Beanie Sigel vs. Jay-Z- Why Hov Won’t Return His Calls

October 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Hustler's Ambition, Words From The Genius

Since Beanie Sigel’s halfway dis record against Jay-Z, “What You Talkin Bout” debuted on Kay Slay’s show on Hot97 last night, the internets/streets are going nuts about the Broad Street Bully airing out Hov.

First, the song. People are going ape shit but in reality, this song is like, not good. The beat, a middling drum pattern with a tick-tocky clock-like melody, is a mellow backdrop so you can clearly hear what Beanie’s saying. Except he’s not really saying much. which makes this song itself a total non-event.

Secondly, the interview. In the first half it sounds like Beans is genuinely peeved about a bunch of things that went on with Roc-A-Fella, all legitimate beefs. He talks a bit about going to jail, how the Young Gunz were only getting $1200 a night on the road with Jay, himself not being paid on tours, money that he thought he was due through a sneaker deal with Pro Keds, so on and so forth. Without any intimate knowledge of the business affairs that went on at Roc-A-Fella, I’ve no doubt in my mind that the  funny money situations Beans speaks about with album advances, recording budgets and Roc-A-Fella’s various business, were really occurring. This is the record business, shit happens.

The most striking part of the interview to me though, was when Beanie says he hasn’t spoken to Jay-Z in two years. He mentions that he can’t get in touch with Jay, that it takes talking to 5 people to speak with him. To hear Beanie tell it, Shawn Carter is like the Michael Corleone of the rap game. Except he’s really not.

Beanie Sigel thinks that Roc-A-Fella was a family. It wasn’t. Beanie Sigel was signed as a recording artist to Roc-A-Fella Records, given an album budget to record songs which the label could then exploit in the marketplace. In terms of that avenue of business, not mixtape songs or whether Beanie Sigel is “nice” or he bodied so and so on a track or went to war with Jadakiss or Nas, he was not very successful. To the best of my knowledge, only one Beanie Sigel album went Gold, and that was his first LP, The Truth, which was spearheaded by a Jay-Z single, “Anything.” Keep in mind this was the year 2000, when a rapper could literally take a piss on a record and it would have sold platinum or better. That Jay-Z had the single from another artist on his label’s debut LP should tell you something- Beans was a commercial liability from day 1. As Beans alludes to in his new song, he “brought the fellas to Roc-A-Fella.” Yeah, that’s exactly what he did. He lent an element of goonery to Roc-A-Fella when all they had was Jay and Bleek (hardly what I’d call goons).

Beanie was like Jay-Z’s Tony Yayo, except less paid.

On top of all this, Beanie signed with Dame Dash Music Group back in 2004. In a wikipedia entry on Beanie, it says he made the decision to sign with Dame over Jay because he’d never spent time around Jay on and off day. That he had a more personal relationship with Dame and Biggs. Now here he is, five years later, saying they were like a family, that he wants a phone call blah blah blah. He didn’t want that phone call in 2004, when he was sitting in Jay’s office (according to the Charlemagne interview), asking to be let out of his contract. So what’s the real story?

Perhaps Jay is like Michael Corleone, and once you take sides with another family, you’re done in his eyes. Or perhaps it’s a lot less dramatic, and it’s more like, as I alluded to above, Beanie never really being much of a marquee player, more like a Rick Mahorn-style bruiser who was on the team just to rough up the other team’s best player (Jadakiss, Nas, Jaz-0, etc).

In that respect, Beanie would fall in line with a whole assortment of characters who Jay-Z has left by the wayside as he’s moved on to bigger and better things.  Take a number- R. Kelly, Foxy Brown, Jaz-O, Amil, Dame Dash, DMX, Irv Gotti, Ski Beatz, Sauce Money… this list goes on and on. My thought is, Beanie should add his name to the list of those who may never get a return call from Hov. This whole scenario is sounding like a Tweet song right about now.

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Diddy Signs With Interscope- What Difference Does It Make?

October 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Hustler's Ambition, Words From The Genius


spotted at Nahright

What good is it jumping from one sinking ship to another? Either way, you’re going down. That’s the thought that came to mind when I started reading the hooplah about Diddy signing with Interscope Records last week. The way the partnership is explained, Diddy signed a joint venture agreement with Interscope for his label, Bad Boy, which he will release his next LP, Last Train to Paris, through. Future projects, whether they be Diddy albums or reality television pop acts, will also go through Interscope, by way of this new business alliance. The artists that were previously signed to Warner Music Group through Bad Boy’s deal there, they will stay at Warner Music Group. Makes enough sense.

The thing is, Diddy seems geeked about the deal. He’s making videos, he’s tweeting, and basically the blogosphere/rap industry is caught up in the hype. My question is, who really gives a fuck? I’m not so sure I wanna pat Diddy on the back for his latest move. I applaud this man for a lot of what he’s done. I even worked on his Making His Band TV show a few weeks ago (episodes I worked on should be airing soon), so it’s not like I’m being biased for no reason here. When it comes to the business side of things, Diddy is that dude.

