We are all aware of the relationship between a pimp and his hoes. The pimp sends his hoes out to sell customers their goods (no pun intended) and he receives a large cut of their profits. For lack of a better word, the hoes are the commodity. They are the product that is being bought and sold. However, the pimp is the one that is able to enjoy all of the fruits of their labor (again, no pun intended). He would need to generate leads for his hoes and create an environment in which they could make money, but he does not need to do any of the dirty work (OK, that pun was intended).
Now let’s look at the relationship between a label executive and their artists. The artists not only have to create the music, which is the focal commodity to be sold, but they also need to sell themselves. Artists are forced to go on long tours that are very taxing physically and mentally. They need to go to fan events where they might find themselves participating in hours of small talk and signing pictures of themselves with strangers. They need to attend PR events and answer the same questions over and over and over again during strings of numerous interviews. Not to mention, they need to slave in studios to make music which ultimately needs to be approved by their labels.
And the label executives?
Similarly to the pimp, all they need to do is create an environment for their artists to make money and, in exchange for that, they are easily the most profitable party of the relationship.
You might point out that label executives do not enjoy the aspect of being famous, but is that really a good thing? Fame and the immense amount of attention artists get seem to be glorious from an outside perspective, but I am a huge believer that fame is poisonous to the human psyche. There is a reason for the very strong correlation of child stars losing control and experiencing a downward spiral in their early stages of adulthood. There is only so much praise and attention one can get before they lose their grip on who they really are. They lose any sense of staying grounded, which can lead to some very dangerous behavior. Not to mention, Eminem can’t even have a sandwich in peace.
Pimps and label executives do not contribute directly to the fundamental commodity in which all money inflow is dependent on but they get to enjoy all the advantages of it. If only there were some way hoes and artists could bypass this level of management and get all the revenues that they deserve.
I definitely do not know too much about the ladies of the night, but I definitely do know that artists are starting to become empowered to stick it to these label executives. As the genre of hip hop grows in combination with the power of the internet, rappers are becoming well versed in the concept of entrepreneurship.
On July 2011, Mac Miller dropped Blue Slide Park. It was a terrible and horrible album musically, but it has revolutionized rap as we know it. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, which made it the first independently-distributed album at number one since The Dogg Pound’s Dogg Food. As years pass and we look back at this moment in time, we may very well see a pattern where we find many more artists topping the charts through their independently released projects. Mac Miller now lives in a mansion with his own studio in it. He invites all his rapper friends over to make some dope songs and even learned how to make his own beats. This was done without the help of a major label.
There are even examples where labels are forming relationships with artists that are becoming more favorable for the rappers and their camps. One example is the Odd Future collective, who signed a lucrative deal with Sony and still have complete creative control. They are able to release the content they want to release all the while making a way bigger cut than the conventional relationship between artists and their labels.
Another example is the lucrative TDE camp. Led by Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, they built themselves up to a super group without the help of a huge label. As a result, they formed a distribution deal with Aftermath without tarnishing the integrity of their team. They are basically able to continue to do what they have always done, but now they have the support and bump in resources from one of the largest rap labels that have ever existed.
Rappers are now becoming more and more aware of the power of branding themselves. As time goes on, we will definitely see more instances of very successful, independent artists who no longer need to form relationships with fat cat label executives.
The opinions and views expressed here are the opinions of the designated author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of any of the individual members of Dead End Hip Hop.