Guest Post: Why So Few Hip Hop Artists Find Success

Written by Darius Burgan of Artist Shortcut / Edited by AWKWORD

Thanks to the internet, Hip Hop has grown from a label-dependent industry to one full of opportunities for those willing to go after them. Recording equipment is more affordable, effective marketing platforms are more accessible, and contacting industry professionals is easier than ever. So, why is there still such a small percentage of Hip Hop artists who've become successful? 

The answer to that question is simpler than you think, and it has nothing to do with lack of talent or money.


You can spend all of your time chasing and trying to catch the cat (fame, money, success, etc.), but chances are, you’ll never catch it. The cat is too fast and will always get away from you at the last minute. But what if, instead of chasing the cat, you create cat food (value) and let the cat come to you? 

This is why so few Hip Hop artists become successful. 

They’re too busy chasing success (the cat), instead of creating genuine relationships (cat food), learning how to become successful (cat food), and putting in the work (cat food) necessary to attract success.


I get a lot of emails from hip-hop artist asking these questions:

  • How do I get more views on my Soundcloud?
  • How do I get more followers?
  • How do I get more downloads of my mixtape?
  • How do I sell my music to people?
It makes me sad. When I see these types of emails, I know the artist is chasing success. They’re worried about stats and numbers, when they should be worried about their audience. Views DON'T make you successful, followers DON'T make you successful, and downloads DON'T make you successful. 

Stats, and any money you earn, are a RESULT of the WORK you’re putting in. 

Better questions to ask:

  • How do I add value for my audience?
  • How do I build relationships with influential people?
  • Where can I find educational business, marketing and communications information?
Those are better questions to ask, because:

  • By adding value for your audience, you can enhance fan loyalty and increase engagement. Fan loyalty and increased engagement will attract more Soundcloud plays, followers, downloads, customers, etc.
  • By building relationships with influential people, you increase the amount of opportunities available to you. More opportunities can attract more fans and money.
  • By learning how to become successful through educational information, you’ll begin to learn how to add value to your audience, build relationships with people, and a ton more. 

I’ve listed a few tips below that will help you start attracting success, instead of chasing it. However, before these tips can be helpful, you’ll have to identify whether you've  been chasing success. To find out, simply take a step back and evaluate yourself. Whenever you’re about to do something for your music career, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” 

Your answer should always fall into one of the following categories.

Building Relationships

Relationships are so key that without them you won’t be successful. Now, don’t feel bad or hopeless if you don’t have a lot of relationships with people in the industry. These take a while to build, but once you have them, they’re priceless.

Here are a few tips for building relationships:

Professionally introduce yourself.

Find the email address for 10 influential people in Hip Hop and send them an email introducing yourself. Don’t promote or link your music anywhere in the email. Your main goal is to build a relationship. I usually recommend keeping the email focused on what you can do for them.
If you don’t get a response within 7-14 days, follow up with them. People are busy. It’s possible that your message just got lost in the inbox and your follow-up email will help remind them.

Support them.

You want fans and, likewise, the people with whom you're trying to connect want them too. When you see them post new content, share it on social media, leave a comment and show support. They’ll notice, and this will make connecting with them much easier down the road.

Connect with others in their circle(s).

This is one of my secret techniques. If you want to build a relationship with someone who's hard to reach, focus on building relationships with people around them, and you’ll eventually be able to connect with the hard-to-reach person.

The key to this technique is to build genuine relationships. Do NOT try to build a relationship with someone just so you can get to someone else. That’s the wrong way to use this technique and it’s going to make you look foolish. Only connect with someone if you feel it’s a win-win relationship for both of you.


As the saying goes, “the more you learn, the more you earn.” The more you understand about business, marketing, finance, communications, etc., the more you’ll understand success. 

Success in Hip Hop is not a secret, and everything you need to know can be found in books, on the internet, and from others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to look stupid. The only stupid person is the one who had a question but did not ask it.

Here are a few resources to check out for learning more about becoming a successful hip-hop artist:


In addition to dreaming big, you must put in the work necessary to become successful; and you can't be afraid to fail. A multi-millionaire once told me, “The faster you fail, the faster you get it out of the way and succeed,” and it’s a wonderful quote by which to live. If you’re not making mistakes and failing, you may not be dreaming big enough.


Have you ever found yourself chasing success instead of doing the things necessary to attract success? If so, share your story in the comments and tell us what advice you’d give to anyone who’s still chasing success.

