I was watching The Breakfast Club‘s interview with Fat Joe (circa 2014), as I was eating my dinner yesterday. I go to Wikipedia to see Joe’s discography, right? Cut a long story short, *allow me to yawn for you,* I didn’t even realize that [Terror Squad’s] “Lean Back” went to #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 back in 2004 (21/8 to be specific). A record like that… [as] a hit?! But the times have definitely differed, and it’s well over 10 years later now (don’t ask me how, see wha gwan with Mother Nature – I think she’s got the answers).
Whatever was hot was HOT, regardless of whatever. I remember my Dad would take me to work (lorry driving & delivery) with him in my [primary] school holidays — ’03 to ’05 era, I’ll never forget that experience – fortunate enough to spend that type of time with my Pops from early on — and the “hits” on the radio were primarily R&B records. One day, we were up Leicester — I say one day, but we went up there about five times and I got tired of that shit, looool — and I swear to goodness, no woooord of a lie – they played Beyoncé & Jay Z’s “Crazy in Love” a good ten times. That song was spinning.
But you know after all this I speak of, what was crazy to me when I saw it? I clicked on a hyperlink which had redirected me to another page, where I would see the header, “List of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of 2004.” So I’m scrolling down this page, and I for~sho~doe thought I was being kidded, or that it was some one-day-only hoax somebody put together, that caught me. What I was seeing, of course, was every number-one single for that year. In spite of the negative light shone both on the current state of biased-radio (white privilege), imagine this one… For the WHOLE of 2004, not ONE white artist topped the Billboard Hot 100.
From Outkast; to Beyoncé; Usher (DOMINATED); Twista; Fantasia; fucking JUVENILE; Ciara; all the way down to Snoop Dogg, closing the year out. Though all people [who] started out from “nothing,” the market way back then clearly wasn’t as saturated, and the “stars” were stars and not just these “regular people” who we knew prior to the fame; along with the come up, who’d also just so happened to make it. So there was a bridge between star and the ordinary person; a clear gap where you could distinguish that – but that bridge has been long-burned and that’s been for a good while now at that.
Now, I don’t see a big deal — which may ruffle the feathers of the naysayers who rise to debate the double standard regarding, again, “privilege” — but it intrigued me as to what could be thee real reason why this happened; my mind was instantly shot a bullet of curiosity that had me ticking.
Myself and ‘Taj found ourselves in a conversation about how generic music is. Whereas back in ’04 you could tell an R&B song from a Rock song — and not to cause a divide or put one above the other in terms of quality, that’s left to preference — in 2016, it’s like a melting pot, which is good and all… but the soup is just bland; and now, even the vegetables taste like potatoes and dumplings. Genre has been erased; the word transcended couldn’t be more relevant; and what was once Pop is now everything; particularly hip-hop – and you know it is.
Everybody wants to be a part of the “culture” and everybody’s surviving. Clear difference between now and the over-ten-years-ago is that, with so many of these artists (who I’d barely even dare call an ‘artist’) making the same material, you don’t know who the artists are no more. You barely can tell one song from the next. And so, it’s almost impossible to win the lotto with all these entries. But they (the radio) are going to sell to us what they wish to; what’s buzzing – then again, though,is that buzz really what you’d stably, in firm stance call a “buzz?” when, I say it’s The Short-Lived, Buzzing Bee. A hit [nowadays], like I said just last Friday, is so temporary-based.
These hits have no longevity. Ten years from now, I’ll still be in my then-room or wherever, dancing to “Burn” like Tom Dubois. I doubt I’ll be singing Taylor Swift; and feeling it, too. I think what you’ve gotta understand is, the feeling… The effects these songs are giving; they’re barely brushing our shoulders, let alone sticking to our souls like that. The come-and-go’ness of it all just gets exhausting. The only exception I give right now, would probably really be to Justin Bieber with the music he made on ‘Purpose’ – I mean, even though it’s not exactly some ground-breaking, paradigm-shift on a commercial landscape/’le, it has in all fairness still been the short departure away from the bubblegum, generic sound you’d expect from a musician of his status, right.
Like ‘Taj pointed out — something I agree with, no question — “We need more artists making music that THEY want to make.”
This really is the state-of-pop music now, though. Whatever’s popping. And looking back on the days where anything could be popping; a time where we know originality was encouraged — something [that’s] now like a taboo — you can see why I’d say it was easier for the artist to make that music they genuinely wanted to, and not a bunch of archaic, filled-with-shit-to-fit-the-radio-and-pollute-ears-of-listeners what leaves no mark; a snow that barely attaches itself to ground and builds up from foundation.
Nothing feels real and it’s just fucking weird,” Taj said. He also stated, “[But also], R&B back the was different. The only thing [that was] similar to Rap was features. [But] now the production sounds the same. I was thinking about this [earlier today], and how everyone back then wasn’t afraid to be different. For e.g. Kanye [West] wasn’t afraid to drop “All Falls Down,” which spoke about spoke about being self-conscious and insecurities – and that was cool; it was respected; [AND it was] AUTHENTIC. There is a big difference between being influenced and straight up copying to benefit you. And that is why, in my opinion, a lot of the appropriation in mainstream music is happening.
Imagine that, at one point, three years ago, ain’t many souls care about Future. Now look at him. More importantly, tote your aim elsewhere, and if you pan to look at the current rap game, you’ll see that all of these rappers trying to be and eat from the culture instead of feeding it, they take from it. Sorry, but I’ve been saying it for a while now as much as I listen to his music — old more than new — but one word: #Drake.
That’s really where it’s all at, right about now. Mediocre be key to the bank where all the paper (and 💳) supply is at.