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Do We Need Transparency in Hip Hop?

As the business of music and entertainment changes Rappers both old and new are being educated and reeducated on the business of the music industry. With streams, merchandise, tours, and endorsements music seems to be the last revenue stream that many artist worry about. It wasn’t always this hard to understand the “business” it was more of a veil that was blanketed over the eyes of young Rappers so they wouldn’t know what monies were owed to them because in most cases Rappers were owed millions. So now to stay afloat in the world of technology major labels have restructured what a 360 deal means so they can collect more money that isn’t really theirs to garnish. Some Rappers today don’t know what type of deal they’re in just like Rappers didn’t know the specifics of their deals back in the eighties and nineties. A young man coming from what may not have had much growing up and/or not going to school on a regular basis may sign whatever deal that gets them out of their undesirable economic situation. Therefore it is not a stretch to think that a lot of your favorite mainstream artists don’t know the details of their contracts. A lot of these smaller labels that you all think are independent are under major labels like Epic Records, Capitol Records, and Universal.

Chance the Rapper started off his spring tour with his hit song No Problem addressing the issues he’s faced and is still facing with all the major labels. There was some brief confusion with whether or not Chance was “signed” to Apple Music but he later clarified his relationship with the company on Twitter. Do we need some transparency in Rap and Hip Hop? Imagine if we the fans got the contract details of every Rapper the same way we get the contract details of major league sports players. We could see how much money is going to be earned as well as endorsements, tours, and merchandise. It would answer a lot of questions and I think it would also benefits the artist. Migos could see what they make compared to Future or 2 Chainz while Playboi Carti could see how he measures up to Uzi Vert and 21 Savage. We could see the real numbers between Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, and J. Cole. I think it would force a lot of labels to be honest and fair to their artist.

Transparency in the industry could stretch out to the various awards like the Grammy’s, BET Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Oscars, and any other academy or channel that recognizes the musical art produced by the artists. I guarantee that a lot of fans would look at their favorite artist differently if there was more transparency in the music business. The same way we want to know what our elected officials are doing behind the scenes we should know what is going on behind the business. We shouldn’t have to wait until Unsung or Behind the Music to find out that an artist was putting out a bunch of random albums just to get out of a contract. Nondisclosures need to be reassessed as to when they are appropriate and artists shouldn’t be forced or feel forced to sign anything. Intimidation is bad business. Young Rappers come into the industry thinking that everyone loves them and has their best interest in mind but they don’t. The business used to rake in millions if not billions of dollars and they are trying to maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustom and that should be easy to see.