Four Pillars of Underground
Nowadays "underground" is such a broad term that it encompasses any artist that is not mainstream. What is underground though? I have no idea but i decided there are four types of Underground artists. The first is the artist/group who comes up, has a loyal fanbase and is making quality records. Then they generate a large enough buzz as to where a major label signs them. The artist/group however does not proceed to take away from what got them there. They are able to straddle that fine line of appealing to a wider audience while staying true to their roots at the same time. Take The Roots for example, probably one of the more widely accepted hip hop acts ever but they have a sound unique to themselves and have never "sold out" for bigger money or anything like that. Yes they made records here and there that catered to more of a mainstream audience but they were still able to keep that distinct sound to where you knew it was The Roots. Other examples would be early 50 Cent, Young Jeezy, Nas, Jay-Z (to an extent), and Outkast. You could even say Flocka brought his sound to the mainstream (shout out to the people who apparently kidnapped some random person's daughter and killed someone thinking it was Flocka).
The second is the forever underground artist/group. These people won't cater to what anyone says and will do their music on their own terms. They pretty much have no chance of making it on the radio and gaining a wider audience because they will not conform to any major labels and will solely focus on the kind of music they want to put, not the taste of some middle aged white guy who climbs mountains and plays electric guitars. shout out to the Gza. These are the Lil' Boosies, Freddie Gibbses, Starlitos (shout out to big boy) of the world. Gangsta Gibbs was signed to Young Jeezy's label and was sitting there not getting shit done with the label. You know he was putting out quality music because he kept serving up highly reviewed mixtapes and ep's yet those wouldn't make any money for the label so they wouldn't push those projects. Gibbs said fuck it and bounced. Starlito man that's another story. The Tennessee native puts out quality tape after quality tape but won't sell out for the sake of him not wanting to be changed by any corporation. I'll let my man speak more on Lito if he chooses to bless the both of you reading this. Other example would be Curren$y, Asher Roth (he admitted to fucking up with I Love College and vowed to never do some bullshit like that again), E-40, Cassidy, Zion I, Hieroglyphics, the whole Living Legends crew, and my man El-P.
The third group is the sellouts. They had a solid underground career and were making a name for themselves until they got signed. Nicki Minaj i'm looking at you. She wasn't the greatest rapper but she was nice and did her thing yet and even for a minute on young money she tried to stick to rapping. Yet when she wanted that solo career money a complete 180 was done on her style. Not only did she lose every fan that was with her in the beginning she has proceeded to completely make a fool out of herself. Her biggest demographic of fans are girls yet she promotes herself as Barbie. Instead of trying to influence kids and say that it's good to be yourself she goes around looking like a schizophrenic blind clown shaking her ass wearing the dumbest wigs, weaves, shit stains whatever you wanna call it on her head. And if she says that her music is not intended for young girls then she needs to realize it whether she likes it or not that they do listen to her and look up to her so she needs to be aware of her celebrity. Plus she cannot be possibly happy. I don't know if its her decision or someone else's but why is she doing the stupidest shit on stage wearing the stupidest costumes making the stupidest noises. Plus look at any of her pictures. They put so much makeup on her that they are whiteifying her. She is actually black but everyone thinks she is mocha colored. Have some self respect. If that isn't a sign of America still not being ready to accept black people then i don't know what is. Trashing Nicki tho is too easy and overdone so another example of this is Pitbull. Listen to his first album M.I.A.M.I. and tell me that the Pitbull then and now could not be more different. Once he figured the key to success was to spit some bars in english followed by some bars in spanish that no one knows what he is saying Mr. 305 would not look back. I can't blame him for chasing the money but come on dude, where is the integrity. He don't care about making music for his fans anymore. He makes music for his bank account but we shoulda known that Money Is A Major Issue. When did Pitbull even come back into our lives. I just remember him shoutin Culo and next thing i know he is wearing tiny suits and on every top 40 hit. Other examples would be Wiz after his first album, Medium Sean (shout out to Big Ghost Chronicles), and B.O.B.
Now this last group pretty much are overnight success stories. They just made that one hit single and kind of missed the struggle part of being an underground artist. You got your Trinidad James, the Cash Out guy, Soulja Boy is still trying to find the magic of Crank Dat, and so on and so forth. They're in limbo because the mainstream doesn't want them after their 15 minutes of fame and the underground sees that they're wack and wants nothing to do with them either.
El-P feat Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire and Danny Brown- Oh Hail No
I'm telling you, don't sleep on my man El-P. Legend in the game, has been around forever making classics, and has a sound all to himself. Never Ask Me To Hail. peace
and p.s. seeing the three nominees for Urban Contemporary Album be all black guys, it just re-dawned on me. When did Urban become synonymous with Black? Does that mean Suburbs are synonymous with White? Then is Rural Mexican? i don't know someone explain that to me.