Posted on February 02 2017
The digital era has been an exquisite time for hip-hop. Musical output from newcomers has never been of such a high pedigree. Examples? Pell, Cousin Stizz, Isaiah Rashad, Your Old Droog, Chris Rivers, Noname Gypsy, Saba and Rome Fortune to start. I can keep going. I can keep listing rappers you may or may not have heard but my point stands. Out of that pool of incredibly talented upstarts - how many have you given a chance? Have you truly delved into each of their introductions to the game? I assure you, they are all well worth a spin.
The beauty of their records stem from the all-round creative depth which artists now pursue. It's not just about the music anymore. Cover art, videos, viral marketing & concert concepts are taken very seriously - even for a free mixtape drop. They painstakingly work hard for cohesive perfection. Inversely, we also have high volume/low quality music artists which are impacting the radio charts in a big way (see: Future, Young Thug). The man of the moment, Future, claimed to have 6 mixtapes and 3 albums loaded and ready to be dropped back in 2015. Sure, there may be a couple gems in the mix, but only hard-core Future fans will bump all 10 tapes from front to back. You can best believe that pound-for-pound any of those tapes will not be classic albums or even worthy of 4.5 Mic's from The Source. Because masterpieces take time. Just ask Frank Ocean.
Furthermore, as Logic observed, hip-hop artists are focusing more on creating an entire body of work versus a few hit singles plus filler content. Listen to any of the above albums I quoted above. There is a stark lack of filler, otherwise known as tracks which will never make it onto a Greatest Hits compilation. The bar has been set by the newcomers, and it's higher than a giraffe's pussy.
The result is an ocean of back-to-front, high quality projects and not enough time to hear it. We have our music libraries filled to the brim and we cannot keep up. It's a discomfiting paradox. For many, this is what was craved. A continuous output of high quality music, ranging from veterans (Talib Kweli, Puffy, Redman) to newbies equipped with skill-sets which would make Pharoahe Monche sweat piss.
Hip-hop heads are inherently a greedy breed; we want to listen to it all. Every leak, every freestyle, every EP drop. The reality is that there is one uncompromising factor which inhibits this phonic-utopia: there are 24 hours in a day. If you listened to music for every second of the day, the maximum amount of audio you can possibly digest would be 1440 minutes. Tack onto the fact that it takes multiple, focused listens to truly digest an album and what is the result? Dissatisfaction from choice.
It's a cruel and strange punishment which affects both the listener and the artist. Talented musicians don't get to shine, and we don't get to both appreciate and witness the early steps of hip-hop's next generation because we are simply overwhelmed with choice. The solution resides in curated content. There is a curator for every style, niche or sound you are looking for. Find them. Follow them. Let them explore and assess, and then you can cherry-pick their discoveries. Optimize your curation.