Tastemakers with shitty taste.

Sometimes I feel like the world is backwards. Well, I should clarify that. Sometimes I feel like the music world is backwards. While I’m no longer the staunch purist I once was, there is still that tiny part of me that will see the “cool new thing” and think “but…this just kinda sucks…”. It’s as if it offends my sensibilities without even trying.
Lately, I’ll see a new video from whatever artist blogs are frothing at the mouth about and it will just kinda bum me out. I mean, people are gonna make the music they gonna make. I tend to blame the fans of bad shit before I’d blame the creators of said bad shit. Really, in 2013, we only have the tastemakers to blame.

As we’ve seen the likes of Riff Raff, Kitty Pride, and Kreayshawn do big things over the last few years, it’s as if the people who set the standards are misleading us.
I know plenty of people who work for blogs, write for magazines and cover music in general. For the most part, these are smart people who actually know about music and have reference points that can be applied to figuring out what makes something good and what makes something bad. You know, a critical ear. It’s similar from knowing the difference between right and wrong. While there is always going to be some grey areas, the basics are pretty simple.
Lately, even these people are willing to sit me down and explain why someone like Kitty Pride is actually awesome. I’ve had people try to sell me on her and why her musics good but they end up selling me everything BUT the music. They sell the idea of her as an artist. “She’s a young girl who just did it for fun…” That’s cool and all but, you know, if the music isn’t particularly good, there’s simply no angle you can spin it to make me think otherwise. I mean…jesus fucking christ…Can we just admit that she’s not good at what she does? And, again, I’m not blaming her. She’s doing what she wants to do. I’m sure she has no aspirations of being a great rapper and I’m sure she doesn’t care the slightest bit about what some over the hill rap fan thinks of her.
She’s just an example of something that is becoming a repeating cycle. Every few weeks, a new “thing” pops up. Sometimes they stick (ASAP Rocky is doing well, Lil B is obviously not going anywhere) and sometimes they flare out as quick as they appeared cause , when it was all said and done, they bought nothing to the table. This is how music has always worked on some level but now it’s done in stop motion speed.

I think part of the issue I take with tastemakers, outside of them even existing, is that a lot of the time they just seem like old people pandering to young people. A whole bunch of motherfuckers trying to hold on to their youth by cosigning what kids like but for a more hip audience. Perhaps they so steeped in irony they can no longer think critically. Who knows? These are the same people who grew up with the music that birthed the type of music that birthed the type of music that birthed the spin off of the music that birthed the type of music that got rearranged into the bastardization we see today. What I’m trying to say is that they know better. Some of the hip hop shit that bloggers hype up gives me the same feeling as if I saw that someone who used to write about the Beatles started hyping up Linkin Park. It simply doesn’t connect.

As a rap fan whose been into this since the 80’s, it’s sometimes hard to separate myself from judging things how I used to. I’ve learned to appreciate things I might have shunned ten years ago. Part of that is simply caring less and not taking music so seriously (I actually highly recommend this to all of you out there). For example, ASAP Rocky is a rapper who, while I don’t love , I get it. He’s got something. An intangible quality that makes his music listenable. Riff Raff, while a total joke, is at least interesting. He’s basically a living , breathing internet troll in music form. I can appreciate that. I’m not about to bump his mixtapes but I’m also not sitting around stewing over his success.
But there is a line. A line that gets crossed all the time. And why, you may ask?
I may not be the right guy to say this but , lately, I’ve been feeling like white people are just getting a little TOO comfortable. Be it the artists themselves or the people who try and dictate what’s the fresh new thing. I just imagine some white dork leaning back in his chair , with a cigar in his dorky mouth thinking “Now is MY time”. There was a time when there were repercussions for being wack. You’d get dissed. You’d get made fun of. Now, it’s as if people will overlook the meal and just focus on why the chef cooked it.
I see videos like this:

I know nothing about this dude. He could be a great guy. But, come the fuck on…I realize the model of hip hop as I know it is dead. That’s fine. I think there is still good music being made on a regular basis. But this is simply not okay. Now, luckily for us, this guy isn’t exactly “the next big thing”. He’s just a dude who made a song that I don’t like. That’s fine. I wish him the best. The fact of the matter is, while this song is easily as good/bad as tons of shit championed by tastemakers, he simply doesn’t fit the criteria. But then you got shit like this dropping and I get nervous:

