The way music is made nowadays just flat out sucks. Not saying the music itself sucks. But the way it’s created. We’ve hit a point where music, specifically rap, is like karaoke. And I was just thinking about all of this, when I came across this post about The Clipse working with flavor of the moment singer/songwriter Keri Hilson. According to The Rap-Up.com,
“It’s an amazing record,” Pusha T [says]. “Uptempo. Party. Girls. Shake every ounce of your ass.” The “Knock You Down” singer’s busy schedule prevented her from being in the studio when they recorded the track, so she phoned it in. “She wasn’t in-studio with us when she did that, but I was listening over the phone,” Pusha discloses. “The way of the music industry these days.”
The way Pusha describes this collabo, I’m not expecting much. Not that I don’t think something great can come from the combined talents of The Clipse and Keri. I do. In fact, I like both acts quite a bit. But I just feel like the way Pusha describes the song, it doesn’t sound very organic, or furthermore, very interesting. Like, isn’t every song these days about partying, girls and shaking every ounce of your ass?
The more troubling thing is how Pusha says the song was recorded. He even uses the phrase “phoned it in.” Phoning it in is often used to describe a process whereby someone was supposed to do something, and they did a half ass job at it. But in the music business, phoning it in is what collaborating recording artists do when they can’t be in the studio at the same time.
In actuality, that’s painting a rosy picture about the situation. It’s quite possibly that Keri Hilson referenced some Neptunes records for her own album, then didn’t use them, had a hook portion of the record that sounded good, so the Clipse “took” the record for themselves, then paid her for the feature and cleared it with the label and so on. I’m just speculating here, but that’s very conceivable.
This post isn’t really about The Clipse though. It’s more about the way technology helps and hurts the artistic process. On one side of the coin it allows for a piece of artistic work to be created without a barrier of physical space getting in the way. Hey, they might have even been on iChat during the process of recording.On the other side, you get this instrumental in your email with Keri Hilson’s vocals on it, you basically just add your raps and it’s done. It’s almost the equivalent of getting an excel spreadsheet at your lame ass 9 to 5 job, making an edit, then sending it off to a senior level manager for approval. It all seems kind of… I dunno… assembly line-ish.
There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just the way the business exists right now, and it’s depressing. I still think there’s something to be said for being in the same physical space with another person and making art collaboratively. What would “Brooklyn’s Finest” be had Biggie recorded his verse a thousand miles away, in some studio down South. It might have sucked. It might not be the classic that it is today. How many classic collabos have been “phoned in.” That just sounds like you’re getting it done, just to get it done. Not because there’s anything more to it. That could have been Keri Hilson, or if this was four years ago, it might have been Ciara. Fans aren’t stupid. They know all this. Give them something authentic, that is of quality, and they will support. Otherwise you might as well be at that 9 to 5. Might even make more money.