The Top 50 Songs of May [#1 Trending Audiomack Playlist]

AWKWORD's Best of Audiomack Playlist, May 2016

Sure, we’re more than halfway through the month of June, and it’s a little late to drop a Best of May playlist; but, I dropped the April mix around the same time in May, and it’s been streamed a record number of times. Not to mention that good music doesn’t get old, this mix is already the number-one trending playlist on Audiomack, and we’ll revisit all the playlists at the end of the year for the Top 100 of 2016. This month, we have another wide selection spanning the genre, including a number of songs from international artists; some guilty-pleasure bully rap; music for the advancement of our culture; a few pop-leaning head nodders; that good-old boom bap; and even a taste of the South.

Highlights include:
  • Full songs from female rappers Kash and Sa-Roc
  • A Mistah Fab collaboration with his Cali peers Kendrick Lamar and Crooked I
  • Verses from the incredible Invincible of Detroit, as well as The Last Emperor, my favorite rapper when I was in college
  • “They” from Sturk, a rapper new to me who's now an affiliate
  • Two appearances each from newbie Will EQ and my Smart Crew-reppin homie from NY, Meyhem Lauren, whose whole album could’ve made the list
Other notables include: Mark Battles; Masta Ace; (spoken word from) Chuck D; Rise Rashid; (self-produced) Jonwayne; Action Bronson; (guest appearances from) Joe Budden, Pusha T and Cormega; (a freestyle from) Jadakiss; (a remix of) Russ; Homeboy Sandman (twice); Mike Eagle; Aesop Rock; Hus Kingpin; Daniel Son; Conway; and Stargiela. Production this month comes from my producers Harry Fraud, Audible Doctor and C-Lance, as well as list-frequenter Dame Grease; the homie Statik Selektah; Thelonious Martin; Nottz (twice); Ant of Atmosphere; Large Professor; Alchemist, the god; DJ Muggs; and Hippie Sabotage.

  1. Kash – “This Is Me” [prod. by Dame Grease]
  2. Sturk ft. DJ Khaled – “They”
  3. Mark Battles – “Something Real”
  4. Tony B – “Get Away” (Freestyle) [prod. by EZ Elpee]
  5. Blasphome – “We Gonna Make It”
  6. Mistah Fab ft. Kendrick Lamar, Crooked I & Kobe Honeycutt – “Survive” [prod. by Tha Bizness]
  7. Masta Ace ft. Pav Bundy, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble & Chuck D – “Young Black Intelligent (Y.B.I.)” [prod. by KIC Beats]
  8. Maylay Sparks ft. Rucker Pawk, The Last Emperor & DJ Devastate – “Illadelph Elohim” [prod. by Koolade]
  9. Sa-Roc – “Code of Hammurabi” [prod. by Sol Messiah]
  10. The Black Opera ft. Guilty Simpson, Invincible & Magestik Legend – “Faces of Death” [prod. by Audible Doctor]
  11. Mozzy – “Pain Killers” [prod. by TD Slaps]
  12. Charlieboi (Ghana) ft. Jay Buzzles – “Struggles” [prod. by Charlieboi]
  13. Nowaah The Flood – “Change” [prod. by Cap Chino]
  14. Rise Rashid – “A Mother Like You” [prod. by DJ Terrorkane]
  15. ELem (South Africa) – “Blessed” [prod. by ELem]
  16. Ignition (South Africa) ft. KayKay – “Blessings” [prod. by Siz]
  17. DA – “TIMI 2 Intro” [prod. by Yung Corelione]
  18. Jonwayne – “Wonka” [prod. by Jonwayne]
  19. Slayter ft. Michael Christmas – “Shit on Her” [prod. by Thelonious Martin]
  20. Action Bronson – “The Rainmaker” [prod. by Statik Selektah]
  21. Will EQ – “Ctrl Alt Delete” [prod. by The Psychonautz]
  22. Will EQ ft. Dave East – “Started in the Hooptie” [prod. Phantom Boyz & Arkitexx]
  23. Casey Veggies – “Perfect Timing” [prod. by Harry Fraud]
  24. Curren$y – “Supply & Demand” [prod. by Marvel Hitz]
  25. Hodgy Beats – “Kobain” [prod. by Nottz]
  26. Super Nike Nando & SMII Much – “Mr. Everywhere” [prod. by Swellthy]
  27. Scott King ft. DJ Greg Street – “No Role Models” (Remix) [prod. by Phonix Beats & J. Cole]
  28. MC Moeblak – “Enjoy Tha Summer” [prod. by Erick Towerz (Peru)]
  29. Joey B ft. Joe Budden – “By Myself” [prod. by C-Lance]
  30. Kyle Lucas – “I Can’t Stay” [prod. by 20syl]
  31. Russ – “What They Want (Crisis Remix)” [prod. by Russ & DJ Millhammer]
  32. ARos ft. Pusha T – “All I Wanted”
  33. Ely Ayers – “Move Along” [prod. by TaylorM]
  34. Lex One & Mike Beatz (FKA Wizard Sleeve) – “My Own Worst Remedy” [prod. by Mike Beatz]
  35. Homeboy Sandman – “Kindness for Weakness” [prod. by K-Nite)
  36. Aesop Rock ft. Homeboy Sandman & Open Mike Eagle – “Syrup” [prod. by Ant of Atmosphere]
  37. Alpha Faktion – “Creative Control” [prod. by Nottz]
  38. Alex Wiley – “I Need That” [prod. by Hippie Sabotage]
  39. Tek (of Smiff N Wessun) – “Money” (Freestyle)
  40. Farid Bang (Spain/Germany) ft. Fat Joe – “Escobar”
  41. Spic Academy (Godilla, Adrian Adonis, JBL The Titan & DJ Rybe) – “Tamales” [prod. by JBL The Titan & DJ Rybe]
  42. Meyhem Lauren – “Elevation” [prod. by DJ Muggs]
  43. Meyhem Lauren – “Not Guilty” [prod. by Large Professor]
  44. Hus Kingpin ft. Sage Infinite – “Kingpin’s Canvas” [prod. by Camoflauge Monk]
  45. Killer Ben – “Half the Man” [prod. by Twiz the Beat Pro]
  46. Flash ft. Conway – “El Padrone” [prod. by Flash]
  47. Daniel Son – “Silvio” [prod. by Giallo Point]
  48. Havoc (of Mobb Deep) & The Alchemist ft. Cormega – “Hear Me Now” [prod. by Alchemist]
  49. Stargiela ft. 808 & Saj – “Rap Money”
  50. Jadakiss – “All The Way Up (Remix)” [prod. by Edsclusive]

