Disclaimer: I’m not truly angry or disgruntled (about bloggers at least), nor do I hate on anyone’s success and acclaim. It just so happens that the people getting the most shine from this practice happen to be going about it in a manner that I consider foul and harmful. I’ve owed Reyn this piece since forever and 20 minutes ago, and with this being my initial submission I look forward to building more of a working relationship with his site.
Writer – n. One who writes, especially as an occupation. [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language]
Journalist – n. One whose occupation is journalism (The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation) [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language]
Blogger – n. 1) A person who keeps and updates a blog. [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language] 2) A self-absorbed prick who believes ownership of a URL entitles them to spew forth pomposity and subject readers to shenanigans consistently thought of as girly-mouthed by most internet users with even the slightest level of human decorum. – [Young H, 2010]
I’ve been downright sick of bloggers for some time, but recently my levels of disgust have reached a level to where I had to create my own page to separate myself from these scumbags. The first to really make a name for himself in Hip-Hop blogging was Bol aka Byron Crawford. It was sort of like he took the controversial shtick originally made infamous by Star & Buckwild and brought it to the internet whereby messages and reactions were received almost instantly, quickly rendering himself one to watch if only to see what ire he’d inspire next. To diss successful but flawed artists was nothing new, so Byron went to picking apart underdogs who were all of the rage throughout online circles. This concept initially had some novelty to it as there was a built-in audience ready to give him negative feedback whenever he made mockery of the Little Brothers and Tanya Morgans of the world, but his routine ultimately rang as disingenuous. For starters, it turned out dude couldn’t articulate thoughts well to save his life, not to mention he had little else at his disposal aside from shock and awe tactics. XXL Magazine gave Byron an online column, and the blogging superstar was born. Though he was (and remains) a talentless hack, his presence has drawn attention to their brand, much like record labels whose business model has more to do with making stars than giving people quality music.
Had he kept up some mystique about who he was (much like Ghostface in the 36 Chambers era) he could have carried on like a prick for some time, but the 2007 videotaped interview he did with The Parker Report ended up permanently crushing his credibility beyond all measure. When this is the infamous heckler trying to tear apart an artist’s career for his own entertainment (with a voice that sounds like a second string Sesame Street character to boot) and a major Hip-Hop publication provides him with a forum to spew his insipid bullshit, something is truly wrong.
Byron Crawford’s success served to put steam in the engine of my next target who I see to be most culpable in bad blogging, the duo behind the monster that is 2DopeBoyz.com. It would be rather remiss of me not to research one’s back story before mouthing off about them, and yes Meka and Shake put in a lot of grunt work to get where they are. But much like Viacom’s stronghold over urban music, Kidz In The Hall, Fabolous, Fat Joe, and Just Blaze to name a few, 2DopeBoyz are but a bare facsimile of their humblest beginnings.
I don’t believe I take issue with the fact that the New Music Cartel are clearly in bed with record labels, but you cant simultaneously occupy both sides of the fence. If I may revert to a cliché for a second, they say the grass is greener on the other side for a reason, meaning one is conflicted in their present positioning. While 2DBZ has a self-appointed duty to assist in the proliferation of quality material (even extending to having familial ties with close musical compatriots of mine), they subsequently cover artists they make no secret of despising in the very next instant. Their routine was edgy at first, but now the shtick has run its course and there’s an apparent dearth of quality control afoot as they cater to the lowest common denominator.
There’s a prevalent idea that bloggers are supposed to be the pulse of the culture, with a craft dedicated to being early up on new goodness, and I’ll briefly concede so as to admit 2DopeBoyz has hit the mark a few times and served to help the careers of a few underdogs I’m a fan of. However, these charitable acts and attempts to fight the righteous battle are diluted and rendered nearly futile as Meka and Shake take 10 steps back by giving a run to wack degenerative MCs with a strong following to ensure people keep coming back to their site.
Perhaps it’s that my moral fiber has yet to allow me the unmitigated gall to play both sides of the field and make a living pumping bullshit (i.e. “Look, I’m one of the good guys, this is just how I keep the lights on”). I for one haven’t been a fan of Bryan “Baby” Williams’ art for some time now, but you look like a tool changing his name from Birdman to Birdshit to just ‘Shit when giving him press. On paper I just chuckled typing out that evolution, so there’s some humor in it but they’ve run that particular bit into the ground as they continue to put up nearly anything bearing Stunna’s semblance. Take my grass-is-greener remarks above, and allow me to tack on another tried but true cliché: all news is good news. Building a large sphere of influence and using it to promote trash makes you a part of the problem no matter where your heart truly lies.
