Sunday, 22 May 2011

Hip Hop - Still a dirty word...

I wrote this back last year, before things started to kick off - so obviously, my bad will towards the music industry has worn off somewhat. i don't really have a point, most of my arguements are wildly spurious and probably hihgly innaccurate...however, I think this truely captures a snapshot in time of how fucking frustaring it can be, 'managing' a Hip Hop band. Not to sound narcissistic, but I love the sound of my own words, being read back to me, by myself. And if you're wondering...I'm not being ironic...

Draft date: 17 November 2010 
Yes, yes I know. Weeks since the last post. Some of us have jobs - well, apart from Hass. But he' know...doing stuff...Anyhow, I haven't exorcised my demons for at least a good few months, and I reckon I've built up enough bile to let rip on what hopes to be a viceral yet bitterly amusing reposte on the state of what's loosely known as the 'UK Music Industry' - or as I like to refer it, 'that bunch of credit crunch apologist, profit-driven, margin-watching, genre-flattened, ignorant, intern exploiting shits'.

So for the last few months we've been busy getting this bastard of a video editted down - the major issue being, with so much amazing footage, how the flying fuck-fish do we chop it together? (the major issue with organic filming) Alongside that, I've been sweating blood trying to push the new website and  demo pack to labels, promoters festival agents, NHS carehomes, old men with dogs on strings and the ghost of JB Priestly. It reminds me of when I was writing off for actor agents in my gap year. Back then, I got a tonne of knockbacks, a load of 'probably's and three interviews before landing a sick agent that I'm still with today. Back then, marketing myself as an Asian performer was considered my strength - and why shouldn't it? I was diverse, talented and had a great look - I still do.

However, music's a different beast. Its a descriminatory one. Label yourself wrong, and you're turfed out on your ear before your music's even been given the decency of a listen. And so we approach the nub of today's consternation. Hip Hop. A loaded phrase, a heavy phrase, weighed down by huge cultural associations, imagery and lifestyles. UK Hip Hop, even more so. QE can literally tear up a dancefloor, like we've done on many occasions, and we still get ostrosized by the Hip Hop community at large. The flows over 'What we Got' are among the tightest and freeflowing I've heard in any UK Hip Hop track - but of course I'd say that, I'm the fucking manager. However, its the truth. There's nothing else like QE out there, matching shit hot lyrics, with positivity, deathly strong beats and a live show with more charisma and sex appeal than Tila Tequila dipped in honey and whipped cream.

So on one side we get shivved by mags like Hip Hop Connection who still tout Lil' Wayne as the messiah, ignored by blogsites who say we aren't 'conscious' enough. But funnily enough, the people who come to our shows and the artists we support and surprise don't see it that way. When your in the mosh pit, genre labels simply don't fucking matter. Just because you 'belong' in the Hip Hop box, doesn't mean you have to rap over something that sounds like it was dragged out of Cool & Dre's collective arsehole, before being left to dry on the doormat of Cash Money Records. It doesn't mean we have to act like a prick in Cargo, turning up with our posse and storming the front door without paying to sell CDs and drink out of a champagne bottle...Or does it? Is that the culture that we were supposed to buy into?

Was this what Queens English was supposed to be? Were we not meant to be fucking clever with language, and diabolically interesting with beats? Were we just supposed to rap stupid for simple people, for our CDs to become the drinks coasters for next year's A-listers? Should we have made a ringtone? Should we have started Beef with Blak Twang, Stigg and Syntax and Hoodz Underground simultaneously? Should QE have tried really hard not to be an all-white group? Seriously, what the fuck should we have done?

On the other side, we have the white-male dominated production and promotion industry. Surely these guys will give us the time of day? Our survey says, '[Insert the sound of Les Dennis slowly being degroused]'.

Apparently, branding yourself as a Hip Hop band is a surefire way for your demo to go swiftly from the Desktop to the Recycling Bin. But is it suprising? A recent exchange with a well known label, that represented even more well known UK Hip Hop artists revealed the fallout from the industry's breif dalliance with the form. I quote, 'it was nothing short of a disaster'. About 8-10 years back, I couldn't turn my head without bumping into some awesome Hip Hop albums and singles. Tommy Evans, Doc Brown, Mystro, Rodney P, Roots, they were all at it, booting out the beats and beans. Of course, the industry smelt the cash like hungry sharks with blood in the water. And after N-Dubz came along, saturating Channel U with their warm diarrohea, in a similar vein to what Michael Macintyre does for comedy (yes, I am a Stewart Lee fan), the inevitable happened, and labels opened their doors.

Unfortunately, the problem with being a recording artist is that occasionally you have to perform, make public appearances (unless you're Hope Sandoval from Mazzi Star, in which case you can stay secluded cos you're a fucking genius) and generally sound intelligent. Unfortunately, the majority of UK Hip Hop artists are not capable of any of those things, let alone consistancy in the work they produce. Dappy's subsequent gaffes, combined with the Silverback Gorilla minder/manager that follows him round quashing any serious journalistic inquiry is but one example. The industry started realising that these groups were the Urban equivalent of the Arctic Monkeys - they sound great on a pressed vinyl, but when you stick 'em up live, it's like pulling teeth at an amputee strip show - plain uncomfortable and not arousing in the slightest.  The PR for these crews was costing more than actually producing the music. In short, this shit was simply not sustainable. And then came the credit crunch, . With investors, underwriters and holding companies folding up quicker than a Romanian gambling syndicate, fewer and fewer UK-based organisations looked to take a chance on the cannon that is UK Hip Hop.

Even the truely established names like Baby J and Necro from America have now found themselves dropped unceremoniously from their UK conterparts. And hence the brick wall I seem to be hitting, trying to get bookings, label meetings and other such fanciful things that would help make QE a roaring success.

In London, there seems to be a horrible glut of faceless 'indie/alternative' bands, that aren't really indie or alternative, all sounding like poor imitations of the mighty Sex Bob-Omb from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World...And they aren't even a real fucking band. Don't get me wrong, there are a few good bands out there - but notice the operative quantative noun 'few'. But you see a lot of names, on every wall, billboard and even on the back of train tickets - everywhere. Saturation seems to be the key to success...

[this is the point where I ran out of things to say...]

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