God forgives, hip hop doesn’t.
Hip hop is the most volatile, exciting, adrenalin rush, fame bubble that no one predicted it to be and yet, as open as it is, can close you off as quick as it ushered you in with a red carpet and all types of sparkles.
This is the mentality embedded in a lot of rappers subconsciously that it’s inevitable many have exploited the culture into their own pyramid scheme. Everyone gallops to Mount Rushmore but a few have a manual of what to do if they fall off, fall out of favour or try climb this mountain of stardom again.
Reality shows boomed in the millennial. Overnight stars were born and forgotten unsung, or even high pitched Whitney Houston solo, heroes are revived. The other genres saw this chance and capitalized.
How many reunions do you see on TV? How many times do you hear, “We haven’t been in the studio in years together?” How many comebacks do you see?
Nostalgia aside, these are the lives that have us still jamming to their work in themed year parties. These were our childhood heroes. These are the influences of our current crop of superstars. These are elements we can’t forget about of our innocent childhood.
Are memories to be revived? Is it better to see what we now dub OG’s in 4K when we last saw them in black & white? Do we wanna hear them in crisp m4a instead of the always get stuck, rewind on a pencil TDK 90?
When our favorite blogs announce an artist from back in the day, Lord help us they don’t call them has beens, is releasing new music, I can’t help but cringe. It’s the fact that, when interviewed they almost always say the words that just make me coil in horror and have flashbacks of baggy Karl Kani clothes, Kangol hats, shiny shirts and greased hair.
“I’m bringing the real back. How music is to be done”
There goes the neighborhood, purists unite in their tattered The Source posters, PlayaSport jackets are dusted off the kist…LORD NO!
Comebacks are more complex than entries.
It’s like sex. Losing your virginity can be an awkward, fumbling around experience. Once you get into the groove, you master the Karmasutra and your tongue doesn’t only speak magic and filth but practices it expertly as it darts into uncharted territory bringing excitement with even the slightest movement. Just a mention of it, it induces endorphins.
A comeback is an awkward, long time no chatting, “Hey big head”. It reeks of desperation, inclination to fit in, trying to be hip (there’s my 90s soul), a valiant yet often dismal attempt at being in the now.
It doesn’t have to be though.
A carefully calculated strategy of re-emergence is pivotal and critical. Last time you had a hit, Apple just introduced an iPod. You can’t make music to cater to a generation consumed by instant gratification, with the mindset of you wanting them to hear what music sounded like when their parents haven’t even crushed on each other. Hell, your fans are now parents of kids as old as you were when you spat that eternal verse that got you acknowledgement.
Ask yourself this, what do you have to contribute to this whirlpool of talents and new sounds that emerge everyday? How are you going to stand out with the music you want to bring out?
Don’t even think of trying to conform. It’ll be awkward. Your legacy will be brought out and shat on. Your prestigious history will be bull’s eye because you will be tagged a has been trying to be current. You are going to be that gross uncle macking on high school girls. Not a pretty sight.
So how do you comeback?
Plan. Plan. PLAN!
Study the climate of the game. Know your strengths. You are seasoned or should be, you know the taste of the cold air of being at the top. Familiarize yourself with the new standards and protocols. You not selling tapes from the boot of your Cressida. You are now in an era that sells streams, shows, merchandise…you are now selling yourself as a brand.
Adopt a strategy that adapts to the now.
Look around you, do you see people with Walkmans? Do you see the decline of CD sales at stores? Where is Reliable Music Warehouse? Think about that.
Learn about your rights as a musician.
We’ve heard artists dying as paupers when they dominated our radios and TV. Someone somewhere messed up their contract or cheated them of their royalties. Before coming back, know your rights. There’s plenty organizations that can assist you in registering your music and ensure you paid for it. You need to learn how streaming rights work. Usage rights, mechanical royalties, the different contracts that are available now etc. You coming back into music where it’s not just studio and shows. It’s more than a mic and a beat.
Marketing is now part of your squad.
Word of mouth was big in the 90s. We heard about a gig or cypher from an acquainted person. Now, you can put out a picture and millions of people see it. You can post a message in less than 140 characters (soon to be 280) and it spreads like wildfire. People don’t need to ONLY contact you at a show for when your next show is gonna be. You have multiple avenues to put yourself out from the comfort of your couch.
Don’t call it a comeback
Please don’t. It’s preemptive, cheesy and was catchy when you were hot. Saying, “Don’t call it a comeback” is counter productive because, it IS a comeback.
If you are going to rescuscitate your career, ensure you bring life to the industry. Otherwise, keep thy legacy intact and stay in retirement.
Written by: SDot