In the world of hip hop, it seems you need someone to validate you in order to be successful.
Most of us have heard of the controversial Kendrick Lamar "Control" verse and the hype associated with it. He was validated on so many levels by his peers, by his elders, and by his fans. His ambitious lyrics ignited a fire that was desperately needed and gave him the confidence to claim he is the best rapper alive. Many laughed in amusement, some rushed to the studio to refute his claims and many were honored they were mentioned in his tirade.
More importantly, fellow Compton native, co-owner of Built Frum Scratch and Most Hated Entertainment CEO, B.J. Hill, feels Kendrick Lamar is not as authentic as his new audience thinks.
"I don't understand how he can rep Compton if he never came outside and experienced what was going on. ... Now a n***** a comes to the hood and gets validated by throwing some money around and everybody forgets the GOOD Kid was peeking out the window at our MADD City."
We have to admit the hip-hop game is lopsided when it comes to choosing who will reach the masses. At this point, it's a needle in a haystack gamble to breaking through, unless you are ushered in by one of the mainstream acts. An industry that used to take so many chances on creativity has flat-lined into a one-size fits all approach.
So where does that leave the future generations of hip hop?
Forbes recently released its Cash Kings list of highest grossing hip-hop artists of 2013. The top 20 artists made from $6 million to $50 million, which proves there is money to be made in hip hop. But the question is: How?
Many of the artists on the list have endorsement deals, products and tour to get the bulk of their money. Many of the artists are also veterans and have connected to the newer members on the roster, essentially helping their proteges boost their brands and sales. What gets lost in translation is how someone who has not attained this type of success gets to that.
Do we continue to base the hip-hop community's success mantra on stories of high school drop outs who beat the odds? Former prison inmates who found their way to hip-hop royalty? While this is all valid, what percentage of the population is able to attain success at these odds?
Let's begin to focus on what hip hop has spawned. Let's tell stories that inspire young people to follow a path that will not lead them to a stalemate.