Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Hopefully you've heard of Nasa, not the Space Agency, but the extremely talented emcee, producer, mareketer, engineer etc. Nasa has owned and operated his own record label, Uncommon Records in 2003 to much success. You may also be surprised to find out he interned for EL-P did did pretty much all engineering, mixing and mastering on almost all Def Jux releases. The blog on his label's site has a great article written by Nasa about the state of music and his feelings about Fat Beats. Check it out here.

"So there you have it, without getting that check, we wouldn't have Rob Swift as we know him today.  He said it.

So what's my point? 
My point is that we MUST have some level of commerce in hip-hop and in music as a whole.  His story reminded me about the first time I ever got paid for my music, and to the feeling I get every time I get paid for something to this day.  Whether it's to do a show, selling CDs or getting a check from digital sales, it's one of the best feelings you can get as an aritst.  I think this is lost on a lot of listeners these days.  This is the true barometer of your success.  Nothing says your doing something right then money in your hand, nothing says "I respect what your doing" then handing me some dough.
I know what your thinking, "Oh, so it's all about the money then?". 
You can think that if you'd like, but I could turn it around on you too.  You, you the young cat that doesn't pay for music.  So it's all about the money then? 
I'm not here to debate whether illegal downloading or Serato or anything else is the reason why Fat Beats is closing their stores.  I've been pretty out in front on the digital end of things.  We've pandered to the digital retail end of things at Uncommon since about 2006 and frankly it has amazing advantages.  I'm not trying to say there weren't horrible pitfalls about the way things were and that we haven't come a long way in the way we can promote ourselves today.  I think these days the best thing about what's happening is that artists are far more willing to work with each other for the strength of collaboration then ever before.  Believe me, this was NOT the case often in the 90's.  Maybe there was an excess of the "Fuck you, Pay me" mind set then in the indie scene and this is all a backlash.  But that doesn't make it right.
Bottom line, without commerce, culture can't grow.  Paying for something is the only way you can have a real opinion on it.  It's just like voting, in my opinion.  If you didn't vote in the election, why are you talking about politics?  If you didn't buy a record (that's for sale) why are you trying to talk about it?  Investing in an album, or any form of culture, gives you a vested interest in it's results. 
We now live in a culture where every thing is "aighht".  The reason for that is because if you see a movie on your couch for free instead of paying loot to go to a theater, you don't dislike things that are badly done the way you should.  You don't have that deep seeded anger about watching or listening to something that sucked and losing money for it.  Everyone my age can remember buying that disapointing album.  That experience is HEALTHY.  If you never feel that disapointment, you'll never really feel enjoyment either.
This is a threat to real hip-hop, just the way you see institutions like Fat Beats close, you'll see the music disapear soon too.  It can and will happen.  If it weren't for all the indie artists in the 90s, there would be no real rap today.  That's a fact.  And if no one was willing to purchase what they were selling in the 90s they wouldn't be here today.  That's also a fact.
Hip-Hop is in danger of disapearing.  Go to a show, buy a CD, buy a download, tell someone about something you heard.  Experience hip-hop to the fullest extent you can and support the artists that support you with what they do every day.  Or else don't complain when it's ALL gone."



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