UpcomingHipHop Podcast Ep. 3: Rapper, Executive Producer, Blogger & Publicist AWKWORD

The Upcoming Hip Hop Podcast episode 3 features a conversation between Matt O and AWKWORD. They discuss many aspects of the music industry including executive producing, PR, blogging, and more. AWKWORD is a Global Hip Hop Ambassador; Protest Music/Rap Artist, Songwriter and Executive Producer; Social Justice and Civil Rights Activist; Hip Hop Educator; Sociologist; Journalist and Blogger; and Cultural Influencer. He is the creator of the first and only 100% for-charity global Hip Hop album, World View, which features contributions from six continents and 16 countries, and from which all proceeds are donated to Guns 4 Cameras, a 501c3-registered nonprofit that strives to end gun and gang violence through the Hip Hop-inspired education and empowerment of ‘at-risk’ youth. AWKWORD focuses on the transformative power of Hip Hop, by connecting us globally through thought, sound and sight. He recently released the critically acclaimed international Hip Hop collaboration “I Am,” featuring artists from nine countries and four continents. He’s now raising money through to create the music video, shot in the artists’ homelands. 

The Upcoming Hip Hop Podcast was created by Upcoming Hip Hop’s founder Matt O to give you the information you need to succeed in the music industry. The podcast will feature small business owners, bloggers, A&Rs, managers, promoters, tastemakers, and more. Week after week guests will bring their own unique perspective to the show that will help you get an all around look at the entertainment and music industry. The guests of the show will be handpicked by the team at UHH so that we can provide you with the most helpful information possible. They may not own the biggest or most popular brands but they will have the experience. A lot of our guests have been doing their thing for more than 2-3 years. The goal isn’t for you to copy their idea but be inspired by it and create something great of your own.

AWKWORD Presents: The Top 50 Hip Hop/Rap Songs of April

This month's mix blends boombap, political, international, bully rap and even a pop rap song from a diverse selection of artists both well established and unknown. You might hear something you missed from an all-time great (e.g., the Phife Dawg tribute from KRS-One); or you might discover an artist who becomes a new favorite (e.g., Chisom). At the very least, you’ll rock out to the “Dirty Cops” remix from Onyx and Snowgoons, and you’ll get hooked on another self-produced gem from rapper/singer Russ. Enjoy. And be sure to download the Audiomack app so you can play this on your commute.

