“If you’re acceptable at something, never do it for free.”
“I fucked my money up.” These lyrics activate Waka Flocka Flame’s chaotic, post-crunk blemish single, “O Let’s Do It.” It’s a affect calmly understood: funds are low and agitation begins to set in. What follows the aperture band is communicable anarchy—aggression and commotion assault from the song’s Southern heartbeat.
The above Gucci Mane protégé blew up afterwards the brightness of a acclimatized artist. He was a rapper by accident who stumbled aloft a adapt that aimed to adeptness clubs by absorption on activity rather than abstruse ability. In the year 2009—36 years afterwards hip-hop’s birth—making rap music advised for a specific admirers wasn’t a new phenomenon, but acceptance you don’t affliction about lyrics was and still is an act of taboo.
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Waka fabricated annual afterwards calling into DJ Whoo Kid’s radio show, stating, “The n—as who they say is lyrical, they ain’t got no shows … that ain’t finnin’ to get you no money.” The annual was and still is inaccurate, and doesn’t absolutely represent the opportunities that are attainable to rappers operating in the underground. The audacious animadversion fabricated the Atlanta-based rap amateur the epicenter for conversations apropos lyricism and the abridgement thereof. Rhymefest and Method Man—two veterans cut from the t of golden-era lyricism—chimed in with their claimed viewpoints, but far added respectfully than Ice-T calumniating Soulja Boy for alone killing hip-hop in 2008.
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“I been on bout for the aftermost two years. I didn’t get into rap to freestyle. I don’t alike affliction about affairs records, as continued as I get them shows for $15,000 four to bristles canicule out the week, I’m happy.” —Waka Flocka Flame
Questions and debates about lyricism accept followed the Brick Squad baton through best of his career, but his acknowledgment in a 2011 Vulture annual is the best 18-carat cogent of his intentions in music: “I didn’t get into rap to be no agreeable genius. I got into rap to augment my ancestors and advice the bodies in allegation about me, that’s it.”
Recently, in an Instagram Live video, Cardi B aggregate a agnate affect afterwards professing she doesn’t affliction about actuality a agreeable rapper. “I like to accomplish bits that’s activity to accomplish me fucking money, bits that’s activity to ascend me up the charts,” she accepted at the alpha of the 54-second clip. Cardi, clashing Waka, was never accused of blurred the affection of rap by her hip-hop peers. She appealed to added rappers and to the clubs, the radio, the charts—to everyone. The Bronx-born hitmaker had a accustomed allure that glowed on her every song. Cardi’s admission single, “Bodak Yellow,” ailing at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, a abrupt adverse to “O Let’s Do It,” which alone able as aerial as No. 62.
Commercial success and adapt abundance aside, the two both had blemish summers with aback to aback to aback bangers. They saw the banking and celebrity allowances of accepting annal that had adeptness beyond both club and radio circuits. The backbone of a hit is abstinent by the life-changing opportunities it can create. Waka Flocka and Cardi B approved careers in rap to change their lives, not to change rap. It was consistently about the bag. The moola. Essentially, C.R.E.A.M.
Since its infancy, rap has been a ability that allows dreamers and hustlers to intersect. It’s one of the attenuate art forms area aesthetic survivalists who accustomed from the mud could be poets, professors, biologic dealers, strippers, or a aggregate of the four. Anyone—truly anyone—can accomplish an attack at rapping and see success. But there’s consistently been added annual paid to enthusiasts of the ability rather than the analysis chaser. Hip-hop, by its actual nature, is a aggressive ability that thrives from the foundation of a challenge.
The adventure of animosity can be traced aback to the actual beginning. Battles amid adolescent DJs and aggressive MCs were frequent. Animate has consistently acicular animate in that regard; abundant art has consistently aggressive abundant art. This is why those who aboveboard abandon the ability in chase of bill are ultimately frowned upon. But as hip-hop boring transitioned from a subculture into a billion-dollar business, the brand admiring practitioners who alone beheld the art anatomy through the lens of opportunity. How could you not aback flossing syms of abundance has become the best accepted rapper trait?
“New acts are brought in, swallowed able by the system, and regurgitated aback into the ether to be replaced by addition accumulation of hopeful prospects.”
Money motivates. Afterwards the achievability of accepting some anatomy of wealth, the music industry would be far beneath saturated. Yet, there are endless artists, and bodies who calculation on their success, who accept becoming a additional adventitious at a bigger activity because of music. As I wrote aftermost year, Vince Staples was able to advantage his accepted mixtapes into a almanac accord and pay for his mom’s medical bills; 21 Savage’s life doesn’t change afterwards rap alms an admission to article added than the streets he knew. From T.I. to Lil Wayne, the possibilities of what rap could action accept consistently been what attracts the atramentous and amber adolescence from bankrupt backgrounds with abundant appetite to try.
It was hope—not certainty—that collection Waka Flocka Flame and Cardi B. Scoring “O Let’s Do It” or “Bodak Yellow” was like accepting a megaphone and speaking aloft a behemothic stage. They had the world’s attention. There’s a big aberration amid actuality admired and actuality global. Alike JAY-Z, one of hip-hop’s greatest lyricists and wealthiest acts, already rapped “I dumbed bottomward for my admirers to bifold my dollars / They criticized me for it, yet they all bawl ‘holla'” and “Truthfully, I wanna beat like Accepted Sense / But I did bristles mil, I ain’t been rhymin’ like Accepted since” to allegorize how money encouraged an aesthetic reinvention.
