Google+ Q Dot: Why hasn't Seattle hip hop blown up and what we can do...in my opinion.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Why hasn't Seattle hip hop blown up and what we can do...in my opinion.


This week the Seattle Weekly printed an articled titled “Still Almost Famous” in reference to the Seattle hip hop scene still being on the verge of having a continuous national presence. Why it hasn’t happened yet seems to be somewhat of a mystery especially when you consider the amount of attention, touring and video play Seattle based artists are receiving on a national level…here’s my observations as to why it hasn’t “blown up” and what we can do to finally break the finish line.

1. Having the right people in the right places. Being a town that boasts so much good talent is great but when there is a gaping hole of business talent to surround these individuals all we’ll continue to have is this current state of anarchy. Truth is everyone knows someone who raps or makes beats. But how many people know a publicist or a booking agent? How many can identify a real record label locally that actually takes on the task of promoting and exposing records? So what good is the talent if it’s never seen outside the scene? We need to educate the new generation of hip hoppers that actually the quickest way to find a career in this business is to not create the music at all.

2. Shifting perception. I hear it every time I talk to a group of other local artists. “I need to move to LA or NY to get it really moving.” My response is almost always something to the affect of “Go back in a time machine about 20 years and tell the cats in Houston that. Tell the cats in Atlanta that. Tell that cats in Miami that. Tell the cats in the Bay area that.” I’d say that the lack of outlets that support the scene in it’s entirety has caused a frantic mind state. Especially when the outlets we see our beloved hip hop stars on seem to have it all and have it now.  Truth is, somebody (and I’ve stepped up to help build this movement) needs to step up and say ‘No, I’m not moving, I’m staying here and building this thing.’ That’s not to say that you need to be seen in those towns, we most certainly do. But that’s merely for the purposes of building your personal network – not for the sake of ‘making something happen.’ Seattle has the tools and resources to make a scene thrive. Venues, a great economy, media outlets and more…there just needs to be one big shift in what this area has to offer to our budding industry.

3. Embracement, education and inclusion. It’s also been my experience that when you talk about the Seattle hip hop scene to some of the veterans within it, they STILL are holding a small grudge against Mix-a-Lot for not doing everything he could to make the scene pop. Truth is, there is A LOT more to that story. Truth is, so what? For those still harboring ill feelings let them go and embrace the man for what he contributed to hip hop. You can talk about Mix all you like but until you get a platinum plaque and a grammy award don’t say anything. There also needs to be a sense of awareness within the community. Everyone appears to be walled off behind their allegiances to a given click and thus doesn’t really seek out others when if you knew the real deal, Seattle is a prominent fixture in the hip hop community. Tha Bizniss production team won BET producers of the year for Lil Wayne’s Every Girl and that sad thing is even in Houston,  when I heard “My president is black” in the club not only did OG Ron C (co-founder of Swishahouse) shout out Tha Bizniss – he also noted to the crowd they’re from Seattle and I doubt half the DJs in Seattle don’t know that. Truth be told J-Hen of Tha Bizniss is an old partner of mine from Federal Way, yet…no one in “THE TOWN” seems to even know they originated here. Or the fact that the 253, inc. production team consisting of MI and Breeze have been producing R&B hits for groups like Day 26 and Omarion for the better part of the last 5-6 years. Not to mention Tryfe doing an entire mixtape with Freeway. But all we hear of is the Vitamin D’s and Jake One’s of the town, as talented as they are. So really when we say “Still almost famous” what are we saying?

Supporting others by going to a show or copping a CD is one thing, but being able to put the average Joe Schmo on to something he otherwise wouldn’t know about because all he listens to is KUBE and MTV all day will go a long way towards the future.

Inclusion is not only necessary for this scene to blow it’s the key ingredient. I find it funny that even though alt mags like the weekly and stranger have distribution points that reach far beyond Seattle city limits, yet…most of the material inside – music and non music – are Seattle centric topics. I’ve also come to find that beyond being Seattle topics some writers just cover their friends?! So why have such a large distribution area if you’re not going to regularly cover the Tacoma scene? Or the Olympia scene? Or the Eastside scene? It’s this kind of fragmenting that is seriously crippling the forward progress of northwest hip hop. The fragmenting goes as deep as neighborhoods…CD artists and Southend artists. Seattle artists and Tacoma artists, True school and mainstream, boom bap and hipster…Truth of the matter is Seattle, as big a city it is is still only the 13th largest city in the country we don’t quite have the room to be as fragmented as we are. LA, NY, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Bay Area, Chicago are all top 10 markets. The inclusion of Olympia to the south, Spokane to the east, Everett to the north, Portland to the even further south and Boise to the even further east will all need to be included as a NORTHWEST hip hop movement.

To end this I’ll also add that logistically we need radio hits. Nationwide radio hits. 300 spins a week. If you look at all the things artists from this area have achieved (minus the producers) a radio hit is what’s missing. Radio still sells records but it doesn’t have to be commercial radio. Embrace satellite radio, embrace internet radio (shameless plug, get at me I run Juice Radio as well as Tre’dmarks music group a really good record label) and lets go get this money ya’ll.

Q Dot