Now, I’m not a dude whose on all the blogs so I don’t know if this is a “thing” yet. But I feel like it’s only a matter of time. They are the rap equivalent to TaTu. At least that seems to be how they’re angling themselves. Truth be told, the rapper isn’t even bad (well…she’s not great but she can at least kinda flow). Compared to Kitty Pride, she’s fucking Rakim. But still…it just feels like any heat behind this kinda thing is so obviously based on them being who they are (attractive girls of a questionable age that rap about cute girly shit and dress a certain way) as opposed to the actual music. I think this issue I have all comes down to me thinking “Okay, i get it…but who really listens to this?” Like, who is sitting in their car bumping a song like this when they are alone? I feel that way about a lot of music but that feeling is even more intensified when it comes to flavor of the month blogger darlings. I almost feel like no one really listens to it…they just say they do. Maybe I’m being naive and short sighted about it (after all, I’m not exactly cued into what the kids are loving nowadays) but still…
I don’t know who assigned who to be tastemakers. I don’t know who took formerly keen critics of music and forced them to dumb down their standards to pander to a growingly stupid fan base but all I want to say is: Do Better. You guys are better than this. I know in my heart of hearts that you’re not so far gone that you can no longer see things for what they are. Please…you’ve got a strange type of power. There is no shortage of actual good music. Please apply this power towards that and let these flash in the pan jokey musicians turned internet celebrities just fizzle as they should. Please. I beg of you.
That is all.

Oh, and as an aside, I’d like to give props to this dude Anthony Fantano who runs http://theneedledrop.com/. He’s never reviewed anything I’ve worked on (as far as I know) so this isn’t biased like that…but he is what a critic/tastemaker should be. He’s thoughtful, slightly over analytical, honest and passionate about music. I may not agree with everything he loves and hates but , even when that’s the case, he at least makes a strong case for his point. Go peep his reviews. He the model in which todays internet music nerds should be built from.

27 thoughts on “Tastemakers with shitty taste.

  1. It’s going to get worse. Rap is the new electric guitar – some people are still doing interesting things with it, but now that everyone is trying it, there are legions of kids spewing out more garbage than you could listen to in a lifetime

  2. I’d like to say God Bless you Blockhead! I’ve been thinking of this since 2009. What’s going on? They are wearing skirts or tranny things and teenagers find this cool. Or they show themselves like they have unique complex character or deep knowledge. Honestly F U! You were a hoodrat appeared on the DVD’s like Sub-0 or you name it. There is no need act like a genius, alter ego games and such.
    Once they accused South side to damage Hip Hop culture but it was the part of this culture and whoever come out from South side you couldn’t say his music is similar to… . Because we were hearing different rhtyms. Producers weren’t copying each other. Now couple of beatmakers(I don’t wanna call them as producers not to disrespect the real artists like you.) make the same thing again and again. Same drum patterns, hats, kicks but those MFs add just couple of keys and the next time they reverse the keys and the next time they add 2 more keys. Everytime a fag comes out and say “he killed it!”. What did he kill actually? Can’t you recognize he’s doing the same thing all the time?
    I blamed young fellas all the time but then I understood that I made a mistake. Blame on the clowns who declare themselves as musicians or creative artists. Once we were kids and when we looked back we can find couple regrets easily. First of all, they should have a special taste of music. They are hanging out with their friends and also they don’t know about anything. They think the whole world like this. They find Kitty or Chainz thing cool because this is what they know. I can’t help thinking of this.
    Also Asap Rocky one of the ignorant thing I’ve ever seen. He’s not a lyricist or he doesn’t represent any legends. And K.Lamar aka K.dot. He declares he is a mixture of Pac and Ice Cube. Really? Everybody says westside is back. If you think like that you don’t know anything about west side! I read his lyrics over and over again and there is no intelligence or witty lines. Just you can say Ok, he is not bad. He got flow and does his thing. That’s it! But I can’t understand why they praise him a lot. They don’t know anything about Pac. Go and read one of his poems. They think he’s all about street talk. He has a deep personality and aspect. You can the loneliness or any feeling in his lyrics. Don’t compare himself and be ridiculous.
    Everybody is fake. They don’t pretend what they are. A kid announce their names as guests on his track and they become happy about it. I don’t know what to do. As I said before I can’t help thinking of this issue. Anyway, I talked too+o much. Thank you to share your thoughts frankly.

