The dynamic story of how complete unknowns built a world free of music industry gatekeepers --the global superstars that it birthed, the kingmakers you've never heard of - and how big buildings and big money snatched back the power.
An ItsTheReal Production
Ep. 1: The Ballad of Joe Budden
At the turn of the century, music labels like Def Jam were a superstar-making machine. Around NYC, a high school dropout named Joe Budden put in the work and earned his place at Def Jam as the next big thing. But Joe's downfall as a major label artist would run concurrent with an industry out of touch and fast on the decline. What so many didn't see was that out from that rubble would come the blogs.
Ep. 2: Top 8 Dead or Alive
In Downtown Manhattan, a small group of friends attracted attention worldwide thanks to MySpace. There was so much talent within this community: Kid Cudi, Teyana Taylor, Wale, the Cool Kids. But it was Mickey Factz who broke out first, once he was posted on a website called NahRight. The music and media industries didn't take notice until January ‘07, when DJ Drama - the biggest mixtape DJ - was put on the ground by Georgia police with RICO warrants. The dominos tipped and The Blog Era began.
Ep. 3: 10 Dollars and a Dream
What started as a small outlet for eskay to celebrate underground music, in two years became a destination for artists like J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Wale, Big Sean and so many others looking for a co-sign outside MTV, Hot97 and XXL Magazine. When NahRight, a rappy-rap paradise, bent its unwritten rules to post Drake, he became a huge deal. With a growing audience and growing influence, suitors began incessantly knocking on eskay's door.
Ep. 4: We Need a Board
In 2008, bloggers - who discovered, posted and leaked records with impunity - built momentum. With the spread of these mp3 websites from big cities to unheard-of regions, power was steadily being seized from the record labels. There was success, copy-cats and egos. But there was also a harsh reality: blogs weren’t making any money. Eskay, running the most notable site of them all, watched both the landscape and his competition extremely carefully, and decided that he was ready for a giant, new fight.
Ep. 5: Revenge of the Nerds
Blogs evolved from a gathering place for people looking to waste time into a prime platform for content creators: from early podcasts to sketch comedy to low-budget/high quality music videos. And thanks to those very same blogs, artists figured out just how far the internet reached. Curren$y, Nicki Minaj and Dom Kennedy, once seen as niche, regional acts, found fans from coast to coast and then some. For the first time, artists could get free distribution, create a very loyal fanbase and pull in millions of dollars, without the weight of a label behind them.
Ep. 6: Pocket Watching
For years, absent options, artists and bloggers focused on independence. But fuck it! Money! In 2009, it was time to cash in. When Complex started their vertical ad network, NahRight was the first website they even approached. XXL, long in the business of promoting larger-than-life stars from the majors, went left and selected ten blog-friendly rappers to put on their cover. Thanks to this, names like B.o.B., Asher Roth and Kid Cudi got a ton of attention and major label offers.
WHAT A TIME IT WAS
Thank y’all for detailing one of the best times in music. This era changed the game for a lot of us.
More than nostalgia
This pod would have been fun enough if it was simply a “remember when” for 2007-2012 hip hop, but the brothers did a great job of telling the story of the individuals behind many of the most popular blogs, and then explaining the many reasons for their demise. Definite must listen.