But to me, Diddy signing with Interscope makes him a dinosaur. It made someone who was once a forward thinking executive, who revolutionized many aspects of the rap business, seem even more out of touch. For one, Interscope has had very little success with urban music as of late. Outside of Eminem, who is arguably not even an urban artist, there are few acts Interscope has on the urban side that have done well in recent years. Whereas urban was the foundation Interscope was built on, with Deathrow and the like, the past few years have seen the label transition into more of a pop powerhouse, with Lady Gaga and the Pussycat Dolls at the forefront. Interscope’s promotion/marketing muscle was and still is legendary, except now it leans more towards top40 than anything else. Hear any Game singles lately? 50 Cent? I thought not.

So Diddy’s making this sort of weird electro funk soul LP that has him singing and shit, and basically he’s going to attempt to cross over like he did in the old days. He’s Danity Kane without the catty singers involved.  This way, if things don’t work out he can only blame himself, not some crazy blonde chick who goes all paparrazi nazi on the music industry. Whether or not people take Diddy as an artist seriously anymore (did they ever? hint: “don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks”), that’s debatable, but the motive makes sense. If you’re going to cross over, get with the machine that can cross you over- Interscope.

But that’s what an artist needs. What Lady Gaga needs, what the Pussycat Dolls need, what some unestablished pop rock act needs. That’s not what Diddy needs. Diddy, like Jay-Z, is bigger than hip-hop and bigger than the record business. He’s bigger than what some corporate TI can do for him. Sure, he may not be as hot as he once was, but that’s actually a benefit. Why? Because the expectations are lower. And right now, the only thing you can look forward to in this receding record business is lowered expectations, coupled with either shrugged shoulders when you miss your mark, or celebrations when you overachieve. Because of this, Diddy could have ventured out, he could done some creative partnership between Bad Boy, a new media company, and say Live Nation, like Jay did. Considering Diddy just spent an entire reality show looking for band members, it’s clear that he’s looking to capitalize in the live space. But why link with a label to distribute dinosaur-like records when it’s clear the business is elsewhere. Getting with Interscope just seems archaic.

Take that, take that?

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Big Champagne Redefines The Billboard Chart For Modern Era

Over at Wired.com, writer Eliot Van Buskirk’s “Inside Big Champagne’s Music Panopticon” provides an in-depth look at Big Champagne’s new dashboard-style music data analysis service. Now anyone who’s been paying attention to digital music news over the past few years should be familiar with the company’s CEO Eric Garland. Dude is the go-to guy when writers need a quote on anything related to music and the internet, which, let’s face it, is practically every day now. There’s also a sizeable chunk of Steve Knopper’s Appetite for Self Destruction dedicated to explaining how Big Champagne came about. Pretty interesting stuff.

To summarize, Big Champagne offers a media tracking service. And through that service, which a company pays a monthly fee for, they’re provided access to data about who’s downloading what songs and videos, and where that activity is happening online. Beyond that, the data gets very specific, in terms of allowing the company to see filesharing data for specific markets.

Data like this is of huge importance because it let’s a company know which band is performing well in which area, rather than having to rely on something like radio charts, a big game of back room handslaps that hasn’t changed in 50 years. Online “buzz” is arguably a bigger indicator of where people’s attention is directed. There are acts with songs on the radio right now, but who have no online buzz, who wouldn’t be able to sell out a local coffee shop.

Big Champagne also provides video charts as well, monitoring big sites like Yahoo and Youtube, as well as smaller ones.

Point being, all this data is coming from many different sources, and it’s being tracked in real time. My question is, just how wide of a net is being cast by this service. According to the article, filesharing networks are included in what’s being tracked. Which ones? And are simple webhosting services like Zshare and Rapidshare being monitored as well. These sites are like filesharing central, the bulk of new music acquisition is taking place there. By the time these songs make it to Yahoo, AOL or any of these big media companies, a lot of the key online traction for a tune has already taken place. Still, a useful service nonetheless. And while a lot of the data their providing is accessible through each separate network (Yahoo, Youtube, etc), having it all in one place, and being able to grasp it in the context of pie charts and graphs is infinitely more valuable. I wish I had 2k a month just to check it out.

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False Titles, Ego and Competition

June 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Hustler's Ambition

From Drop Box

The entertainment business is ego driven. When I entered it, I was wide eyed in terms of what to expect. I hadn’t been burned or disappointed, so for the most part my expectations weren’t ego driven. I always had an ego though. It’s par for the course in this business. But when does too much ego begin to affect your world and those involved in it?

Let’s start with false titles. As soon as you enter the game, you immediately meet hundreds of “CEO’s,” “A&R’s,” “Presidents,” “Producers,” “Directors,” and all types of people with false vanity labels they bestow upon themselves. The key is to navigate around these folks. If someone considers themself a boss, but you sense they don’t have much to offer, steer clear of them. This is not even from a financial point of view. Support, guidance, and learning from someone can triumph over a check any day. People are manipulative and cruel in this business. You can become a puppet quickly. Most importantly, false titles yield false egos. With false egos comes a losing team.

