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Name: Adam Bernard
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Where The Ladies At?
Friday, January 18, 2008

As anyone who attends underground Hip-Hop shows on a regular basis knows there’s a fairly large issue with them that continues to remain unaddressed by most artists. This issue would be the all too common occurence of the all-male audience. Not only are the majority of audiences for most underground Hip-Hop shows about 70% male, but for a good number of shows the crowd is not only all-male, but also mostly MCs. When one listens to a lot of underground Hip-Hop acts they begin to realize why this is, it’s all in the topic matter, and if we ever want a strong female fan base, and real success, a few things have to change.

First off I know some people might feel “as long as we pack the place who cares what the gender breakdown is?” This is a very valid question. The reason you should care is that women traditionally have more buying power than men when it comes to music. N*Sync didn’t sell over one million albums in a week by targeting 24-34 year old men. Now, I’m not saying target the teeny-boppers, but I am saying the power of the female dollar can actually be stronger than that of the male dollar.

With underground Hip-Hop one of the biggest ways to get people excited enough about your work to purchase a CD is through live performance. Getting females to show up requires one thing that only the top few percent of underground MC’s do, speak about universal topics that can be felt by both males and females alike. Think about the three most rhymed about topics in the underground; how hard it is to come up in the game, how much the mainstream sucks, and how real the underground and the artist in question is. What aspect of those topics is going to interest your average female Hip-Hop fan? No matter how many dope ways you have to say these things most females don’t give a rats behind about them. You’re not including them in your stories, so what reason do they have to include your stories in their lives?

Finding universal topics isn’t that difficult. Unfortunately, not all artists can figure this out. Many commercial rappers go the route of the booty song, but that’s not necessarily right for everyone. In fact, I’d be disappointed in a lot of my favorite MCs if they went that route. We’ve also all heard the “this one’s for the females” songs, the “this is my political song” songs, and the token song about God that used to appear at the end of every Hip-Hop album. These attempts at diversifying one’s work usually make us cringe. They make us cringe because they feel disingenuous, like they were done just to hook a certain audience for one song. The key is to create music that everyone can relate to, not section off your album track by track, looking to attract a different audience with each song.

With blistering rhymes about MCing you’re only going to attract other MCs and a handful of fans that enjoy that type of music. While it may be nice to be your favorite MC’s favorite MC it’s not such a great career move. “So and so loves me” doesn’t get you very far in the real world unless that so and so is Jimmy Iovine. As a human being you should be a multifaceted individual. You should have likes and dislikes and emotions that relate to more than just being an MC. As an aside, even if you do just rhyme about being an MC, if you’re a truly talented MC you should be able to relate your trials and tribulations in such a way as to be able to engage a non-MC and make it relevant to their personal struggles. I know quite a few artists who can, and do just that. For example, Tah Phrum Duh Bush’s performances of “Micro-PH-One-01” gets every man, woman and child in the audience involved and creates a fun atmosphere around the topic of MCing. The song is made interesting by the way he presents it, which in turn makes it a song people want to listen to on his album since, as noted before, the best way to get people excited about your music is through your live shows.

So the next time you’re penning yet another song about how tough you are, how the mainstream sucks, or how hard it is to come up in the game, think about who would really want to listen to what you’re saying. Remember all the potential audience members you’re ignoring when you fill your album with these kinds of topics they can’t relate to. Do something for everyone and see what a difference it makes. You might even start seeing some women to come to your shows.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:53 AM  
  • At 9:27 AM, Blogger I Sort Glass said…

    Word. Miss me wit dem female-less shows most definitely. Not thrilled with standing around a bunch of dudes.

    Then you got kats that do these songs that are offensive to women, because they're quite vulgar. They don't always sit well with women that aren't familiar with the material and expect what's coming.

    Honestly lottah dudes need to stop rhyming and putting out music in general because they suck at it.

  • At 10:04 AM, Blogger Stamford Talk said…

    Adam, damn funny yet perceptive post- well-written (as usual) and so true. I just riffed on it and referenced you at Stamford Talk. Men, I feel so bad for you. Good luck, and let's hope the ladies can come through for you. Remember: we want to marry you, so work with us.

