Two things happened today.
— Revolt released an interview with Trinidad Jame$ where he expanded on his recent comments about Atlanta owning New York’s music scene. During his talk with Revolt, T. Jame$ seems to insinuate that his words from Tuesday night we misconstrued. “People took that one excerpt and that’s what they wanted to put online, you know, because that’s what the media does,” he states. “It’s not Trinidad Jame$ messing up the industry. It’s the media, it’s the bloggers, it’s the interviewers, it’s the radio that’s messing up Hip-Hop.”
— Trinidad’s interview was later followed by TDE CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith issuing a statement in response to GQ’s Kendrick Lamar cover story in their December issue. He asserts that the article, where freelance writer Steve Marsh calls TDE a “baby Death Row Records” and refers to the CEO as “TDE’s Suge Knight,” is “lazy,” has “racial overtones” and doesn’t “accurately” document Kendrick or the label.
Add in Future blaming Billboard for supposedly twisting his words about Drake and we have a trend beginning to develop. When Rick Ross got dropped by Reebok, it started a rash of apologies in rap. Now, we may be seeing the rise of misquotes and misrepresentation.
Listen, I get what both parties are saying here. Hell, we snagged a quote from Trinidad’s New York performance. But, we also posted the video that was available. While he does stand behind his initial words in his convo with Revolt, he shouldn’t try to shift the blame, especially if he knows how media operates. Going to NYC, one of the media capitals of the free world, and speaking negatively about NYC is going to make the rounds. The fact that there’s video doesn’t really help Trinidad’s cause either it’s hard to misquote a video we can rewind over and over again to get his exact words.
Nobody misquoted him and I won’t even say anyone took his words out of context. What happened was the blowback. First, there was Maino, then Charlemagne and whoever else may have chimed in since I stopped paying attention. Don’t let the blowback case you to alienate media from the rest of the country just because NYC radio DJs and the rest of them got their panties in a bunch. They’ll get over it once you make another hit. Hell, Wayne shitted all over New York a while ago and they sure as hell still play his music when it’s relevant enough.
On to TDE.
Who can blame Top Dawg? Nobody wants to be compared to Suge Knight, not the nasty version that ran Death Row at its height or the later incarnation that got knocked out by a barber and had multiple run-ins with the law. For an outsider reading the article, the takeaway might be “hey, this guy’s a burly asshole.” The TDE-Death Row-Bad Boy allusions throughout were just fucking lazy. Can’t disagree there.
But, don’t color me surprised.
With Future and Kendrick-TDE, big media doesn’t care that much about your artistry, the loyalty within your camp or the story of how you went from figurative nobodies to key figures in rap. In fact, most outlets don’t care about you period. Their only interest is to generate stories that sell copies and ads. Right now, rap is popular music so they’re adjusting their coverage to include rap. Been there, said that before.
However, there are outlets who do care (and I’m not just talking about TSS). There are outlets out there that do share an interest in making sure our artists are given proper shine. I say “our” because, as one of those outlets, these are our artists since they grew from our music and culture. We’re protective of it and them.
But, a lot of these same artists climb the ladder to success and don’t look back down to reciprocate the love and support given to them early on. I’ve had publicists tell me that, quoting loosely, “they told us not to focus on the blogs and urban sites because they had them on lock. They only want Pitchfork, Spin, etc.” I’ve also had the publicist of a top-tier artist, whose rise we documented closely, give us the okie doke on a 10-minute phone call for a simple quote. Hell, skip the phone call; the publicist couldn’t even find the time to bring us back a quote. Along the same lines, we’ve dealt with the run-around trying to cement interviews, show coverage and countless other shit. But these are our artists.
To all rappers, please stop apologizing and copping pleas. That’s one trend we don’t need to see blow up. And please be more mindful of who you’re talking to because they may not have your – or our – best interests in mind.
Watch the video for Trinidad’s interview and read Top Dawg’s full statement below.
“In 2004, I founded Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) with the goal of providing a home for west coast artists and a platform for these artists to express themselves freely and to give their music to the world. From our beginning in 2005 with Jay Rock, to developing Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul, to most recently singing Isaiah Rashad and SZA. We, as TDE, have always prided ourselves in doing everything with heart, honor, and respect.
“This week, Kendrick Lamar was named one of GQ’s 2013 Men Of The Year, an honor that should have been celebrated as a milestone in his career and for the company. Instead, the story, written by Steve Marsh, put myself and my company in a negative light. Marsh’s story was more focused on what most people would see as drama or bs. To say he was “surprised at our discipline” is completely disrespectful. Instead of putting emphasis on the good that TDE has done for west coast music, and for hip hop as a whole, he spoke on what most people would consider whats wrong with Hip Hop music. Furthermore, Kendrick deserved to be accurately documented. The racial overtones, immediately reminded everyone of a time in hip-hop that was destroyed by violence, resulting in the loss of two of our biggest stars. We would expect more from a publication with the stature and reputation that GQ has. As a result of this misrepresentation, I pulled Kendrick from his performance at GQ’s annual Man Of The Year party Tuesday, November 12th.
“While we think it’s a tremendous honor to be named as one of the Men Of The Year, these lazy comparisons and offensive suggestions are something we won’t tolerate. Our reputation, work ethic, and product is something that we guard with our lives.”
Update: GQ’s Editor-In-Charge Jim Nelson released a statement saying he’s “mystified” by Top Dawg’s take on the story. Read his full response below.
“Kendrick Lamar is one of the most talented new musicians to arrive on the scene in years. That’s the reason we chose to celebrate him, wrote an incredibly positive article declaring him the next King of Rap, and gave him our highest honor: putting him on the cover of our Men of the Year issue. I’m not sure how you can spin that into a bad thing, and I encourage anyone interested to read the story and see for themselves. We were mystified and sorely disappointed by Top Dawg’s decision to pull him at the last minute from the performance he had promised to give. The real shame is that people were deprived of the joy of seeing Kendrick perform live. I’m still a huge fan.”—Jim Nelson, GQ editor-in-chief
Photo: Nike Inc.