Saturday, November 20, 2010

Be Careful Who You Vouch For

There a lot of artists that I like, but very few that I will personally cosign and endorse with my name and reputation. I will always protect my brand so I am extremely selective when I consider endorsing an artist to listeners, fans, other DJs, companies looking for music or potential sponsors, etc. A lot of artists have a dope single and there are quite a few that have dope catalogs of music, but for me to endorse and cosign an artist 100% it takes more than just a hot single or a dope album. For an artist to get my endorsement the artist has to bring a total package.

What separates one artist from another is a mix of crucial components that too many ignore. The first thing I listen for is the music and specifically the artist’s flow and cadence and delivery. Is the artist working with unique styles that are far different from the majority? I listen for a signature sound that is easily recognized as that specific artist. Take the speedy tongue twisting flow of Eclipse for example. While I know that he is not the first or the only artist rapping at warp speed, he is the best – especially in the current pool of artists. Most of them are swimming in the shallow end of the pool and Eclipse is simply rapping circles around them. Listen to Future as he takes his flow up and down like a lyrical yo-yo. His name fits his flow and the way he constantly flips from one cadence to another and slides his pitch from screwed to normal to robotic. Yes, I vouch for both Eclipse and Future.

The second thing I listen for is overall flavor. Is their overall swag something that I believe is on some next level shit? This is something I pay attention to when listening to the artist’s entire music catalog. Do they have a unique style overall with not only their flow, but their subject matter? Most rappers fall into lyrics built around lies about 3 things: money, women/sex, and/or street shit. I’m not mad at songs with that content, just bring it with some kind of unique style and keep it real. Eclipse and Future both have not just unique styles, but the way they deliver their subject matter is refreshingly honest and something that I can endorse with a straight face to any age group, any crowd, and form of media.

The third thing I look for is marketability. Is the artist marketable, meaning – would they be successful endorsements for products & services? Do they have the looks and demeanor to reach across other media forms like video or print? I’m not going to endorse an artist that just looks out of touch with the target audience. Future and Eclipse are both extremely marketable artists from their looks to their clothes to their overall style. Both of them could easily represent a clothing company/store for example. Neither will embarrass a potential sponsor with the things they say or do or deliver in their music.

Once I have found an artist with all of the above, then I check their work ethic. This is the number one thing that separates the artists I honestly support and those that I actually endorse and cosign across the board. Real life can get in the way for an artist so it’s important for an artist to set priorities and handle the top priorities quickly, but with their very best. It may be something as simple as drops for DJs, or a verse or hosting for a mixtape, or a collaboration, etc. For me as a DJ, if I bring a project to an artist requesting a verse or collaboration - that artist can be sure that I only brought it to them because I saw it as an opportunity I didn’t want the artist to miss. It may be working with an established artist like platinum-selling Donell Jones or a verse for a mixtape that is being sponsored by a potential endorsement for the artist, or simply something that is a top priority of mine and I reach out asking for help. I have to move fast often so I need to know the artists I cosign can keep up. I bring things to an artist, but I also watch to see what the artist does on their own. Are they booking shows? Are they promoting live gigs, radio shows, mixtapes, etc that they are a part of? I see a huge number of artists that don’t promote things that include them and I can’t wrap my head around that laziness. If your name is on the track listing or on the bill for a gig or your music is in the mix on radio stations it is in your best interest to promote heavy. Build your resume with mixtapes, live gigs, magazines/website features, radio spins and prove that you are good for business to those that are trying to represent for you. I will never endorse a lazy artist or one that can’t see priorities when they are juggling their daily life schedules. I see the grind from both Future and Eclipse and appreciate the work they put in and THAT is what separates them from so many other artists that I really do support, but just can’t endorse and cosign. I have to protect my brand so I won’t vouch for anyone that might flake on something that will eventually come back to reflect poorly on me because of my endorsement.

Be careful who you endorse because those you cosign reflect directly on you and your brand. I say this all the time, but I have watched so many DJs jump too fast to throw their names behind an artist that later comes back to make them look like straight ass. If the artist does or says something stupid then you better believe the second person I will distance myself from after the artist is the person that endorsed that artist. Now I question the DJ’s judgment and will always keep my guard up when that DJ comes back with the ‘next big thing’. I will also hesitate to attach my name to anything that DJ does because I don’t want to look like I’m on the team with some bullshit. This is why my list is a short and selective list. I am extremely protective of my brand and won’t vouch for anyone unless I am confident they are bringing unique styles and a work ethic that matches mine. With that said, I fully cosign Eclipse and Future.

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