“I had a couple of meetings no offers yet/ Maybe I ain't good enough for these offices/ Back to the drawing board ducking officers, It's all good because the streets is A and R'in this.” - Jay Z (2009)
On a basic level most people are aware that business functions primarily in balancing act between supply and demand. In fact the whole free market capitalism is based on this premise, that in order to be successful you give the people what they want/need.
It is something that I had been debating for years in the barbershops and group chats that hip hop was anecdotally the most popular genre years before Spotify. The unfair advantage I had was the cultural nuance that came from Mixtape Madness data and anecdotal insight into consumer behaviour inside and outside the inner city.
“Penetrate Pop Culture” The Cultural Nuance
Below is a persona profile I put together as a piece of research for an SVOD platform trying to understand the role different personas play in the UK urban scene.
Most people from ‘Ends’ / inner city, will resonate with the ‘Femi’ persona. We are the taste makers, who remember the nights of recording Tim Westwood, De-Ja sets on cassette and the following morning trading opinions about the Nas, Ghetts, DMX, Kano freestyles with our peers at the bus stops on the way to school.
As Femi goes to university and expands his network beyond his man dem, his cultural influence is spread beyond ends. I remember in university, when I discovered Drake in 2008, my friends back in Tottenham were laughing at me saying ‘You are late, we have been telling you about him for over a year now’
I then introduced Drake to two colleagues - one private school educated, another from a family with a successful business. Five years later these guys bought every Drake album, merch and attended countless shows. Meanwhile man-dem who laughed at me, were yet to directly put a penny in Drake’s pocket. But it can be argued that they assisted in the discovery process for my two more affluent friends.
“I penetrate pop culture, bring 'em a lot closer to the block” - Jay-Z (2001)
Mixtape Madness was originally built by Femis for Femis, who wanted access to classic tapes of their youth. But the platform has since expanded beyond Femi, to the likes of Asha and Michael.
What Spotify was able to do is give Femi, free access to the world music and enable him to curate and easily share his playlists to the world. Today Spotify’s rap Caviar playlist is seen as the most influential playlist in the world.
Tuma Basa, who has now joined YouTube music as Head of Urban Music; was Femi for the entire culture, building a playlist with 9 million followers at the time of his departure.
“RapCaviar reminds me of Hot 97 in the early ’90s,” - Joie Manda, executive VP at Interscope Geffen A&M Records
Street AnR: Road rap & Afro-beats
Closer to home, my friends and ex co-founders keep pushing the culture forward with Mixtape Madness. They have empowered the Youth in their team to A&R some of the biggest artists in the UK scene. Similar to the model that Bad Boy, Roc-a-fella and Death Row used in the early 90s with their street team.
I also was not surprised by the recent emergence of Road rap, for a number of reasons.
In our teenage, Gigg’s Talking the Hardest was a street classic, that had streaming been in place then, Giggs’ career would have taken off in months.
When I look at Mixtape Madness data back in 2014, we already were aware of growing numbers of visits for artists like J Spades, K Koke, Nines, Rimz etc.
We also were seeing 200%+ growth of traffic in areas such as Oxford, High Wycombe, Maidenhead and Brighton.
Nearly 1/3 of new users that came on the Mixtape Madness platform in 2014, were acquired via 14 UK Road rap mixtape with J Spades MMMP2 leading the way.
You will also notice DJ Neptizzle’s Ultimate Afrobeats mixtape sneak into the top 15 back in 2014. I talk about in the below Twitter thread, that I see Afrobeats as the next frontier of musical phenomenon, and truly believe it has the potential to be the biggest genre in the world in the next decade.
What does it mean for the Music industry?
We will see artists and their managers have a lot more control and access of their music, data and audiences.
The missing piece for artists, manager and labels a like, is having the right people to get the most value out of this shift and the large amounts of data it provides. There is a greater need for people with the cultural understanding and skill set to look at the data and spot trends ahead of competition.
Working closely with brands like Mixtape Madness and technical practitioners (data analysts, developers etc) with cultural understanding will be key for all parties to be able to make the best use of this new wave that is going to happen regardless.
“…So with or without any of y'all involvement/ We coming for all of this, respect my conglomerate/ I went from pauper to the President/ Cause every deal I ever made set precedent.” - Jay-Z (2009)
Plug: Roc Boys WorkShop
I am working on releasing a workshop for millennial founders and employees with management ambitions. The aim of the workshop is to help them become more strategic and data driven in their business practices. The case studies will be based around the multi billion dollar wealth created by the Roc-a-Fella dynasty from Jay-Z, to Kanye West, Rihanna, J Cole and more.
If you would like to hear more sign up below.