I can respect anyone who has confidence in their craft and consistently puts in the work to legitimize whatever claims they make about their skill level. If one can back up what one says, with examples of one’s hard work, being confident is simply acknowledging the truth.In some professions it is necessary, as it can polarize those around you into actually believing, thus creating a following of avid and consistent supporters. Perception is everything and in many ways this sense of self-awareness that tip-toes the fine line of being cocky makes an impact; however I’m often befuddled by the saturated use of this over-confidence in respects to Hip-Hop.
I’m all about people living out their dreams, especially with artists, because our generation needs more examples of our peers setting goals and reaching them; but hearing the constant variation of the phrase, “I got bars” is seriously played out and disheartening.
So, after this wonderfully cliché introduction I take a listen to their mixtape and the majority of it is a poor attempt at talking about things that they don’t have or entire songs dedicated to how “nice” they are on the mic (pause). I never heard Andy Warhol talking about how “nice” he was in respect to his timeless pieces of art. Odds are J. D. Salinger never spent large amounts of time speaking about how dope it was that he was able to describe a generation of young kids in a matter of pages through Holden Caulfield. Many of these creative avenues exist, but bragging about it does nothing; when you are that dope, your work speaks for itself.
Hip-Hop is just…different. The excessive amounts of hubris is almost a necessity for artists who have reached that plateau of being “on” in a sense of mainstream or mixtape success; however, for those who are only “nice” because their close friends say they are, it is an entirely different story.
Wasting time “rappin’ about rappin’” does not tell your story and does not give your audience anything they can truly connect and gravitate towards. Everybody has a hot 16 and everybody can rap about what the industry wants them to rap about; but in today’s Hip-Hop society, it is all about being multifaceted and truly being yourself.
In many circles Wiz Khalifa doesn’t come off as the best lyricist; however he arguably has the best delivery in the game. 2 Chainz undoubtedly would not crack a top ten lyricist category; however the entire mood of a room hits the turn up switch when they hear that infectious, “2 Chainzzz” drop before every verse. The backpack Hip-Hop fans may hate to hear it, but these days, great delivery trumps a metaphor laden verse.
“So, you got bars,’ but what else do you have. Do you have something that naturally sets you apart from other artists? Do you have a team working behind you to make sure these bars you speak about are heard by everyone from locally to the endless blogosphere? Do you actually talk about issues people can relate to in your music? Or are you merely embarking upon this more than unlikely success story just for something to do?
Its easy for journalists and bloggers alike to pick music apart, as most of us have seen it all and heard it all, but constructive criticism can be one of the greatest gifts a new artist can receive. If you have dreams of being the next big thing, honesty is what you’re going to need from those around you, because A&R’s and others will gladly do it if your friends fail to do so. Whatever the case may be, anybody can put some words together and call it a rap song; however its going to take more than telling us how “nice” you are to break through.