Monday, July 14, 2008

Basketball Things That Aren't Really About Basketball: Getting Up, Getting On, and Getting Over

Trey Kerby, AKA Goathair, is the the author of The Blowtorch, and a frequent contributor to Yahoo! Sports' Ball Don't Lie live-blogs. And now we're very proud to introduce Trey as a contributing writer for Hardwood Paroxysm. We're pretty much over the freakin' moon to have Trey on board. Welcome him, study him, love him. Ladies and gentlemen, Trey Kerby.

Say what you want about Lil’ Wayne’s abilities, but dude knows a thing or two about blowing up. By my count (which is EXACT) he released 19 mixtapes and 864 songs in 2007, while also appearing as a guest on another 257 songs. Sure, his quality control gauge may need to be recalibrated but it’s a fact that Weezy’s constant output gave him opening power; power enough to sell more than a million records in the first week of The Carter III’s release.

Also of importance to my point (which I promise I’ll get to eventually) is the nature of these releases. The songs on these mixtapes are either based around samples that haven’t been cleared or, in most cases, simply Wayne spitting new verses over another artist’s song1. Since these albums don’t have the proper clearances, they cannot be released for sale. Instead, they’re released for free on the internet, and then picked up by white music critics who embarrassingly hail these tapes as the greatest rap release since Illmatic.

By now, if you haven’t gathered what I’m getting at, you might want to re-read those last two paragraphs because they’re important. This new business model that Wayne has perfected –but not pioneered2 – is quite similar to trajectory most bloggers would like to follow. For the sake of this hypothesis, we’ll be ignoring Lil’ Wayne’s teenage years at Cash Money. He sure seems to want to.

Getting Up

Just as in the rap world, the blogger generally starts out independently. Usually this is a Blogger or Wordpress site, but some of the more tech-saavy3 will use MovableType. During this phase, the blogger is churning out material, just throwing stuff at the metaphorical wall to see what sticks. Similarly, beginning rappers will inundate you with requests to check out their HOT NEW TRACKZ on Myspace. Most of these songs are atrocious and soon enough, the rapper realizes they could be doing more productive things with their lives, such as commenting at the Fanhouse.

However, the actually talented rapper will get noticed. Maybe they’ll get a song featured on Nah Right. Maybe Catchdubs will hear that track and decide to include it in his latest set. Somehow, the hip-hop world will catch wind of someone who is doing something creative and doing it well. They might get put on guest spots on a bigger artist’s album cuts or a more high-profile release of a mixtape. In the same way, the blogger who innovates will also start to gain some notoriety. They’ll get a TrueHoop link or maybe a short Deadspin blurb and things can start happening.

Getting On

This is a crucial time for both the blogger and the rapper as people will be interested in what they’re doing next. If they offer another something that is intriguing, that’ll get the ball rolling even more. For the blogger, this can lead to guest posts on other sites, small advertising accounts, and a slightly increased daily readership. For the rapper, this means that their next release will get a small amount of hype from the New Music Cartel and greater downloads of their latest offering.

Unfortunately, if the rapper releases a sub-par track, then it’s back to square one. While this won’t squander all the momentum their initially hailed release had gathered, it does mean that their next production must be top notch. The internet is littered with rappers who’ve made a hot track, only to disappear. The same can be said for the blogger. Their increased traffic means that more people will check back, hoping for something fresh and interesting to read. However, if the blogger cannot deliver then they to will continue to toil in mediocrity until they can produce a string of quality posts.

If the blogger can consistently deliver first-class entries, they will have the opportunity to capitalize on their new-found success. For instance, their site could be incorporated in to networks such as SB Nation or MVN. They could be asked to contribute to larger, more successful blogs. And though the monetary reward for these opportunities may be marginal, the notoriety gained will benefit the blogger as they see their page views rise. This situation closely parallels that of a rapper who has recently released a successful full-length mixtape. Though the mixtape cannot explicitly provide revenue to the rapper, their increased buzz will gain them larger audiences, more prestigious guest spots, and possibly a record deal with a small label.

Getting Over

While the goodwill and increased stature that Getting On provides can be enough for some rappers/bloggers, many seek to expound on their influence. For the rapper, this means a full-length album funded by a major label. Though this may seem an at-first unattainable dream, after a string of successful mixtapes the major label deal is close at hand. Another form of Getting Over for the rapper is a lengthy tour. Not only will this allow for increased exposure, it is also the primary means of money in the music industry.

Since Getting Over boils down to the maximizing of current success by way of past success, there are a few different ways that the blogger can Get Over. Among these are book deals, full advertising for a personal site, or an editorship at a major web outlet. Essentially, when the blogger has reached the point where they generate significant income they have got Over.


While the processes of success in the music and blog worlds are dissimilar, the general gameplan for each are quite comparable. If the blogger/rapper can create interesting, original content consistently, there is a world of opportunity open to each of them. However, it is rare for either of them to do so; the challenges that each faces (a multitude of contemporaries, few openings, timing) are present in both fields. Nonetheless, the chances are there. You, like I, may not agree with Lil’ Wayne’s self-anointed “Best Rapper Alive” title, but it is wise to understand the path that he has taken to rise to the top.

Oh, and if you’re wondering; me writing for Matt is like Asher Roth hopping on a Killer Mike track.

  1. My theory about Lil' Wayne's mixtapes are that they sound good because he picks the best beats around, then mimics the flow of the rapper that originally recorded the song. As you can see from his solo releases, he can't pick a beat for his life.

  2. Wale's ascension to Next Big Thing status perfectly mirrors this outline. However, he has yet to release his major label debut. Nonetheless, his rise from independent to noticed to Mark Ronson's label to Next Big Thing is a perfect parallel.

  3. Read: pretensious.

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