Hey! Hope you enjoyed your weekend. I’m still here processing that Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder fight. I knew Fury was the better overall boxer, but still. Never thought Wilder would go out like that!
Also, I’m still fielding questions for the next Trapital Mailbag podcast! I already got a few great ones, so keep ’em coming. Reply to this email and I’ll collect them.
This update covers the ironic similarities with both Lizzo and Chance the Rapper, and series of articles on the new Cash Money docu-series, Diddy-Ray Dalio Part II, bootleg podcasts, Paul Rosenberg at Def Jam, and more.
P.S. – the Trapital resource library and databases is on its way. Updates are coming soon. Stay tuned!
Bootleg Podcasts Are a New Frontier for Unlicensed Music on Spotify (Andy Cush / Pitchfork)
Browse Spotify’s section for featured music podcasts, and at first you’ll find what you’d probably expect. Last week, the top five slots were filled by two familiar NPR shows, a hip-hop talk show hosted by perennial shit-starter Joe Budden, a glossy true-crime-style look at the rise and fall of Tekashi 6ix9ine, and a podcast offering song-by-song breakdowns of various popular albums. Things got weirder as you scrolled. In the second row, there was “Juhn – In My Feelings (Spanish Version),” a “podcast” with only a single three-minute “episode,” which was actually just a cover of Drake’s “In My Feelings” by the Latin trap and reggaeton artist Juhn.
What Pop Smoke Meant to New York (Ivie Ani / The Fader)
The Brooklyn rapper, who was killed in a home invasion in Los Angeles on Wednesday, was laying the foundation for an organically borderless rap sound. Rapper Pop Smoke was shot and killed in a reported Los Angeles home invasion Wednesday morning. He died at the age of 20. Later that evening, the Canarsie native’s neighborhood gathered to commemorate his life and career, rapping and dancing to the songs that took him from those very streets to places near and far — both physically and sonically.
Diddy & His Mentor Ray Dalio | Inside a Meeting Part II (Ray Dalio / YouTube)
Sean (Diddy) Combs is a hero of mine. You probably don’t know why and would learn a lot by listening to our discussion that explains why. Can’t imagine Diddy being a hero of yours? Tell me what you think after you hear this. Sean became a hero because he followed a classic hero’s journey of overcoming tremendous adversity.
Paul Rosenberg to Step Down as Def Jam Chairman/CEO: Exclusive (Gary Graff / Billboard)
In an official press release, Def Jam confirmed that Paul Rosenberg has stepped down from the label to launch Goliath Records, a new joint venture with UMG, while also remaining the principal of Goliath Artists and president of Shady Records.
New Cash Order Trailer – Cash Money Records Docu-Series (Slim and Birdman / Spotify)
Slim and Birdman – now legendary music moguls and businessmen – were once just two young, street-smart brothers from New Orlean’s Magnolia Housing Projects with an unbreakable bond and love of music. New Cash Order is a four-part docu-series detailing Cash Money Records’ meteoric rise to success…Exclusively on Spotify, 2/21.
Note – I haven’t watched the series yet. Tried yesterday, but for some reason I can’t get it working on my Spotify. If any of you can access it, hope you enjoy it.
Lizzo, Chance the Rapper, and Polarizing Fanbases
Earlier this week, Lil’ Chano from the 79th resurfaced a 2012 interview with him and Lizzo for a Minneapolis-based magazine called Green Room:
Chance shared the following quote on Instagram:
“I remember it like it was yesterday and it was EIGHT years ago. Wow man. I’ve watched Lizzo work her ass off to become the biggest act in the world and it was nothing but her and her day 1 bestfriends’ hard work, and her own God given Talent.”
This whole clip is ironically fitting. Both artists are extremely talented. Both had unconventional rises that are influenced by larger cultural narratives. Both have rabid fans. Both have hella haters.
In the 2010s, Chance was the beacon of indie hip-hop. He turned down majors and encouraged others to do the same. The independent artist ecosystem has since flourished to enable more Chance the Rappers. I ranked him fourth on the most influential hip-hop business moves of the decade.
The night Chance won his Grammys in 2017, someone (I forget who) tweeted something along the lines of “This is the moment when the Chance backlash starts.” It was one of the truest tweets ever written.
Chance didn’t do anything wrong, but society loves underdogs until they are no longer the underdog. The culture—a term so overused I might retire it in Trapital eventually—got tired of hearing Chance’s soundbites. The hate piled on when he defended fellow Chicago rapper Kanye West and said, black people don’t have to be Democrats. Haters basked in the glory of his subpar critical and commercial reception to his latest album. I’ve been critical of him myself, but my logic was rooted in the ceiling of independence which I wrote about in September.
Despite the hate, Chance’s true fans are with him. Many of them are louder and prouder than ever—and will stop at nothing to “silence the haters.” (Some could probably read my writing and think I hate Chance, but that’s the world we live in).
Lizzo is similar. Her stance on body positivity and confidence has followed a broader cultural movement on the topic. The movement itself has been the cause of backlash, but many—including Lizzo herself—have had plenty of time for those who try her. There’s also the problematic discussion about who Lizzo makes music for (and who she doesn’t), which Lizzo’s fans are ready for as well. The 31-year-old’s incidents with Postmates, Terry Gross, or at the Lakers game strengthened both her fans and haters.
The polarization of both stars reminds me of what I wrote back in April 2019:
Artists who have passionate fanbases and challenge conventional norms have sparked an ongoing struggle for writers who critique said artist’s work. Two weeks ago, Pitchfork wrote a fairly nuanced take of Lizzo’s album, which Lizzo clapped back at. Earlier this week, Kieran Devlin wrote a great piece for Vice on the relationship between journalists and stan culture. Here’s a segment:
“Another key development in the changing nature of criticism is that there is arguably now greater pressure to focus on the narrative behind the artist, rather than critiquing the art itself. With the growing frequency of releases across the majority of artistic mediums, each album, film, book or exhibition needs a compelling, distinguishing hook to grab the attention of the press or casual fan, which will be sculpted by the PR, agent and management into a coherent narrative behind something’s release. This is then reflected by a fanbase naturally happy to buy into the heartwarming arc, but historically it’s been the journalist’s responsibility to see past the narrative and interrogate the art as art.”
Both Chance and Lizzo represent where society is in 2020. Many artists have sparked movements that will indirectly protect them at all costs from the haters. No artist would come out and yell “I want problematic fans!” but few would turn them away at the expense of being torn down on the internet without anyone in their corner.
To complicate matters further, these defenders are often the most lucrative fans! They buy more merchandise, attend more concerts, and use their platforms to spread awareness. Asking artists to condemn them is a financial risk—especially for someone like Chance who doesn’t have major label backing. That doesn’t justify their actions, but it explains how intertwined it all is.