Sunday, March 13, 2005
Hip-hop's version of municipal bonds
Following up on a recent post, I found this article: The Game Is Up (Brendan I. Koerner, Slate.com)
It's a pretty dead on summary of why Dr. Dre does so well. He's obviously got production talent. But he's got great ability to pick talent. But he's also got great ability to keep things in control and not get over-exposed. The article mentioned Eminem, Fiddy, and The Game as rappers that Dre has made, but completely forgets to mention Snoop as well.
Sorry to say that Snoop has gone the other way and is really just out to make a quick buck now; you can tell that by all the crap he puts out now. Sure, his singles are catchy and they get mass radio play, but after a month or two, that's it. Can you name a Snoop track from more than 3 months ago? I can remember Drop It Like It's Hot, bt beyond that all I remember is the song with all the Brazilian chicks in it. What was it called? Who knows.
But you'll never forget Doggy Dog World or Ain't No Fun. And why is that? Dre produced 'em. If someone else had produced Snoop's first album, I'm sure it would have been crap. But instead, there was so much buzz about the guy that he was on top of the world before he even had an album out! Same with Fiddy (In Da Club) and The Game (How We Do). It's not the rappers who are immortal, it's the producer who's immortal (Excuse me if I call Dre an immortal). And it's all because he goes for quality rather than quantity. Even if it means moving onto new rappers so he can keep tight control over the quality.
But this article speaks to a lot of what makes greats into immortals. There are many out there who could produce 10 times the material that they do, but they spend the time to make sure that what ends up coming out goes beyond what anyone could produce. Take U2 for example. A friend and I always talk about how U2's B-Sides are better than 90% of the music that's ever put out. And those are the tracks that U2 think are not good enough for their albums! I'm sure that if U2 had not recorded 100 tracks in studio just to narrow it down to 11 or 12 tracks for an album, their track record wouldn't be nearly as good. They might be able to live off their laurels for an album or two, but after that it'd be caput.
So there you go. It's not just hype and marketing. It's anticipation based on the quality work that the artist or producer has put out in the past. When that past work is consistently good, you can count on good shit the next time you hear their stuff. There are so few of these types of people, and that's what takes them beyond just great and makes them immortal.