  • At 10:11 AM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    "Remember: we want to marry you, so work with us" has to be the quote of the week.

    And I agree with I Sort Glass, a lotta dudes do need to put down the mic.

  • At 10:26 AM, Blogger Stamford Talk said…

    Glass you're right about women's reaction to vulgar music. We LOVE music though, and we love watching guys perform, so an impressive show would bring in women (good for all of us). I do think people should sing what they want, but could, at least at some shows, balance it with getting an audience.

  • At 10:41 AM, Blogger I Sort Glass said…

    Hey Stamford Talk...
    Conscious makes music ladies can enjoy... Look & Listen

    I encourage ladies to come to the shows I do more so than dudes... If the dudes show up its cool.

  • At 1:17 PM, Blogger crew54 said…

    Yo, it's crazy I came across this blog today. We were at a show last night that had PLENTY of women in it and we spent the whole ride home talking bout the best way to get the women out.

    Three albums deep we got plenty of songs that we feel are for that MC crowd where a bunch of dudes will go nutz wilding out, and at the same time we got joints that we feel can reach anyone, ladies, children, whatever.

    Just like we claim that radio needs to find some balance, underground MC's need to find some. We lost that balance at shows because more than likely it was a majority of dudes, so we wouldn't do any so called female tracks. But that doesn't really reflect the music because in fact more females have bought the cd than dudes.

    Keep that in mind...

  • At 11:03 AM, Blogger Noah said…

    What's up adam...

    This problem goes beyond just attracting women to a show... its about "underground" hip-hop becoming nothing more than than a self parodying, meta-commentary where a bunch of dudes stand in the crowd with their arms crossed thinking,
    "I'm better than that dude." I'm tired of rhyming for MCs. I want to rhyme for fans, both male and female. I don't want my music criticized by a bunch of people who think the music peaked somewhere between '88 and '94 and anything that varies from that is whack. If you truly are dope, show me... don't tell me. Great music is universal, from Jimi Hendrix to Marvin Gaye to KRS to Company Flow (just to name a very few). All those people had a message that pertained to their little slice of subculture, but one that also was able to speak to a much broader audience and that's why its still around today. Make great music, not just "real underground hip-hop" and the fans will come, both women and men.

  • At 12:20 PM, Blogger Mongo Slade said…

    Very good topic. I'd have to agree with Noah though. You go out to underground shows and you see a bunch of dudes judging the performer's every word and movement instead of accepting the performance.
    Whereas if you go see a major or more known artist perform the crowd seems to sit back and enjoy the show more.
    What the heck is that all about?

  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    All these comments have been great. I agree that the ideology that something has to be "real underground Hip-Hop" has to go and concert goers can help with this by looking to ENJOY the show rather than attempt to find problems with it.

    Perhaps everyone involved needs to chill a bit, take a step back and ask "why am I here?" If you're on the stage why is it that you're rhyming? If you're in the crowd, why is it that you decided to attend?

  • At 3:22 PM, Blogger Claudia Alick said…

    You want ladies at your hip-hop event? Try inviting them to be a part of the show, not just window dressing for the audience or folks for the MC filled crowd to flirt with. Program hot talented female DJ's and MC's. Have females as part of your street team and helping to run the event. Make flyers for your event that might appeal to different types of folks. Having a flyer with a half naked booty shaker clip art image is not going to pull the ladies in... and then the men are annoyed cuase they thought they'd be getting strippers at the show and they're aren't even any women! Make sure your space is friendly to females. I'm not saying you need to have scented candles and doilys but throw a show that's not just about swinging your metaphorical dick around and proving whose is bigger. I gotta admit it's boring to me to attend freestyle sessions where the MC's insult eachother by insinuating with rhyme that thier opponants are weak like females and homosexuals. It gets laughs and pionts but it makes the ladies and homosexuals not want to come to the show. Also have a few chairs, some of us are wearing cute shoes. I'm just saying.

  • At 9:25 AM, Blogger I Sort Glass said…

    I love you Claudia Alick... Why'd you leave? Please come back.

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