Once again hip-hop, still one of the youngest major genres, delivers us new strategies for the new music economy.
Being positive all the time is dumb and can even hurt you. Sure, as a general rule it's better to have positive relations with the local names in your industry, but when someone craps into your cornflakes you'd better be willing to stand up for yourself.
Sometimes you have to get mean.
Enter the promotional genius that is the diss track.* (Note: This is not to make light of the Biggie/2Pac murders. They were terrible and took things way too far. I speak only of the less-violent and more 'for show' beefs.)
For those of you unfamiliar with the idea, a diss track is a song a rapper writes solely for the purpose of insulting another rapper and usually results in a volley of tracks between each rapper until both either make amends or get bored of it all. (See Jay-Z_vs._Nas) Hip-hop is built off being tough, so what better way to enforce that image than throw some insults at someone who, for some reason or another, you don't like?
Not only is a great move for living the image of your music, it's also brilliant business move. Even more so than doing a collaborative track, a diss track builds visibility for both actors because it creates drama for fans of the music. No one wants to watch a tv show where everyone is happy and nothing goes wrong. It'd be boring and dumb. Professional wrestling is built off the principle of beefs between its larger than life personalities. The conflicts between characters are what make everything so interesting. (Hulk Hogan versus Andre the Giant anyone?)
And stories are how we make sense of our lives.
Never forget, The better a story you give your fans to tell, the more devoted they will be to you.
Ever thought of starting a beef with another musician for mutual marketing gain? Being angry with someone might be the strategy your business needs.