Updated: Mar 25, 2020
There is no secret to longevity in the music business and most industries. Most of the imperative factors translate everywhere. An essential factor is originality. What are you offering that everybody else is not. In order to sustain longevity, the product has to be unique.
During the peak of Hip Hop culture originality, fans could tell where an artist was from by the production, slang, clothes, and cadence. As soon as Nelly came on the radio you could tell immediately it was him. In videos, Nelly dressed like someone from St. Louis, not New York or anywhere else. The same with NWA, Rick Ross, Pimp C, and numerous others.
So, what happened? How did Hip Hop become a copycat culture where so many people are sounding and dressing alike? Hip Hop became the most notable and prominent force in music, which turned it into a profit business instead of an artistic outlet.
An Atlanta beat from 808mafia, Mike Will Made It, or Metro Boomin will get you temporary success if you do not have anything else to bring to the beat besides a borrowed Migos/Three 6 Mafia flow and no sustainable content. To be clear those are incredible producers and have all made lasting music with the authentic artists.
This has been proven multiple times. J Cole has an ability to appeal to everyone, he is down to earth, a southern quality, makes sense he is from Fayetteville, North Carolina. He also went to college in New York and has numerous jazz samples in his production, a staple in New York Hip Hop production. His experiences influenced his art.
When Future released Hendrixx and Future one could easily tell which one was recorded in Atlanta and which one was in Southern California. Future (the album) was authentic to the Atlanta scene; turn up, trap music. Hendrixx was laid back, chill, melodic music. If you been to LA and Atlanta the music is a soundtrack for both cities.
Drake was raised in Toronto a melting pot of culture and moved to Houston to start his music career. So Far Gone has a heavy Houston influence and Views has heavy Caribbean influence. By the time of the Views release Drake had traveled around the world and put those experiences in his music. Drizzy incorporates many different styles in his music from growing up in a diverse city.
Some of the most successful economies are born out of diversity. If everyone has the same ideas there is no room for growth. When Hip Hop originated it was an insult to sound or be like anyone else.
I went to college at Morgan State University, I could tell where someone was from by how they dressed. DMV students would wear their own clothing lines, (New) Jersey girls had hoop earrings with their names in them. New Yorkers, especially men, wore more jewelry, every color/type of Tims (Timberland boots), had a unique slang, and if for some reason you still could not tell they have no problem letting you know where they are from, to the exact borough.
There is strength in diversity.
I'm not saying artists shouldn't work with Atlanta producers or whichever region becomes the most popular. JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and others have incorporated it in their music. It's not a problem to be influenced by other art, we all are. It becomes problematic and less sustainable when you have your entire project sound like a Migos or Future mixtape and never been to Atlanta.
No artist has made it over time copying whatever is hot at the moment. Embrace your inventiveness.