There are things that many upcoming rappers ignore only to their detriment. We are all human and we tend to overlook some things when making artistic decisions. Mistakes are costly too.
Established rappers can afford to be lazy and relaxed but you can’t, you’re not there yet. I have listed a couple of things that a lot upcoming rappers are guilty of;
Mistakes upcoming rappers make
1. Poor lyrics
As an underground/upcoming rapper with a relatively small fan base you cannot afford to be lackluster with your lyrics. I had a friend who used to rap deliberate gibberish, he would have a full verse of sentences that don’t make any sense when put together.
He felt it was okay as long as it sounded good. It could work at the moment but you’re going to get called out pretty soon, and embarrassingly too.
Hiphop is not for the weak and for you to hold you own you’ve got to be deliberate with the things you say. You need to know that your lyrics will outlive you for a long time. So why not take your time to write it. Don’t head to the studio without a verse and end up delivering whack freestyle. Write your bars, not everybody is a freestyle rapper.
2. Not defining a genre
When you’re starting out your career you need to represent a specific genre. Without an area of specialization, you’ll be very difficult to recognize.
This does not mean you can’t be versatile, it simply means you need to have a musical signature, something that you are most known for. Listeners should not have a problem categorizing you.
Big names can afford to stray into other genres and make experimental albums but that’s because they already have a trademark and a loyal fan base, you have none of those.
So spend time now developing the side if your game. It feels really bad when you spend your data to download a rap mixtape only to find that the songs are made of pop and reggae. I wouldn’t want to make the mistake of downloading that artiste next time would I?
3. Spending too much energy on trends
Trends are seasonal and will come and go in no time. I know it is wise to maximize the opportunities presented by a trend by creating music for the purpose.
But Its really stupid to build your whole career structure in a Trend. Media attention moves on really fast and you stand a risk of getting forgotten when everything about you represents the past.
If you’re going to invest your time in a trend then do it timely and effectively. When a song becomes a hit, you should do a cover for it while its still hot.
Imagine building your work on the infamous “Oga at the top” incident that rocked Nigerian news space in 2015, your work would be obsolete by the time you’re reading this.
If you have a unique style, put more effort in promoting it. Become the trend that other people want to copy. Good music cannot die and you know that.
8. Focal topic
Your songs should have a focus meaning as an upcoming rapper, without this you might have a branding problem later. You first album or mixtape should announce your character more than anything else.
I’ll explain, in Nigeria there are too many artistes doing the same things. Someone might decide to start copying your style and that’s not your fault. But your depth, rhyme patterns and wordplay will remain yours.
You can have hits without having a focus topic but you could be better placed for relevance if you are known to have a focal point. This is the branding problem afro pop artistes like Biggiano and MP had. Praiz has love for the girls, Young six possesses an annoying god complex and Timaya’s got his enemies.
Modern listeners are very sensitive to new artistes and without a relatable identity, you’re not making it to “most played” section of the playlist.
4. Being too selective
When you are starting out fresh, you need to put your head down and accept as offers as you can provided they comes your way. You need them more than they need you and you’re going to be using them to your advantage because it’s an opportunity for you to get exposure.
I’m not asking you to undervalue your work, I’m asking you to maximize any opportunity to your advantage. Its understandable that you want to work with big names.
You could get lucky to have Ice prince in your mixtape, but be careful because you might get carried away by that false feeling of achievement. Do not refuse the opportunity to do a collab with smaller local guys.
Having ice Prince on your song is not a guarantee that you have made it, he has done songs with many other guys like you.
A collaboration can deceive you, you can spend a lot of money trying to get a top artiste to drop a verse on your song. Or you can use all that money to promote your own singles.
Think about it, a lot of artistes don’t blow up from big name collaborations as most hits are made by upcoming acts. Ice Prince’s Oleku featuring Brymo is a good example. No one knew both of them before the song.
Before you begin to think of taking giant steps in your music career, you should be sure that you have had a substantial amount of experience as an independent artiste. You shouldn’t consider a tour when you don’t even have an EP to your name.
If you were lucky to feature Phyno on a single, you shouldn’t get carried away by the thought that everything is now rosy.
In two Months you’ll be forgotten and that will be your fault. You have to show that you can stand on your own in the industry, you stand a risk of getting overshadowed by a big name if you rely on them so much.
So don’t make hurried moves, stay calculated and thoughtful. The hard truth is this, your music us your responsibility. No one owes you anything so take care of it independently.