There is no magic formula to being a successful rapper. If it did exist, there would be less bedroom rappers and more superstars. The halls of rap are littered with the scattered ashes of many burnt out careers. Whether a rapper will make it or fall on their face is something that can go either way, and hanging on to that spot is even harder once you’re there. If you look at the current scene there only seems to be spots for so many, with old heads like Snoop Lion/Dogg and Jay-Z still on top. These are artists who have gotten to a position where they can do no wrong. While people like Drake and A$AP Rocky are popular now, longevity is never a given.
Many rock stars haven’t hit their peak until their 30s or 40s, but rap careers are notoriously short and one wrong move can make it even shorter. Some rappers are victims of industry politics, poor personal behaviour or just talking too damn much. With social media as their soap box, rappers feel the need to voice every opinion or air out any potential challenger they see on the horizon, even if they regret it later. Twitter has killed more careers than bullets.
Despite the level of popularity rap music was getting in the ‘80s and ‘90s it was still like a newborn baby, and neither the labels nor the artists had the business acumen to go beyond one hit single or album. Others got to the top and stayed there for a while, only to let ego or the wrong people halt their progress. Fans get comfortable with an artist and when you switch things up they’ll turn on you quicker than sour milk. The same can be said to a degree in the modern era, however as people gorge on so many genres there seems to be more acceptance with experimentation or flat-out craziness.
From cross-genre collaborations to sex tapes and revealing that you’re bi-sexual, very few instances seem to be taboo or shocking anymore. In fact, any publicity really does seem to be good publicity. With that in mind, we’re about to pop some bottles of bubbly for those that have survived the industry and pour out some liquor (most likely boxed wine) for those who have suffered career destruction. Miss anyone? Let us know.
Keep up with Andrew Hickey’s weekly Hit & Miss column here.