You ever hear a song, catch wind of an artist or even just look at at a rapper and wonder to yourself where in the hell did they come from?
I feel like every day there’s a new xan-addicted SoundCloud rapper or punk clout chaser with face tattoos that blows up out of nowhere.
At one point in time, rappers had to lay the groundwork by building a foundation with a fanbase, create enough demand to get on the radio and go on tour, plus put out a whole body of work to prove they can really rap — all while still maybe not even getting a deal.
More recently, however, it appears that all you really need to make it in the game is the virality factor and labels have begun to take notice.
A new report from Vulture details how labels overlook what an artist has to say or how well they can say it and are more interested in how viral they are or can be.
Apparently, there’s a secret formula to going viral that’s worked for rappers like XXXtentacion, Lil Pump and 6ix9ine and producers Rojas and Alex Gelbard of Inzei Records are the engineers of it. Rojas co-produced X’s breakout hit “LOOK AT ME!” and Alex “Loyalty” Gelbard was instrumental in the marketing effort that made Lil Pump famous.
Together, through their experiences in the industry, they’ve developed an algorithm that should turn any artist into a viral star. It’s called the “The Pump Plan.” Vulture’s Lauren Levy explains:
The two of them helped build Lil Pump’s career using a method they now refer to as the ‘The Pump Plan.’ It’s a ten-step program that guarantees transforming a local rapper or minor celebrity into a meme and then a viral sensation using a set of proven marketing tricks. It includes tactics like: social-media influencer campaigns, meme-ing the artist, Musical.ly placements, World Star promotions, and something called ‘controversy projects,’ which seems to mean planting feuds between artists and igniting drama to stoke controversy and online attention. They pitch it to new artists they’re looking to sign.
You don’t have to be a hip-hop purist to sense the shallowness of this proposed method of achieving hip-hop music. It feels contrived because it literally is. According to their ideology, the powers that be are no longer looking for the cream of the crop. Instead, they’re looking for what can satisfy their bottom dollar; and it’s working.
Danielle Bregoli aka Bhad Bhabie is a byproduct and proof of this viral culture that’s led to “The Pump Plan.” Bregoli was a teenager with a bad attitude one day, then after a clip of her speaking very poor grammar and talking particularly spicy to her mother went viral on Dr. Phil, became the youngest woman to debut in Billboard history the next.
Cardi B as well. While she comes off as a genuinely sweet individual with a positive personality, she’s admitted to not writing all of her raps and even having a whole team assist her. In a span of fewer than five years, she reached feats in hip-hop artists working for years have been dreaming to accomplish, all because they found her marketable.
Hip-hop is the most popular genre in the world so the greedy advertisers, saturated market, commercial attention, and various other opportunities that have come as a result of its consumption is expected.
These days, hip-hop acts are flying to Nigeria to perform at sold-out arenas and are incorporating vibes from London, the Islands, and Africa into songs. In fact, rap has become so integrated that politicians have found the genre viable to pander to and is seen in more mainstream outlets than ever before.
It was refreshing to see Migos hold the number one song in the country with “Bad and Boujee” a couple of years ago and the juxtaposition of Ellen’s privilege and her love to dance to Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” never gets old.
I mean, who brain didn’t flip when Target tapped Yatchy and Mike WiLL Made-It do a commercial with Carly Rae Jepsen? I guess this “Pump Plan” is the inevitable outcome from this kind of success.
There’s a 2017 Billboard article that speculates how Pump’s career was boosted by influencer marketing and other viral tactics.
There’s also proof that 6ix9ine and Trippie Redd’s protracted online beef was egged on by their mutual record label TenThousand Projects.
And the odd viral hit “Mia Khalifa” by iLOVEFRiDAY has used similar tactics of online controversy and Musical.ly placement — the labels are clearly cashing in on the hip-hop gold rush and it’s ruining the genre.
Not to mention Post Malone’s record-breaking hit “Rockstar” was in part due to a weird YouTube hack that his label most likely helped engineer to make sure it reached number one.
While success may be able to be replicated, one thing that’s always remained true is that quality lasts. Only time will tell, however, what the lasting effects this era has done of possibly the greatest forms of expression.