Just as last week’s news of Danielle “Bhad Bhabie” Bregoli inking a deal with Atlantic records became palatable, Warner Bros. Records decided to pour salt onto the wound by signing a 12-year-old kid named Matt Ox yesterday.
As you can imagine, everyone from hip-hop purists to your casual rap fan felt some type of way.
full offense but danielle bregoli is literal garbage who doesn't deserve a platform unfollow me now if you think she's a decent human being
— ً (@lustforgays) September 22, 2017
Matt Ox signed to Warner Bros. 2017 is on one
— Synergy Press (@1800xo) September 22, 2017
if you're mad that matt ox got a record deal, just think about all the other record deals (and rappers) he turned down. kid is a star.
— adam22 (@onsomeshit) September 21, 2017
If we’re being completely transparent, they’re both white, out-of-culture social media stars turned rappers. Even I cringed when I saw major music labels so ready to throw cash their way.
There is talent out there that has touring experience, garnered a fanbase from scratch, and who’s honed their craft tirelessly.
Surely there’s an artist more reputable than a kid doing his best Chief Keef video impression, armed with hot Cheetos and fidget spinners or a girl whose claim to fame was disrespecting her mother on Dr. Phil.
But that’s where the problem lies: we’re outraged and taken aback because we don’t see them as artists; we see them as viral sensations. We feel as if labels are betraying us, but in reality, they’re doing the same shit labels always do.
Trinidad James wasn’t signed to Def Jam until “All Gold Everything” blew up in 2012. T.I didn’t pay Iggy Azalea any mind until her video for “Pu$$y” went viral. And Jimmy Iovine couldn’t wait to get his hands on Keef after “Don’t Like” broke the internet.
Was the integrity of hip-hop a point of emphasis in these signings? How many of those deals still exist?
Joe Budden said it best on Complex’s The Daily Struggle:
“People don’t view Atlantic that way. They are showing you what they are in the business of. How can you get mad at somebody showing you what they do. They’re not in it for hip-hop integrity.”
It’s a numbers game for these big labels, and say what you want, both Bhad Bhabie and Matt have plenty of them.
Max’s “Overwhelming” video reached the benchmarks of other viral phenomenons, pulling in 14 million in just a few months. He’s seen a success on SoundCloud, attracted the attention of Lil Uzi Vert, and performed at Diplo’s Mad Decent Block Party.
He’s like a much more self-aware Slim Jesus.
And despite not recording a damn thing in her life prior, Danielle Bregoli’s “These Heaux” already has over 21 million views on YouTube and she’s already the youngest female rapper to chart the Hot 100 at #77.
And she hasn’t missed a beat. Today she dropped “Hi Bich / Whachu Know” and it already has 2 million views on Youtube.
You telling me labels are not supposed to sign these acts?
This is the fate I accepted when Cardi B got her shot. The case study is similar. Again, no musical background. No real time spent as an artist before her deal. And she, too, came up off the internet. Yet I root for her like I know her.
I think as hip-hop fans it’s time to admit that we’re being a bit greedy. On one hand, we praise the direct fan to artist connection that today’s media platforms allow — which gives the role of A&R to the people — and then we get angry when the popular vote is something we don’t like.
It’s important to remember that Bhad Bhabie and Matt Ox can’t exist without a base to fuel them. They had to have tapped into something to go viral in the first place — whether good or bad publicity — and now they’re setting up shop to soak it for all it’s worth.
The cause for concern is warranted. We’ve seen what can happen when a genre in music in suddenly invaded and transformed (i.e Jazz and Rock and Roll ), but sometimes it’s best to let things run their course.
Who knows what the future holds for these artists. They’re both still extremely young (Bregoli being 14) and could compromise their contracts, grow into different artists, or, don’t hold your breath, actually be good.
What we do know is that only real music is going to last. All that other bullshit is here today and gone tomorrow.