THE FIVE: A Panel Discussion Focusing On Today’s Hip-Hop No.1

THE FIVE: A Panel Discussion Focusing On Today’s Hip-Hop No.1

Hip-Hop is a forever growing genre fulled with many contributors who dedicate their entire lives towards the expansion of the culture. These contributors come from different sectors of the music industry those including A&R’s, PR Directors, Marketers, Radio Personalities, Journalists, Bloggers, Managers etc. To dive into the discussion of what’s happening in hip-hop today, a series known as THE FIVE was founded to bring together these various individuals whose voices matter to the culture. Begin the series below.

hunter

Name: Mark // Journalist and Radio Personal at (WEAA 88.9 FM)
Location: Baltimore
Site: BeNtheLoop.com
Twitter Handle: @HUNTERisBIZZY

Dipset, G-Unit and Outkast have all reunited this year. What other Hip-Hop collective would you like to see get back together?
I want to see the 90’s hip-hop wave come back. I’d have to go with Roc-A-fella by a long shot and the original Cash Money.

What’s one trend in Hip-Hop that needs to end?
The trend of rapper’s fashion and production being bigger then their music has to stop. We have to get back to the music. That’s all that matters really.

Finish the sentence: The best Hip Hop project released in 2014 is…
This new Drake that’s on the way. He is alone right now as the hottest MC in hip-hop. He has everyone on their heels waiting to see what he’ll pull off next.

Thoughts on Troy Ave as an artist?
He’s a great artist and has a great management behind him. To go from nothing to now receiving endorsement deals from Adidas, gracing XXL’s Freshmen Cover 2014, performing on the main stage at HOT97’s Summer Jam 2014 all while being independent is amazing. But I think at times his ego can be bigger than his talent which can hurt his music. We enjoy his entertaining braggadocious style but we need records to coincide.

Blogging is not real journalism. Do you agree? Should we even care?
Blogging and journalism are two separate things. Anyone can blog; posting music, fashion news, lifestyle etc. It takes actual skill to be a journalist. A journalist has to be able to capture a reader’s attention with words while provoking conversation and debates. Blogging is a hobby. Journalism is a Job. Whether we should care or not is up to the consumers.

val

Name: Lawrence // Editor of bi-monthly zine, True Laurel. (Next Issue arrives 6/21.)
Location: Brooklyn/Baltimore
Site: Truelaurels.com
Twitter Handle: @TrueLaurels

Dipset, G-Unit and Outkast have all reunited this year. What other Hip-Hop collective would you like to see get back together?
I grew up listening to a lot of Three 6 Mafia so seeing them all come back together would be great for me as a fan but that’s basically impossible now since Lord Infamous passed away last year.

What’s one trend in Hip-Hop that needs to end?
I’m not sure if this is a trend but rappers being too weeded (or whatever they’re on) to give a solid and entertaining performance is getting really old. It’s gotten to the point where seeing a good and engaging show is extremely rare. I can’t fully connect to an artist who has horrible stage presence or who doesn’t even seem to value showmanship. I think it’s pretty crippling to the culture.

Finish the sentence: The best Hip-Hop project released in 2014 is…
Come To Life by Cities Aviv. It dropped in January and I’m still rocking to that pretty heavy. What I like about his music is that it’s really cerebral and when I’m listening, I get sucked into his world. That’s what separates me being a real fan of something as opposed to just being a listener, no matter how frequent: I have to get a real feel for who you are.

Thoughts on Troy Ave as an artist?
Before recently, I never thought much of anything when it came to Troy Ave’s music because I never thought it was good. But now that he’s positioned himself to be a relevant topic in hip-hop culture, I’ll say that I think his antics are much more entertaining than his actual music. When I saw him say that Kendrick Lamar is weird because he rocks shorts that stop above his knee, I laughed out loud. His geezer attitude is comical to me, and maybe a bit sad. He represents what I don’t want rap, or anything in society to be: stagnant and conservative.

Blogging is not real journalism. Do you agree? Should we even care?
This is a problematic statement because I think people get too wrapped up in labels when it comes to digital media. I used to be the same way. I never wanted to be called a blogger because I thought being a blogger was inferior to being a journalist. But to be honest, none of that shit matters. To me, blogging is just a medium of journalism. I can do extensive research, go out and get a story but if I come home and post the information I compiled to a blog, then I guess I’m a blogger. It’s a bit silly. What we should care about is if people are doing quality, ethical and honest work which is probably where the blogger stigma comes from. I think people view bloggers as leeches, crooks and bandwagon hoppers because some have chosen to conduct shady business when it comes to covering artists. Like charging people to write about them is so fucked up and backwards. As a writer or journalist or whatever the fuck you want to be called, you should take pride in developing a good reputation as a tastemaker. I’m proud of the decisions I make when it comes to coverage. It shows that I have good judgement and that I can articulate why I do or don’t like something. So I’d say we should care less about the labels and more about what’s being produced.

unnamed

Name: Bria // Writer. Marketing Coordinator at Sixone7creative

Location: New York
Site: TheUrbanDaily.com
Twitter Handle: @briaeffinsimone

Dipset, G-Unit and Outkast have all reunited this year. What other Hip-Hop collective would you like to see get back together?
I will say The Fugees. I think it’s time for a fresh start and even though it seems as if things were left on bad terms between the group members, I think right now all we’re waiting for is them. I mean, Dipset, G-Unit and Outkast all had internal issues before and then surprised their fans by overcoming their problems. My money is on The Fugees. I think it needs to happen.

