The Blurred Lines of Reality
We’ve all indulged in the guilty pleasures of reality shows, haven’t we? The Celebrity Apprentices, The Jersey Shores, The White Rapper Shows, The Basketball Wives’…all this programming seeks to entertain, while somehow showing the rest of the world how people “really” live.
American culture has embraced reality TV with open arms, but everyone doesn’t want to hug the Snookie’s and Nene’s of the world. Some of us have even given up completely on television because of it.
I must admit, amongst all the cries to Kill the TV, sadly, I now find myself watching TV on the Internet.
The Internet has become an almost unlimited glimpse into the culture, controversy and crappy content surrounding everything popular (and not so popular) in the world.
Entertainment is relative, but numbers don’t lie. Numbers create data that gets interpreted into trends. These trends tell people in suits ‘what’s poppin,’ and what’s not.
In terms of what we’re watching, on television and online, ‘reality’ is #winning. This has been the trend for some time now, but the term ‘reality’ has taken on an entirely new meaning.
These programs are usually train wrecks that are so bad we can’t turn away, and we eventually get sucked into the lives, drama and ridiculousness of it all.
The original MTV hit “The Real World” first aired in 1992, and was more interesting than anything we had seen before. Very real young people who seemed normal, yet were somehow involved in something extraordinary; and it all happened in a garden variety NYC loft. Kevin Powell, a cast member from the first season, is a prominent political activist now, and fights for very “real” things everyday. But not every cast member can have such a celebrated path, right?
The other day I tuned in to the Real World 2011, just to see where things were culturally. There were 7 super hot model-type youngsters conveniently staged in Vegas of all places, and all banging each other like some weird incestuous pop culture fun prison. All to the tune of corporately-licensed fanfare.
Not to say the 2011 cast won’t amount to anything, but I’m not necessarily saying they will. The gloss of reality, or reality entertainment, has been dulled by fantasy, even outright fallacy.
None of the chicks on that show “The Basketball Wives” are currently married to any current basketball players. The White Rappers I know would torch any of the White Rappers who were on “The White Rapper Show” (which is so ridiculously marginalizing anyway). People in Italy are outraged by “The Jersey Shore” and what the “characters” embody (though, I have to say, the show is really quite entertaining and I absolutely understand the concept of ‘T-Shirt Time’).
I have nothing bad to say about Donald Trump. Well, maybe something about that dead thing on top of his head, but that’s cliche.
We watch because we want to see the winners, the losers, and the hamsters. We judge these people, these folks we put under a microscope, inside of impossible situations, and we look at our own realities either thankful or envious of these characters. You don’t have to be famous to be a celebrity these days; you just have to be watched.
And as usual, the numbers don’t lie. If the people continue to weigh in on what’s popular, then the world will respond accordingly. And those of us in the entertainment business have to make sure we wax and wan to what those trends may be, right?
After a three year struggle with Atlantic to get his album released, Lupe Fiasco compromised his ideals and hates his latest album LASERS, but it is still somehow celebrated? So Lupe made headlines because big bad Atlantic Records was watching the trends?
NEWS FLASH: Everyone is. When I sit down with my indie label and mainstream seeps into the conversation amongst Nicki Minaj and Lauryn Hill expectations, I am reminded that the lines between underground and mainstream have blurred just as much as the lines between reality and reality tv. And this is my reality.
The rise of Nicki Minaj? The fall of Soulja Boy? OFWGKTA getting dissed by 2DopeBoyz and then stealing the Billboard cover without an album? These things happen. I haven’t had a “proper” Rhymesayers album out since 2006, and I’m not performing at RSE’s famed Soundset Festival this year, again, either.
The world and the music industry has changed drastically since 2006, and as a critically acclaimed artist this is my reality. I have been touring on my own and producing my own music independently, and that’s more real than anything you will see on “Love and Hip Hop.”
The truth is, I wake up every day and work on my album, my brand, my image… I respond optimistically and positively to the demands of my elitist/legendary record label. I take alot of pride in that. I play rough cuts of my songs to lucky friends, tastemakers and hip hop legends all the time. They all love what I do, but are in the same position I’m in.
My friends are insanely talented underground artists, with varying levels of commercial success, who are all desperately trying to hold on to their hats, while the economy and the record industry crumbles around us.
Big Boi is playing Soundset this year, and Kanye killed SXSW, or so I’m told… Slaughterhouse is poised for an indie mainstream hybrid takeover, and OFWGKTA (damn did I mention them twice) is “the future of the music industry.”
Things are seriously interesting, and when reality matches the numbers, we’ll all be happy. As a #womanatwork I have seen many triumphs, but I am no stranger to failure.
Word to the anomaly Jay-Z, who’s reportedly worth a mere 450 mil. He didn’t even have a label. He had to build his own.
So, as we all wait for the labor of love that is my next Rhymesayers release, please believe I have sweet new music coming at you this year. I’m not trippin’ about albums and festivals, and I don’t know when my next Rhymesayers release will drop, but I do know that I have no shortages of bars or opportunities.. Trust and observe this.
You have to make your own path, and walk it everyday. I appreciate having a career, and fans, and I know there are big things in store for me as long as I continue to work at an advanced level. I’m gonna keep giving you all of me in these projects, no compromises, ever.
My stage name is Psalm One and I am an independent rapper. Make sure you visit www.psalmone.tv, buy my music and download some of it for free, subscribe to my youtube channel, and comment/ like me on Facebook. These will constantly help my numbers, and keep me in the rotation of what’s popular, statistically. You really do count more than ever. Oh, and be my bff on Twitter, but please don’t stalk me. I hate stalkers.
Love, Psalm One
p.s. On April 25, 2011, Psalm One is headlining a show at 6:30pm at the Chicago Cultural Center. And it’s FREE!
Get FamiliarJ. Kennedy
Meet Midwest-by-way-of-SD MC/producer, J. Kennedy, and check out the premiere of his brand new project, ‘California Dreaming’.