In this video we see Bobby Shmurda dancing to his own music to the “delight” of the epic record staff. Bobby signed a big deal to epic and is next in line to the “it” rapper they will forget existed in a few month. I’m by no means here to bash on young Shmurda. “Hott Nigga” is , without question, the biggest song of the year and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know every word to it. It’s just one of those songs where the stars align and, against taste and better judgement, you gotta just submit to it. Sorry, angry purists and snobs, it just is.
But this isn’t about that…this is about the video above. It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything remotely “industry” related. Probably cause I’m not really in the industry. However, when I was younger, I finagled my way into a few things here and there. A couple times getting to be a part of “listening parties”. That phrase can mean two things. One is when people get invited to a club or lounge and they play the artists new album while people get drunk. That’s the good kind and the one that makes sense. The second kind is the one we see above. It’s a small gathering in a boardroom. It’s basically a meeting but with a super awkward part where the meeting stops and every sits quietly and listen to an album, while staring at the person who made it. That person, then has to be all animated and shit, in an attempt to show all the people in the room how excited he is for his new project. It’s a very “Dance, monkey, dance!” kinda vibe. As you can tell, it’s unbelievably awkward and pretty much the opposite of how any artist would want to present his music.
This will date me incredibly (but, hey, I’m old) but I went to the listening party for Busta Rhymes first solo single “WOo-ha!”. I was pretty young at the time and honestly don’t even know how I got in there. I must have known somebody who knew somebody. So, I walk into a boardroom where Elektra records was at the time. Inside there is a divide of people. I’d say about 80% of the people were oldish white people dressed like they had fancy dinner reservations. Another 10% was slightly younger white people who were clearly actual rap fans. The final 10% were friends of Busta rhymes. They were some family, some weed carriers and a few guy who I’m pretty sure dump the bodies when shit gets hectic.
We all sat around a huge boardroom table. There was finger foods and some drinks. I think the artist gets to pick what the highlight booze will be and , that day, it was Hennessey. I’d say it’s a safe bet that it was the first time most of the people in that room tasted that particular beverage.
Everyone is waiting, chatting like it’s an office, cause that’s what it was. Finally, Busta walks in and the whole room stands up and starts clapping. It was weird as fuck. Busta was extremely gracious and handled it all like a pro. He proceeded to walk around the room and give each person in the room a huge pound/hug. This meant he pound/hugged old men, women, and his boys in the exact same way. Again, it was fucking weird. He got to me and gave me a pound like someone I had known for 20 years. He was legit excited. He had reason to be. This was his first solo album and his single was “Woo ha!”. Things were looking up for him. He sat at the head of the table next to a man I can only assume was the label head. An old white guy who clearly had no fucking idea what was going on. He said some arbitrary words to the room and passed it off to Busta. Busta way hyped. The crowd? Painfully white and kind of uncomfortable. This was not his fan base. But, he powered through. He definitely had a magnetic energy that was undeniable. Finally, it came time to play his new song. I believe it was played of a Bose stereo sitting directly in the middle of the table. We sat there as the song played and Busta mouthed along to it, occasionally backing up his own vocals. He was the only one in the room standing, throwing his rap arms out , in what seemed like he was begging for the people witnessing to just wake up. Heads bobbed off beat. His boys and family were animated and , seemingly, fed him enough energy to get him through the song. The song ended and the room applauded like they had just seen the first act of an off broadway play. I left that day feeling two things.
1)Busta rhymes is a great sport and really deserves all he has coming to him (also, the song was awesome)
2)Uneasy. A basic overall strangeness from what I had seen. I didn’t get why that had to go down like that.
Seeing this Bobby Shmurda video reminded me of that day except I’d say that Shmurda’s video is even more uncomfortable. Probably cause of the context. Busta had made a fun song that very much fell in line with hip hop of that era. 1996. As stale as the vibe was in the room, it was at least a guy doing what is basically a mid 90s version of a party rap. In Shmurda’s case, we got a 20 year old kid doing hardcore murder music for a room full of dipshit ass white people whose job is to nod their heads to whatever is “next” and be like “Oh yeah man, killer stuff!”. Shmurda is kid from Brownsville. He caught lightening in a bottle with the success of “Hott Nigga”. But, he’s still an extremely hood kid from a very fucked up hood talking about selling drugs and shooting people…to a room of shitheads with dollar signs in their eyes. These motherfuckers don’t care about music. They just see who’s blowing up on youtube, throw money at them and then forget them when the buzz dies down…which is inevitably a month or two down the line. But first, before they forget them, they must prop them up and make them dance for their money.The whole thing leaves an unsavory taste in my mouth. I’m not one to typically jump on the “Hmm…that’s kinda racist” tip (after all, white male over here!) but I can’t help but feel some kinda way watching this video. Shmurda is just doing him. He’s getting paid. Pretty sure that was the game plan. I’d bet a great deal of money he never has another hit but, whatever, all he does is cashhhh ouuuutttttt! Hopefully, he did it at the expense of every dork in that room, fakely nodding their heads to something they not only probably don’t really like but something the most likely don’t understand.
It’s moments like this I’m glad the music industry is eating itself cause , at the very least, it means this kinda dumb shit might cease to exist. And that’s a victory for us all.