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Lost In The Mix – Where Did All The Female Singers Go?

05.11.2010

Sit back, empty your mind and ready yourself for the forthcoming question. Ready? Okay, how many significant female singers within Hip-Hop and it’s related genres can you name that have emerged in the last 20 years? By ‘significant’, we’re talking about having an impact  through record sales, credibility or both.

Have a think. Ready?…

My guess is that the following names will be kickin’ about your brain: Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, India Arie, Aaliyah… maybe even Rihanna thrown in at the end.

Now break that down to the last 10 years… a little harder right? We’re given just Jill Scott, Alicia Keys and India Arie, who were all fresh to this millennium. Leaving just Rihanna who crept in around 2005 and is arguably more pop orientated despite working with a number of Hip-Hop artists. Forget about the last 5 years. Scary.

So…erm… where did all the female singers go?

Have the ladies mentioned above dominated the industry so heavily that others couldn’t break through? Have the trends and changes in music over the last decade meant that the art and technical ability in singing doesn’t count for much anymore? Maybe reality music shows killed the creative skill of artists being able to carve out their own vocal style?

Remember when you heard ‘Fallin’ by Alicia Keys back in 2001? Her vocal was so raw that you could connect and you knew she’d be around for a long time coming. How many female singers have you heard that have put themselves across in that way since?

Alicia Keys

Even if there are talented female singers out there looking for exposure, most have to juggle with the idea of jeopardising their own vocal ability in favour of featuring on a record produced in a way that reflects a current trend. Think about the dominating dance phase we’re going through.

In fact, this also coincides with the fact that producers and production teams are now getting as much recognition as artists themselves. Though for some producers this recognition is overdue, it’s also a glowing example of how the industry has changed. Are all the great singers being overshadowed by the production around them? We’re all able to hear but how many of us are willing to listen?

So, the next time a heartfelt harmony or ambitious melisma catches your attention, take note. We need to support gifted female vocalists before they all fade out.

The Hard Sell – Go Out And Buy Records!

21.10.2010

If you haven’t seen Kanye in the news this week, you’re probably in a coma.

In which case we hope you’ve hooked up to our RSS feed ‘cos you’ll need to catch up on this.

Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Cover

Through the waves of Yeezy’s Tweets and sound offs this week, you will have seen that he’s stated that new album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ will feature 5 different album covers. What’s more, West has suggested that the George Condo demonic creation you see to your right has been deemed too controversial by Def Jam and retail outlets. It remains to be seen as to whether this will be one of the five final covers, but what our diamond fanged friend has managed to do is create an incredible hype leading up to it’s November 22nd release.

With CD sales continuing to fall amidst the boom of the download, record labels and artists are struggling to find ways to make physical sales a profitable avenue for revenue. This has led to a host of labels releasing ‘deluxe’, second editions or re-issues of albums in order to break even or take advantage of a record’s popularity. Something I like to call the 2.0 tactic.

This can be a damn annoyance to a fan who eagerly anticipates an album, goes out and buys it on the day of it’s release and then watches on as it’s re-released three months later with more tracks and more content. It also means that the quality of music on the initial release isn’t as good as it SHOULD have been, but that’s a whole other article.

However, there is some good news for the fans. With artists needing to sell, some are breaking the mould and thinking of creative goods that make it that little bit more tempting to part with your cash.

Check some recent examples below, and in the words of Will Smith, ‘Don’t download, go out and BUY the record’.

Freeway and Jake One – The Stimulus Package

Freeway and Jake One

One of the most creative CD packages Hip-Hop has ever seen. The financial risk at putting out a record like this is huge. So credit to Freeway, Jake and Rhymesayers for making this possible.

It features a folded set of @Phillyfreezer and @JakeUno notes and a wallet design which holds the CD , PLUS an exclusive ‘credit card’ which features a download code enabling you to download the instrumentals to every track.

Eminem – Relapse Deluxe Limited Edition

Relapse Deluxe

After a five year hiatus, Em’ returned in December 09 with Relapse. Fans were given the chance to buy this Deluxe Limited Edition copy for around $130.00. The package included a signed cover print, a Relapse pill bottle with pills, 12″ vinyl and extra downloadable tracks.

That’s what’s poppin’.

Lady GaGa – The Fame Monster / WTF HAIR Edition.

Fame Monster

 

Lost count of the amount of versions that was released of this album, i’m gonna guess a solid 5. Gaga went all out with the exclusive content and if you copped the ‘Super Deluxe’ CD, you even got a lock of her hair. Sick or siiiick? The USB stick release featured track remixes, art content and a bunch of videos.

