Greetings com-padre's. I greet you from behind my typewriter on the 11th floor of the Daily Bugle tower as J Jonah Jameson harps on about Spiderman destroying the city. I kid. I greet you from my laptop as I bump to some old school Dizzee Rascal and Dj Slimzee. 5000 volts its your own fault and all that.
Now to the point of this post. Music Journalism. And the lack there of, or the slow painful death of it. To understand the point of this piece is to understand Journalism and more importantly music journalism. What is music journalism? I hear you ask, well Music journalism my friend, by definition is, " Music journalism (or music criticism) is media criticism and reporting about popular music topics, including pop,rock,hip-hop and related styles ".
So thats music journalism. Now, here in 2016, as the UK sits at its highest ever point in terms of recognition, it has bothered me for a while, the "Journalism" I have been exposed to in the scene. The lack of quality pieces, the amount of lists, the lack of criticism for music and/or artists. Its as if as we grow and grow, we place ourselves in a bigger bubble, away from opinions against the grain, difference in taste and ultimately plain old constructive criticism.
TOP 10 REASONS WHY WE THINK YOU SHOULD READ THIS POST
Here's 10 reasons why we think you should marry these artists! Sound familiar? Well if you've kept your head in the urban scene you wouldn't be hard pressed to find an article like that somewhere. Since the turn of the year you will come to find a lot of " TOP 10 " lists from publications, each exclaiming why their list is more worthy than the next one, which incidentally will come out the next day.
Whats the issue here you ask? Exactly, that is the issue. It is March 2016, these lists are usually end of year and there isn't a sign of these lists ending. Are we, the consumer, that out of touch that we need reminding on a daily of artists we should check out or songs we missed out on, or the best window cleaners in music today? No we are not. That's not Journalism. That's amateur blogging. That's Tumblr'ing. That's documenting the same thing over and over and passing it off as music opinion or "Journalism". As a consumer of music, I don't need to be told what to listen to everyday, that's the job of my ears. I don't need to be directed to new artists I should be listening to this week, when you gave me 10 last week, we don't all have the same taste.
WHERES CARLOS?...CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT
Now here's the thing, I feel the urban music scene is leaning towards more " click-bait " journalism as the rest of the field does. " Click-bait " if you're not familiar, is a form of deception. It is a form of gaining more website clicks through the reporting of nonsense or sensationalism which in turn brings more advertising revenue and ultimately makes the people sitting at the top of the publications, pockets much much happier. Allegedly.
It is constant with publications such as LADBible, SPORTBible, The Sun etc etc. Now as a journalist, the main aim of my job is to bring to fruition opinions and analysis of music, artists and the culture in general. I don't see much of that today, or tomorrow in fact. If I found myself basing my craft around how many clicks I could gain, I have lost myself. I have compromised. Sold out. Whatever it is called. Its not only musicians that can sell out in music, trust me.
I LIKE YOUR MIXTAPE COVER, BUT I AINT FEELING YOUR MIXTAPE BROTHER
In the wise words of Skepta, " I like your mixtape cover, but I'm not feelin' your mixtape brother ". Which leads me to my next point. Criticism, or lack there-of in the music journalism scene of 2016. Here in England, we have a stigma that our artists don't like negative opinions about them. Twitter, as the main hub for social journalism is filled with tweets exclaiming how British MCs " search tweets " to find anyone badmouthing them or their music and dealing with them accordingly a.k.a blocking them. Now as we've seen, the definition of Journalism is/was "criticism and reporting".
Criticism, defined as " the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work " should be the cream of the crop for a journalist. Its your time to express your honest OPINION after careful consideration but it seems we've forgotten how to do that. Or did we ever do it? Nowadays all I can see is a load of ass kissing and pedestal putting then we wonder why we can't criticise artists, when it's us who have put them in the bubble they reside in. Go figure.
Personally, it is impossible for me to love and be amazed by every artists new music after 2 minutes but in today's scene it seems that is very possible. It seems like artists could put out a collection of animal noises and "Journalists" who are allegedly, paid to critique and analyse will exclaim how "DOPE " the cow noises on the album were. How the inclusion of a dogs bark was "GENIUS".
If we skip across the pond to America, a place where a lot of British music fans are obsessed with, we will find a culture of freedom of expression. A culture where music journalists such as Star aka Troi Torain, were allowed to critique whom and whenever they felt necessary. If you just pillage old footage of HOT97 with Star, you will find a man with a harsh opinion and no fear of reprieve in doing so. The man literally told artists, to their face, that their music was trash and/or garbage. Now that's not to say you should tell everyone their music is trash but it if its your opinion, its your opinion. Fast forward and that man now is, Charlamagne Tha God. A man who's rise to fame has been off the back of his honest and frank interviews with Artists on The Breakfast Club including a famous one with Kanye West. Now to fly back to England.
I begin to wonder, Isit fear of reprieve? isit fear of not getting into the artists next show? Lack of knowledge on their craft? what could it actually be? either way, it is time to give it a bloody rest.
This is not to say I am the expert on Journalism but I am a fully trained, NCTJ qualified Journalist who cares about accountability and whose ears is to the streets. If you see your fellow man in the community letting down the people, you should speak up. I can confidently say, I am tired, she is tired, he is tired, We are tired. Journalism should be one of the pillars of freedom of expression, it is a craft accountable to the people not the money. It is time to take a stand as consumers of music and be a Charlamagne and say it how IT is and not how the biggest bidder in the room says it is. Allegedly.
Journalists, its time to grow a backbone, have faith in your own opinion and if you are proclaiming you are a music journalist then be a music journalist and not a blogger, or a stan because as I recently saw someone say, " bloggers are home cooks and Journalists are trained chefs ". Sorry bloggers.