Chicago, my place of birth. The city of hate that I love so much. Think about that phrase for a minute, CITY of HATE. We have come to embrace that title, we're almost proud of it. Well, I say we're overdue for an intervention. We have such a wealth of talent in Chicago it's like it grows from the ground. Yet we can't seem to get out of our own way long enough to make that talent work for us.
Everybody from here that ever made it, had to go elsewhere to do it. It shouldn't have to be that way, and it doesn't. Sure we all know this, I mean everybody screams WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER!!! But there's never a discussion of how we're going to do it. The crazy part is, most people here are in a competition to be the "one" to make it happen for the city.
You know we didn't get the name 'The Windy City' from the weather. No, we got the name because Chicagoans had a reputation for blowin' a lot of hot air.
The music scene in most other cities is co-operative to say the least. Not saying other cities don't have their share of politics and in-fighting, but none on the scale of Chi-Ill. In fact, in other places the low level (or strictly local) performers and musicians work together. The mid level (i.e. performing at least around the tri-state area) work together, and the upper level (meaning nationally and or internationally known) work together. Around here however, it's cutthroat and chaos on every level.
Don't know about you but, I for one, am tired of it. I am done with the hate, and I'm shooting the next m#th@f#ck@ that gives me any excuse as to why it won't work. It doesn't work cuz y'all aren't willing to make it work with one another. The only way to remedy a problem is to fix the cause, then take care of the symptoms. That being said I'm going to start from the bottom, and by bottom, I mean foundation.
You d.j.'s is where the buck starts and stops. If you are a radio d.j. you have to fight with these programmers to have more local music played. I realize clear channel is a monolithic beast, but d.j.'s have the power whether you know it or not. Mixtape d.j.'s need to stop charging artists for placement, as if getting on your tape is gonna lead to national exposure. More often than not it doesn't.
Other than that, an artist has to already have a major following before you all even pay them any attention. Our talent has to be cultivated and the d.j. is the gardener. Deejay's also need to form record pools like the old days, you all go to other cities (sometimes other countries), take the city with you.
This is gonna piss some people off but it needs to be said. Producers (and I don't mean you all that got fl studios on your laptop, putting weak bass drops behind clicks and beeps) this slick pricing has got to stop, we not rich (even if some lamebrains rap about ballin'). If somebody has to take the bus to your lab, chances are $100 for a beat and $25 (or more) an hour studio time is hard to come by.
I realize you guys gotta eat, but just cuz you've made a few bangers doesn't mean you makin' hits. So technically you are not within your rights to charge for production, recording time yes, but not your production. You are trying to get your name out as a producer, like the vocalist is trying to get their name out. Since you are in the same boat, why not make a mutually beneficial agreement?
Rappers, singers, jugglers or whatever it is you do, you are the reason why it never gets better. To tell you the truth, a lot of you rappers shouldn't be rappin in the first place and most of you singers need some vocal coaching. Yet all you wanna do is record some music and perform it. You want pro bono beats, and not only for somebody to let you on their stage, but pay you too.
Well guess what homes, you ain't done shit!!! Do you think the studio equipment your man's got at the crib was sitting on his doorstep one morning? You think he (or she) got a windmill in the backyard providing electricity? What are you bringing to the table?
By the way, if their set-up is at mom's house or the place they share with their significant other, learn to respect the boundaries. Let's be for real, you probably live with your girl or your old girl too.
The point is your friendly neighborhood beatmaker ought to be compensated. They invested in their craft, why won't you invest in yours? C'mon now, if you can afford to blow loud and drink fifth's of patron, you can buy a track. Even if you have to pay in installments.
The same rule applies when it comes to doing shows. How is the promoter supposed to get people to pay to see you perform, and you can't even get your facebook friend list to come see you? Many of us claim to do this for the love, but promoters can not get these venues to open their doors with love.
Plus promoters are in it to make money, we know this, they also spend the money necessary to make a profit. If you wanna be taken seriously, you have to take yourself seriously. I realize it didn't use to be like this, but I remember when an $85 book of food stamps would net you one hundred dollars, it ain't like that no more, times change.
Speak of the devil, you promoters have to stop robbing the performers. Charging Young Lowkey upwards of $150.00 for 10 minutes of stage time is a sin. We should be able to build a network, where the talent isn't required to do the promoters job by promoting themselves, and then pay the promoter for the privilege of performing in front of their mate and their cousin. If that's the case, they could do that at home.
In St. Louis they have whats called the S.L.U.M.FEST (the Saint Louis Underground Music Festival). They've been having it for about 3 years now. It's a whole day of local and sometimes out of state talent, performing for sizeable crowds. They have vendors and sponsors and they don't charge the artists to do their thing. And, here's your favorite part they make $$$$$!!!
Why can't we have something comparable here. Gettin' your hustle on is supposed to mean working hard to make things happen, not get over on people. Not to mention that performers are only gonna put up with this 'pay for play' system for so long, then what?
Last but certainly not least, is you fans, our fellow citizens. You are the key to this whole thing. You all are going to have to support. Just because we're in the same city doesn't mean our talent shouldn't be respected. More often than not, we are more talented than the mainstream artists that you all love and blow your check on.
That's really what other cities have on us, the people don't mind spending 10 or 20 bucks to see their local entertainers. While we have to be on the radio and t.v. to get supported, other regions support their homegrown talent because they hope to see their people get on radio and t.v.
In the industry they say, if you can't make it at home it's hard to get accepted anywhere else, so why do you think no one from here has really made it, without turning their back on the city.
My main reason for writing for this blog, was to use the platform to promote local talent, and hopefully cultivate an industry here that's independent of the mainstream industry. In the 50's and 60's we had that, and we can have it again. I don't profess to know it all, and I don't want to stand alone, it won't work without everyone's help.
We don't need excuses, we need input. So come on Chicago, stand up for real. Do this for us, do it for yourselves, cuz we all can benefit. From the d.j.'s, producers and performers, to the promoters, venues and businesses surrounding those venues. Which will also create revenue streams for the city itself, this is a win win win win. It's high time we stop being the city of hate. Spread love and support your own.
Randall Irwin The First
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