Written by brokencool writer @SlavaP
How did you hear about your latest favorite rapper?
Did they hand you their mixtape while you were walking around aimlessly? Did you stumble upon their story in the ‘unsigned hype’ section of your favorite monthly rap periodical? Or was it through word-of-mouth buzz from your circle of friends? Unless you managed to get your hands on a time machine and are reading this article in pre-Obama times, the answer is: no, you found your new favorite artist on the internet. Specifically, you found them because a blog you frequent posted one of their songs and you happened to press play. "But how," said all struggle rappers that have managed to read this far "do I get to be mentioned on those blogs?"
Ever since the advent of Twitter almost six years ago, the hip-hop landscape has experienced the biggest and most notable shift since it’s origins. No longer must an artist build a reputation locally while honing their craft and practicing the art of the performance. Now, they can lay some lyrics over a beat they found on Soundcloud, shoot a video for their YouTube page, post it on Tumblr, and pray that someone considers them marketable enough to deem "it".
Granted, this life cycle isn't applicable for every rapper. Organic artists like Meek Mill and the TDE squad for example, have been taking the 'slow burn' route to success. This roadmap is for the Kitty Prydes and the Chief Keefs of the world. This is the "fast burn".
STEP 1 - SHOOT A VIDEO
First thing's first. You don't need slick rhymes, you don't need a mixtape, you don't even need a good camera. You just need a video, and don't you dare make it look like you had any forethought while preparing it. Make it as surreal and confusing as possible so as to convince people that you are a deep and artistic person. Get creative! Kitty Pryde shot her debut at a yard sale, Chief Keef shot his while on house arrest, and Lana Del Ray shot hers almost exclusively on Instagram. Invite all of your friends over to make your video seem relatable and to increase your mystique, as everyone wonders who exactly the star is (I still don't know what Chief Keef looks like).
STEP 2 - START A TWITTER BEEF
Once your video is recognized and the Twitter followers come rolling in, you'll want to capitalize on your new social reach by openly mocking one of your peers. Aim your scorn at popular artists who have recently released an album, or artists who have not released an album for a long time, but are active on Twitter. Wale, Keri Hilson and Tyga are easy targets, but don't limit yourself to just musicians! Bloggers and journalists should be ridiculed for even daring to mention that you aren't the savior of hip-hop and should be called out as often as possible. After you develop a reputation for "speaking your mind", you'll gain valuable fans who may even create fan-pages to do the attacking for you.
You do not have to release music during this step.
STEP 3 - GET FEATURES FROM PREVIOUSLY RELEVANT RAPPERS
Hopefully you didn't burn every bridge available in the previous step (I probably should've mentioned that), because you'll need to further your brand by collaborating with the few peers you have left. Fortunately, in this industry, there's always somebody ready to take advantage of you. As long as you aren't against doing something crazy like, say, a collaborative album with Gucci Mane or selling your soul completely and working with Diplo, there are options available for you. If and when you start communicating with a fellow artist, make sure to mention what a huge influence they've been on your life. If possible, try to use an old rhyme that your new collaborator said at one point in their career during your verse. This will add to the illusion, making it more difficult for them to see that you're just using them and trying to steal their fans.
STEP 4 - MAKE THE COVER OF COMPLEX
You've done it! If you followed the steps so far, you should now be a controversial and mysterious artist whose polarizing tendencies make them hard to ignore. As such, you will be invited by various magazines to appear on the cover. Since you are a unique artist, you do the same thing that all unique artists have done before you: you chose Complex Magazine. If you accidentally burned a bridge to Complex during Step 2, your alternatives are Fader and SPIN. After you do a "wacky" photoshoot and give an interview that explores your personal and professional life in a way that effectively sell issues, you'll have finished the "fast burn" process.
Congratulations, the world is now your oyster! Feel free to develop your artistry or a drug habit.