We’ve all seen, 8 Mile haven’t we? If only it were possible to go seamlessly from writing hip hop rhymes in the toilet at work, to performing at the O2 or Madison Square Garden. The reality however, is – it is! Whilst becoming the next Jay-Z or Kanye West is a journey that contains many difficulties, it does sometimes happen to the lucky few. Before you sign off the dole however, you’ll need to get a firm grasp of exactly what will be required of you to win a Grammy or MOBO award for spitting your heartfelt and painstakingly constructed rhymes.
Develop a plan
No matter how talented you think you are, no major record label will take a pot-shot on a new artist without some validation of some kind. You need You Tube views, radio spins and buzz for your mix tape to prove to the money men that you actually have a hope in hell of hitting pay dirt. Lying on the couch at your mum’s smoking weed therefore, will contribute very little to your ultimate success.
Get a Job
Yes, we know the world is one day going to be blessed by the searing creativity of your work, but until then you’ll need to be able to pay the bills and put food on the table. You won’t make any money from your rhymes in the early days so as much as you hated your old job – you’ll need to get another one. It’s best if you see it as an essential step on your way up the ladder of success. Big Mac and Fries please!
Make some awesome music
Remember that – the music? Alongside all the other stuff you’ll have to do on your journey to the top, it’s important to remember that it’s really about the music. Great tracks however, are not simply great because your mum likes them. You’ll need your music to connect with strangers who have an impartial view. You need phat beats and the ability to write hits repeatedly until the world has no choice but to fall in love with you. So stop watching Jeremy Kyle all morning and get those lyrics finished!
Learn to multi-task
Contrary to popular belief, modern artists don’t spend their time meditating with the Maharishi Yogi in the Indian countryside. There’s lots of things to be getting on with when you’re not writing rhymes. It’s important that you learn very quickly to become a, ‘jack of all trades.’ You’ll need to be just as comfortable completing a spreadsheet as you are a lyric sheet.
Go down the indie route first
Signing with a major label straight away in your career is a bit like taking your driving test at the Monaco Grand Prix. You’re more than likely to get eaten alive by the machine before your career has even started. Your best bet is to go down the indie route and gradually develop within a framework where people understand you and your brand – unless of course someone offers you £1 million to make an album, then it’s, “where do you want me to sign?”
Think about your brand
Your music may be great, but who are you? We know that washing powder cleans clothes, but we also know that, ‘Daz washes whiter than white’ (Full Disclosure: Darcus White’s mother used to wash his P.E. kit with Daz when he was a kid). Selling your music is no different to selling washing powder. People need a reason to engage you. The similarity with washing powder ends there you’ll be glad to know, as Darcus White’s mother has never bought a hip-hop record to our knowledge.
Work yo’ ass off!
Remember that there’s a million people trying to get their name engraved in the music hall of fame. No matter how talented you are, you’ll need to constantly work towards your goal to stand even the remotest chance of success. You therefore need a hardworking head on your shoulders and when we say hard working, we mean putting some serious graft in – not simply telling girls you’re a rapper to get their number under the guise of arranging a backing vocal, ‘session.’
Keep it live as well as online
We live in an online world these days – yes, but there’s more you can be doing to launch your career than sending out spammy links to your followers. Make sure you’re also doing live performances to build your fanbase and engage with them regularly. Those recorder lessons you gave up in year six don’t seem such a waste of time now do they?
Don’t give up!
Remember that just because you’ve written a track, it doesn’t mean anybody owes you anything. Blood, sweat, tears and a healthy dose of good fortune are your closest allies in your quest for the top spot and you should never, ever abandon them. If you want to make a fortune, you’ll need to invest a fortune in more than just money. Be strong, stay focused and if you do get invited to the Grammys as a result of reading this – please send us across a few backstage passes.