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Leveling Up Your Music Brand

The CAB Portal blog provides articles on tricks of the trade and best practices, as well as news, interviews, artist showcases and recommended products/services, that emerging artists can utilize to take their music brand to the next level of success.

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The Marketability of Rap vs the Ability to Rap

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A rapper is, by definition of the Hip-Hop culture, a lyricist FIRST. So why do we have so many rappers that can’t write or freestyle?

Did the influencers in Hip-Hop culture (Famous DJs, Radio Personalities, DIE HARD Hip Hop Fans) change the definition? Or did Hip-Hop’s influencers themselves change?

A rapper’s potential for marketability has traditionally been based on their ability to WRITE & then deliver and that was because the popularity of a rapper usually came AFTER ability was proven. It USED to be hard to be accepted and promoted by influencers if one’s “bars” weren’t authentic, creative and/or paid some level of homage.

Now that Hip-Hop has become more POPular than other genres, it appears that interested parties looking to cash in (not cultivate) are using marketing to make it easier to become a “Rapper” regardless of what it’s doing to the authenticity of the art that the genre USED to produce. Is it EASIER to hire a talented writer than it is making REAL lyricists marketable? If so, why wasn’t it like that before? What has changed…and if things revert back, how will that affect “Rappers” who can't write? These are just some things to ponder if Hip-Hop is something you're passionate about.

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A question I hear often as a consultant is "Well why can pop stars and other genres have someone else write for them without getting the side-eye but rappers can’t?"

Pop, Rock, Country or any other genre of performers may NOT be able to WRITE…but they can still SING and/or play an INSTRUMENT, so since they’re usually bringing other skills to the table, their skill of songwriting is only one part of their whole project. To be a rapper IS to be a WRITER or be able to freestyle exceptionally; to be a legendary rapper? One should really have both skills.

Are rappers still going to continue to hire ghost writers?

As long as they don’t give themselves the time they need to develop as a lyricist, probably….but if they do hire writers…should they REALLY be called rappers? Should their music be classified as Rap/Hip-Hop when it goes against the originating definition? That depends on who you’re asking along with their knowledge and respect for the culture.