The Taste of Humble Pie

I’ve always said “if somebody can prove their point, then i’m big enough to acknowledge it and adjust my opinion.” Not to sound arrogant, but that hasn’t happened a lot. usually there’s enough truth in my opinion or my way of viewing a topic that I can stick to my guns, even when I have to acknowledge the truth in the opposing arguments.

So until recently I didn’t realize just how HARD it is to actually admit I was wr….

Dude, I can’t even write it. Let’s just say the perspective i was basing my opinion on was inaccurate with the circumstances at hand.

But I can’t argue the facts. Sid called me up after my last blog post to settle our disagreement on the free music thing once and for all. I actually appreciate that. I encourage healthy, respectful debate. If we have different ways of looking at things, let’s talk about it. maybe
our differing opinions and perspectives will help round out each other’s views. I don’t like when things degenerate into namecalling flame wars and things like that. There are no ideas being shared, and all it becomes is a bunch of stubborn idiots trying to prove how much better they are than the other guy by any means neccessary. And yes, I’ve been one of those idiots before. we all have at some point in time. Part of the reason of that is that’s it’s so hard for one to admit when he or she is wr…..
see? it just won’t come out.

Usually, when discussions degenerate into arguments, or it appears as if we’re about to cross some lines, i’m at least civil enough to make my bottom-line point and then agree to disagree. But for some reason I couldn’t let this free music debate go. maybe I just wanted to justify my own behavior.

I’ve downloaded my share of free music and I’ve offered my own projects for free. I offer my stuff for free mostly because I know I don’t have the time, budget or motivation to “properly” release and promote an independent album (which includes doing shows, getting radio play and scraping up the money to get my stuff professionally mastered) and as you probably saw in my last post, i don’t trust record labels to do it for me.
But I still get these ideas and I want to share them with my people – most of which wouldn’t pay 10 bucks to support their boy regardless of how good the music was (I know because I’ve tried. people say they liked my songs, but there are still copies of 48505 sitting somewhere collecting dust). so I give it away because getting you to listen to my stuff is more important to me than making money off of it. (and yes, Uncle Bo, I do have the luxury of a dayjob, freelancing, books and other ventures to fall back on. I’ve never put all of my eggs in one basket. If all I had to feed my family with was music, I’m sure my perspective would be quite different, which is what Sid explained to me)

Most of the music I’ve downloaded is either old albums that are out of print and I literally couldn’t get any other way (you know your album is rare when neither amazon nor ebay has it available. i recently bought the single “Rag bag” of an old Dave Grusin album via emusic. I ran out of money so I had to save up to get the whole album, and by the time I did, they had taken it out of circulation! Now how am I going to get that one song Biggie sampled?), or new artists I’m discovering. Some of the stuff is music I really don’t like, which is why I’m glad I checked their music out before I actually wasted any money on them. But the vast majority of artists I’ve downloaded free music from I actually support financially in some way, shape or form. In fact, a good number of artists who’s albums I buy consistently now I discovered via a free album (Slaughterhouse, Mega Ran, Mister WIlson, Lecrae, Childish Gambino and Run The Jewels come to mind). And a few more like Sammus, Wordburglar and Adam Warrock are on my “must buy” list – I even asked a few of them their rates for dropping a guest verse on my next music project (kickstarter is your friend).

When De la Soul offered their entire back catalog for free, I was quick to snatch that. But I’m one of the proud milion that actually bought “3ft. high and rising” when it first came out, and have a few De la albums (that i paid actual money for) in my CD collection. Believe it or not, I do believe in supporting artists, so if you offer a free album I’ll take it…but whether it be buying your next album, or some of your merch, or coming to your show, or contributing to your kickstarter campaign, if I like you, you’re still going to get some of my money (if I don’t like you, you’re SOL. stop making crappy music.)

The mistake I made was thinking the majority of audiences do things the way i do them. and yes, Sid very eloquently pointed that out to me. Among other things. Urban consumers are notorious for not wanting to pay for anything. So if I give you a free album now expecting you’ll buy my next album or come to my show, I’ll probably end up sorely disappointed. and i had actually seen this happen before with other urban artists, which was why it was easy to concede that point. i just never took part in that culture or way of consuming music.

Sid also pointed out some flaws in my “free album as demo” argument. back when i actually was doing shows at hole-in-the-wall clubs, hustling for radio play, shooting videos and doing all the other stuff independent artists did to build an audience (waaaay back in the year 2000), it wasn’t uncommon for a rapper to build a nice following underground this way and get the attention of a major label. that’s why i listed guys like Fiddy, Drake, Nikki, Bino and Soulja Boy as examples, because offering the free album was just part of their grind of building their audience. Sid brought up another group who did the same thing – Mackelmore and (what is that guy’s name?). but their difference is they were in a more supportive (re. non-urban) music culture that was more supportive (and let’s be real, more white). It’s not 1984 anymore, but it’s not 2000, either, and labels aren’t looking for those kind of credentials anymore (wchich is kind of backwards to me, but then again, a bunch of Detroit rappers got signed that way back then, and almost all of them flopped, so it is what it is).

And so on and so on. most of the stuff Sid pointed out was stuff I would point out to others in music conversations, just pointed in a way that directly addressed my arguments. When a
guy convinces you that your opinion is really closer to his than to what you thought your opinion was, it’s time to raise the white flag. I’m pretty sure he could hear me tapping out on the other end of the phone. My wife definitely heard it, and after my conversation was over, she had no problem reminding “mr. know-it-all” that he got pwned.

So you win, Sid. You got your point across and I’m not going to bother you about the free music debate anymore. As much as it pains a bruh to humble himself and admit he was schooled, i was indeed schooled. ‘Nuff respect due.

That all having been said… I’m still giving a bunch of my music away for free. Maybe not my next album (trust me, y’all. it will be worth every penny of the five bucks I’ll be charging you. this next album will be EPIC – and it might also be my last. might as well go out with a bang, right?),
but definitely select albums in my back catalog. so if any of you want some free vintage Jugghead music, get yer butt over to NOW before I raise the prices.

And if an artist i support offers me a free single or album, I’m still taking it. Childish Gambino just offered a combo free Gangsta Grillz album and regular “pay for me” EP and i copped ’em both. I downloaded the free one, and then shelled out 9 bucks for the EP.

So there ya have it. I was able to concede my argument without actually admitting I was wr……

(give it up, y’all. it’s not gonna happen.)