 

Justin Bieber – My World 2.0 (Golden Ticket)

Justin Bieber Golden Ticket

The world’s most loved and hated teenager gave fans a chance to get a once in a lifetime backyard Bieber gig if they found a golden ticket in the second part of his debut release. Though this Willy Wonka game has been played out before , none have created as much buzz as this. Bieber fever swept through hormonal girls who rushed out to buy the album and Usher must have seen a handsome sum drop into his bank.

 

 

Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy

Tinie Tempah Lanyard

Earlier this month, Tinie Tempah debuted at Number 1 in the U.K album charts with ‘Disc-Overy’. One format in which it was released was on a lanyard, which held a unique code allowing fans to download a letter from Tinie and various social networking badges and backgrounds. It was sold on stalls at his shows and in high street retailers, with the price falling somewhere between a download and a CD.

So where does the future lie for the physical release? I guess it’s in the hands of the fans, ish.

New Home / Blog!

20.10.2010

Come in, kick back, put your feet up… this is our new home and you’re welcome!

Following on from the article below, the net seems to be drowned in a host of Music blogging sites at the moment, most of which generally just repeat the same information. THAT’S OLD.

So we decided to freshen things up, at least when it comes to Hip-Hop. We want to be what you want to read!

Over the coming weeks we hope to bring you all more Hip-Hop related articles, news of what we’re working on and features on artists who we think define the spirit of Hip-Hop… plus anything else that we think you’ll love.

There will probably be some changes to the site over the next few weeks, so feel free to get in touch and tell us where we’re going right or where we’re going elsewhere.

If you’d like to work with us on a more professional level and want to know more about our marketing/press services, check the ‘What We Do’ page above or drop us an email. You can also keep in touch with us through Twitter where we’ll be posting exclusive competitions and discounts for our followers.

Right, ontothenextone.

Pressurrection

07.10.2010

Hip-Hop is going through a transitional stage right now. Style is seemingly outshining substance. This has a knock-on effect from the guys in suits making morally difficult decisions on how to market an artist, to those hustling on the streets, angry that their culture and music is being gatecrashed by a host of Louis Vuitton wearing wannabes, with no real life experience. The art of hustling is up for debate.

Rick Ross’ music, persona and popularity symbolises the change that’s been slowly weaving its way through Hip-Hop over the last near-decade. We all know it’s been lurking, it’ just now we can’t escape it, even if we want to. At this point I’d urge you to check out XXL’s 13th Anniversary Edition (September 2010) as it covers the issue of whether ‘keeping it real’ is as important as it once was.

So how does press change to develop within Hip-Hop? What can the media offer that’s relevant to the way things have and are continuing to change?

A simple Google search on ‘Hip-Hop Reviews‘will bring up hundreds of regurgitated second-hand views coupled with a few half-baked Wikipedia-sourced album reviews. But are reviews even relevant in today’s industry?

Reviews used to serve a purpose. Before you spent £10-15 of your hard earned cash, you’d want to be informed as to which album its best spent on. Picking up the latest copy of XXL, Source or Vibe magazine could swing which direction your money traveled. You knew that the writers for those magazines had done their homework. They too had worked hard in their field and you’d put trust in their judgement and opinions. You needed to.

Then came downloading, soon followed by blogs and now streaming dominates.

Though the aforementioned magazines are still well respected heavyweights, the world of blogging means that fans have taken on the role of the Journalist. Editor’s pens have run dry. With so many people able to take to their blog and air out their criticism knowing their will be no repercussions, what makes one person’s views more newsworthy than the next?

With the use of streaming services such as Spotify and leaks of forthcoming music to the Internet, a fan only has to invest a short amount of time before being able to make up their own minds of whether they like something or not. No review necessary. No money lost.

An artist’s struggle used to be about getting his/hers/their music to a larger audience through the medium of TV, radio or magazine. Now, with Twitter, an established artist can be their own Press Officer and give their latest news direct to the fans. At the time of writing this article, Nicki Minaj, who is yet to even release an album, has 1,431,113 followers on Twitter. Whatever her news, nobody can deliver it to that amount of people quicker than she can herself.

Nicki Minaj

So the media side of the industry has some serious thinking to do if it wants to support Hip-Hop, stay relevant and avoid replicating the throwaway feel in some of the music that’s being created right now.

Maybe as fans we need to take some A&R responsibility and really push the artists who are less established. Maybe it’s the fans that need to take the time to take advantage of the shifts in roles within the industry?

If there’s one thing I love about Hip-Hop, it’s its openness to honesty and change. Currently, Hip-Hop’s own freedom has left it vulnerable and in a position whereby everyone needs to step back and re-evaluate its future.