When Are Dedications…Exploitation?
Thursday April 22nd 2010,
Filed under: Not Your Average,The Unkut Opinion
Written by:

It’s only been a few days since another hip-hop legend has been taken away, and already the fuckery has reached fever-pitch. It’s almost like an unwritten law that with each and every death in the rap world, the same circus springs-up and goes through the motions. The extent varies according to how well-known the artist was, but the basic formula doesn’t change:

1. Every two-bit blog and news site posts an ‘R.I.P.’ piece with the basic facts, and maybe a song or a video.

2. A couple of DJ’s who knew and respected the artist do a quality tribute mix or radio special, followed by dozens of dudes who hadn’t played anything by the artist in years but are suddenly claiming to be ‘close personal friends’.

3. Rappers start recording quickly thrown together tribute songs that sound like they were down in five minutes.

4. Bootleg blogs post every single album and guest appearance by the artist and claim it’s a ‘dedication’.

5. Bloggers and mixtape DJ’s frantically raid the vaults in an attempt to find lost demos and outtakes that they can claim as exclusives.

6. Video interviews claiming to be the ‘last ever’ flood the blogs, followed by countless videos of rappers telling stories about hanging out the recently departed.

7. No name rappers start doing embarrassingly bad freestyles over the dead artists beats.

8. Corny ‘R.I.P’ t-shirts appear on Ebay.

I’m sure that the majority of these things are sincere attempts to honor the dead, but the combination of all of it at once can be over-whelming and makes it difficult to spot the fakers. This is not an attempt to point the finger at anyone in particular – even Unkut Dot Com has been guilty of some of these excesses in the past – but where do we draw the line? As fans of the music that these guys have made, it’s natural feel some kind of loss when they pass away, but there’s a thin line between paying your respects and milking a rap-related death to boost your page views or promote your new project. Rest In Peace is not the word to play.

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18 Comments so far
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I feel you on this, especially the DJ’s that have not played somones songs in a minute and now all of a sudden a mixtape comes out. With the recent death of GURU I feel it even more, I have been the biggest GANGSTARR fan ever and I can count the times Ive heard their songs ever being played on “regular” radio. Me and my friends always play real hip hop but beyond that, I dont really know any people that gave GURU and GANGSTARR any props, now everyone and they moms is coming out the wood works..its not cool, and especially with all the drama surrounding his death, this is not a good situation. I wish people would have more respect in general but especially in situations like this. R.I.P to all our fallen soldiers, famous or not..

Comment by Shawamar 04.22.10 @


Comment by swordfish 04.22.10 @

Nothing wrong with #’s 1,2 and 3. The rest need to “take a rest “, # 4 should be punishable by death.

Comment by d. dutch 04.22.10 @

I felt this way when Naughty by Nature released “Mourn you ’till I Join You” as a lead off single for their (forth?) album. Like really?

Comment by haroon 04.22.10 @

I feel you, and if I hear one more Pac record…..

Comment by biggist from brooklyn 04.22.10 @

I thought “Mourn you ’till I Join You” wasn’t even released as a Naughty song – I remember when I first saw the video it said it was by Treach and there was no album title associated with it.

Comment by binary star 04.22.10 @

Well as to #4 maybe bootlegging his shit isn’t such a bad thing if Solar’s just going to get all the money from his posthumous record sales.

Comment by Tray 04.22.10 @

DO IT UP!!! LET THEM KIDDIES GET A GRASP OF GREATNESS!!!guru always spoke on how nice he was . his name was always left out of niggas top 10 top 5 even and quite a few other lists! i have no clue why?he was the best thing to come outta boston shit even brooklyn since he claimed there also!!!! MAKE YOUR HEAD EXPLODE BY MY LYRICAL CONTENT!!!!

Comment by aRKayeM 04.22.10 @

@binary star

Just looked it up on Discogs and it’s indeed credited as Naughty by Nature. I was sort of wrong about it being a lead off single though — no LP followed it, or the one it was going to was shelved (probably for the better at that point).

Comment by haroon 04.22.10 @

I was just saying to a friend of mine today that Virgin & Wild Pitch records are probably going to start releasing all the”rare & unreleased”cuts they have in vaults now that Guru is dead.You and I will probably see a lot of former Gang Starr affiliates”reuniting”(touring)in a”thinly veiled”cause to remember Guru.I read recently that Guru had a lot of financial problems before he died,and that’s something I would love to see fade away in HipHop with artist both living and dead-GETTING BURNED BY THESE BULLSHIT CONTRACTS AND SO-CALLED FRIENDS(MANAGEMENT) IN THE INDUSTRY!!!

Comment by R.Jones 04.22.10 @

I could not agree more in general with the post.

Comment by Antonio 04.23.10 @

why did Bumpy diss guru(81 bars of murder), then jump to his defense when he died?

Comment by Dee 04.23.10 @

Point well made Robbie, these days there’s an awful lot of sensationalism about the deaths of rappers, and this sort of thing is only amplified through twitter and such – its hard to know what’s genuine sentiment and what’s people just trying anything to be heard.

Comment by DJ Wax On 04.23.10 @

well, I like to see the bright side of any artists passing. The thing I like to do is use the artists death topically to make them relevant again. I have cousins and younger folks who never heard any Gang Starr records before Ownerz, this is a great opportunity for them to learn about the culture they were born into.
Use his passing to teach about his greatness and not dwell on how the teaching is being done. for now.

Comment by ENIG MUE 04.23.10 @

Robbie, I agree with this post as well. Acknowledge, but don’t exploit.

Comment by Akhenaton 04.24.10 @

i agree that by doing this post you are doing exactly the same thing. what a pointless waste of time this post and your blog has been

Comment by twix 04.25.10 @

I agree with this post 100%. There are more people trying to draw attention to themselves or their sites, than they are to the passing artist. Like reporters fighting for new leads on a story… when in most cases, a simple “R.I.P. (artist’s name)” would do.

“but where do we draw the line?”

I think those who know better, should act accordingly. The outlined formula you’ve posted is something that all bloggers should read. There’s plenty of site-owners who haven’t stopped to think of how they may be adding to the overload, even if they feel more justified than anyone else. There’s no need to run a circus act down the soul train line at a party. Just do your dance and keep it moving.

Comment by Kid Captain Coolout 04.26.10 @

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