  1. Onyx ft. Chris Rivers – “Dirty Cops (Remix)” [prod. by Snowgoons]
  2. Killa Kyleon – “Black History Month” [prod. by Trill Gates]
  3. CHI-ILL & Dame Grease – “Show the World Somethin” [prod. by Dame Grease]
  4. The Undergrind – “Declaration” [prod. by The Key Majors]
  5. Modenine (Nigeria) ft. Amuta Stone & Uchie The African Rockstar – “My Country” [prod. by Chordless]
  6. King Hakim ft. C. Dilla – “Homicide” [prod. by P. Vidal]
  7. Ajay Krae (Zimbabwe) – “Legends” [prod. by XVI_RULE]
  8. Taj Mahal & Elite Lyricists (aka E.Lz)  – “Soldier” [prod. by WatchM.E.N.]
  9. Yohannes (Canada) – “Plan of Power”
  10. Senica Da Misfit – “Where Yah Eyes At”
  11. Grafh ft. Royce da 5’9” – “Wrong One” [prod. by Pete Rock]
  12. A$AP Nast, A$AP Twelvyy & A$AP Rocky – “Presidents”
  13. Schoolboy Q – “Groovy Tony” [prod. by Tae Beast]
  14. Beanie Sigel – “Top Shotta” [prod. by Jahlil Beats]
  15. Havoc & The Alchemist ft. Method Man – “Buck 50s & Bullet Wounds” [prod. by Alchemist]
  16. Ty Farris – "Invitation 2 Da Streets" [prod. by Alchemist]
  17. Baby Aztro ft. WestSide Gunn – “Resti2shin” [prod. by Mikey Strange]
  18. Conway – “Bandit” [prod. by Nicholas Craven]
  19. Big Twins & Twiz the Beat Pro – “Rap Star” [prod. by Twiz the Beat Pro]
  20. Larry Fisherman ft. Your Old Droog – “!Go Fish! Volume 2” [prod. by Larry Fisherman]
  21. Red Eye ft. Tragedy Khadafi, Goretex (of Non Phixion) & DJ Tray – “Olympic Melo” [prod. by DJ Tray]
  22. Ugly Heroes – “This World” [prod. by Apollo Brown]
  23. Superior (Germany) ft. Verbal Kent – “Mastermind” [prod. by Superior]
  24. Atmosphere ft. Grieves & G Koop – “Fireflies” [prod. by Ant]
  25. Chisom – “REAL.” [prod. by Cyan]
  26. DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels – “Nobody Speak” [prod. by DJ Shadow]
  27. Radamiz ft. I.O.D., Kidaf, Oswin Benjamin & L.atasha A.lcindor – “1 CROWN” [prod. by B L A N K]
  28. Hi-Rez ft. Sean Price – “Stuck Somewhere” [prod. by Rekstarr]
  29. Awon & Phoniks – “Concrete Confessions (Remix)” [prod. by Phoniks]
  30. MCskill ThaPreacha (Nigeria) – “Beats And Rhymes [Episode One]” [prod. by Stormatique]
  31. KRS-One – “The Phife Tribute” [prod. by DJ Static]
  32. The Game ft. Lorine Chia – “Rest In Purple (Prince Tribute)” [prod. by Bongo By The Way]
  33. Charlee Rich ft. Jus-10 – “My Nigga” [prod. by Platinum Sellers Beats]
  34. G Koop & O-Man ft. Brother Ali – “Ya Mawlana” [prod. by G Koop & O-Man & Ant (of Atmosphere)]
  35. Fashawn – “Heart Gently Weeps” [prod. by Hecktik & Jukebawks]
  36. N.O.R.E. ft. Killer Mike & Sleepy Brown – “Make ‘Em Pay” [prod. by Caviar]
  37. Stalley – “Ball” [prod. by Rashad]
  38. Stargiela – “Believe It’s Jumpin”
  39. Phlow (Nigeria) ft. Gogo – “Reminder” [prod. by Teck-Zilla (Canada)]
  40. Storm – “Skool Dayz”
  41. Tone Atlas – “Death of a Salesman” [prod. by Mazik Beats]
  42. Tayyib Ali – “I’m Back” [prod. by DJ Grumble]
  43. Koncept & J57 – “Live For It (Bless The Booth Freestyle)” [prod. by J57]
  44. Ray Vegas – “Look Alive” [prod. by Spence Mills]
  45. Ess Vee – “City Lights” [prod. by Tecknowledgy]
  46. St. Basil ft. Mike D’Angelo & Santos – “City Life” [prod. by Digital Crates]
  47. Sean Brown – “Thru The City” [prod. by Sean Brown]
  48. Russ – “Manifest” [prod. by Russ]
  49. Super Nike Nando – “Uber Everywhere (Remix)” [prod. by K Swisha]
  50. DJ Doobious (Switzerland) – “Voices”

5 Reasons Vinyl is Better

I'm a music lover. Spent my entire life embracing sounds, artists and the equipment used to enjoy it. I've had genuine love for each new and supposedly game-changing format. I can see why the digital format is rocking the universe. But I would be remiss if I didn't admit when I think of the best ways to listen to music, it goes back to where I started: the vinyl recording.

