Ladies and gentlemen, the video you just watched is the direct result of easily accessible audio recording and video production technology in the age of Protools, Fruity Loops, and YouTube. And oh yes, honorable mention goes to the omnipresent T-Pain effect. Oops I mean Autotune. Umm, I mean… nevermind. The real point here is that in this day and age, truly anyone can become a star. Thanks a lot Chad.
Before I continue, let me just admit that my perspectives tend to be slightly off the beaten track sometimes. Oh well… moving on. So now, as I began to watch this video after I first heard about it, I thought I pretty much knew what to expect; a parody. Of course I did not expect Allen Samuels to be serious. And neither did you, but low and behold… After watching it, I got into a discussion with a couple friends of mine. I did have to say that one thing rings true to me about Allen. In spite of the fact his below average at best skill level detracts from him being considered a legitimate MC in true Hip Hop heads’ circles, the man clearly has a love and admiration for the music. After all, he is from New Jersey. I mean, all the present day Hip Hop sensibilities are in there; the posturing, the fancy cars, the ‘b*tches’, the private jet, etc. He even throws some pseudo-political commentary in there. He raps, “It ain’t about the asians, and it ain’t about the jews/It ain’t about the christians, muslims, yo fool!” Nope, to A. Samuels, its all about ‘the Paper Power, livin the life’. And if you ain’t really down, then you’re part of the hype. Whaaaat does that even mean? At least he has the presence of mind to stay far away from the n-word, heavily relying on the far more acceptable ‘my brother’.
As I nosed around the net to see what people’s responses were, it seems that most people aren’t feeling the kid’s raps (no relation to Freeman’s Minds very own ‘Tha Kid’, of course). Whew! So our collective crap music meter isn’t completely malfunctioning, thankfully. But what skews this whole situation is the glowing fact that ‘Livin De Life’ is still well on its way to collecting a million views. Now is that a bad reflection on Hip Hop music? Or a testament to the decline in music quality in general? I mean, I suppose that bad art can be good for something. Perhaps in the ‘YouTubing’ culture, escapism through mindless entertainment is what rules supreme. As was brought to my attention, just type in ‘fights’ in the YouTube search window and see what comes up. Its almost chilling our obsession with watching violence. But I’ll digress from that tangent. Entirely different conversation.
What I’m mainly concerned about is whether the proliferation of things like YouTube and inexpensive audio recording software has cheapened the value and quality of music, and subsequently dulled the light on the truly talented artists out there. Let’s face it. Here I am writing this article about A. Samuels, who is the antithesis of a dope MC. That’s not to say I don’t spend plenty of time searching for amazing up-and-coming artists who inspire me, and then share them with my peoples. But somehow, in not even remotely looking for this guy’s song, ‘Livin De Life’ made its way to my eardrums. And that’s my point right there. It feels like most of the artists I come across who I think deserve to be celebrated with thousands, if not millions of YouTube views, are typically relegated to the grind of trying to get people to notice just how amazing they are. And along comes Mr. Samuels and his casino money, and manages to become an ‘internet sensation’ practically overnight. Its draining sometimes!
Still, there’s no denying that there are the success stories out there. It’s true that the cream of the crop rise to the top. Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube. And the more recent breakout star Maria Aragon who’s YouTube video performance of Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this way’ garnered her a chance to perform with the superstar live on stage during her concert in Toronto earlier this year. So clearly a true talent filter does exist to a certain degree in this age of the internet celebrity. But it must be said that when it comes right down to it, what makes one person love or hate a particular song or artist is completely subjective, and to try to determine who is right about their opinion is obviously futile argument most times. I mean, even I can admit to having a few guilty pleasure songs here and there that I would never own up to liking in public. So I’m not at all opposed to the right that everyone has to put their talent (or lack thereof…) on display for the world. Its just disheartening to watch the mediocre attain success strictly off of being, well, mediocre.
Some would call that being a ‘hater’. Well, as a lover of true fine art, I can live with being called a ‘hater’ of mediocrity. I’m certainly looking forward to the day when this concept of doing music or some sort of ridiculous gimmick just to become ‘famous’ comes to an end, but we all know that will probably never happen. Especially not in this internet age, where we continually celebrate mediocrity as entertainment.