Now, one could give the aforementioned lack of consistency benefit of the doubt and espouse the virtues of practicing good business, except I also find the general attitudes of the co-owners rather disgusting. They’re pretty condescending to the site’s visitors, acting as if they’re owed great respect for simple information dissemination or if they’re even achieving great strides by being the first to post anticipated material that the rest of the internet will own 15 minutes henceforth (I’ve died a bit more inside each time I’ve read the tagline “NMC Premiere, you bastids”) The practice of patting oneself on the back for breaking new records could be seen as today’s equivalent of Funkmakster Flex dropping bombs and going berserk when having a song before anyone else, except Flex is a DJ who got amped about playing quality material, not breaking Young Money records before anyone else. While I haven’t listened to radio rotation in over a decade, I’m sure Flex spins commercialized bullshit due to the nature of the beast, but I’m also certain he’s a professional who won’t get on the air complaining and shitting on the artists he doesn’t like. That brings me back to the question: Why participate in a practice you can barely look yourself in the mirror for? Countless rap records have spoken of drug dealers who dealt with the inner conflict of playing a role in the destruction of the black community, but I have to think the blog game isn’t nearly as lucrative. It’s like a vegetarian flipping burgers and taking immense pride after being named one of Vibe Magazine’s Top 50 fast food employees (for the slow witted amongst you, the vegetarian is a fan of good music, flipping burgers is promoting bad music). There’s a true lack of principle and steadfast conviction involved behind running this site, and all for what? Online fame?
I’ve had an axe to grind for some time, but I’ve chosen to remain silent until now. Smaller transgressions aside from those already named include: the site’s emulation of King Magazine and XXL’s Eye Candy section, throwing up random images of scantily clad celebrities and internet models to keep clicks coming (sue me, I like to keep my ogling of fine women and my Hip-Hop separate), and a weekly R&B section on what’s largely considered a Hip-Hop blog. It’s like a concerted effort to maximize visitors at any and all costs, as if record labels and urban radio need yet another outlet complicit in their fuckery. I took grave offense to all of this, but I kept watching and waiting for the act that would push me over the edge. Enter Feb. 2, 2010. St. Louis MC Vandalyzm put out one of my favorite mixtapes of the winter with Vandalyzm Is Not The Father, and his simple self-promotion earned him snide remarks and an attempt at a lambasting from Mek Dot. In sum, the dope boy took offense to being caught out there sleeping, and lashed out with an arrogant diatribe against…AN ARTIST HUMBLY THINKING HE DESERVED SPOTLIGHT ON THIS SUPPOSED TASTEMAKER’S BLOG. Ever since this point, I’ve truly felt like “fuck everything that 2DopeBoyz and the NMC by extension stand for” (though I still have to go through them as a leading supplier for the sporadic quality material they give). And I wasn’t alone in my feelings as the comments section on this posting displays. But what has me even more dumbfounded is a year prior Meka threw his name on a U-N-I project that featured Vandalyzm. It seems to me that in a rush to be down with the cool kids at the time, he neglected to examine how deep U-N-I’s familial ties ran. I have yet to see a retraction of his statements or anything resembling a humble apology. Dude just said, “Your stuff is good, next time let me find it rather than telling me I should” and he’s been rightfully roasted for it.
To boot, 2DBZ tirelessly points out that they won’t feature much of the trash they receive daily, because many of the unknown artists sending in submissions seem to have no future behind them. Why can’t they take a similar stance on mainstream trash that they don’t even enjoy covering? Mek recently did an entry defending his practice against views like mine, stating his website is doing what’s good for business, having simply adapted to the music industry’s changes. He also made sure to label anyone questioning the seedy underbelly of Hip-Hop blogging “slick-talking, self-important, elitist music snobs,” which I suppose is a well-dressed-up equivalent to Bad Boy’s “player haters” tag of the mid-90s.
I could continue on and on, but I think I’ve made enough of a case for my feelings here. A few other recent instances where I’ve been rubbed wrongly include Mek’s idea that Kat Stacks being assaulted was due justice in the same widely read space where Byron Crawford cosigns Slim Thug’s self-hatred. Speaking of which, Vibe magazine’s online sector has fallen prey to the same sick lust for attention by allowing inflammatory pieces such as the recent Slim Thug debacle to run on their site. Top that with labels so desperate to feed these fuckfaces that they’ll give out incorrect information just to get buzz popping and I think we’re amongst the last days of scruples being employed with popular rap blogging.
P.S. I haven’t written this as an attention ploy, to wage war on Byron Crawford or Meka and Shake, nor am I prepared to engage in an endless back and forth with anyone about my views. I find blog beef extremely lame i.e. people taking Kevin Nottingham to task for charging a measly $35 to artists for album reviews. For the record I have no problem with an honest and modest businessman getting his, the American way is receiving what people are willing to pay for your services. The many “good blog” vs. “bad blog” Twitter battles I’ve witnessed have made me ashamed to be a spectator in the audience and I wont be adding to that history. With this I just hope to have incite conversation and I’ll consider my efforts a success if I can inspire others to unashamedly speak their mind when feeling a sense of displeasure with the status quo. I remain an advocate for quality Hip-Hop to thrive and dually for egotistical characters within “the industry” to be taken down a few notches. In the words of one of the culture’s greatest moguls: “I’d like to thank you all for coming out. God bless, goodnight.”