Monday, June 21, 2010

Blog Thugs-No-Harmony

Dedicated to Rage Comics

This week in self-righteous indignation, we’ve got a post from Young H titled Why Popular Bloggers Are Bad For Hip-Hop. The article itself was posted on a popular blog. Straight out the gate, it seems we’ve got a communication breakdown, but whatever. I encourage you to read the post in its entirety because it presents a few topics of discussion; but if you're one of those Sparknotes types, here's the rundown:

1) Young H is adamant about defining (and differentiating) "writers", "journalists" and "bloggers."
2) He thinks Byron "Bol" Crawford is a "talentless hack." Why? He never really specifies. More than anything, he comes off sounding like more of a hater than Bol himself, with a palpably bitter tone.
3) He unloads on 2DopeBoyz and the New Music Cartel for always being the first to say, well, "first."
4) In his eyes, Vibe Magazine's Top 50 Bloggers are actually "Vibe Magazine's Top 50 fast food employees." Ouch.
5) He disapproves of blogs that post suggestive images of women.
6) He disapproves of blogs (read: 2DopeBoyz) that offer a weekly R&B section.
7) Byron, Meka and Shake are not cool.
8) Kevin Nottingham, despite charging $35 for reviews in the past (read: 'til he got caught), gets a pass.

Before I counter Young H's arguments point by point, I should introduce - or reintroduce - one of my most recent stances. To some extent, it may seem ironic that I'd be refuting Young H's post since I took a similarly righteous position against Nah Right. You may recall that I had a little spat with Eskay a couple months back over a Shyne post he published on his site. My issue with the post was that I was unsure where Eskay was coming from. It seemed to me that he was feeding a Def Jam-fed narrative in the guise of a firsthand account devoid of any shadowy influence(s). I wasn't raising an accusatory finger; I was merely raising an eyebrow. I had an issue with the authenticity of the post, due to the fact that Eskay himself acknowledged that he was reached by Def Jam's folks for the phone call with Shyne. The issue was never really "resolved." Eskay stood by his words, and I can respect that. Rafi Kam mentioned that my post didn't really seem to "have a point." He may have been right about that. To reiterate, my (intended) point was as follows: ideally, I'd like to be able to properly distinguish between PR and unbiased perspectives. Time and time again these lines get blurred, and I feel it's invaluably crucial to be able to navigate through the internet - blogs specifically - with more clarity. It's out of a love for the music and websites like Nah Right as a public forum that I make these requests and suggestions.

Here's where I differ from Young H: character assassination is not in my repertoire. First and foremost, with blogger allegiances as they are, that's like jumping into a pool of sharks. Young H seems to have already suffered a few bites so far. In addition to this, it doesn't really serve a purpose other than to boost one's own ego, and that's rarely seen as an attractive characteristic. Offering critiques is one thing; but going on a full-on assault? For no reason? C'mon now! That's just ignorant, word to Michael Jackson (one year already, can you believe that?)

You don't really have to like Byron Crawford to appreciate his work. As a matter of fact, you don't even have to like his work. You don't even have to like him! In fact, you might even feel compelled to hate him! But you should take note of his reach; his audience; his ability to stir up war-like hostility with nothing but words. That's powerful. Howard Stern may be a shock jock. And yeah, you may not like what he has to say. But to call him talentless? That's absurd! Bol writes; people read. Stern talks; people listen. If you can't respect that, then so be it. But one thing's for certain: you're wrong. A hack is someone who gets by the system, playing the yes man role, putting in as little work as possible. Bol writes at a frenetic pace, often times shitting on his own forum - XXL - in the process. That's ballsy (pause), and I respect that. You should too.

Young H also takes offense to the New Music Cartel's habit of letting its readers know that they were on the (group rip/leak) scene first. (It's worth noting that the New Music Cartel's audience - specifically the people who post comments - are prone to claim "first" as well.) But there's nothing new about this practice, and it's not unique to blogs or music for that matter. It's called marking your product. Frank Lucas called it "Blue Magic." Funk Flex drops bombs. That's the way of the game. Deal with it! And really, if you can't wait an extra week for that tag-free MP3 of "Under Pressure", you need to be diagnosed (and possibly medicated) for your compulsive disorder. You get what you pay for - and in this case, you're not paying a dime, so chill, b. The same rule applies to your disapproval of blogs posting pictures of scantily-clad women. If that offends you, then keep on trucking. The Smoking Section's Cooler posts make my morning - and not for the links! You don't like it? Unsubscribe! Simple as that! Or deal with it! Last month's issue of GQ had Miranda Kerr on the cover. Lovely! This month? Taylor Lautner. Ech. Last month's issue of Esquire? Christina Hendricks. Gorgeous! This month? Tom Cruise. Oh no! What can I do? I can unsubscribe if I want (but I won't, since I know that a Brooklyn Decker cover is on the way). The same goes for being pissed off by R&B posts (which makes no sense to me since A) "black music is black music and it's all good", and B) hip hop and modern-R&B are so intertwined, especially on the radio). Call that "lowest common denominator"; call it "mainstream"; so be it! The ride's free and you can hop off anytime you'd like. Most people enjoy the ride. Stop your blood claat crying!

But to top it all off, I find it hilarious that Young H takes exception to Bol and the New Music Cartel - whom, might I add, are on complete opposite spectrums in this rap blog scenario - but defends the practice of charging for reviews. We've beaten this horse to the ground already, but if you want the skinny, here it is. Let's leave Kevin Nottingham's name out of this (since apparently he's no longer charging that $35 fee). Young H has no qualms with that practice. H's exact quote is: "For the record I have no problem with an honest and modest businessman getting his." There's nothing "honest" about offering a review, represented as an unbiased perspective, while receiving monetary gains under the table. You say "getting his", I say "getting fined." No, really.

I understand Young H's sense of frustration, but it's misguided. The title itself (Why Popular Bloggers Are Bad For Hip-Hop) is dubious. To be sure, it raises a few questions. Does popularity correlate with inauthenticity? I'd disagree with that notion (and stereotype). But I value the discussion. A few years ago, I might have identified and agreed with him, and I might have asked the same question(s). But I've moved on to different pastures. Perhaps he can work these issues out as well, reassessing his points of view on these matters - especially if he wants to maintain his own blog which, presumably, he does. So cover up those potholes!

Shouts to Soul Supreme, David Reyneke, Brandon Rae and all the clever cats that run Potholes In My Blog, today's most hated blog (and also one of my favorites). One.