Monday, November 5, 2007

Industry Mogul Jeff Sledge Speaks On The State Of Rap Music!

I was reading this article that was sent to me by Dj Kut and was compelled to share. Jeff Sledge can certainly brag of his longevity in this game. So suffice it to say, that a lot of this article is more of his professional opinion than personal opinion. It is certainly food for thought!



The Good Old Days

by Jeff Sledge

"The Good Old Days, The Good Old Days... Everyone is talking about the
good old days"—Gladys Knight

First off, I'm gonna start this by saying that I've been working in
the music business since 1989. I have been a rap head all my teenage
and adult life. I'm a born and raised NY'er. Slick Rick is in my top 5
mc's of all time. I A/R'ed Return Of the Boom Bap (KRS-ONE), Midnight
Marauders (TRIBE), Iron Man (Ghostface's first album), and signed
Keith Murray, amongst a whole bunch of other shit. I feel like I need
to say all of that before anyone tries to question my positions (no

I HATE the state of NY rap music today. I hate it because it's corny
and boring as shit. Everyone is waiting for things to come BACK but
time doesn't move backwards. Ever. Not even for rap music. NY used to
be the most progressive place for rap music. But since about 2000 it's
been in a tie for the most unprogressive place for rap (tied with the
southern California, where they still make G Funk records).

There are several factors for this terrible state we're in. Today boys
and girls, I'm going to discuss two of them:


The radio and club scene in NY is terrible. The main reason I say that
is because NY radio and NY clubs play waaaaayyyyyy too many old songs
all the time. This is pretty much the only market in the U.S. of A
where this happens. You hear Biggie, Mobb Deep, and old Jay songs in
rotation on the radio like they just came out. When you go to a club
in NY it's guaranteed that there will be either an extensive old
school set or you'll basically just hear "classics" all night long.
What this does is stunt the creativity of the youth. All they hear is
old music so that's what they end up recreating. Most of the demos I
get from NY kids are slow and grimy and sound like they would've come
out in 1994. And they are always SHOCKED(!), SHOCKED, that no one
outside of their borough likes their music.

Meanwhile the rest of the country is moving forward and progressing in
another direction. Now, I'm not saying that everything coming out
today is good or high quality because that would be a lie. BUT what I
am saying is at least the youth around the country (i.e. outside of
NY) are doing their own thing and trying to create their own sound.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But at least they are
trying. That comes from radio and clubs in other markets playing new
music all the time. So kids end up creating music that has a new twist
to it instead of recycling. I have more confidence that the next
classic rap album will come out of the South before the East Coast.

Think about it...Rap kids in NY still get excited when Mobb Deep or
Nas comes out with a new album. I mean no disrespect to either one of
those artists (I'm a fan of both) but those two are artists that have
been making records for almost 15 years now. NY'ers have had no one
come out in the new millennium to be excited for. At some point it's
not them; it's us.


The other issue is rap, in general, is suffering from a generation
gap. Most of the people who are in power positions in the rap game—be
it execs, writers, radio programmers, or television people—they/we all
come from a certain age and perspective. Many of the same artists get
major press, many times undeservedly so. They get huge pushes from
labels based on old successes. Meanwhile, an artist like Soulja Boy
can seemingly sneak up out of nowhere and make a major impact. The
funny thing is Soulja Boy didn't come from nowhere. He has been around
on YouTube for about 2 years creating a groundswell of kids who are
riding for him. His success reminds me of No Limit or Cash Money,
where the hip-hop intelligentsia had no idea what or who those crews
were when they busted on the scene because they were so far up their
own asses that they were blindsided by those labels' success. Ignoring
the fact that they had been selling serious amounts of records and
doing tons of shows before they got major label deals.

In this case, the elder statesmen are ignoring the youth. They dismiss
their music as silly and juvenile while the youth galvanize themselves
and support their artists. The conversation I have with some of my
peers about an artist like Soulja Boy follows the same bullshit that
the old music execs used to say about rap music.

Rap is a young man's game. Even all the greats made their best albums
when they were either teenagers or in their early twenties. The youth
movement is what drives hip-hop and instead of being shunned and
dismissed as bullshit, it should be nurtured.

That's all for now Boys and Girls. Till next time.

***Jeff Sledge currently holds the weighty title of Senior Director, Jive
Records. Do yourself a favor, DO NOT send him your demo if it's slow
and grimy.


Anonymous said...


Kirk said...

Hey I really liked the article. I know Jeff personally since we were roommates in college.I can only hope that I can get to his level in the business.