Today’s music fans are quick to call you old when you consider the mainstream music coming out to be empty and disposable. I’ve found that I’m fine with that. I was listening to Schooly D’s “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” in the car just the other day and realized that a lot of joints from back in the day just had staying power that I don’t think artists are trying to achieve nowadays. It’s so hard to sell CDs in this digital age that artists are taking fewer risks and making music that is the sound of the current month, not something they actually think will be playable six months from now, let alone years and years. To an extent, one must understand that the “artists” are doing what it takes to fulfill a demand brought about by the way younger consumers consume music nowadays. This is the Attention Deficit Disorder Era of Hip-Hop…and music in general.
The moment iTunes made it possible to pick individual songs off of an album to buy on their own as opposed to buying the completed product, it ushered in the era of a la carte music. The increase of access to music and other goods online lead to the instant gratification era. People don’t want music they can live with for a while, they want music they can drive around to for a week and then discard for the next flash in the pan. When you can separate an album into individual parts at the point of sale, the appreciation for a cohesive project or a concept album dwindles. It’s all about putting out a “hot” song, which means using the producer or featured artist du jour. This is why everything on the radio and video channels has the same sound. It isn’t lucrative to financially back a project that strays too far from the norm. Hell, even Kendrick Lamar had to put Drake and Mary J. Blige on a feature. If you think the label would have backed it without that assist, you’re bugging.
Unfortunately, there’s no turning back. Today’s 16-25 demographic didn’t have the benefit, for some reason, of being taught to appreciate the classics, so they eat up the disposable stuff that the industry churns out. As usual, the dedicated hip-hop fan has to put in some legwork to get what he wants out of his favorite artform. I think this creates a necessary separation between those that are in it for the art and those that are in it for the business. The flipside, however, is that you almost have to hope your favorite underground artist doesn’t get signed and then get strongarmed into doing a song with Taylor Swift. All you can do is wish much success to the true artists in the game who put in work to make timeless music and don’t sacrifice the artistry for a dollar because at the end of the day, a gold flash-in-the-pan album is really not producing enough royalty checks to put an artist’s future kids through college. Making timeless music and continuing to perform it and build upon it just might, though.
PSK (What Does It Mean?) x Schoolly D