I think it's unfortunate that vinyl has become something of a rarity. Vinyl remains a great way to enjoy music. Put down that iPad for a second and take a look at five reasons why vinyl is better than any other music format.

There's a greater chance you'll explore new forms of music.

Go into iTunes or open your Tidal account and you go straight to the tune you want. Ariana Grande, the new one from Mariah or that tune you heard from this old group called the Rolling Stones, you put what you want in your cart and download.

At the record store, you might end up buying something you wouldn't have otherwise. A big part of the vinyl experience is finding something outside your comfort zone. The Belieber could discover 70s soul! The Britney Spears fan could learn why Cher is forever!

Buying Vinyl is an Unparalleled Experience

No one spends hours in a digital music store. In today's world, we're more interested in the Adele video that's getting millions of hits on YouTube. At the record store, time can fly while you explore amazing album art or unique artists like Captain Sky. You might drop some cash just to hear the sounds.

A Vinyl Collection can be an Investment

Think 30 years from now. How many people will you come across looking for Drake or Maroon 5? Not many. Digital is indeed forever. But that also means it will always be available. While you won't even be able to legally sell your MP3, the collector can sell that vinyl record.

Anyone with a vinyl collection has brokered a collection that can't be found anywhere else. For a solid comparison, your digital copy of the Beatles "Yesterday and Today" will never make you money. In 1996, a vinyl copy sold for $38,800.

Vinyl Doesn't Have to Be Loud

Vinyl – as well as earlier formats like tape and 8-track — doesn't have to be loud. CD and digital music are artificially engineered formats that can't be louder. It's why so many people in public with headphones have their music so loud you can hear it across the street. Digital is a flat format transferred to a file that loses texture and depth. If you need proof, play a digital version of a song and then the vinyl version. Note which sounds better without having to turn the volume up.

Vinyl Sounds Better

And the debate goes on. Your digital music does indeed have that clean sound, but it will never have that rich, mahogany-warm spirit you get from vinyl. Audio compressed digital is designed to lose something. You can go 56 and have room for more music, go the standard 128 or go as high as 356 for a better sound, but sacrificing storage space.

As vinyl was engineered to be listened to under specific circumstances with no compromise, it will always sound as good as the originators intended it to.

This Guest Blog was written by Jessica Kane, a music connoisseur, an avid record collector, and a writer for SoundStageDirect.

Which Music Streaming Services Best Serve Indie Artists?

Since time immemorial, the most important things for artists has been to make their music available to the largest audience possible. In the modern era, nothing has been more effective as the internet in providing a massive audience to artists. Music streaming services are at the forefront in offering artists an opportunity to tap into a broad audience while still earning income from that audience.

When it comes to those music streaming services, however, most internet platforms tend to give more exposure to established artists. Independent and self-releasing artists usually find enormous hurdles when submitting music to streaming services such as the need to have a record label or a digital distributor, which locks out many talented artists.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular services:


One of the oldest streaming services on the internet with arguably the largest listenership of all streaming services at 81 million a month, you could not do any better. Pandora asserts that its mission is to connect artists with an audience that will love their music regardless of popularity or style of music. With its Music Genome Project driven recommendations and playlists, you are sure to get listenership on the platform. Its latest acquisition of Rdio means that your music can now find a greater audience even if it not in English as it now holds an audience in more than 60 countries.

When it comes to independent artists, Pandora is a pioneer in this space launching its open submission process in 2014. The open submission process is an easy process that allows any artist to submit their work to the service. It requires no CD release or prerequisites since your contact information and a link to your tracks will be enough for submitting your music on the website’s submissions page.

Google Play

While a relatively late entrant to the music streaming industry, Google Play Music is a good option for independent artists due to its straightforward submission process. As an independent artist, all you have to do is register a Google Play artist hub account (anyone with a Google account can register) that you can use to control distribution, downloading and streaming settings, and retail prices. The service offers a simple step-by-step process to create an album on your account that you can complete in minutes.

My favorite aspect of the Google Play Music service is that unlike other services, every track on Google Play has a generous 90-second preview that your listeners can listen to before making s purchasing decision. Moreover, you can reach 35 million streamers who can instantly purchase and stream your music from the cloud. If you want to do something different, you can change your distribution, retail and streaming settings for tracks and albums at any time.


