The Lox’s Filthy America… It’s Beautiful was a late-game entry for 2016 that may have gone under the radar for many. The project was their first official record together in 16 years, a circumstance partly due to a host of reasons, label politics being one of them. The subject’s one they have a lot of experience with due in part to their long battle to break away from Puffy and Bad Boy Records. As battled-tested elder-statesmen, they have over 20 years in dealing Industry Rule No. 4080 and they shared a lot of wisdom on the topic during a recent sit down with DJ Whoo Kid for his Shade 45 show.
The discussion shifts towards the changes they’ve seen in the music industry, specifically with how rap artists are treated by labels who often see them purely as commodities rather than actual creators of a special kind of art. Jadakiss points the finger not only at young artists, who jump in the game strictly in pursuit of dollar signs, but also at powerful execs, namely Lyor Cohen according to ‘Kiss, who pluck out the hottest kids making the most noise and try to squeeze whatever money they can before moving on to the next big thing. A lot of times that means milking a hot single for the season or two then leaving the rapper behind once the trends dictate it. Then end result is that first taste of success leaving behind a bittersweet aftertaste.
“Lyor Cohen is the reason for hip hop turning out the way it has, with him [Lyor] controlling all these younger artists and their 720 deals.” Jada said. “You don’t need to learn your history anymore, all you need is green dreads and a Rolex and you’re good.”
Sheek Louch piggybacked of Jada’s statements. “The labels just want that one record. In a minute, it’s gonna be all single deals. Lyor and them is a whole ‘other mindframe,” Sheek said. “They going to whatever state to find out who’s hot. They don’t give a f*ck. It’s no artist development.”
Jada followed up to co-sign his partner’s point. He said, “You absolutely right. If you got a movement, the lime green dreads, y’all got Rollies, you got a drug dealer n****, they taking that and maximizing it.”
Their case is overstated but not that far removed from the truth. While it’s easy to lay the blame at the Cohen and the industry’s old guard, there are indie and boutique labels who have been out here putting the squeeze on artists, too. Those 360 deals were the wave for artists at one point because they presented them with the means and resources to build up their movement. When working with scraps, trading off part of the profits doesn’t seem like much because an artist isn’t bringing in much as is. Those splits start to add up once money does start rolling in and, as we’ve seen recently for guys like Wiz Khalifa, artists start looking for ways out that may not always be there besides suing and letting lawyers and judges decide their fate.
The Yonkers group haven’t completely washed their hands of the situation because, again, they understand it. “One thing we gotta say is young black motherf*ckers is getting money and ain’t going to jail.” Which is true, although Bobby Shmurda and the GS9 boys would probably have something to say in response to that.
But, again, Jada closes out the interview with more bits of game that young artists should take heed to and allow the words to soak into their brains. “Those Instagram pics with money being held to your ear like a phone, be careful because you only own $20 of that, it’s like a collect call,” he said. “Also, be careful they don’t 360 your single deal and 360 your allowance you receive from your parents.”