The following thread contains elitest notions and opinions on independent rap music in 2009, which you may or may not agree with, and could be considered offensive. If you've arrived in this thread because you need a new place to trash-talk, you're in the wrong place, because most everything I'm about to say is both relative and/or theoretical. But fear not -- if you go talk shit to your parents, you are likely to get loads of immediate attention at home.
Every independent rap artist that's ever recorded a song now claims to be "underground". These artists not only have their own websites, but are also promoting themselves using YouTube, FaceBook, or MySpace, the latter of which has over 100 million user accounts created.
To give you some idea of how big that number is: about 100 million seconds ago, it was 2006.
But the hell with millions. Let's talk about billions of dollars! We all hate MTV (owned by Viacom; hold that thought) for being mainstream and we hate the radio for the same reason. But should we? Shouldn't we hate MySpace more? Myspace is owned by Fox, which is owned by News Corp, which churned out about 28.66 billion-fucking-dollars in 2007, while Viacom clocked in at 13.42 billion. Around half. Let me that sum that up real quick, in order of lameness:
1. Myspace (News Corp, 28.66 billion)
2. MTV (Viacom, 13.42 billion)
3. Local radio (Poor?)
You're probably thinking: how does this apply to independent music? Remember hearing those lyrics that went "Fuck MTV" or "Fuck the radio" or "We're deep underground." Fuck those lyrics. Your fans will decide what you are and what you will become. Especially if you start putting out stale beats and weak flows.
I realized recently that one reason I really look up to Tech as an artist is for what he's NOT saying. Tech's lyrics are self-aware and stereotypes ("I'm so [whatever]") are mostly avoided. Take the track 'Come Gangsta', for instance. In this song, Tech isn't saying "I'm so gangsta". In this song Tech is saying to his rivals, "If this is what gangsta is, I'm miles ahead of you." And he's right. Tech raps about his life: his struggles, his family, his passions, etc. and he let's his audience (us) decide what to make of it. Tech's music bangs without jocking popular culture. He's 'constantly giving us elite shit'... but only some of us get it. When Tech says "Fuck The Industry", I interpret that to mean something along the lines of 'fuck the institutionalization of rap music'. It means 'out with the old and in with the new' and it means that if you hear a Tech song playing in a club some day, you're shouldn't question it's mainstreamness; you should just thank god it's not that same played-out Lil Wayne song again. (The one you heard in the club's parking lot, before even getting out of your car.) Tech N9ne, to me, is the exemplar of independent rap. There are some artists out there who need to pay attention and learn a thing or two. I'd love to mention them here, but I'd rather see them disappear altogether.
The moral of the story is this:
An artist approaching you with a CD for sale in a subway -- that's underground, but you're likely to reach for a concealed weapon. This just isn't reality anymore. Welcome to the information age.
On the opposite end of the spectrum: an artist posting six MySpace bulletins every day -- if that's "underground", I want to be "mainstream" again.