Welcome to another edition of Cypher Sessions! After a long summer hiatus we started this month with the return of our Quick Six Series, and now we are getting back into the groove of discussing issues within Hip Hop and this time, music as a whole. In this issue, we will be looking into two of biggest icons in music over the past few decades, whether you are a Hip Hop fan or not. After a 16 year hiatus, Dr. Dre brought along his signature sound to 2015 with the release of Compton: A Soundtrack, which was released conveniently one week before the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton. Another artist who released an album this year for the first time in a while is the ever-experimental Prince, with his piece of work entitled HitnRun: Phase One. Both have received praise, but there is a pressing issue that nobody really wants to discuss: both albums were or are very difficult to listen to, because they were exclusive releases.
Compton: The Soundtrack was exclusively released on the newly formed Apple Music for the first two weeks it was out, meaning you had almost NO chance of hearing the album in it’s entirely unless you had access to Apple Music, had friends that had said access, or you are very skilled at finding links to music that is not easily accessible. While this may appeal to those who are always looking for the next new hyped-up thing, the majority of people who want to hear a piece of music from an artist who has not released a full body of work in over a decade were not so excited about this. Several of us here at CS at one point were going to just not even listen to the album if/when it was released by other means. That’s the real shame with this exclusivity issue because now that we have heard it, it is a very layered piece of work that is truly inspired. It is one of those albums where you listen thru once for the beats, another time you listen thru for the lyrics, and a third time to see how the two interact with each other. What’s worse is at least Dr. Dre’s album was released everywhere after two weeks; Prince’s album is a different story.
Prince has always been one to not only think and operate outside of the box, but seemingly have no conception of said box. This is usually a great thing because it means his creativity is boundless, and his 34 albums that he has released is a vast testament to this sentiment. However, when he announced that his next project would be released ONLY on Tidal, most people were left scratching their heads at this decision. Not only is it a good way to have people lose interest in your project (as was the case mentioned earlier), it also limits the amount of funds that one can really make. In Prince’s case, it is safe to say that the profit is not what drives him and he can afford to take such risky, experimental chances. Dr. Dre also would not be suffering too much thanks to the album being released everywhere after two weeks, and the aforementioned biopic of his early days. But something that sticks out to us is what is truly troubling.
If streaming sites are the new format to release music, not only are artists suffering financially but the audience is being limited in their musical choice, and they are being dictated to. Dictating where people can and cannot listen to music will be detrimental if it becomes common practice, because while many people do want to be handed music to check out, there cannot be that many people that want to be told exactly what to listen to. Music, like other forms of entertainment is supposed to be an outlet from the everyday grind of work, school, and the like; if it becomes work to find music to relax, vibe out and just chill to, people will eventually stop using said services. There are also many other services that are still free and you can decide how much to pay the artist for the music such as BandCamp; as a last resort, you can often go to the artist’s website and buy directly from the artist. Hopefully, this is just a temporary trend that in the future will not pick up popularity. We hope, anyway.
Thanks for checking out this issue, for all kinds of articles about Hip Hop and other types of music visit our Home Page and check out all of our prior issues. Until next time, Peace!