What’s one trend in Hip-Hop that needs to end?
This is such a broad question. When you think about current trends in hip-hop, you think about women, struggle, beef and other issues which is pretty much what artists rap about since the 80’s. Now it’s only progressed into “moving that dope” or “these hoes not being loyal.” I don’t think it’s necessary to kill the traditional trends in hip-hop. However, I do believe lyricism needs to be revived as soon as possible before our beloved genre dies out.

Finish the sentence: The best Hip-Hop project released in 2014 is..
Yet to be released. I enjoyed Cilvia Demo, Oxymoron and even My Krazy Life but I don’t think the best project of 2014 has been released yet. I think 2013 set the standard for hip-hop and so far, nothing has topped last year’s output.

Thoughts on Troy Ave as an artist?
Honestly, I think New York radio tries to force feed his music to us so other than a few of his singles, I have yet to check Troy Ave out. I recently saw him perform at the XXL Freshman concert and he has a great stage presence but I’ve yet to check out any of his projects.

Blogging is not real journalism. Do you agree? Should we even care?
I think that the statement “Blogging is not real journalism” is difficult to comment on. In our generation, we’re more likely to look to blogs to get our daily fix of music, fashion, and gossip. I don’t know if I’d go that far to compare blogging to journalism but I do think it’s important in today’s day and age to have both.

dose

Name: Blanco // Writer. PR and Marketing for various artists.

Location: Baltimore
Site: YouHeardThatNew.com
Twitter Handle: @ThisIsBlanco

Dipset, G-Unit and Outkast have all reunited this year. What other Hip-Hop collective would you like to see get back together?
Man this is a tough question because just seeing Dipset and G-Unit reunite is enough for me. I grew up during the whole Dipset/G-Unit era when they were running the mixtape game, had the radio on lock, freestyles etc. I would probably have to say Three Six Mafia. This new group they have isn’t the same and will never be the same without Juicy J on the team.

What’s one trend in Hip Hop that needs to end?
I have to say the fashion man. [Laughs.] I am so tired of this skinny jean designer era we live in. These rappers look so dumb out here when they wear their girlfriends jeans. Like take it back to the day when tims and baggy jeans were in. This isn’t hip-hop anymore. It’s like a fashion show now.

Finish the sentence: The best Hip Hop project released in 2014 is…
My Krazy Life by YG. To me, Kendrick Lamar put the West Coast back on the map with good kid, m.A.A.d city but when YG dropped his project, he actually brought back that true West Coast sound and the raps to go along with it. I think this project was needed for the hip-hop community. YG stayed true to his roots and made the music he wanted.

Thoughts on Troy Ave as an artist?
I am going to try and say this without sounding like a “Hater.” I respect Troy Ave’s hustle and there’s no doubt he worked his ass off to get the acknowledgement he is getting now. I’m just not a fan of his music plain and simple. If are being honest, his music and content bores me. It never changes and he’s not a risk taker musically.

Blogging is not real journalism. Do you agree? Should we even care?
I do agree that blogging is not real journalism. Most bloggers copy and paste everything that’s posted on their blog. But at the same time, how much can you actually write about a new Kanye West video or a Jay Z song? To me, blogging is more of writing little blurbs and keeping it short and sweet. For example, I post 20-25 items a day. If I were to sit and write in depth articles about each post, I wouldn’t be able to get everything done in a timely manner. But if you go by the definition of Journalism, then blogging falls into that category. The business of blogging is about page views and stats. The main goal is to get the material posted and worry less about the writing.

S

Name: Michell // Writer.

Location: Virginia
Site: Artisticmanifesto.com
Twitter Handle: @MichellCClark

Dipset, G-Unit and Outkast have all reunited this year. What other Hip-Hop collective would you like to see get back together?
I’ve always been a huge M.O.P. fan. Ever since I heard “Ante Up,” I was addicted. I think that hip-hop is in a space right now where you need a very distinct style to truly turn heads. Many have moved towards production that overpowers, and sometimes even removes the need for lyricism. Chief Keef is a hugely popular figure in rap, and half of his songs are barely decipherable. M.O.P. could thrive with producers today such as Hit-Boy and Lex Luger.

What’s one trend in Hip-Hop that needs to end?
One hip-hop trend that absolutely should end is social media beef. Artists going back and forth for attention over the internet is not respectable, in my eyes. Instead of tweeting, make a record. Be an artist. Getting more retweets is not a victory anymore than being an Instagram model is a success.

Finish the sentence: The best Hip-Hop project released in 2014 is…
Pink Elephant, by Russ. He’s a very talented emcee and producer from the Atlanta-based collective, Diemon. Very few artists can convey complex emotions and paint pictures as vividly as he can. He’s crafted a soundscape that fits his delivery and subject matter perfectly.

Thoughts on Troy Ave as an artist?
I’m a firm believer in talking about the stuff you love, and not discussing the rest too much. Troy Ave has never interested me. I’ve heard his singles, but he’s just not in the range of music I’d want to listen to. I will also say that I’m not a fan of knee-jerk journalism. Take that for what you will.

Blogging is not real journalism. Do you agree? Should we even care?
This is always a tough question for me. Popular consensus among professionally educated journalists is that you need legitimate education and training to truly be a journalist. On the other hand, I hate the term blogging because it’s become so diluted. It’s easy to start a blog but hard to do it well. Now, when people hear that I run a blog, they probably think to themselves, “Oh, another one?” I wish there was a way to remove the negative stigma from the word blogger, but I don’t think me labeling myself a journalist solves the problem. I simply continue to do my best to curate amazing sounds and couple it with quality writing, with the hopes of distinguishing myself from being simply a “blogger.”