Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rich Nichols

I won't pretend I know much about him outside of liner notes, and his sometimes overpowering presence in Questlove's memoirs, but The Roots have managed to stay successful for a very long time, managing to somehow find a way to stay relevant through changing landscape of the music industry, since their debut (yeah, I know), in 1994. He was a very passionate and intelligent brother, and I'm sure he was no small part of their ability to survive and adapt.

Here's an old post from the message board Okayplayer, where Rich addresses some fans who thought The Roots were not doing enough to promote their 2008 release, Rising Down.


Come on adrian, stop being the sensitive type (what are you 22
years old or
something?). As you can see, I don't post here on any regular
basis so,
I can hardly be charged with driving dedicated okayplayers
(but a nigga can wish). 

Couple of points.

I'm not bitter nor do I have a chip on my virtual shoulders
I will respond aggressively when individuals come at us on
cybergressive steez. Flexing and saying things that they
say if not for their anonymity, or lack of proximity. 

Anyone who has met me is aware that I'm consistent, that my
on-line persona doesn't vary from my real world one and that
I stay on the  "eye for an eye".

As for me being an asshole, that's industry rule number one.
Be an asshole. You can't survive this shit without being an
I have met every label head in the business. They are all
assholes. Lyor Cohen...definitive-asshole, Jimmy Iovine
Clive Davis... historic-asshole. Let's not talk about the
niggas of the industry.
Puff, Dame, Irv, Jay, Suge, Benny.  These guys could give less
than a fuck about 
your touchy feeley  sentiments. They're assholes.  It's their
While I'm hardly in that echelon of shit cutters, I must
admit, I'm an asshole
as well. 

My aggression isn't directed at the supportive fans that have
constructive criticism, the ones that make known their
opinions, wishes, disappointments etc. and then respectfully
fall back. These supporters, like minded artists, aspiring
writers, musicians, business types, general well wishers and
kindred spirits that we encounter in cyberspace or in general
population, are our lifeblood and we respect them. We
certainly wouldn't have survived for 16 years plus as one of
the only Black touring bands, not respecting them, our
psychographic base, our living breathing demographic.

The Okayplayers that I do have a problem with are the
aggressive, dissatisfied
(to the point of being hateful), frustrated, narcissistic ones
(there is also a
passive aggressive/narcissistic variation of this archetype).
These bitter, third wave Okayplayers are usually (or
unusually) frustrated artists,
producers, journalists and bloggers who have yet to see their
work acknowledged in a way they feel is meaningful. Most of
these people have no way of nuancing their social 
selves and are largely unknown outside the message boards of a
select number of online communities or the heads of their
bitter progeny. They're the backseat drivers, the
armchair quarterbacks, couch potato A&R's who won't shut
the fuck up. 
Their refrains go something like this: "Yall gonna catch
a brick", "That's why
yall went wood", "The Roots are meh", " I
stopped listening to them 
after Illadelph", "Thought is
boring"....yada.... yada...fucking yada.
It would be cool if these lames said that shit twenty times
and disappeared into 
the hip hop abyss that is the comment section of rival sites. 
Instead for these fucks, Okayplayer has become some weird part
of their 
"Primal Scream Therapy".  They are drawn here hour
after hour, day after day, year after year, to clear their
fucked conscience. For them, I pray and pray for their
downfall. They are the worst elements, lowering the bar of
support to the point that a regular fan feels comfortable
saying semi-foul shit. Yet we should grin and take it right?

(That's why you (Adrian) feel like you can say some shit like,
us "okayplayers are all you got", rattle off some
bullshit about a "clear conscience" and feel
justified. How bout this.....FUCK YOUR CONSCIENCE. Now do we
still "got" you?  Or is it bye bye to your trouble
and your spirit?  Yes,I'm an asshole). 

Anyway, back to this elusive casual buyer that Trouble, High
Volt and, nut ass Bialystoker allude to...Who are these casual
buyers? What artists do they support? 

Coke rappers...Jeezy,Rick Ross,TI, Jay Z. Lil Wayne.
Tween rap.... Soulja Boy, Bow Wow (in decline), Hurricane
Chris (ringtone only)
Huge artists in decline 50, Luda, Snoop, Outkast 

For the most part hip hop is a singles market. Singles for the
most part are lifestyle driven.
Lifestyle meaning crack, club, bitches, guns all that boots
with fur shit.
Does this sound like something that the Roots could traffic

There is Kanye, a winner but a very specific type, post ironic
and non committal.
A lil backpack, a lot of dizzy dazzle. The self professed Dear
Moma-ing, Louis 
Vuitton Don. Spends 10 million plus making and marketing his
albums. That
can create lots of casual buyer awareness (for the record I
think the boy is dope).
Can we traffic like that?

There is Common/Lupe.

Casual buyer appeal.
Lupe a  young newcomer with a Kanye association, a fresh face,
a skate boarder,
nerd, etc., a kid  who resonates with kids (his first outing
sold just 350k btw) and, has only been around for two albums.
His label outspent Def Jam two to one on marketing.  

There is Common, clearly the lone winner (gold plus) on this
side of
the left of center divide, thanks once again to the Kanye
associated buzz (fyi, Kanye isn't intersested in producing,
cameo-ing or, touring with anything Roots...we have asked).
More recently casual buyer awareness by films and Oprah
Geffen outspent Def jam three to one marketing his last
project relative to The Roots.
Believe it or not for all "the Roots only go wood
talk" Do You Want More Is gold,
Illadelph is 475K, Things Fall Apart 900k, Phrenology 700k,
Tipping Point 470k....
Game Theory did 200k which -if you check any recent  soundscan
you will discover 
that this-is pretty much the new hip hop reality (with the
exception of the 
aforementioned lifestyle artists and the Kanye bubble). 
But now I got hear about the casual buyer from people who have
never sold one 
record in their entire life (or received per diem for that

Given the shape of the industry in general (google any label
and layoffs)
and Def Jam specifically we expect diminishing returns (name
one act selling 
more than a fraction of what they sold just two years ago). We
the industry's new reality along with possibility of becoming
more niche than 
mainstream. So, exactly where does the casual buyer fit into
this equation?  
Are casual buyers at the core of niche artists sales? 

In closing, the Roots have done over 100 interviews in the
last month.
Including  The New York times, Vanity Fair ,Spin, Blender,
Urb, Fader,
Rolling Stone (a six page feature), XXL. THe Source, Vibe,
Essence, The 
Washington Post,USA Today,etc. etc. We tour constantly.  Check
our dates.
Just this week we appeared on Night of Too Many Stars and, as
Colbert. We are headlining DC's Green Apple Festival at the
National Mall 
in front of 100,000 people on April 20th. We have Letterman on
April 28th.
VH1 Soul Stage at the beginning of May. We got the cover of
Urb, a six page 
feature in Rolling Stone and a feature in the New York Times. 

Our records have been serviced but, no significant play (Flex
dropped bombs
on Get Busy so I know he has it). Our video (no real budgets)
has been serviced
(Get Busy) no significant play. Def Jam is having internal
problems as are 
all labels.  Hip hop has been losing almost 30% of its market
share every passing year
and the industry overall is in decline (Soundscan anyone?).

I wish y'all would do some homework before y'all start
yapping, that's if you care.

If you don't care ...shut the fuck up.

If you don't care and still want to yap ...yap this dick in
your mouth.

RIP Rich Nichols.