“So You Wanna Be A Rapper?” by Che ‘Rhymefest’ Smith

When you ask most inner city black boys what they want to do, they say one of two things: rap or hoop.

It’s not a surprise because those are the two careers that are associated with fame & fortune. The truth is, there are very few people who make it to the pros and even less who become platinum selling artists. So if you’re interested in becoming a rapper, be sure to have another career option related to the music industry.

If you want to be a rapper, you have to become famous before you get famous. Gone are the days when you could “get discovered” by someone who will bring you to the label for a meeting and make sure the label exec hears your record.  You have to start with your high school, your block, your neighborhood, and your city. Build a buzz by linking up with producers, videographers, singers and promoters in your neighborhood. Perform at all the block parties and festivals. Create an online presence where you get YouTube hits and build a following on Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not enough to just have a demo and occasionally pass it out to rappers and producers you come across. And if you do have a demo, be sure to have your phone number and e-mail address, so that if someone finds it that can help you, you can be contacted. Labels no longer want to do all the work. They want to work with artists who have a strong work ethic and a good followi

There is also nothing that says “rap” has to be the only thing you do.  Cap D is an artist who during the day works at a high-profile law firm and at night he’s an emcee. What’s interesting about Cap D, is that he raps because he has the passion for it, not because he wants to make millions of dollars from rap. I also have a good friend named Matt Middleton who is one of the most successful entertainment lawyers in the industry. While he’s not on the mic or in front of the camera, he interacts with superstars on a regular basis and he’s able to be a part of the music industry.  There are many artists I’ve come across who are also ministers, social workers and teachers. If you try to go full-time before you’re ready – you could face some challenges like homelessness and hunger. Take advantage of your education and different training programs. It will only make you better at your craft and give you more inspiration. You’d be surprised to know that I worked as a janitor, a substitute teacher, a delivery guy… you name it, I did it. My experiences were largely the inspiration for the title of my first album, “Blue Collar.”

There is a quote that says “do what you love and the money will follow.” If you’re rapping simply because you love money, then your career is over before it starts.

But if music is truly in your heart, then you have your work cut out for you.


Follow Rhymefest on twitter @rhymefest or visit http://www.popmovement.org