Tidal is the new kid on the block with innovative ideas. Acquired by Jay-Z and 16 other big name artists, its mission is the promotion of artists and equal and fair pay for those artists. This assertion alone makes this a service that you need to check out as an independent or self-releasing artist. The many features of the Tidal platform including Tidal Discovery, Tidal Rising and the short articles and videos to entertain and inform listeners about music genres, artists, producers and studios could come in handy to boost your profile as an independent artist.

However, the bad news is that while Tidal declares that you do not need an intermediary to submit your music, in reality, they only remove record companies and introduce a requirement for digital distributors instead. After signing a contract with one, all of these distributors charge either annual fees ranging up to $50 per year or a portion of your royalties. Moreover, while Tidal says that Discovery artists that perform well on the platform will be in the featured section of Tidal Discovery, this section is a subpage rather than the homepage. This means that your exposure will likely be minimal.


Boasting over 60 million active monthly users spread over 58 countries, Spotify is one of the fastest growing streaming services. Unlike other services, the service allows users to generate their own playlists and customize their radio station options. It even integrates with social media with few difficulties. On the other hand, the lack of an auto-generated playlist may be a negative. Your music may never be discovered on the platform as it would on a site such as Pandora.

Similar to Tidal, Spotify does not allow independent artists to upload their submissions directly on the platform which really is a shame given that it is one of the industry leaders. To submit your music to Spotify, you have to go through either artist aggregators or label aggregators that have deals with Spotify. The aggregators are in charge of the distribution and licensing of your music. This includes handling all royalty payments that your streams generate on the platform.

Apple Music

The newest entrant to the music streaming industry, Apple Music does not seem to offer much to indie artists. While it has a radio station, it is likely to favor established artists. The only main advantage the service has is its massive growth since its inception.

The main gripe I have with Apple Music is that it will not allow Indie artists to submit music to the platform but instead directs users to independent aggregators. Apple Music offers little control over distribution, retailing and royalty payments. The most you can do as an independent artist is upload your videos and backstage performances to your Apple Music profile to connect with fans. The aggregators are in charge of all aspects of distribution and licensing.

Streaming from Geo-Blocked Countries

If you are an artist in a country not known for an open internet and open expression, you may run into some problems online. A drawback of using streaming services is that not all of them are available in every country. If you are in a country in which your favorite streaming service is not available, a VPN service is your best bet. With a wide-reaching VPN, you can change your IP address with a click of your mouse to a country that the service supports and get access to the tools you need. Don’t let your location get in the way of reaching a wide audience.

The Verdict

Overall Pandora and Google Play Music have the best platform for an independent artist. Tidal offers artist power but it has yet to be convincing. Apple Music and Spotify have exponential growth and huge audiences in their favor, but they still require aggregators as intermediaries.

What streaming service do you believe is best for the independent artist in offering a level playground? Join the conversation below.

This Guest Blog was written by Cassie Phillips, a blogger and writer for

Visual Artists: Get Featured on

In honor of Praverb The Wyse, his brother Mike Gaits is introducing a new feature to ART OF THE MONTH. Artists and fans of P are highly encourage to participate.


1. Draw/Design your best impression of Praverb spitting on the mic, using his lyrics in any one his songs.

2. Include *teal* in your work.

3. Sign/Autograph your work. 

4. Submit your art in .jpg, .gif or .png format. 

5. Email Mike your submission, with 'Praverb Art Contest' in the subject line.


1. Submissions will be judged based on creativity and effort. 

2. The winner will be announced on the 17th of each month. 

3. The winning submission will be published on as 'Praverb Art of the Month'.

The Top 50 Hip Hop Songs of March (An AWKWORD Curation)

Rapper, Influencer, Journalist and Blogger AWKWORD has released his monthly Audiomack playlist of the best rap/Hip Hop songs to be released to the public. While not every song would be approved by the late, great Praverb, the concept -- showcasing the talents of up-and-coming and established independent artists -- certainly would. Stream the mix in full below.