    Peace out!

  3. Excellent article Block…it seems people are only attracted to made up characters and stopped caring entirely about the actual content and quality of the music. Sure, the visual identity of an artist is important, but this aint a fuckin movie. We listen to music with our ears, not our eyes! Image should be complementary. Those examples you give are truly awful but I guess its the price to pay for the democratization of music. Talentless idiots can put out songs copying what they think is cool that will then get pushed by speculative labels, picked up by clueless tastemakers and supported by mindless sheeps…I guess the best we can do is ignore all the garbage, concentrate on the shitload of good music being produced these days.
    Oh and I totally agree about The Needle Drop, that guy knows what he’s doing.

  4. Haha, one does notice how this is written by somebody who has passed his thirties and I couldn´t agree more with what you are saying. I don’t really read blogs but your’s is is basically the only one read on a somewhat recurring basis. Thank you for all the laughs.

    Peace from Stockholm, Sweden, Ye Olde World

  5. dude im from South Africa an thats’s exactly how i feel about Die Antwoord (huge apologies for that musical christ-fuck of note, by the way). “but they end up selling me everything BUT the music” i dont give a shit about how great your stage presence, costumes, sense of irony etc. is. If your music wants to make my ears bleed. fuck you. period. sad thing is, that that dude from die antwoord is a fucking dope rapper and I used to have a whole lotta respect for him. guess that’s what just makes everything SOOO much worse.

  6. Thanks Block, I feel the article and the other dude almost write another article. I couldn’t read all of ’em but he speaks the truth. I really laughed about the comment it’s not a movie. What kinda world are you livin in? I guess you are a huge fan of K- West and you offended because of the comment of that dude. As much as I get, he said they are doing this bcuz they need attention. Dudes like rammellzee or Doom are really creative and we saw their appearence. Who can say something like they are doing this bcuz they need some attention? This is their creative differences. Here is the point you ain’t able to understand. Get some vision man.

  7. great read. all so true.
    fantano is the man.
    part of the problem is kids figuring out how malleable music can be, going to their bedroom and going on logic, where they can do anything within the confines of their laptop, which is still basically anything, and they make something that “tastemakers” believe is “pushing limits” in some way. i saw this g3nesis video last week, and i thought to myself “if this is actually considered cool right now by a certain amount of people, my generation knows very little to nothing about music.” that happens to me every once in a while and its upsetting every time. then i find a band like Vulfpeck and everything feels a little better.
    been a fan since i heard “Float” many years ago. thanks for the great read.
    – Daniel J. W!shington

  8. Its a terrible epidemic, I think bloggers are attracted because of what they think is “unusual” about some artists, And it fucking sucks. The Needle Drop is the shit. Def check that out

  9. I think it’s the GQ effect. I used to read GQ Magazine (don’t judge me…whatever, judge me..fuck you!), and what always bugged me about their editors was how wishy-washy they were. What I realised was that it was never about style, it’s about self-identification. With them, they self identify as being fashion forward, so what you get is a load of contradiction and, ultimately, old men trying to keep up with the youngsters instead of leading the way. In the same vein you’ve got the Tastemakers, who themselves self identify with being on the cusp of what’s happening in music. If they want to keep that title, they have to continue promoting music that gets picked up on by the youth. Ultimately, that means if the youth are into shitty music, then that’s what gets promoted. Nevermind if they have the rare opportunity to actually lead the way, it is their sense of self that is hanging in the balance. But seriously, fuck all that.

  10. Great post, Block. Just like 24-hour news stations constantly need a breaking story, these blogs constantly need a new breakout artist. They also need a shit load of content to keep the readership up, but as a result a lot of the content is garbage. People just need to sift though it all and find what you like.

