“Hard work always beats talent if talent don’t work hard” –Jadakiss on “Deeper Than Rap (2008)”
Now back when Jadakiss said that memorable line, there were truths to that statement at that point in time. But as of 2009, it seems like controversy always beats talent if talent don’t work hard. Every commercial musician that has been signed from 2009 up until now has been known more for bringing drama & controversy to the table than they have music. Now how did the commercial music industry get to the point where it’s cool to be controversial drama kings/queens & not cool to be talented in your craft, which in this case is musically talented??? Now if you work with me here, I’ll share my opinion on what I believe contributed to the commercial music industry getting to the point of being more controversial & less talented.
While controversy over fame has gotten more common since 2009, it actually goes back to the early 90s where the media-fueled “East Coast vs. West Coast” beef took place. The “East Coast vs. West Coast” beef had gotten so big to the where it had artists & fans alike choosing sides. This beef would go on for a few years until 2Pac was murdered in 1995 & Biggie was murdered in 1997. Now keeping the end result in mind, the record labels, the record distributors, & the media outlets were the only ones that benefited from the craziness at that point. And it didn’t help that it was slowly getting to the point where corporate dollars were sliding their way into rap music, in particular, as it was still a new product they were learning how to market at the time.
As corporate record labels continue to get lazier & lazier about artist development among other things, the recording artists are usually left to their own devices to decide how to market & promote their music to the people. So what results from these types of situations is: the recording artist getting arrested & sometimes getting locked up for their crimes, the recording artist getting into beef with other recording artists, anything the recording artist feels makes (potential) music fans pay attention to them. It doesn’t help that American society has gotten more material, controversy, & celebrity-driven over the years either. America’s obsession with everything material, controversial, & celebrity has passed to the music industry as well. With that in mind, getting their music out to the people has most of today’s commercial recording artists more caught up in being stars & less focused on being talented and this leaves them assed-out after the smoke clears.
While it seems like an endless, vicious cycle, there are starting to be lights on the horizon. I don’t expect a full 360 to happen overnight but slow progress is better than no progress as far as I’m concerned. Controversy might beat talent as a short-term method but it never as a long-term method. Only time will tell how the music industry landscape will look as steps to making progress takes it course little by little.