By, Wendy Day from Rap Coalition (www.WendyDay.com)
I started Rap Coalition with my own money in 1992 because I got tired of hearing about my favorite artists getting jerked by greedy labels, unsavory production companies, and unknowledgeable managers. I came to rap as a fan—started listening to rap in Philadelphia in 1980. Many of you weren’t even born yet.
I didn’t get into the industry to fuck rappers, or attend parties, or walk red carpets, or get free CDs, or to get interviewed on BET…and therefore, almost 17 years later, I still don’t do any of that shit. That industry glamour shit is fake to me. I care about the deals, the rappers, producers, and DJs getting paid, and enjoying the music (I am still a fan). And here’s the important part: MY ACTIONS MATCH MY WORDS!!
So those folks in this industry who are here to:
• solely get a check (especially those with the bullshit seminars, conferences, showcases, and award shows that are ripping folks off; or the labels and managers who are barely more than just a business card), and/or to
• rub elbows with rappers (I see the same muthaphukkas carrying a camera everywhere wishing they worked for a real magazine, but where do those photos end up besides on their bedroom wall or their Blog that no one reads?), and/or to
• dis folks actually building something and making things happen in this industry (yes, some folks are an angry bi-polar waste of space that no one listens to, and to explain that to them, one would actually have to see value in picking up a phone and calling them—which they are not deserving of…you see, they are so irrelevant that they don’t matter enough), and/or to
• fuck rappers (men and women)
won’t last very long. I’ve watched many folks come and go over the years and most are just a tiny blip on the radar screen of this industry. Some of these losers are even a joke for those in the industry with a real career and a track record of success (“let’s see what this idiot does next since she can’t get clients, and totally fucked up her bullshit award show destroying a bunch of brands along the way”). Yes, I’ve really heard people talk that way behind their backs, and some folks even have conference calls to discuss destroying and blackballing the real idiots in this industry.
While I have always taken the road of letting karma deal with the idiots who are useless in the industry, my powerful counterparts take aggressive action to throw blocks their way. For some people, the only noise they can attempt to make in this industry is by calling out someone who matters, or sending an angry email blast, or sneak dissing them in a blog or an e-newsletter. Fortunately, most of these wanna-bes would actually have to be enough of a force to be reckoned with for folks to read their angry rants, and they are not. Of course, they could always land a column at AllHipHop and take shots….but they’d have to have something tangible to offer, or some real track record of success, to actually do that.
These folks who dis, rant, and complain publicly about others are commonly referred to as HATERS. The one quality they seem to have in common is that they are irrelevant, trying to gain some relevance, not through success, but through attacking folks publicly who are good at what they do and who do have something to offer the industry. Personally, my haters have another quality in common--they are mentally unstable, and it very quickly shows itself when I try to confront them. Additionally, most of them are female.
I’m hated by many of the folks who are bad at their jobs because I actually talk about it and name names—usually in private, one on one. I am very vocal about the wack contracts I break for artists for free, and have no trouble shielding others from going down the same painful road. But every now and again I will use a column to grind an ax about someone’s ineptitude, or stupidity-- usually when I hear many people complaining about the same detractors. I am very careful to be honest and back up everything with fact, lest I be a hater myself.
I may clown someone on stage at their own event when I get the mic…but everything I say will be true-- whether they want to hear it or not is something totally different. If you suck at what you do, be prepared to be told instead of making that come up that you figured you would. Those who are looking to hit a quick lick in this industry instead of putting in time and hard work are treated as such.
With all the backstabbing, the hating, the bad deals, the ripping folks off, the black versus white bullshit (I love you Nutt!), and the unqualified idiots trying to get a quick check (UPS is hiring!)…it comes down to one thing: Most of us who are making a REAL difference in this industry are here because we love the music. What really matters most isn’t what anyone thinks or says, but the rappers, the producers, and the DJs, who ARE truly the backbone of this industry. Sadly, they are usually the last ones to get paid, but the ones who are most deserving of payment.
Maybe those in the spotlight get tired of the same “hater” bullshit that the rest of us do. And they must get it 100 times harder, because they ARE in the spotlight. I am just a tiny blip in their worlds, standing way behind them. I can’t imagine how much it must suck to be in the spotlight and constantly in the line of fire, just because they want to rhyme. B.O.B. sure was right, there are haters everywhere, while T.I. and Maino are embracing theirs and using that power to move forward and excel….”Hi Hater!” But how sad that haterism (don’t hate because I made up a word) is so pervasive that they actually had to devote songs to the subject.
