EMPIRE Founder Suggests Solution for Breaking Through Hip-Hop's "Self-Entitlement" Era

"We haven’t done a good job of actually grooming long-term talent, and this is an industry problem."
Ghazi Shami, SXSW 2019

Apparently, hip-hop may have a self-entitlement problem among developing artists. 

During an Audible Treats-presented panel session this week at SXSW, entitled "The Hip-Hop Bubble That Popped Culture," Ghazi Shami, the CEO and founder of EMPIRE, said just as much.

"Sometimes access creates self-entitlement," Ghazi said, according to Billboard. "And [if] some of the people getting access to certain things maybe would’ve had to wait a little longer to get to certain accolades, maybe they would appreciate it a little differently.

"I tell every rapper that walks through my office, name five rappers that are relevant now that were relevant five years ago. Most people kind of have a blank stare for a few moments. We haven’t done a good job of actually grooming long-term talent, and this is an industry problem. You don’t want to live in the shadow of your own success, where the record is bigger than the artist."

What Ghazi is speaking to, perhaps, is the propensity for rappers to catch a little buzz and assume they are thus entitled to a career without putting in the man-hours to earn one. 

This same sentiment was recently echoed by Dreamville emcee J.I.D, who vehemently declared he does not want to be "a song" but rather wishes to have a longstanding career.

Helping artists see the bigger picture and preparing them for long-term careers, including helping them understand their contracts and having them perform without their backing vocals, are strong solutions for this problem. 

Most importantly, though, artists must be patient. 

"I don’t want to be out here just to be out here, and I feel like that’s what a lot of artists do," New Orleans rapper Pell shared in a 2017 interview with DJBooth. "[Artists] want to have the success but they don’t really care about tomorrow."

As Pell alluded to in his commentary, artists need to be more forward thinking if they want a chance at lasting in the industry.