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So Marvin, why do you say "urban* music sucks"?

(* urban = hip hop and r&b, first and foremost, but mainly talking about music made by the blacks. Badman put the small print at the top so you don't miss it.)

  • Honest, emotive, something I believe in, experienced and/or relate to be it a thought or situation
  • A beat that matches the mood
  • Makes me want to nod/dance or sing along and tweet lyrics because I feel it

That's all I as a consumer wants (aside from songs that make me buss gun finger and grab a girl in a non-violent/sexual assault kinda way). So, why is it so hard to find from genres I used to have no problem finding it? (Rhetorical question, obviously, or there'd be no point in this post.)

Many times I think wonder if the industry is out of touch with reality and artists care more about appeasing industry standards than consumers. Bit like dutty babylon a.k.a. government who care more about Westminster and small sections of society than general voters until election time. Instead it feels like they'd rather dictate what people like than understand what the people want.

The amount of times I see "key specialists and taste makers" in  press releases like I'm supposed to be "OMG [insert DJ] played it?! I need to hop on the wagon with this one!" It doesn't work like that from my point of view. I'm not one of these cheerfollowers. The good taste maker's are the ones that understand what the people like. Taste readers I think. Maybe I'm looking at "tastemaker" too literally, but basically, I don't think they make, they give a bigger platform to something buzzing or good. Make taste to the industry maybe.

So yeah, music to impress a select few who suggest what the trend is otherwise known as "taste makers", when in reality taste makers aren't select DJs, playlist panels nor are they the Grammy panel, it's the people that fund the music - you know, the consumer. The person that spends money on albums, buys merchandise and attends concerts. The money that funds the industry. Impress them and the industry will follow.

Artists making songs to appease the industry for radio, TV, magazine and newspaper space all count towards the possession stat in sports; doesn't mean much if your song isn't using it effectively. If the consumers don't buy it, it doesn't sell and the industry won't care. Problem is industry rules (or myths as I call them) spewed in hip hop blogs and X-Factor style TV shows have infiltrated minds and tastes of some consumers which then confuses artists.

These types are the ones that are really vocal on social networking sites and blogs. Using words like "marketable" and "image" to describe why they don't like an artist on X-Factor is an easy to tell them. They also say "pitchy" - big giveaway. Let's not forget, these people rarely buy albums or pay for concerts.

None is more apparent than the minds of hip hop and rnb fans, hence why both are dead on a mainstream pop level, especially compared to where both were.

"Fans" of these genres over-analyse the wrong things in my opinion. They're attracted to artists via wordplay, flow, beat and sales. It isn't about the music that moves them, it's the image. They aspire to fit that image. Main reason is they are cheerfollowers looking to fit in with a section of society.

Style over substance. Trendy sound over vibe. "Metaphors" and punchlines over emotion. Flow over lyrics. Rarely about how it makes you feel. Likewise in rnb, vocal range means less than vocal tone in the real world. Vocals and dancing ability, good looks and stage presence means nothing if the song doesn't mean something.These "fans" fail to acknowledge this.

"I don't like their songs, but I bought their album because (s)he's a good singer," says a loser on a mission. Have you ever said that? Me neither.

Vibe, feeling, groove and emotion are universal. You can feel a song in a foreign language by the emotion and arrangement. A shared experience is worth more than "sick flows".

Another thing that annoys me is it feels as if (many) artists want to be liked by everyone resulting in grey, generic music. I love when music's used as a cathartic process. You can feel when an artist is using it as a way to express their thoughts, opinions, feelings and emotions. Most of my favourite songs are introspective. I wonder if they don't share their views and ideas in case it offends a particular group or potential investors/endorsements.

Going on star potential, the operative word there is "potential". Someone's look and dress sense may help get spreads in commercial magazines, some people will admire them for those things, but if the music is rubbish they will be admired for that alone and won't get anywhere beyond looking like a star/having good style. And anyway, you don't have to be a star to make a living off music and you don't have to look like a star to be one.

Two main things connect genuine popular music. No, not just simple and catchy. Definitely isn't just image and marketing. They're accessible and resonate with regular folk aka the consumers.

As a result of rnb and hip hop being dead, uninspired, soulless, corporate-sponsored dross most other things in the "urb*n" bracket a.k.a. music by black faces is. Artists in other "urb*n" genres view them as the flag bearers and blueprint of successful black music commercially (due to the overwhelming attention it is given and sales not based on what it sounds like). Some would call the coverage "propaganda" but that's a post for another day, possibly by someone else.

You see, I'm from the pirate radio era. We judged genres strictly on sounds and how it made you feel. We didn't see anything like MTV Cribs to back up what rappers were talking about when it came to money, so image wasn't that big a deal. They weren't even talking about money when I got interested in it. Straight bars and real life/entertainment you could see without depending on visuals. I only understood Big Tymers and Cash Money lot after seeing "Get Your Roll On" and "Bling Bling" videos. I only understood Master P following his MTV Crib with the gold ceiling. Still don't like him, but you get my drift.

Hip hop was a culture. Now it's more a "lifestyles of the rich and famous most won't ever reach". What was once a voice for the voiceless minority has become a mainly celebrated voice of the loud majority. The dangling carrot to show if I can make it so can you. If you understand American politics and power, you'll understand why it's like that, but my name isn't Edward Snowden and I don't live in Hong Kong so let me leave it.

Rapping about rapping will only get a fan base of people that are really into rap. Rapping about being rich is great for those that aspire to share that experience, but most never will so don't directly relate to that experience. Especially when most people are currently wondering about how to keep afloat and don't even believe the UK rapper is.

Singing about sex also limits. Works for a song or two and in clubs before it becomes boring because there's more to life than sex. People in relationships deal with various  situations. How about some of those? Not everyone is just living life trying to catch as many bodies as possible.

And where did the groove go? Hip hop and r&b songs used to make me want to dance. Now I see a bunch of kids jumping yelling at the top of their lungs. R&B songs aren't much better.

Making music about a variety of relatable, common love and life experiences expands potential base beyond those that like a particular genre of music. And just because you make hip hop, doesn't mean you should only listen to hip hop and make what sounds like hip hop. Same goes for rnb, reggae, dancehall, grime, afrobeats etc. You guys will make stale, incestuous music. Understand this.

If it isn't money, drugs, being the realest on road or getting drunk, most rappers can't tell you what their music is about. Especially a lot of the UK ones. I don't relate to any of the above so their music sucks to me. I mean, don't you lot have girls? And embrace some of your stereotypes.

And understand there's a big difference between pop and cheesy pop. Credible popular music's lifespan is a whole lot longer shelf life than fast food, cheesy pop that charts high one week, then drops heavily the following. Too many credible artists make cheesy music to get pop. And anyway, in time, people don't care about what went to number 1. Oasis "Wonderwall" didn't. Nor did Robbie Williams "Angels". Think anyone cares?

Sometimes fans say "look how much it sold 1st week" I think "look at how much it didn't sell" and "Why do you even care? Does it legitimise your like for the artist or something?" Adele sold ten million. It's rare and I don't expect many to reach that height, but you have to think there's a potential of 10 million people still willing to spend money on music.

These days I'd rather listen to P!nk and Bruno Mars thank r&b these days. Give me some roots reggae over hip hop. There's too much going on in the world to be talking such nonsense on records.

Great, timeless music is based on feelings. Remember the days we'd say "I feel that"? Yeah, that.


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