Open Mic #6: A Letter To The Johns

pigeon2 500x333 Open Mic #6: A Letter To The Johns

For Open Mic #6, we’ve got a post by “C.” For more info on writing your own post for P&P, go here. This one is really interesting to me, because it deals with a topic that I’ve always been torn about. Keep in mind the following views are not my views or the views of P&P. Hit the comments section if you want to share your thoughts.

Read on for the article…

A Letter To The Johns…

Punish the consumer, not the supplier. For some time this has been a proposed solution to deal with the illicit and centuries-old trade of prostitution. Take a hooker off a corner and throw her/him in jail and guaranteed there will be another filthy street walker at her/his wits-end willing to take her/his place. Arrest a John, put this sex addicted suburban soccer dad(/mom, it could happen) in prison for ten years, and see how many line up to take his(her) place. Punish the supplier and you hurt supply, which only creates an opportunity for another broker of the coital arts. Punish the consumer and you hurt demand; which inevitable leads to a surplus of supply and lots of unemployed hookers (trust me, I minored in economics). So what the fuck does all of this have to do with music? I’ll tell you what; mainstream rappers are prostitutes, selling us their disease ridden musical vaginas, and we(collective we, not necessarily P&P readers) are the Johns buying that shit up!

The problem I have with mainstream rap isn’t a moral one, a little mindless party music every now and then is a good thing, my problem is the effect it has on the rest of the hip-hop community. Just as prostitution has negative effects on a population(spread of STD’s, increased crime, unwanted dumpster babies), mainstream rap sets a harmful standard that aspiring MCs have to follow in order to be successful. Now, I don’t necessarily blame Rappers for this(from now on I’m going to refer to mainstream rappers as Rappers, and the underground/conscious rappers as MCs, better flow). If Waka Flocka Flame can repeat a series of clichés over the latest bass-shaking southern track and it sells, then why wouldn’t he, he could probably use the cash(No doubt he’s once again fucked his money up and now he can’t re-up). He’s only catering to the demand of the consumer, the John, buying this generic re-packaged pile of lyrical dog crap. The result of this is that aspiring MCs, showing real potential on singles, freestyles and mixtapes(I have a big problem with the once underground and now over-saturated mixtape market as well, but that’s a story for another day), are forced to dumb down their albums to conform to the standard of “what is hot” and what sells. (Notable examples: Asher Roth’s Asleep in the Bread Aisle, Wales’ Attention Deficit, Drake’s Thank Me Later, etc, etc)

Since the source of my problem lies with the consumer, the solution has to be found with them as well. Obviously we can’t go around arresting everybody who buys or promotes the latest Gucci Mane track(looking at you Confusion); prison populations would balloon to record highs, families would be left to fend for themselves, crime would skyrocket, cities would burn, total bedlam. Now, if I were the Prime Minister of Musical Endeavors(not a real thing) I would impose a 1000% sales tax on all mainstream rap. However, this would no doubt result in cries of unjust taxes, causing mass protests and rioting, once again we would descend into bedlam. So what’s the solution? Well kids you’re looking at it right now, Music Blogs! Listeners aren’t spending their hard earned dollars(those who actually do) on these rappers because they have awful taste or they crave the confused/angry feeling you get when Jae Millz talks about f’ing your girl, they buy it because they just don’t know any better. This is where your favorite music blog(insert P&P) can come to the rescue. Thanks to the internet, hip-hop’s underground is now viral, so good MCs are accessible to everyday listeners like you and me. We have all the tools to decide for ourselves what the new standards in hip-hop should be. Once we have formed that opinion, it’s our obligation to go out and demand it. This is the only way to effectively move hip-hop in the right direction. So as a P&P reader tell your friends to lay off the hookers…..they’re ruining music for the rest of us.

- C.

Side Note: I don’t intend to lump all mainstream rappers into one group….Kanye West is widely accepted as a mainstream artist but I completely respect/appreciate the level of creativity and effort he brings to his game.

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For the rest of the Open Mic series, click here.

  • http://getliftedmusic.blogspot.com/ Man on the Moon

    Something I often think about as well. I’ve gone through this entire line of thinking before, but I always reach the same inevitable road-block to completing it: “Who am I to judge what is ‘good’ music and what is ‘bad’ music?”. Yes, I think it would be generally accepted if I were to say Wacka Flacka’s music doesn’t have many redeeming features and isn’t artistic; that Wacka’s music is a commodoity, not an art form (which I am inclined to say). But then again, art comes in many forms, and especially since I could put out music and be successful on the level that these rappers are, why do I get to judge them and decide who’s music is “real art” and who’s isn’t.

  • Debonair

    I agree with the Moon Man. I was definitely in agreement with this article aswell, up to the point he said people do not know better. Thats how we imagine it to be, in a perfect world. This problem is not solvable. This problem is not even a problem.

    I can’t sit a person down, have them listen to MF Doom, and all will be solved. If they like Waka Flocka, they like Waka Flocka. And thats just how it is.

  • dynamicproducer

    This is a very creative concept for an posting. I’m not sure if I agree with every part of the content written, but must say there were valid points made.

  • http://getliftedmusic.blogspot.com/ Man on the Moon

    *Oops, I meant to say “Since I COULDN’T put out music and be successful on the level that these rappers are…”

    And Debonair speaks the truth. People enjoy different kinds of music, just like people like different paintings or read different books. It has nothing to do with “knowing better”, there are just some people out there who simply enjoy listening to Lil Jon over A Tribe Called Quest because that’s what they like.

