Nov 6, 2015

Editorial: For or Against the Culture, You Choose by @RamseySaidWHAT

     I always enjoy the opportunity to write creative and freely without being restricted to news, entertainment, or even a music review. Before I begin I stress that the purpose of WTM was to be an outlet for the artists of all kinds to gain exposure and to be the platform for those that deserve it. So this piece here is for you. The title asks a question. Are you for the culture or against it? The culture and the people that fund it are two different monsters. So are you for art or for profit? Once upon a time a couple of artists got in the booth, rapped and sang....

"I want the money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes..." (Trey Songz in Successful)

     You know the rest of the words. It seems like that's become the only thing to talk about in today's industry. An artist will pop at first. It's either because their music is either popular for the times, they have some serious skills, or something about you stands out. If they're lucky they have all the above or at least a combination of some. So after they pop what's next? Sophomore and third projects tend to vary depending on pressure from a label or their own pursuit of money or whatever the public defines as success. If you ever read my short Twitter rants, I always thought success was finding your own level of true artistry and doing what you can to make your sound transcend the generations. Let me paint a small example. I'll use Wale for this because he is someone I hold in high esteem and feel free to be critical on. Like him you can either take two routes:

     One, drop Attention Deficit signed to Atlantic and Roc Nation. It's a great album as far as musical content is concerned. To this point it is Wale's biggest commercial failure as it didn't sell well at all. I'm not sure if that had anything to do with promotion because at the time I hadn't even heard of Wale. Then the More About Nothing mixtape drops after that. At this point I'm a freshman in college listening to this in my dorm speakers wondering who this is so I can explore further and visit AD. I also discovered J. Cole around the same time and see the Roc pushing him heavy. Now at this stage you can either stick to the route you're on. That route could be continue with Atlantic and an "About Nothing" series and Roc Nation hoping you and Cole's cross promotion doesn't go bad and maintain your identity as an artist first. Or two, you can sign to MMG, sell out, and become more successful (at least how this generation defines it) than you've ever been in your career. From a business aspect it was the smartest move at the time. Ross was the hottest thing out after BMF, and the roster was carrying a crazy buzz (this was before Meek's recent public nonsense). Funny enough he still battled promotion issues as far as the label goes on top of the fact he didn't fit. This is no diss to Wale. It's just an example and everyone has to do what they have to do to put money in your wallet and food on the table. I touched a small part of this in my Open Letter to Wale.

     In hindsight, it's relatively easy to come out and pop for the very first time. The real pressure is doing it again especially when people, corporations, and labels are putting money in your wallet they expect you do deliver. Not only deliver for your fans but for the labels best interests too. It's no easy task to appease everyone and you can ask Wale, he'll tell you from experience. Wale is just an example, but he's not the only one who's done it. I think Drake and Cole are part time offenders in that area too. Cole's Let Nas Down tells the story for itself. As for Drake, let's go back to 30 for 30 Freestyle

"Just listened to Closer To My Dreams. Wide eyed and uneducated at 19. I can't rap like that all young and naive. Not after all the shit I've seen and the things I believe."

     I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses the way Drake used to sound in the Comeback Season & So Far Gone days. Maybe I interpreted it wrong but what it sounds like he's saying is that kind of rap doesn't sell anymore. I'd be lying to say he isn't right. However I think Drake is at a point in his career where anything he puts out will sell. So going back to what got you where you are is no crime and won't hurt. plus it'll appease his fans by attending to his artistry. 
     Being an artist is difficult. You let someone into your world and allow them to be judgmental. The goal of an artist should be to retain that value and do what you can to still be important in ten years. Music changes with the times. What's popular now isn't what was popular a few years ago, just ask Trinidad James. Your ability to transcend and adapt with the times is what makes you legendary. Since Drizzy has already done what he needed to do to sell it'd be refreshing to hear a story of life aside from the bottles and bitches. So please, feel free to Say What's Real again... This wasn't an attack on the new school and their methods, but to see a change it's going to take them and the rest of us to be the change that needs to take place. The culture can't grow and change unless we do everything we can to change it.

“The true goal of an artist is to create the definitive work that cannot be surpassed. It's about reaching your level not theirs" Darius Lovehall (Lorenz Tate in Love Jones)

Jonathan C. Ramsey
Jonathan C. Ramsey

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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