Ahh the all-powerful ego. It’s something that can drive a lot of us to relentlessly push our limits without care of what others may say or think about when it comes to our dreams and goals. It can also be the voice inside our heads that tells someone to snatch the mic from Taylor Swift. If you think regular ego is bad, take a look at rapper ego.
Ego, pride, and fragility seem to go hand in hand. Those with the most boisterous ego don’t seem to care about anyone’s opinions, also can’t sleep at night over opinions they perceive are out against them. Hip-Hop has long been a culture of unapologetic pride and ego. Where he or she who holds the biggest chain, drives the most expensive car or can out-spend Scott Storch on a drug binge reigns supreme. When you can afford things that other people can’t pronounce, you must let the public know on your IG story.
The other side of the coin is a false sense of entitlement and the need to knock any and everything in the way of getting your props. The lack of the ability to give the next individual their just due has long held back many hip-hop artists.
Recently, our Best of 2017 PNW Hip-Hop awards list dropped and rappers got ALL sorts of sour over a list I specifically said was “made up and doesn’t even matter.” Receiving screenshots with salty tweets and even personal messages from artists I consider friends talking shit all week, I seriously hate doing lists. Like I really, really hate doing them.
They are great for social media engagement but shit, they get people in their feelings and stir up so much negative energy it drains me. I put thousands of dollars and hours into this scene every year and people applaud us all year for features. When some aren’t chosen for a stupid list, you’d be surprised how many all turned on us.
Even artists on the list are upset with what made up award they received. Like really. People not on the list, pissed. People on the list upset with their “award”, actually pissed. Damn. Do they even realize that the list was designed to further the conversation of PNW Hip-Hop in general? One purpose of this is to get new people interested in the scene overall. Another, more so for those that are already willing to be local music fans, these lists give them the ability to discover new music.
The internet is a crazy place. Hip-Hop is an even crazier industry. Our city is filled with hundreds of people who share the exact same dream. Work shitty jobs to pour all of their funds into the same hustle, and they want to knock the next person every chance they can get. They don’t want to see anyone shine that isn’t them. Somehow it MUST be biased because they’re not held in as high regard as they hold themselves.
Upstream Music Festival, for example, something in which I’ve been critical in the past, is doing something that no other platform in Seattle music history has been able to do and may not ever be able to do again.
One of our cities richest entrepreneurs is funding a platform to put on local music in a way it’s never seen. Sure qualified artists will be left out, weak performers will be put on, and issues will arise. But does that mean that we cut the festival off at its knees within the first few years of conception? Be critical? Yes. Speak out? sure. But throw salty shade at something that could be so beautiful because you and your mans didn’t get put on? I know there are other reasons people have gripes with the platform, but the majority of issues I see vented on social media surround this. Even we feel this. Being left out sucks. It’s a gut punch to your pride but it doesn’t need to be a reason to not support the fellow artists who’s number has been called.
What’s good for the next person can be good for you if you both play the same game. Any single artist that spreads PNW hip-hop further than it currently stands, furthers all northwest hip-hop artists in general. It also opens up the lane for an opportunity for every single artist inside the community. This culture built around a false sense of feeling that there a limited number of tickets to heaven. We can’t let that person get this shine, we NEED that to get on, or we may never get on. Now, now, now. Me, me, me. It’s all very childish.
“I don’t fuck with them.” “They’ve never done anything for me so why should I care.”
I get it. I really do. “It’s not about them, it’s about us.” That’s a motto we live by (S/O Dyllyn Greenwood for that mantra). But that doesn’t mean fuck everybody else literally. It means you focus on your shit, you live in your lane, and you grind your grind. You can still celebrate the next man, celebrate the scene. Celebrate the success of others that share the same dream you have. The more we build, the stronger our numbers get together, the larger the window of opportunity for everyone gets.