“Mid“, “meh“, “don’t care“. These comments permeate some of Hip-Hop‘s most frequented destinations, aka rap themed social media pages. “Yb better” may just be the greatest go-to troll of all-time.
There were days when Hip-Hop content was published in 30 day cycles. These, for our younger readers, were called magazines. Our favorite acts and executives would give us a glimpse into their current world via recording translated to text, and printed to paper.
What was our comment section?
The corner. The barbershop. The school hallways.
Your opinion had to be validated through those around you. A natural system of checks and balances amongst “heads”. Not that you couldn’t have an individual taste that wasn’t necessarily a crowd favorite, but you’d have to do that sh*t “over there”.
Like any other social matrix, fans were divided into clicks. If you were considered, or a fan of what was “whack”, your take on a particular artist or project would largely go unnoticed. Actually, it would never be heard by anyone with credence because you literally wouldn’t be allowed to step foot in the circle to dance.
Any and everyone’s opinion on Hip-Hop is on an even playing field. No work history or degree required. Just show up with an @ name and you got the job!
Most of these “fans” are adolescents still trying to figure out puberty. “Gen Z”, as they’re affectionately referred to: They’ve never had the pleasure of purchasing a fat LP from a local record store. Hell, they’ve never even seen a bill for the streaming service they do use. For them, the comment section is a pastime jammed between homework and bedtime. Pure entertainment (I’m assuming).
Sometimes, these people cross paths…
Members of the old paradigm have entered the digital space in hopes recapturing the feeling of old through their cellular devices. After figuring out how to unlock the thing, they come across groups and pages dedicated to the artform. Only to meet the new guys, typing 106 wpm of loosely focused banter.
Outside of either of those groups, the album experience has done a 180° for fans. Reviews hit net 90 seconds after release. Fans rush to an opinion without fully digesting the artists works. It’s the equivalent of saying you don’t like the fit of a set of clothes without actually trying it on your own body.
Algorithms rule. It’s better to early than right. For critics, it’ll guarantee traction. For the fan who comments, it will guarantee eyes that lead to a massive like count and possibly some profile views. There is next to no incentive as rap fan to sit with music, feel it out, and give a rating 1 month down the line. The world will have moved on at least eight times, as releases are more rapid than ever.
Without giving examples (and fuel for trolls), there have been some great albums that have had their potential status halted by comment section commentary. Enough “who cares” typed will etch itself into fans minds who were on the fence. Even with playlisting, the album gets skipped over. By the time word gets around that the project is actually dope, 1st week numbers reflect the perceive lack of anticipation and the hype dies as the news cycle moves on.
Not that this didn’t happen in 1993; But with word of mouth coming from actual mouths, news moved much slower, giving more “fencers” time to press play sans large opinion.
Nowadays, artists are at the mercy of the herd.
Attempts to change narratives via social influencers and gossip sites trump the energy spent on music promotion in 2021 (for certain artists). If you aren’t favorable to commenters at the time of release, you’d be better off keeping it. If you watch closely, you can see carefully created and curated clips circulating well before any attempts to push a single is initiated.
More on part 2 (including examples)…