I would like to start of by saying that I am one of your true fans that appreciates your growth over the years. I practically made it through high school and college listening to all of your mixtapes and albums. Id like to thank you for the motivation throughout the years. I know you get a lot of fans saying they wish you would rap like the "old you" but I have watched you grow over the years and I think its great that you have added your introspective thoughts and views to your music. I think the raps about how your "rims are bigger than my 5th grade brother" were perfect for that moment in time but you would have been stagnant if you wouldn't have grown up. Honestly, I enjoy some of the skits where you just talk more than a lot of other rappers songs. I feel like the skits are the reason why I feel like I know you personally and the reason why I defend you when anyone tries to "talk down." I actually found myself arguing with some idiot on the allhiphop.com forum board for saying you talk too much on your mixtapes. I felt like an idiot just for arguing with him but I had to say something because I have actually learned a lot from your unintentional wisdom. Anyways I feel like its a lot better than hearing some dj yell his name a thousand times over a song. I have always wondered a couple things. I remember you always used to be the one that was anti major label and then you were the last one to sign. Now that you have seen both sides what are your thoughts about major vs underground? Fans always have an opinion about it but I want to hear yours. What about all these upcoming rappers who think the only way to make it is on a major label? Also, How do feel about people who think you aren't as good anymore because you aren't on the radio as much? If we all hate the music that they play on the radio, why does everyone use that as a measure for success? Its like everyone complains that when you are underground and not mainstream and then once you go mainstream people complain because you arent making underground music. I hope thats not too many questions but I would like to know your views about all of this. It pisses me off when my friends say that because i personally could care less as long as you keep making music. People are such followers.
I best part about being underground is being able to make and do whatever you want. When you are an underground artist the world is pretty much against you and your job is to prove to the world that you are worth a listen. Your job is to make fans out of people who feel like they have better choices than you. Thats a challenging thing to deal with but seeing progression is very rewarding when you are starting from nothing. Most underground artist aren't making that much money though and that was always the tough part. Even when I started making a lot more money I had to do a lot of things I didn't really feel like doing to keep it moving. There were always days when I didn't feel like getting a rental truck and driving from Houston to Cleveland. We had to drive all that way just to attempt to sell a box of 40 cds in person. Most of the profit was spent on gas and hotel rooms after most of those long trips. I did it out of necessity. I did it because at that moment I felt like I had to. There was no other option. I look at all these rappers trying to make it and it only reminds me of the struggle it takes to reach success. There are a lot of avenues available for an underground artists that were not available back then but its still very hard to become successful.
The majors used to make it a lot easier for a signed artist. A major label that is on your side can be a very good thing to a career. They can open doors that most underground artists don't know how to open but they also can close doors that most underground artists are trying to open. Each situation is different and some people work better than others with a corporate boss breathing over them telling them what to do. Performing in front of a crowd of one hundred thousand people is a lot better feeling than performing in front of a crowd of twenty people. The problem is the music industry is filled with a lot of smoke and mirrors and everyone that looks successful isn't really making money. Most artists are in debt to the major record label. Yes I said MOST artist are still trying to pay back money to a record company. The stuff that you saw in the music videos wasn't owned by them and they are still trying to pay back the costs of the rentals. Record sales is how they pay all of that stuff back. If you borrow too much and don't sell enough then you could possibly spend the rest of your career trying to pay the money back. Every time a royalty check is due the label you are on will take the check as payback until all of the money you owe is paid back. Do you know any one who has borrowed money from Sallie Mae who has had to deal with the task of paying back high interest student loans? Well its kind of like that. Some people always say they don't care about money and thats always a honorable way to think. It's cool to not care about money until you realize you are generating millions and aren't seeing any of it. Thats when that person would start caring. A lot of people see artists complaining and say " I don't see why all these millionaires are complaining." Enough money is never enough when you feel like you are on the short end of the stick. Nobody wants to make a penny out of a dollar and nobody wants to make a dollar out of a thousand dollars. Thats why that pivotal moment when you are a buzzing underground artist that is about to sign that major label deal is so important. At that moment you might not realize it but that signature could decide your fate for the rest of your career. Its important to know what you are signing. You almost have to take a psychic guess into the future to decide if that contract is gonna work for you. I knew what I was gonna get when I signed my deal and I don't think I have ever had a problem with the monetary part. The part you can't gage on paper is the relationship and the passion that your new team will have years after they feel like you aren't the major money maker. If you don't make one mistake and every song you create ends up generating millions then you will have a lot of best friends. If you slip up then thats when everything will get difficult. Your manager, your team, your contracts, your hustle, and all your decisions could be the difference between success and failure. It all depends on what you see success and failure to really be. Yes there are actually people out there that think Jay Z fell off. There are a lot of people out there that think Souljaboy has a 50 million dollar jet (He's actually a smart kid). 50 cent has had a lot of success but you can bet your last dollar that he's working hard to maintain it all. There are a lot of people out there who have no idea of who tech-9 is and how successful his independence has been. Those same people have no idea how many doors have been shut in his face.
To answer your question, there are good qualities and bad qualities of both. There are things I hated about being underground and things I hated about major labels. No situation is perfect, you just have to pick what works better for you. If you actually have a choice, then you should be thankful you do because most people don't have a choice. The goal is to get yourself to a position where you can make whatever choice that you want. At this moment I don't have any complaints. Im comfortable with every decision I have made thus far. All I do is wake up and think about every decision I will make in the future. Whatever happens ill be content with because I know I have thoroughly thought out every decision in advance. You may not be a psychic, but that doesn't mean you cant be happy with your decision.
PS. I understand that in order to have real success with an album it has to have commercial and radio singles. If you want to sell a million plus you almost have to have singles on the album. I think that was the difference between The Carter 4 and Watch the Throne. A lot of fans voiced their displeasure with "How to Love" but that was a big record and he sold a lot of records because of his visibility. Jay and Kanye took a more underground approach and decided not to take the commercial route. Both albums are successful in their own ways though. I have never worried about radio. I understand its power though. I understand why people see you as invisible when you are not on the radio also. Its the gift and the curse of trying to stay true to your art.