  1. Fafu ft. Phife Dawg - Beats, Rhymes & Phife (Freestyle) [prod. by Kanye West, Madlib, J Dilla & Fafu]
  2. Zeds Dead ft. Freddie Gibbs - Back Home [prod. by Zeds Dead]
  3. Chance The Rapper - Blessings (Save Money Prayer) [prod. by Professor Fox]
  4. Jack Garratt ft. Anderson .Paak - Worry [prod. by Jack Garratt & Carassius Gold]
  5. DJ Carisma ft. BJ The Chicago Kid & Casey Veggies - Naturally [prod. by DJ Carisma & Dreem Team]
  6. Yasir Hall - PIV [prod. by Ricky Vela]
  7. Ronin Kenshin - No More
  8. Dominant1 ft. Kanye West - I Love Kanye (Remix) [prod. by Dominant1]
  9. Thurz ft. Tiffany Gouche - Waiting (Remix) [prod. by 14KT]
  10. St. Basil - What I Want [prod. by Sarom Soundz]
  11. Sasha Go Hard - Dear Yaniahl [prod. by JDOnThaTrack]
  12. Styles p - Yourz (Freestyle) [prod. by !llmind]
  13. K2 - Heaven's Gate [prod. by Dre Minor]
  14. Tha Soloist - Tainted Youth [prod. by Symphonik Bang]
  15. Nova King - Bentley Outro [prod. by Common Cause aka CC]
  16. Dexter Baysiq - Grind 6-6 [prod. by GNIK Records]
  17. Ty Blacc ft. S.K. Day - Ball Out [prod. by Mal Magik]
  18. Denzel Curry - Gook [prod. by FNZ & Ronny J]
  19. Styles P - Permission (Freestyle) [prod. by Soundz]
  20. Tayyib Ali - Midnight in Philly [prod. by 20K]
  21. Chi City - Untitled [prod. by Deafh]
  22. Add-2 - Good Mourning Black America [prod. by F.C. The Truth, Sam Trump & Johndavid Provitt]
  23. David Banner ft. Ernestine Johnson - Evil Knievil [prod. by Seige Monstracity]
  24. Reminisce ft. Wale - Asalamalekun (Remix) [prod. by Sarz]
  25. Casper & B ft. Marc E. Bassy & Michael Christmas - Work Hard [prod. by Casper & B]
  26. Aesop Rock - Untouchable (Freestyle) [prod. by Timbaland]
  27. DITC (Fat Joe, Lord Finesse & Diamond D) - Rock Shyt [prod. by Supa Ugly]
  28. PackFM - Crazy [prod. by GrandRiggity]
  29. Doitall (of Lords of the Underground) - Underground [prod. by Bunty Beats]
  30. Royce Da 5'9" - Wait [prod. by Jake One]
  31. Bishop Brigante ft. Ken Masters - High Stakes Bars
  32. PR Dean ft. PumpkinHead, Sha Stimuli & Tools Beastly - It's a Massacre
  33. Nutso ft. Ea$y & Termanology - Sum Otha Sh!t [prod. by Statik Selektah]
  34. Pro Status & Jakk Wonders - More [prod. by Jakk Wonders]
  35. Brooklyn & Peter Jackson ft. Raekwon - Everywhere I Go [prod. by Vokab]
  36. Agallah ft. Doe Boy & Eric The Great - Drugs for the pain [prod. by Agallah]
  37. Planet Asia & DJ Concept - Gold Vases [prod. by DJ Concept]
  38. Planet Asia & DJ Concept ft. Sean Price & DJ Devastate - The Festival [prod. by DJ Concept]
  39. Timeless Truth ft. Sean Price - Hardbody Karate [prod. by DJ Woof]
  40. Chuuwee & Trizz - Black Magic [prod. by Ac3]
  41. Big Twins & Twiz the Beat Pro ft. The Alchemist & Evidence - Take Away the Lies [prod. by Twiz the Beat Pro]
  42. Daniel Son - Rag Top Porsches [prod. by Vic Grimes]
  43. Billie Essco ft. WestSide Gunn - Satin Jacket$ [prod. by MitchArizona]
  44. WestSide Gunn ft. Hus Kingpin - Bob Backlund [prod. by K-Sluggah]
  45. Hus Kingpin - Numbers Up [prod. by One Session]
  46. Marvelous Mag - We Got Next [prod. by Giallo Point]
  47. SmooVth ft. Milano & Sean Rosati - Road Warriorz [prod. by Vic Grimes]
  48. Styles P - All the Way Ghost (Freestyle) [prod. by Edsclusive]
  49. Richie P (of GS9) - Troy Ave Diss (Freestyle)
  50. Action Bronson - Mr. Wonderful [prod. by Samiyam]

About the Author 
 @AWKWORDrap | Global Hip Hop Ambassador | Rapper, Songwriter, Executive Producer | Activist | Journalist | Influencer | #ProtestMusic #WorldView #HipHopEd

Chisom Takes Burna Boy's 'Soke' to the Next Level

With the music video for his hit Hip Hop-meets-Afrobeat single "Africa Get Money" on the way, Detroit-based, 23-year-old rapper/producer Chisom has dropped a loosie to tide us over: his Hip Hop-meets-Dancehall remix of Burna Boy's "Soke", which finds the first-generation Nigerian American rapping and singing in Igbo and English to complement Burna Boy's Yoruba. [Chisom has also shared news of an upcoming EP, Melo, dropping in May.]

