Scene and heard: Blog rap
To make it big in hip-hop, you don't need to cruise around selling mixtapes from your car boot, invent an elaborate story about a torturous jail stint (which is later exposed as a sham), put out cigarettes on your torso to make it look like you have bullet wounds or offer to give Dr Dre regular foot massages with baby oil (although the latter may help). No, all you need to do is hire a good online PR who is willing to bombard music bloggers with your tracks 200 times a day until they are forced to give in and post up your torpid rhymes and tinny beats.
Currently, if Mickey Factz so much as passes wind, I will get emails from a dozen online pluggers and PRs offering me audio of the event and a phone interview about the fallout (literally) of what happened. I'll then get a few dozen music bloggers emailing to inform me that their blog has been updated with said "exclusive" gossip.
Within a few months of exposure like this, it will look like the internet is "buzzing" with excitement about you and major label A&Rs, who are generally pretty naïve, will believe the hype and fall over themselves to sign you.
Case in point: Wale. The unremarkable Washington native came out of nowhere to become one of the most talked-about rappers on music blogs in 2007. He is now signed to Interscope and his forthcoming album apparently features Kanye West, Mark Ronson and Justice.
If you listen to UK commercial radio, you will probably have heard him on the new single by Aussie crooner Daniel Merriweather (who, according to Willber Willberforce, deputy head of programmes at BBC 1Xtra, is the guy to look out for in 2009. Or, for people with sense organs, he is an uglier Daniel Bedingfield doing a bad karaoke impression of Terence Trent D'Arby. I digress.)
Other blog-hyped rappers who have been picked up by majors include Pac Div (Universal), Charles Hamilton (Interscope) and B.O.B. (Atlantic).
These labels all think they've discovered the new Kanye West. In reality, they've got guys whose fanbase consists largely of people who spend all day uploading these artists' music, and would rather search for 14 hours for a 64 kbps MP3 of a song than pay 79p for it.
Heck, even Kanye West thinks he's found the new Kanye West. The egotistical rap superstar recently signed Cleveland, Ohio-born rapper Kid Cudi, whose Day 'N' Night single was easily one of the most talked-about hip-hop songs on music blogs last year.
The collective term for this online scene is "blog rap": rappers who make it big on the blogs and not on "da streetz". They embrace every possible means of communication on the internet. They have MySpace and Facebook pages, Twitter and Vimeo accounts and personal blogs. They spend all weekend leaving fawning praise for themselves on internet forums. I wouldn't even be surprised to find them appealing for fans on dating sites. Once they're signed, this bombardment of news, MP3s and videos gets worse because they now have a whole team to do this for them.
Your average music blog news fare obviously isn't good enough for some of these rappers, though. Last week, blog rap poster boy and recent SRC Records signee Asher Roth (internet hype: "the new Eminem") was reported to have been involved in the mid-air subduing of a suspected terrorist on a domestic flight to Los Angeles. As PR opportunities go, it really doesn't get much better than that.
Look out for the exclusive comedy video reconstruction coming soon to thousands and thousands of music blogs all over the world.