What’s the toughest part about being a music journalist?
Hip-hop journalism — like all aspects of the music industry — is dominated by men. For women, there’s a constant fight to attain credibility from artists and the industry as a whole. You want to be respected for your pen game. That often means you just have to kick down the door for a seat at the table.
How can publishers be more helpful to freelance writers?
Pay me (and on time!) That sounds pretty basic but you won’t imagine how many publishers believe the adage of ‘paying your dues’ really means working for free. I’m of the mentality that: you get what you pay for. Publishers that value quality journalists get the best work while other outlets rely on interns to write cover stories.
There’s also a larger trend across media of ‘pivoting to video’ that gives me pause. It’s essentially a nice way of saying that a publication is going to fire writers in lieu of YouTube stars. Yes, video is an integral part of media but it isn’t the only piece. I wish more publishers would play to their strengths and be thoughtful in their strategy versus jumping on the clickbait flavor-of-the-week.
Gosh, I know exactly what you mean. I was at a place that pivoted to video three years in a row. When you are interviewing someone, what’s the best way to get them to open up?
Listen. I can’t tell you how many journalists try to make the interview about themselves. Shut the fuck up and listen.You just might learn something.
What’s been the most underrated album of the year?
Action Bronson Blue Chips 7000. If you’re a fan of crazy, weirdo hip-hop sampling, you should listen to this record. Harry Fraud, Alchemist and PartySupplies handle production. Like, cmon bro. People slept on that album.
How has Twitter influenced your career in journalism?
Twitter is a game-changer for me. I can’t tell you the number of gigs I’ve booked because of my social media presence. Nearly every editor (as well as radio and TV producer) I’ve worked with initially connected with me on Twitter. For journalists, it’s a great platform to build your brand and network.
Queen Latifah recently spoke about how consciousness in rap is changing. Do you agree? If so, why might it be evolving?
This battle between consciousness and whatever the opposite of that is — Soundcloud trap at the moment (?) — has been going on forever. Some of the biggest artists of the genre, from Kendrick Lamar to J. Cole, are definitely more conscious but there’s plenty of the converse as well. It’s perhaps more balanced than in recent time; but “money, cash, hoes” rap isn’t going anywhere.
What do you think rap will sound like in 10 years?
Whatever music people listen to on Mars. Earth is pretty much fucked amid our current political climate and well, the climate. I’ll be on Mars streaming sound-waves through my retina.
What makes you laugh?
Classic episodes of The Simpsons. I’m a total nerd. I can pretty much run dialogue line-for-line from seasons 1–9 and I watch all the commentaries. If you’re a Simpsons fan and don’t have the FXX streaming app: Stop reading this interview and get it. I’d probably be some combination of Lisa Simpson, Milhouse and Poochie the Dog.
Why do writers beome writers?
I’ve always believed that I have important shit to say. I had my own column in my hometown newspaper (The Kalamazoo Gazette), and my college paper (The Michigan Daily). In hip-hop, I have a unique perspective that no one else has. Seriously, how many Indian rap journalists do you know? I love being able to use my voice. Plus, seeing my byline is still pretty cool.