Crossfaded Bacon Makes The Leap

10 Nov

Philadelphia’s Emynd and Bo Bliz have been running an above-average hip-hop blog for a while now with Crossfaded Bacon, in addition to their side career as DJs and party promoters (and anybody who’s dipped their toes in running events knows that every dollar is earned twenty times over in sweat).

And while Crossfaded Bacon’s been a great source for megamixes, blends, and the occasional loose mp3 floating around the noosphere, their newest post, featuring an original release with Emynd and Young Chris (of State Property fame) is particularly noteworthy.

Their admonition to “distribute this track as freely as you like: post it on your blog, add it to your Myspace player, send it to your girl friend, remix it, or whatever” embraces the Creative Commons ethos that is going to ensure music thrives in the 21st Century (even as the traditional music industry encounters what business types lovingly refer to as “creative destruction”).

Also, ever since the runaway success Lil Wayne’s Carter III proved the viability of Web 2.0 as a career boost for rappers, it’s encouraging to see what moves major-label rappers are willing to make. Hip-hop’s always been about building alternative distribution channels (mixtapes have always been a part of the culture), but the fact that most of the marquee labels are owned or otherwise controlled by the RIAA/Big Four conglomerates1 tends to put a damper on innovation. Witness how the RIAA arrested DJ Drama on trumped-up piracy charges. This would be the same DJ Drama who helped Lil Wayne make the leap from “that kid in Cash Money” to “Best Rapper Alivetm.”

And while Lil Wayne might have a decade in the business under his belt now, there was definitely a fallow period where his career was all but left for dead. His willingness to constantly experiment and keep releasing music regardless of the immediate payoff propelled him to sales numbers that look like a statistical outlier in today’s industry climate. Young Chris is at a similar point as Weezy’s nadir. While he had a hit five years ago with “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop,” as part of Young Gunz, subsequent Young Gunz albums have flatlined. He might still be able to draw a crowd in his hometown of Philadelphia, but anticipation for the Young Chris solo album is more or less nonexistant. Roc-A-Fella’s ability to market a record is debatable, and and equally debatable is where Chris fits on the label’s list of priorities.

Which leaves him with very little to lose. Philadelphia’s hip-hop scene has, at least from a national perspective, failed to develop its own identity. While it had a brief run in the late 1980s where rappers like Will Smith and Schooly D achieved national prominence,2 since then, it’s largely been a bastard cousin of New York. Notably, national acts like Beanie Sigel, Freeway, and, yes, Young Gunz are all signed to New York-based Roc-A-Fella, and genuflect at the altar of label head Jay-Z. From a live perspective, The Roots have had the most successful career of all, but aside from a few associates like Bahamadia, they’re sound hasn’t really had much of an influence on their immediate contemporaries locally. Ironically, their success as a touring act has meant that their influence has been felt all everywhere but their hometown. Meanwhile, the city’s close proximity to Baltimore has meant that much of the club music that originated there has made its way to Philly clubs.

In this climate, it was inevitable that some Philly rapper from the Roc-A-Fella assembly line would take the plunge, and Young Chris has stepped up to the plate. He’s not the most gifted lyricist in the world, but his lyrics work in a club context (and like the Game Manager post on Young Jeezy, he manages to avoid any obvious gaffes, which is often enough). More importantly, he sounds comfortable on a club beat, which was the greater challenge in the first place. Moving from the 95 BPM range that Kanye, Just Blaze, and their contemporaries work with to the 125 BPM range of club tracks has made greater rappers than Chris look foolish, but he seems completely at ease.

Most importantly, though, he seems willing to take chances, which gives hope that he’ll be able to pull his career out of its current holding pattern. Working with multi-hyphenates like Emynd who’ve tried to bridge the gap between the clubs and the internet (which can be a bigger gap than that between Philly and Baltimore) signals that he isn’t holding his breath for State Property 3 (though that couldn’t hurt either).

Download Emynd feat. Young Chris – “We Don’t Give A… (Dirty Version)

One question, though: if you’re serious about people remixing it, how about some acapellas?

Young Chris models the American Apparel Winter line

Young Chris models the American Apparel Winter line?

1 Roc-A-Fella, Chris’ label, is a division of Vivendi Universal.
2 With styles that were diametrically opposed, no less.


One Response to “Crossfaded Bacon Makes The Leap”

  1. emynd November 10, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    Thanks for the really well-written post. I think you’ve got a good handle of the unique situation we’re all in right now with regards to the music industry, major labels, the intersection of the internet and the real world, as well as the subsequent intersection(s) of music that to many of us is the logical end of this changing environment. In short, we’re living in a really interesting time in the music industry but it’s also a particularly confusing time where all these old models of promotion and distribution are getting out-moded extremely quickly. It leaves us all in a position of great opportunity, but also of great confusion. At the very least, it should be interesting to see what happens over the course of the next couple years, and I really hope more unique and experimental collaborations like this song I did with this Chris will be popping up all over the place.

    I’m also glad you enjoy the track and really appreciate you posting it! Regarding remixing it, rest assured I will be posting the acapella shortly, but selfishly, I wanted this version to make its rounds around the blog world for several weeks before I leaked the acapella to every Tom, Dick, and Stefan that wanted to remix it.

    But, again, thanks for the link and I’m really looking forward to reading more stuff on your blog, dude.


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