  • Hempwick

    I have oft encountered this problem and here’s the way I put in perspective.

    When it comes to food, I like a simple hot dog with mustard. I like hamburgers, I like tacos etc. Once the cook starts layering on crazy veggie combinations and marinade stuff I tend to back off. My taste buds aren’t sophisticated enough to handle that kind of food, and I’m okay with it.

    Some people just like simple music that they can depend upon to make them feel good. They don’t want to get into the hard shit because music serves a different purpose for them.

    We might see music as an adventure, trying to find different ways that sounds can make our ears tickle, and we can handle complex emotions in our music. But the average listener doesn’t really want to deal with all that, they just want some music they can listen to, be happy with, and move on. Just like the way I want to eat some food that will make my taste buds happy in a simple way.

  • Emm

    @Hempwick: That’s a great analogy.

    I can’t tell you how many friends I have that don’t give more than a fuck or two about music, and it boggles my mind that they feel that way or that music doesn’t mean much to them, but who am I to tell them how to feel. Many/most people are perfectly happy listening to the radio for “background noise” and they’re OK with that because that’s just the way it’s always been for them…

  • chack

    People like consistency. They like the fact that they can turn on a Flo-Rida song and hear him rap a few lines fast and then rap a few in triplets (which he does every single verse he’s ever recorded). Most people aren’t willing to variate from what they like, which is fine. At least we have places like P&P and other blogs for those of us who are.

    I actually think we have it pretty good with rap on the radio compared to other genres like country; mainstream country music is all exactly the same. At least with rap we have guys like Kanye, Wayne, Jay-Z, etc. who have some talent and try to do something creative.

    I also couldn’t agree more with Wale being a disappointment. His “Mixtape About Nothing” was incredible, yet his album was horrendous.

    I also have a feeling you recently read Superfreakonomics based on the prostitute reference you made… haha

  • Matt C

    this is an interesting idea and I agree with the sentiment, as did the pre-AD Wale on his Mixtape About nothing Song, “The Plan”. Obviously though, the problem is that you can’t change the tastes of people en masse without doing something quite amazing in public view. that’s quite hard for the critic or the critical listener (us P&P commenters and readers) to do, no matter how passionate and well thought out their appeal is. the artist in the spotlight is the only person(s) that can achieve that because their music is the only thing that is penetrating that listener’s mind and shaping their taste.

    For that reason, I think we owe Kanye a lot more props than he’s given. he is in the spotlight, and I really believe he ‘s the only BIG rapper he seems to be both a true artist and aware of the fact above.

  • frogs&helicopters

    let’s all understand: music’s soul purpose is to be enjoyed.

    I agree that the mainstream music of today is mostly horrible, BUT, that’s why we’re so lucky to have the internet (oh wuddup & welcome back Egypt!). We have the opportunity to listen to whatever the hell we want, whenever we want, so I really don’t know what people are complaining about…

    I’m at a perfect place right now with music. Let the mainstream zombies follow whatever is pumped out of the pop industry… I’m more than happy to NOT hear the songs I love on the radio (where they’re ultimately played over and over and over and over into a soulless pile of dust).

    I take pride in the music that I listen to, and I’m sure that all of the P+P’ers do too. I really don’t want to get into another mainstream/radio/zombie-follower debate on here, I just want to make sure that everyone knows how important it REALLY is to support your favorite artists (be it going to their shows, buying their records or paying for some #swag).

    Now, I don’t really care about revolutionizing the direction of the music industry, but if you are… VOTE WITH YO DOLLAZ!! (that includes NOT paying for material if you find it fitting)

  • C

    Thanks for all the comments, didn’t even think this was getting posted. I agree with what moon man was saying; it doesn’t always feel right judging someone’s work especially when you’re outside the music industry. I’m not an artist, I’m just some dude who was bored at work, who am I to judge.

    However, I think art in any form always breeds discussion and controversy, thats the point. It is meant to spark emotion in people, positive or negative. I mean I’m sure it wasn’t Gucci Mane’s intension to make me make hate his music, however he was successful in drawing that emotion out of me. Not all art is meant to be understood by everybody, and I just can’t understand/appreciate his music. Simple as that.

    The unfortunate part is that since were dealing with a commercialized art form, what is popular becomes the standard. When artists conform to the demand of the consumer, work tends to blend and the emotions that they invoke become similar. In my case thats a negative thing.

    The point of this essay wasn’t put anyone down, it was a silly suggestion as to how to break the conformity of the mainstream music industry.

    Oh yea, and totally finished reading superfreak like the week before i wrote this.

  • http://getliftedmusic.blogspot.com/ Man on the Moon

    C said:

    However, I think art in any form always breeds discussion and controversy, thats the point. It is meant to spark emotion in people, positive or negative. I mean I’m sure it wasn’t Gucci Mane’s intension to make me make hate his music, however he was successful in drawing that emotion out of me. Not all art is meant to be understood by everybody, and I just can’t understand/appreciate his music. Simple as that.

    Really glad you added that last post, I think it added some really valid points and helped clarify what you were saying. I think that last paragraph describes exactly what you need to remember anytime you have a conversation about mainstream vs. “meaningful” rap (or any other genre for that matter. I’d also add that sometimes, music (or any type of art for that matter) isn’t even necessarily created for others to consume, it can just be personal expression that an artist simply decided to share with the world.