Buy the CD-quality version of the song. Help decode the song lyrics. Follow Chisom.

About the Author

 @AWKWORDrap | Global Hip Hop Ambassador | Rapper, Songwriter, Executive Producer | Activist | Journalist | Influencer | #ProtestMusic #WorldView #HipHopEd

What Is Hip Hop?

AWKWORD Launches GoFundMe Campaign for Global Collab 'I Am"

I had a chance to listen to AWKWORD's "I Am" single, and I have to admit that the lyrics from all 8 vocalists really caught my attention. Each and every bar delivered revealed the honest truth about their native homelands and the unique circumstances they each face. Instrumentally the song is very rich. Overall it's a must listen! Support a Global Hip-Hop Cause!

New Music:
AWKWORD "I Am" Global Collab
Produced by Teck-Zilla
Featuring Modenine, Five Steez, Holstar, Latasha Alcindor, Third Eye, Wakazi, The Assembly, Maka & DJ J Hart

9 Countries, 4 Continents, 1 Song.
"I Am" is the latest international collaborative effort from global Hip Hop ambassador, rap artist and #HipHopEd representative AWKWORD, creator of the 2014 album 'World View' that featured -- for the first time in Hip Hop history -- contributions from every continent on earth. As part of his ongoing effort to connect us worldwide through Hip Hop music and culture, as well as showcase the Motherland, the Diaspora and women in Hip Hop, AWKWORD connected with Nigerian-born Canadian producer Teck-Zilla, Nigerian songstress Maka and French DJ J Hart to recruit an All-Star cast of emcees to join him on the "I Am" Global Posse Cut, including Latasha Alcindor (USA), Holstar (Zambia), Wakazi (Tanzania), Five Steez (Jamaica), Modenine (Nigeria), The Assembly (South Africa), and Third Eye (Malawi). Aptly entitled "I Am", the song features 9 emcees sharing truths about their lives in their respective home countries across Africa, the Caribbean and the United States. The song will appear on AWKWORD's 2016 EP 'Mid-Flight' and the forthcoming Best of AWKWORD mixtape, sponsored by The Hitmen & All proceeds from the sale of the song will go toward financing the creation of the video, so all the artists can truly show who they are and where they're from.


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Music Video for Africa/the Diaspora

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Music for Africa, and African Americans, from a Nigerian Son

Chisom Uzosike (@AfricanChisom) - 'Africa Get Money' [prod. by Chisom]

"Whether you’re in NYC, the DMV, or in Lagos, bust out your Kente loafers & jollof rice, this joint is sure to make you vibe." -- RESPECT

Fresh off the release of his eye-catching debut music video, Chisom delivers the self-produced "Africa Get Money" -- a lively, Rap-meets-Afrobeat anthem. The Detroit-based MC/producer shows off his Nigerian roots and the new wave of African culture in America.

"Africa Get Money" is a call to celebration: an ode to prosperity and enjoyment, for anyone down to partake. "Yeah, they birthed me here, but I rep home / Plan to stunt hard next time I get home," Chisom raps. The newly-minted 23-year-old makes sure to show love to West Africa; he shouts out everything from Kente loafers & jollof rice, to stylish, Ankara print-clad ladies.

"Africa Get Money" is featured on Chisom's debut EP, The Jordan Year, available now for complimentary download!

FREE Stream x Download:

About Chisom

Chisom (Chisom Uzosike) is a 23-year old producer, rapper and creative director, born in Detroit and raised in Maryland. He’s the eldest son of Nigerian immigrants, and the first in his family born in America. While his father exposed him to music from all corners of Africa in the house, young Chisom discovered Hip Hop in elementary school, where his classmates introduced him to Baltimore’s local Hip Hop/R&B station. 
Chisom began producing Hip Hop music at 17, inspired by stars like DJ Premier, The Neptunes and Kanye West. Drawing from his love of music of all genres, his keen ear for samples and his Nigerian roots, he quickly developed a striking, eclectic style. His work has been praised by music critics and featured on Sway in the Morning, DJBooth, The Fader, and more.
Gifted with a smooth flow and deep, resonant voice, Chisom combines slick wordplay with real-life themes and vibrant production. His cultural/musical influences shine through every song: the verbal dexterity and swagger of the East Coast, the entrancing rhythms of Afrobeat, and the ultra cool, laid-back attitude of the West Coast. 



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