I've learned some valuable lessons covering the music industry for almost a decade now, many of them learned the hard way. I've tried to save younger artists from making the same mistakes that have killed the careers of hundreds of rappers I've seen come and go, but more often than not I'm ignored. Or worse, treated as a dream killer. A grumpy old man shaking his cane on his front lawn at those damn kids.
Fair enough. To be young is to feel invincible and unique, outside of the bounds of everything that's come before. I was no different, so maybe you just have to actually touch fire before you can truly comprehend what being burned feels like.
Royce da 5'9" knows exactly what I'm talking about. He's seen ever facet of the music industry in his decade-long career, from passing on a deal with Dr. Dre to prison time to platinum album success, and in the latest video from our exclusive sit down with the Layers emcee he says that hip-hop is no longer a contact sport, which is producing a new generation of artists who aren't tough enough to build enduring careers.
"It's not a full contact game being played right now, it's more of a flag football climate. Which is cool, I don't judge that. My only concern about this generation is that these kids should get punched in the face before they get all the way into the business. I'm really serious. That would build character. It will prevent you from getting punched in the face while you're a full blown celebrity, and that's bad, you don't want that."
Royce then went on to explain that while hip-hop is currently competitive, the root of that competition lays in numbers; who has the most Twitter followers, who can rack up the most views on their YouTube channel or streams on their SoundCloud, which can provide overnight success, but doesn't necessarily build the infrastructure for a lasting career. These are wise words, but words I suspect will largely be written off as "old head complaints" from exactly the people who would benefit the most from hearing them.
So it is, so it has been, and so it will always be.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.