  11. “Now, it’s as if people will overlook the meal and just focus on why the chef cooked it.” This line is a gem, so true man

  12. On a strange depressing level, I’m kind of glad to be getting old (early 30s) at this time. I would hate if this was the era of hip hop I would have to look back on as “mine” when I’m this dude.

  13. These ‘rappers’ are terrible, and really aren’t rappers, if you ask me. I like the genesis beat, but not the lines. As far as criticizing artists like Kendrick, I think for what he’s got to work with these days, he’s one of the best options out there if you’re not on the east coast shit. I always looked at rap (lyrics anyway) as you were either coming clever/witty, or raw/gangster. The exception would be story tellers. So, that said, I don’t want to hear shit like macklemore or Riff RaFF, I wanna hear some retarded thugged out shit, or clever, well thought out verses.

    • I know it’s your opinion but what’s the beef with Macklemore? Y’know he’s done more songs then “Thrift Shop”. Don’t let that song fool you.

  14. Sometimes I wonder if tastemakers’ tastes run like the “20 year cycle” of music (i.e: a type of music that was popular 20 years ago makes a comeback sometime during the present year), but instead of involving musical styles, it involves cycles between praising terrible/technically awful music and genuinely enjoyable music.

  15. obviously agree.

    thing is a lot of these artists get more press cuz they ‘troll’ so hard. they get more coverage cuz writers can make trend pieces about what they represent instead of having to think about the music. whatever i guess they just doing their job.

    a rapper like chief keef got a lot more coverage because of what he represents instead of his music (which i think is good.) it was an opportunity for writers to talk about chicago gang violence so they went for it, but i mean, they could just write about chicago gang violence without even covering any music. that shit is still hip hop

  16. Lord Jamar, Chuck D, and some fans were wigging out all day yesterday on Twitter about Kanye’s skirt at the 12.12.12 concert. At first it sounded like some homophobia or purist objection to boys wearing skirts, but after awhile I understood their point, which I think was similar to this post: hip hop artists gaining popularity by doing crazy things outside of their music, instead of by the music itself. It takes away from the artist’s credibility, and as more new artists try to do something crazy and shocking to gain popularity instead of focusing on making actual good music, the more it starts to hurt the credibility of the genre as a whole. Turning hip hop music into striving to be the best circus act instead of striving to make the best music.

    I don’t know how far that really goes but it’s a valid point.

    And for the record I actually liked Kanye’s skirt.

    • Yeah, I saw that. Also, Lord Jamar is kind of a retard. I’m chuck D has a better angle on the discussion but I’m fairly certain Jamars beef is coming from a very homophobic place.

      • No shit. Dude poured a drink over my friends head at an after party years ago, then tried to get him to go back to his hotel with her when he realized how drunk she was. I didn’t let it happen took her home. Guy is a total creep.

        But, most of my convo was with other fans, and mainly just about Kanye going so far out of typical hip hop is starts to discredit his musical abilities (I don’t think it did tho). Jamar went off trying to explain who saying F—– is totally okay, which I do not agree with at all.

  17. I grew up listening to pretty muh nothing but 90s hip-hop. I try, but I just can’t dig 90 percent of the stuff being put out now. It’s very gimmick-y in my opinion. Great post, Block. The Genesis song made me want to slap those girls, they have to know no one is going to take them seriously!

  18. Post of the year so far, Block. Thanks for that link to Needle Drop. As a person in his 30s as well, I want to listen to new music but don’t necessarily have the time to go dumpster diving into the YouTube or Pitchfork fever swamps, but at the same time I don’t wanna be that dude who thinks all good music ended when he was 25. Like my dad, who thinks everything after Boston is shit. Fate worse than death, bro.

  19. I agree with some of the points made here but at the end of the day, music is music and it’s entirely subjective. Just because you don’t like these artists doesn’t mean other people don’t as well.

    However, I am tired of bloggers posting these joke artists simply because its the trendy ironic thing to do nowadays. Like didn’t everyone get tired of that by 2011?

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