By: Ural Garrett
I have a confession. I don’t listen to radio outside of National Public Radio. The reason simply is because modern radio (especially urban radio) is incredibly lame and has only added to my jadedness as a music journalist.
The monotonousness and inorganic nature of radio is turning my generation into seemingly mindless drones who are told by what’s “hot” instead of figuring that out themselves.
How many times in one hour can I listen to the songs of supposedly highly successful R&B singers and rappers that barely go gold? When will DJs stop playing puppet to major labels and set the tone for what’s good music themselves?
But I digress…
Urban radio motto of “play a song until you like it” just isn’t cutting it anymore.
In the age of internet radio and blogs, broadcast stations are no longer the taste makers they once were. Most importantly, independent artists like Mac Miller and Tech N9ne are constantly proving that one doesn’t need a radio hit to be a successful artist.
The lack of regional identity has been lost in urban music due to syndication of radio shows along with its playlist. Because of syndicated radio, a lot of people have no clue of what goes on in their own cities when it comes to the news or sound. Interesting considering the many artists that get more love outside of their own city then the one from which they were born and raised.
I can attest to the fact that I’ve been to many sold out performances with artists haven’t seen a minute of radio play on a local level, let alone a national level. This year alone, I attended sold out shows from rappers like popular LA MC Dom Kennedy, Kansas City’s Tech N9ne and Cleveland rapper Chip Da Ripper. These are artists who have gained fans organically without major label help but most importantly, deliver great quality music.
The fact that there’s barely a clear definition between rap and R&B now (Trey Songz and Chris Brown have released rap mixtapes) has shut down many radio stations around the nation that catered to the core of those specific genres.
Maybe radio will play music that isn’t tied to how much label A or B is playing them and will get a little original with what they play. But until then, I have a plethora of other ways of finding new music.