DAD stirred up the proverbial hornet’s nest, huh?
Yesterday, we offered 10 reasons why EDM is crushing hip-hop in 2013, taking a pointed look at the ways in which the EDM scene is winning while the rap game is slacking. Coming from a hip-hop background, we’ve seen the rise of hip-hop (both as a culture and as a commodity). With EDM’s current rise in the American mainstream, how can one NOT look at both worlds and pit them against each other? Rap music has impacted ALL music, and like it or not, dance music is currently doing the exact same thing—from A$AP Rocky rapping over Skrillex beats to Usher bringing in Diplo for production. If hip-hop has taught fans anything, it’s to look at the movement with an eye to the business side. 50 Cent making sport of a release date with Kanye West. Jay-Z letting us know how many Ms he signed a deal for. The weekly Soundscan scramble, and propping up or panning the winners and losers. Financial implications have been implicit in the discussion about rap music for the last few decades.
Yet, when we take a look at rap vs. EDM, we’re somehow not playing fair?
Drew Millard responded to our piece on Noisey. He, like many commenters on Facebook and Twitter, grasps at a few straws in the story without assessing the points in context of all ten reasons.
Let’s begin by talking about the idea of rap and EDM operating in “different worlds.” From the onset, rap and dance music have collided way more than Drew Millard wants to remember. Afrika Bambaataa, the entire UK grime scene, the current trap scene, hip-house, and the art of DJing are obvious moments of correlation. Some of those examples are better than others, but don’t act like there aren’t grounds to compare both scenes. “Occasional” cross-pollination is far from the mark, when you consider that just this year we’ve had Just Blaze team up with Baauer, Flosstradamus remix a song that had Jim Jones, El-P, and the Flatbush ZOMBIES on it, Diplo making a reggae album with Snoop Dogg, and Waka Flocka talking about making an EDM album. Again, don’t get us started on how the world of trap has ignited both the worlds of EDM and hip-hop. Now is the time to look at how the scenes are doing against each other, especially given that everyone involved, from the DJs to the check writers, feel that EDM is poised to overtake the position of youth culture influence that rap has held for so long.
The second point of contention is a misunderstanding on an assertion that hip-hop DJs can’t really get down on the ones and twos. Can you deny the overabundance of rap mixtapes, many listed as being presented by a DJ, that are devoid of mixing? DAD highlights mixes weekly, and we post mixes on the regular. Talk to some of the older hip-hop DJs out there, and ask them how they feel about the current crop of spinners. You’ll get a lot of eye rolling. The role of the DJ in the hip-hop community has obviously diminished greatly; while we’d love for all hip-hop DJs to be as skilled at rocking parties (and educating crowds) as a Jazzy Jeff or a Kid Capri, the times have called for the DJ to take less and less of an active role, especially when it comes to signing artists. “Curating” is not an excuse for dismissing craft, and the hip-hop crowd is equally responsible as well—people should be held accountable for the product they’re promoting. Criticism, thanks to expectations of skill, isn’t dead in EDM.
While Drew correctly points out that the “PR firm” handling Skrillex also works with Freddie Gibbs and Disclosure, he fails to note is that two of the principles behind Biz 3 are also major factors behind OWSLA, Skrillex’s label! Being a blogger for years, I’ve run into my share of managers, publicists, and firms that don’t operate in nearly as efficient of a fashion. With many other you’re getting misinformation, no information, or a jumbled mess of emails before you get down to the basics: the music, the press release, the artwork. Find us a number of rap PR firms that operate as well as Infectious PR, or Backdrop Promotions: We’ll ask, “where have you been all of our lives?”
Ninja Tune taught us that you can have a broad selection of beats in one mix. We love Danny Brown just as much as we love Flosstradamus, and want both of them to succeed. We’ve been around long enough to see the bloggerati complain time and again about hip-hop’s failures and disappointments, and we’re wise enough to realize that a lot of the hip-hop game needs a shot in the arm. Are we getting our Nas on and proclaiming that hip-hop is dead? Not at all. But in looking at the year 2013 for hip-hop and EDM, side-by-side, you can’t help but say “wow, what is rap doing wrong that EDM is doing right?” Hopefully, hip-hop can fix some of its problems and get back up to speed.
Learning from the attention to quality of sound found in EDM would be a start.