I remember back in the day when rapping was all about the art. One expressing himself through lyrics. Nowadays, most rappers are only in it for the money, how much bling they can wrap around their wrists and necks, and most of them are young, confused puppets of corporate America. What's worse is that most of them know this and yet they continue as if nothing's awry.
Over the years, the quality of good rappers and music has declined, and the rise of mediocre rappers and music has blossomed at an alarming rate. Back in the day, rappers knew who they were, what their identity was, and were willing to make a name for themselves by their lyrical talents. It was considered taboo to use someone else's name, lyrics or their identity. Back then rappers only rapped about what they'd lived, or had seen first hand. In "the good old days" of rap, MCs would call each other out and battle with their lyrical skills. After a winner was decided by an energetic crowd, the two would shake hands and go their separate ways. But so much has changed since then.
Rappers are killing each other, going back and forth to prison, fighting and so much more to keep up the fictional images that they're portraying. These days, most of the rappers want to be gangsters, famous drug dealers, and even pimps. Tell me, why is it so hard to just be yourself? Don't these industry puppets understand that all of the real gangsters, drug dealers, and pimps are either dead or in prison serving long bids? Most of them probably wish that they were rappers instead of spending 30 years of their life (or longer) inside federal and state prison walls. It's funny how rappers want to be the gangsters and drug dealers and the other "real" gangsters want to do something positive and legitimate.
The last few years of rap music has been rough. The decline has reached an all time low. CD sales are down and steadily falling. Most rappers are happy to sell 100,000 copies of their album. I remember one time when less than 500,000 copies sold would get you kicked off a label. Now the media and corporate America control the rap game. They can make or break an artist, whether he or she is good or not. It's all about packaging and marketing. Talent is no longer a requirement. Sources like BET, MTV, MySpace, and others dictate who will make it and who will fail. They (and so many others) are the puppet masters that are now in total control of the music industry. And we're buying it: hook, line, and sinker. Now, being the most talented rapper or MC, or even the best producer is no longer important. Either you play their game, by their rules, or you don't play at all.
In order for us to fix this problem, we must first learn everything there is to know about the music business. Knowledge is the key to success! And this applies to everything in life, not just the rap game. You must be yourself and create your own name, image, and identity. No one likes or respects a fake. Most importantly, you NEED desire. Call it ambition, mix in a little self discipline, and pretty soon you will be able to succeed. But this is no simple task. This path is filled with peril, back-stabbing, debauchery, and greed. Stay focused, keep your mind clean, and fight. These are the tools that will help you to achieve your goals. If you must focus on a specific trait, let it be discipline. In the book BUILT TO LAST it says: "Discipline is the greatest thing in the world. Where is no discipline, there is no character. And without character, there is no progress."
Rappers and rap music have a chance, but not until we take control of our own destinies and go back to the original meanings and art form. We are giving the puppet masters the shovels to dig our own graves.
Freeway Ricky Ross and Jimmy DaSaint
P.S. - Rap is not dead, it's just barely hanging... on life support.