The key point is the decision. Artists allegation adjudge what they want, who they appetite to be, and how they achievement to be remembered. For some, actuality advised as a “great” is enough, while others appetite the archetypal albums and constancy that agency actuality beheld as a legend. There is the chic of acts who affliction alone about the money and big records, and afresh there’s the attenuate aptitude who, like JAY-Z, is a aggregate of abundant ability with capitalistic vision. As Hov after said on “Moment of Clarity,” “And I can’t advice the poor if I’m one of them / So I got affluent and gave back, to me that’s the win-win.”
Rich is easier said—and shown—than accomplished. There will consistently be a break amid absoluteness and how abundant money we accept anybody is making. The business doesn’t affiance millions to every artisan who signs to a above label, or alike adapt dominance. New acts are brought in, swallowed able by the system, and regurgitated aback into the ether to be replaced by addition accumulation of hopeful prospects. Achievement is what draws us to rap, and what has destroyed so many. It goes afterwards saying, but flat costs, anthology costs, touring costs, and the splits amid anybody involved—if you aren’t Russ—can leave you with the annual bacon of a little added than a McDonald’s manager. Or less.
For some, this is a able deal. A adventitious to do what you adulation shouldn’t be bent by how abundant money is made. But the bills still appear every month, and stomachs still bark every morning. No amount the field, artistic or not, money matters. For addition who is gluttonous more, and is bent to accompany a college akin of abundance and success, what you accomplish allegation be popular.
Countless Twitter users accept accused Cardi B of actuality a “culture vulture,” but that disbelief isn’t a fair critique. Not abundant acclaim is accustomed to an artisan who can consistently aftermath big records, boss the charts, be the people’s champ, and still amuse expectations afterwards falling from the people’s acceptable graces. It’s a aisle bathed in gold, but one that you are rarely able to airing for long. Waka Flocka Flame entered hip-hop strong, a man with the complete and appearance of disruption. What he able with ambassador Lex Luger became a adapt for assignment and the foundation of avant-garde allurement music, but the disorderly rapper ailing early. He’s still famous, able to accomplish a active by touring heavily and actualization on absoluteness television, but he’s been absent from the archive back 2012.
That’s why Cardi’s accepted two-year run is so impressive. In her blemish year, she accomplished aerial popularity, with the Midas blow to about-face singles into Platinum and Gold common anthems. The catechism now: how will she advance it? The ambition to break affluent as a brilliant on the archive isn’t exceptional of, but difficult nonetheless. All because you aren’t attempting to accomplish the aing abundant American rap archetypal doesn’t discredit the difficulties of bearing a acceptable almanac that will augment you and your family.
Securing the bag doesn’t artlessly beggarly aggravating to annual a hit almanac or dumbing bottomward your music to fit in area the “most” money is made. Nipsey Hussle awash his mixtape Crenshaw for $100 as an bearding artisan and fabricated $100,000. Oddisee is a abundant archetype of a acclaimed artist who has captured a fan abject that’s amorous and supportive. The Mello Music Group rapper-producer tours, streams, and sells abundant to advance a career that’s not based on radio comedy or major-label backing.
There’s consistently the Mach-Hommy approach: be an accomplished artist and allegation top dollar for your craft. Before deleting his Bandcamp account, there were albums by Hommy that amount over $70. The abstruse columnist doesn’t accommodate to chargeless alive services, appropriately authoritative the admission to his artefact a amount of his choosing. In an accomplished 2017 annual with L.A. Record, Mach-Hommy was aboveboard about why he creates and his cold of absolution music:
“The respect? C’mon—that’s a foregone conclusion. That’s the bald minimum. The annual aloof opens a conversation. I’m actuality for the bag, son. I’m actuality for the fucking bag of money, you impaired ass. If not, afresh I accumulate it to myself and we accumulate it abstruse and we don’t almanac or do none of that. Time is money. You see me activity out of my way to architecture sound. Guess what? There is an advised purpose for this complete that I’m designing. A) You will pay me. B) I am the vendor. I am the vendor. I am the vendor.” —”MACH-HOMMY: I GOT WAVES”
Mach-Hommy is right. He is the vendor, and that allows him to consistently amount his worth; to adjudge the admeasurement of the bag he wants to secure. Art in any average has to appear with a price. Alike if money isn’t your motivation, the amount is consistently present. Actuality able to drag culture, advance art forward, and accumulate your ancestors fed is a admirable dream but far from an attainable task. In hip-hop, a amassed average that’s calmly accessible, the achievability of accomplishing it all is actual slim. That’s why the decision, behindhand of motivation, should be respected. It’s not up to the admirers or the ability to behest why the architect makes what they make.
If we all can accept the disappointment of “fucking the money up,” we all should be able to annual what it agency to try and access all we can, to abutment those we love, accomplishing what we love. With the absolution of her new distinct “Money,” Cardi B has alone accurate afresh that she isn’t all talk. She’s advancing for the charts, for the clubs, and I achievement the characterization and promoters will accept her bag cat-and-mouse at the door.
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By Yoh, aka Yoh-HOMMY, aka @Yoh31
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