I wanted to write an article about “How To Deal With The Haters,” because it seems like there is so much of it going on these days. Part of me didn’t want to give any attention to the haters, because none of them really have any success, and as I made a list and spoke to the folks in this industry who matter, I realized NONE of the main Haters were even a viable asset to this industry. So rather than give them anymore light (lest they keep it up to get attention), I will write about something really helpful to rappers (who actually matter in this industry). Let me wrap up my hater rant, however, by saying that if someone hates on you, punch them in the mother fucking mouth. Then maybe haters will think twice about saying some bullshit to get attention (since they obviously can’t get it by being good at what they do)…
Rapping is a job, if you want to actually make music for a living. I know that’s kind of obvious, but some artists really need to understand this concept. If you want to quit your day job, and make enough money as a rapper to survive (and maybe take care of a family), your music will need to have value to a consumer who is willing to buy your songs or CDs.
The way you get them to buy your music is to build awareness through promotions (on the streets, at shows, and on the internet). The goal is to build a word of mouth buzz about you, and either you can do this yourself or sign to a record label who will do it along with you. But the key here is that no one will do it FOR you. They may finance it (but more often they do not), but they won’t work harder than you do.
So, here is your job description as a rapper:
You must make music that you believe in, that others will purchase. You must build a movement around yourself. You need to give fans a reason to attract to you (your image, your subject matter, your “swag,” whatever). And it must be believable and relevant. You must believe in yourself and have some degree of talent. If your lyrical skills are lacking, you need to make up for that in other ways.
You need to find the best beats and music to rap over. If you suck at picking beats, get someone on your team that excels at that. Tupac used to openly admit that he wasn’t the best at picking beats, but towards the end of his career he had folks on deck to help him choose some real bangers! You need to talk about subjects that your fans (your niche market) will find interesting and topical. If your fans are intelligent college students, talking only about street shit will limit your market and sales severely. And vice versa. Fans of the real gutter street shit don’t want to hear raps about the Pythagorean Theorem.
You have to find a way to support yourself until the royalty checks and show money start to come in (if you don’t sell 350,000 or more CDs and you are signed to a Major label, forget about the royalty checks—they ain’t coming). If you are signed to an indie label, there is NOT enough money to support you and promote you, so get a job and opt for the budget to be spent on promotions. If you are entrepreneurial at all (and be real with yourself when you decide this one), find an investor rather than signing to a label. Control and ownership is a wonderful thing when it impacts YOUR career.
Work really hard. We all hear that word “grind” as frequently as we hear “haters” these days. Grind means to work harder than anyone else, and then when you feel you can’t possibly do one more thing, do one more thing. Work the streets: hang posters, blitz flyers in places where no one else is, work industry events networking, befriend DJs and radio personalities in markets working outwards from your hometown, go to every event and be visible, meet and talk to everyone, and get up the next day and do it all over again. Work the internet by appearing in chat rooms and on the social networking sites (there are MANY of them now, and they all matter when you are building a career).
As a rapper, it is your job to make the music and make your career happen, whether you can afford to or not. No one will ever work as hard for your career as you will. But as you start getting that all important buzz, others will flock to you. And then it becomes your job to choose the right people to be part of your team. You are only as strong as the weakest person on your team. The bottom feeders come first (because they are the ones with the spare time to look for new talent to rape) so be very careful. Find legitimate, well connected, respected, experienced people to add to your team. If not, your career will be over before it starts. And keep building your fan base, one potential consumer at a time.
And when the haters come, and they will, just know that for some reason it’s part of the territory in urban music. As long as people are insecure and weak minded (haters), they will always try to pull down the next person instead of building up themselves. Sometimes, it’s all they CAN do because they suck at what they are trying to accomplish. If you focus on them, or the anger or the hate, it will bring more of the same into your world due to the laws of attraction. If you ignore them and keep it moving, you will frustrate the haters by not giving them what they want (which is for you to be as unhappy as they are, and to call public attention to them so they can use your fame to try and get a voice). Just know that the more successful you get, the less you will have to deal with the haters—fortunately, they can’t reach very high up the ladder...