I “grew up” on hip hop blogs. Before I even knew what a “blog” was, I was visiting sites like 2dopeboyz and NahRight on a daily basis. At this point, I was still relying on magazines and word of mouth to get my indie rock fix and to find out about other obscure artists outside of the hip-hop genre.
After a year of being in the blog game, I’ve realized that there are blogs for every genre, and I can keep up with any genre through the blog world (Almost. I’m still looking for a good reggae blog). But the weird thing to me is that these different types of blogs have developed in different worlds and include their own styles, cultures, and accepted cyber norms. The blogs that I’m most familiar with are the indie blogs and the hip-hop blogs, and I’m starting to see that the two are completely different animals, and there are new ones popping up every day and following the same standard procedures. Hit the jump for my observations and advice.
If you’re familiar with either type of blog, this is the first big difference you’ll notice. In the world of hip-hop blogging, if you’re not posting 20 times a day, you’re slacking. This is partly because hip-hop artists grind. Mixtapes, freestyles, remixes – give a rapper a beat and that motherfucker will have a song up on the internets within 24 hours. I think it also has to do with the “hustle” associated with hip-hop. The term is thrown around a lot, but don’t get it twisted, it’s a quality that everyone in the hip-hop world truly applies to whatever they do. In the blogging world, that means being timely, getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and doing as much as you can within a given time period. They don’t want to waste the time to sit back and listen to an album 20 times and then write an insightful post about the intricacies of the music. If a new Lil Wayne mixtape track leaks, you better have that shit up within 12 hours or you’ll quickly be told to get your hustle up.
Indie blogs don’t get this. Or maybe they just see things differently. It’s perfectly acceptable for an indie blog to take weekends off. If a new Surferzz (name made up) song comes out, take your time with it. Let it sink in. Post it up a week later with some deep commentary about the textures of the song and how the lo-fi quality qualifies it as a meaningful piece of art. Unkempt kids with neon glasses everywhere will eat that shit up – until next year, when Surferzz becomes irrelevant. The timeliness and quantity holds little importance in the world of indie blogs. The important thing is that you can come up with some clever words to convince readers that what they are listening to is somehow significant. The harder it is for people to see this for themselves, the more likely you are to be seen as the cool guy – the guy who understands something that they can’t. This is an idea that leads perfectly into the next glaring difference between indie blogs and hip-hop blogs.
Indie blogs love to rate things. They love lists, designating a number value to albums and songs, and using their highly trained palettes to tell you how good or bad something is. That’s fine with me. If I trust someone else’s opinion, I’m thankful that they’ve taken the time to put a number value on it. My problem is that these ratings have gotten out of control. It seems that it’s become a tactic to pit people against their natural instincts and instead get you to rely on their site’s opinion. I won’t mention any names, but the big indie blogs love to give accessible music devastatingly low ratings. Your favorite indie band that is starting to gain traction puts out an album that the average listener likes? Fuck that shit, give it a 2.6. Some unknown newcomer puts out an album in his basement using nothing but whistles, a four track recorder, and a reckless abandonment of melody or structure? He’s a genius, and it’s a perfect album. This causes everyone to jump on the bandwagon, and that site has proven itself once again as a “tastemaker”, able to recognize the best new music before anyone else. In my humble opinion, that site just convinced you to eat a handful of dirt and then nod your head and agree that it was tastier than that filet mignon you had last week.
Hip-hop blogs have the opposite problem. Instead of posting music and giving an opinion about it, most hip-hop blogs look at their posts as products, pushing that shit like a dimebag of shake and trying to pass it off as OG kush. This process doesn’t involve reviews, ratings, or lists. All it takes is some good key words like “hot”, “fire”, “hardbody”, “dopeness”, a few expletives, and a lot of exclamation points. I can’t even recall the last time I read a thoughtful album review on a major hip-hop blog – probably because I have never read one. It’s all about getting your hands on some new music and hyping it up to the people.
So far, it seems like I’m talking a lot of shit on the indie blogs. They deserve it. Writing, however, is where they shine. Popular indie blogs employ writers who have unique styles, voices, and a way with words. With their witty banter, impressive vocabulary, and ability to put together sentences that would fit in well inside a classic novel, they are able to publish articles that are actually fun to read. Sure, the article might be about how your old favorite band has sold out and deserves to be publicly hanged, but damn, they couldn’t have said it better.
For the hip-hop blogs, writing is… wait. What writing? The most writing you get out of these guys is a fucking tracklisting. Posts usually include a line that restates the artist and song, where the song will appear in the future, and maybe a joke about how the artist recently got his chain snatched – possibly a *smh* or an LOL for some personality.
A lot of it is completely exaggerated, and I know there are exceptions to everything I’ve said, so don’t get your feelings hurt. I read both types of blogs every day and for the most part, I really enjoy them. If it doesn’t come across, I mean most of this as a joke.
Why am I saying this? Mostly just to talk some shit, but as more and more people decide they want to blog, they are modeling their blogs after those that have come before them. Don’t do it. Nobody needs another hip-hop blog that posts up the new Slaughterhouse song and exclaims “Hot shit! New Slaughterhouse! Budden killed it!” If that’s your 2 cents, jump in on the comments section of your hip-hop blog of choice. Along those same lines, we don’t need another indie blog to tell us how horrible the new Vampire Weekend album is and direct us instead to some underground noise rock.
To anyone starting a new blog, my advice to you is this – do something differently. Whether it’s your style of writing, the content you’re offering, or your unique perspective, you’re going to be the most successful if you truly bring something different to the table. No matter what you do, be honest. It’s the one thing you can easily do without having any skills, knowledge, or reputation and people will always respond. Shit, to this day I think the most comments I’ve ever gotten on a post (other than when I’m giving something away, you greedy swines) is when I opened up about my personal life and issues. People always respect an honest opinion coming from a source that they’ve learned to trust. I know Pigeons and Planes often falls into the traps of this blogging culture, but I promise that, if nothing else, we’ll keep it honest.