ja Rule, It happened to Hammer, It happened to Ghostface when he was forced to put out singles featuring Neyo, Ron Browz, Kanye West, and others that his base didn’t want to hear from. If you follow some of these steps, You would have enough power financially and business wise to tell these scumbags “FUCK YALL! THIS IS GARBAGE!” But if you don’t have any form of knowledge then you’ll get sucked into their schemes and the game their selling you into making you the next superstar but once you lose that core base that have stuck by you and bought your records continuously in favor to attract a new fickle market. Their gonna feel insulted and abandon you.
#10.FUCK MAJOR LABELS
Major Labels are not the in thing anymore. Its becoming more of a burning house within every passing day. If You’re in the game to make music for the fast cars, fast women, big baller lifestyle and just the hollywood shit, then by all any means be stupid, sign your life away to a major in a 360 deal and have the look of a famous rapper for 1 year. But don’t come back on Worldstarhiphop.com or YouTube crying 2 years later and try to air out the label because its more than likely You have had warnings prior. Going Independent is the best option. You may have to put in alot of more work and come out of the pocket but at least all of the mistakes or any mismanagement of your career would be YOUR responsiblity and not from the cause of a label or some executive’s indecisive business decision.You’ll have more creative freedom and direction with where you want to go and wouldn’t have to listen to some punk ass A&R who doesn’t have a clue about your story, your direction or your music tell you whats gonna be hot and whats not. Peep the videos from Young Guru and JT Da Bigga Figga about the enslavement of the artists signed on Majors and the benefits of going Indie.