About Me

Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The Evolution of the B-Lister
Monday, January 09, 2012

The other week AllHipHop.com released their list of their Top 25 Underground Hip-Hop Artists of 2011 and I had to crack a smile. Actually, it was more than just a smile, it was an ear to ear, “I told you so,” sh*t eating grin. This is because nine of their top 25 were B-Listers (for those who don’t know, B-Listers is the nickname given to all of my former Artists Of The Week, which was a feature I ran here from April of ’06 until April of ’11).

The B-Listers on the list (along with the month and year I featured them) were:

Homeboy Sandman - July 2007
Silent Knight - January 2009
Top $ Raz - March 2009
YC The Cynic - October 2009
Brown Bag All-Stars - November 2009
Soul Khan of BBAS - November 2009
Koncept of BBAS - November 2009
Warren Britt - December 2009
Otis Clapp - September 2010

It would be easy for me to rant about how I deserve more credit, blah blah blah, but if you’re writing about emerging artists for personal fame you’re missing the point. Personally, I couldn’t be happier for these artists. When hard working, talented, deserving artists who’ve been on the grind for a long time finally get recognized it’s a beautiful thing. Also, this is exactly what I hoped would happen when I started my Artist Of The Week feature.

I launched my Artist Of The Week feature, and continued it for five years, because I was going to a ton of shows (I still do) and seeing a lot of talented artists who weren’t getting any shine from magazines. Heck, even websites and blogs weren’t paying attention. I made some pitches but always heard the same questions/replies - “who have they worked with that’s big?” Yes, talent be damned, all that was cared about was if someone did a song with someone more well known.

While Elemental, the last prominent hip-hop magazine that cared about the underground, was still in existence I’d list many of these artists in my monthly “Top 5” in the back the magazine. I’d also have them on my radio show back when I was on WVOF. When Elemental went away, and WVOF was taken over, in large part, by NPR, I created the blog feature and continued my radio show in podcast form on RapReviews.com (the podcast is still going strong!). I’ve also attempted to keep the momentum going for all the B-Listers by continuing to find ways to work them into other stories I write, and posting their videos on a weekly basis. My feeling has always been - the more times people read, or hear, a name the more likely they are to seek out more info on them and check out their music.

Now that these artists, my B-Lister nation, if you will, have videos on YouTube that have a ton of views, and a handful of articles written about them, other writers and editors are finally taking notice (the kind of writers that either can’t, due to location, or don’t, due to laziness, go to shows), and I think it’s great. All of my loyal readers and listeners know that they heard about these artists here first, and yes, I do take great pride in that (eighty bazillion 2am train rides back to CT weren’t all for naught!).

As an aside, while I’m thrilled for the artists who got some shine on AllHipHop’s list I hope people dig a little deeper into the scene they’re from, because the artists AHH listed are, for the most part, of the next generation, and there are some amazing artists that opened a lot of doors for them, and paved the way for these guys to be featured on AllHipHop, who aren’t getting the credit they deserve. Without guys like Conscious, Tah Phrum Duh Bush and iLLspoKinN, and groups like 3rd Party and MINDSpray, none of these acts would be where they are today. This is not to slight anyone on AHH’s list, they’re all amazing, but they also know where they came from, and it’s a scene that’s much deeper than YouTube, and can’t be accounted for simply in views, clicks or comments. (Incidentally, I wrote an entire book on this scene if any publishers are interested *blatant plug*)

Oh, and if any other site wants to write a who’s who of the underground, my Artist Of The Week archives are right here.

Maybe 2012 could be the year of the B-Lister!


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:27 AM  
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