Have I ever given myself a false title for my work? No. If anything, some people don’t even know exactly what I do. In a business where the model is changing daily, how can anyone have a proper lane or title? My advice to you is to accumulate as much information and knowledge as you can in the music industry. Do everything and do not limit yourself. I created my lane pretty much on my own. I continue to do so daily. You should be creating your own brand too. If you work for a big corporation this is a different. If that’s you, you’ve most likely signed contracts disallowing this. However, if you’re molding your own career, sans corporate gig, be a sponge for information and have an open mind to learn from anything and anyone.

In my first column, I wrote, “I do not concern myself with Diddy or Jay Z’s latest signings.” I represent several artists who are arguably better than what those executives represent. I reiterate, if you are a newcomer it is discouraging to compare yourself to executives with multi-million dollar budgets. But what do you do when these older artists won’t step down from the mic? Or better yet, start to promote their own artists with their name attached to it.

It’s difficult enough to break a new artist. Now imagine you are going up against these established executives plus their new “cosign.” It quadruples the degree of difficulty for your quest.

Everybody wants the crown. It’s understandable; this is show business. But there’s a time when the older artists and executives need to pass the torch to a newer generation. If they don’t, what do you do to take control of your own destiny?

It’s a tough call. But don’t be afraid to carve your own path. If you are a young entrepreneur, be a pioneer for what you believe in no matter what. Do not allow the masses to create your vision. Do not allow anyone to give you a title or stop you from evolving. Navigate through this business with no fear or regrets. Explore uncharted waters. Shake things up. Say what you feel and seize the opportunity no matter what type of platform you have. The more you stay quiet in this game, the less people will you hear you. The less people hear you, the less you will eat.

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What’s A Guy Gotta Do To Get Some Attention Around Here?

June 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Hustler's Ambition

artie-montage-2

We are in an age where music is given away before it is even attempted to be sold. If you truly want to succeed in this industry, be prepared to not only drop solid music consistently year after year, but to give it away for free. And that’s just a small piece of the equation! You will be lucky if people even want to listen to your free music in this oversaturated, cheapened market.

A lot of people ask me “How do I get my music out there?” I’m not even sure what that means, but here are a few simple suggestions. By writing “Nahright” or the “XXLstaff” on Twitter, “My mixtape is the shit. I’m next up,” you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. By sending the staff members of AllHipHop or HipHopDx your zshare link to your self proclaimed regional smash you will most likely never be heard. These industry professionals deal with incoming mail, meetings, proposals, and phone calls all day and night. They literally get thousands of messages and MP3’s to sift through per week. Be patient!

Do you need someone like me to get your music out there? Yes, most likely. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I have been patient in building myself a great database of industry contacts who for the most part respect me and what I pitch. Do I always win? Hell no. In response, sure it means a lot to have a reputable name backing your product. But don’t just rely on that plan. Study blueprints. Check your surroundings. Do you even have a buzz within your own network? This meaning your music gets love on your Myspace, Imeem, Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter pages. Does your product have a demand outside of your friends and hometown? Do people come to your shows? Can you sell a few hundred physical copies of your tape?

People from my hometown of Pittsburgh often send me these types of messages.

“Peep this. I’m next up. 412 stand up.”

“Ain’t nobody fuckin with these tracks. I’m the real deal in Pittsburgh.”

“I’m the hottest in the streets right now. Peep the music.”

“This is the new Pittsburgh anthem. Let’s get it! We got em goin crazy!”

While I admire all of your persistence, any half decent executive who cares about the direction of their brand will know if an artist has a buzz. Especially in their own backyard! I never take a day off of trying to hear about a new producer or artist from the Pittsburgh region. When I come home I try to spend as much time in the communities with my peers as possible. Since I am based in NYC, it is difficult to stay up on the exact pulse of the city. Want my attention and everyone else’s? Do it on your own with a team.

If you believe in your product, you shouldn’t even be concerned with who is covering your music. Rock as many local shows as possible, network with other artists and producers, give away music, and become internet savvy. If the music is good, it will stick. If it does not, perhaps you should be looking elsewhere for income and stability.

Take your time with this business. While it does indeed move at light speed, your music and movement should be timeless. Clichés aside, success does not happen overnight. Don’t come into this with the sole intentions of “gettin on” or “blowin up.” If you think that way, it will most likely never happen. If it does, you will be done soon. If it does not, enjoy your steady climb to the top or rise to the middle. Not everyone is going to be a superstar.

I have been involved in this business for four plus years. I have built solid relationships all around the country. I have had great success with developing artists on the strength of an Internet buzz. At the same time, I still have days where I get little to no response from top tier bloggers or sites for what I pitch. Don’t take it personally. And if you do, please use it as motivation to do better. Negativity will get you nowhere. If you believe in your abilities and do it the right way, it will work itself out one way or another.

Follow me at http://twitter.com/ArthurPitt

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