With the recent hype surrounding Macklemore, HNHH wanted to revisit the top Internet phenomenons that were flashes in the pan. Will Macklemore succumb to the same fate?
For hip-hop aficionados, out of all the glorious things it has done, the Internet has most importantly allowed the entire music industry to change. Instead of waiting for labels to promote the hottest new artist and go through painstaking processes to find them, Tweets, Facebook shares, YouTube videos allow every musician, big or small, to be heard. This has allowed rappers to rise rapidly to prominence on the back of a few songs showcasing their potential. The latest of which has been Macklemore as he's taken social media and the whole internet by storm since the release of his single and accompanying video, Thrift Shop. Macklemore had released a mixtape, three EP's, and two independent albums, garnering a large internet following before he dropped his successful debut album, The Heist, this past October. But now, we wonder if Macklemore can build on his new-found fame or will he crumble under the pressure like other past indie Internet sensations?
Looking back over the past few years, there have been a number of artists to rise like phoenixes from the ashes of obscurity because of a hit single that they released on YouTube. Some of these artists had previous mixtapes, studio time, or co-signs to back their claim to fame, but others just got lucky. One of these blessed people was rapper Kreayshawn - remember her? Back in May of 2011, she released the video for her single, "Gucci, Gucci", an instant hit that went viral as soon as it dropped. Generating nearly three million views, it landed Kreayshawn on the cover of Complex Magazine and raised the popularity of her sub-par all-girl group, White Girl Mob - which subsequently disbanded. Fast forward a year and Kreayshawn's name was nowhere to be heard musically. She was aiming jabs at Rick Ross and finding nude pictures of herself online but on the musical scale, she had become irrelevant, so much so that when she finally did release her debut album, Something 'Bout Kreay, which flopped hard, selling only 3,900 copies.
Kreayshawn isn't alone in finding herself to be just a flash in the pan, especially considering the amount of crummy talent the Internet seems to spit out in a daily basis. Take Iggy Azalea or Riff Raff - both of whom rose to prominence on the back of successful mixtapes and singles that went viral. Riff Raff has videos with over 13 million views and is a successful social media icon, but doesn't appear to enough actual talent on the mic to make a successful career out of rapping. He could always follow the path of fellow comedians Andy Milonakis and Dirt Nasty in creating joke-rap songs that become viral hits but sadly never recording a concrete album that will leave behind a legacy.
Iggy Azalea is attempting not to follow in Kreayshawn and Riff Raff's footsteps by touring with artists that have their feet firmly in the game but the similarities are too clear to be overlooked. Having released, "Pu$$y" in 2011, she gained Internet fame when it went viral but much like Kreayshawn, she has taken her time to "perfect" her album, delaying it once already to a 2013 release date. Despite being part of the XXL 2012 "Top 10 Freshmen List", Iggy seems to be having problems with her debut album by not having record label, Grand Hustle, secure her the much needed distribution rights. At the time of writing this article, Iggy is still seeking distribution for her mythical album, The New Classic. Kreayshawn, Iggy Azeala, and Riff Raff have all gained internet fame and had videos go viral but have subsequently failed to capitalize on their success, leaving their fickle audience to move on to the next hottest thing, which just happened to be Seattle native Macklemore.
Macklemore joined Australian Iggy Azeala on the XXL Freshman 10 list for 2012 but has appeared to have had a much more successful year than his colleague. On the back of a successful mixtape in 2009, Macklemore seemed to slip back into obscurity before producer Ryan Lewis helped him resurrect his career by releasing singles off of his previous works to garner more attention to the quirky rapper. After followers flocked to Macklemore, Lewis and him announced a collaborative album to be released in October. With the release of hit single, "Thrift Shop", getting over 19 million views, the album was an instant success, reaching number 1 in the US only a few hours after its digital release. Selling over 134,000 copies, the album featured the likes of Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, grabbing the attention of fans from across the hip-hop landscape.
Macklemore now stands on the precipice of fame but based on his rising popularity and Ryan Lewis' crafty production skills, he might just be sticking around. In a day and age where the average fan is fickle and their attention span is short, it's imperative to capitalize instantly on newfound success; a reality that groups like Odd Future and Pro Era quickly realized. Both groups released albums (Pro Era's crew mixtape dropped December 21st) the year they gained fame. They've both managed to stay relevant in the eyes of fans and critics by constantly reminding us of their talent through album or song releases.
Of course, not to be forgotten in this mix of web phenoms, Trinidad James' quick ascent in the industry has merited him a record deal with Def Jam. It is yet to be seen how this deal will pan out for the "All Gold Everything" rapper, but both critics and fans are abuzz with their opinions on Trinidad.
As Macklemore's presence continues to grow, one can't help but feel he'll be relevant for many a year to come. As Kreayshawn, Iggy Azeala, and Riff Raff have shown, it takes constant releases, not just a marketable image to gain true success in today's rap game. Macklemore isn't afraid to tackle topics like homophobia in rap, equality amongst the races, and is never afraid to speak his mind, a quality lost on most mainstream rappers. Despite songs that tackle hard topics, Macklemore does have a plethora of talent, and uses it to create songs that appeal to a mainstream market. His music just seems to play to the entire hip-hop landscape instead of focusing on a singular niche, a unique facet of Macklemore and possibly the sole reason we might see his stardom rise in the years to come.