In attending SXSW ’13, I was able to do many things, including listening to two panels. One of those two panels was questioning whether blogging is the curator of hip hop today. People asked questions to the panel which included Nick Huff from Hard Knock TV, Elliott Wilson, CEO of Rap Radar, B Dot from Rap Radar, Ashley Outrageous from Ashleyoutrageous.com, and Steve Raze from AllHipHop.com.
When we ask, is blogging the curator of hip hop, you have to keep in mind a few things. For example, this panel was assembled to discuss a topic that doesnt get much respect or attention. In mainstream thought, people dont say that thanks to AllHipHop.com or Ashleyoutrageous.com that Macklemore is getting big or that Wale and Wiz Khalifa got big. (Obviously blogs were not the 100% reason they did get famous but blogs were significant factors for their success, or so the panelists claim. I’m not the expert on their rise to fame, the bloggers are). You also must remember how hip hop is curated currently or previously? The most consistent curator for hip hop has been the radio stations. As they panelists asserted, radio stations would get records/tracks long before they were available for purchase by the general public. Thus they held the chips on reviewing artists and their songs, and promoting (or not promoting) said songs/albums.
We live, currently, and probably for quite some time, in the information era, where with a few presses of a button and a click or two, you can get whatever information is available (which is a lot, I might add). The world is vast with information, and even hip hop, as a genre, culture, and lifestyle, is vast. No one person can keep it all, including radio stations. With more people turning to the internet to get info, it makes sense that websites, online magazines, and blogs have taken over that role.
Is blogging the curator of hip hop? The panel said yes. Yes it is. And makes sense to think one. But just as some artists’ claim to fame can’t be attributed to one cause, nor can the curator. When we visit the museum, we did not get all our information from the plaque next to the piece of art. We get it from multiple sources. We get some information from those who “work at the museum” (the bloggers). We also get information from those promoting it all (the DJs, radio personalities, the club and their personnel). But the immediate source that lights the fire of credibility for hip hop artists is word of mouth.
This isn’t my idea. I had this conversation with Nick, from Capital Public Radio, and my productions director and metal guy Daniel Cordova. Nick told us an anecdote that told the story of how some artists get bigger via word of mouth. Friends tell friends who tell friends who tell friends. Eventually the right person hears (i.e. the DJ, the manager/producer, the blogger, etc.). Eventually the artist may get his/her/their due respect and possible claim to fame.
The panelists disclosed they have criteria and expectations before they blog about anyone. Thus, for someone to make it “to the museum,” you must first already be respected on various smaller levels. So is blogging the curator of hip hop? Yes and no, in my opinion. For the aspiring artist, their first test before getting their “exhibit” will come from their friends, friends of friends, and strangers of proximity. They must put in time being opening acts and eventually headlining local and regional venues. Friends will tell their friends of how cool this new artist is. Strangers at shows will talk about this “new” artist as well, if the artist is good. If the artist can make it that far, as the panelist said, they will try and help these artists get more opportunities.
So is blogging the curator of hip hop? Yes and no. Since everyone starts on the bottom before they get “here”, the base level curators is all of us. The venue-goers in our local areas. The friend of the artist and even the stranger listening. Blogging is the second level of curating, in my opinion. Lastly, video blogs, youtube channels, and TV stations is the last level. As much as BET is this corporate entity that obviously stands on near footings as MTV (and we all know how sold out MTV is), getting air time there is the end goal – a national audience.
The past was radio stations. The near future is mobile apps and mobile sources. But the here and now remains to be blogging. So long story short: is blogging the curator of hip hop? For the most part. Thats my opinion anyways. Take it with a grain of salt.
Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp, a.k.a. DJ Mappquest, hosts two shows in the Spring of 2013 on KSSU.com. Sports talk on Tuesdays at 6 PM, and music plus relationship advice on Fridays at 8 PM.