The Blog Era
The Blog Era
About The Blog Era
An ItsTheReal Production
The party goes on. And while some in The Blog Era evolved, most died off. Staying true to himself took a toll on eskay. On his family life, finances, physical and mental well-being. On the music he once loved. What happens when it's all too much? We look at the legacy eskay helped create, from a passion project, from giving a voice to the voiceless, from $10 from eskay’s own pocket.
By 2010, so many of the bloggers who’d set out to subvert the gatekeepers had become them. Resentment grew: from a new generation of artists, from heavily-financed competition and especially from the labels. More money - spent on building websites, growing networks, signing acts and retaining lawyers - meant closer scrutiny on what started out as passion projects. And it all would come to a head as families gathered around the dinner table.
No two artists better symbolize success and downfall than Kid Cudi and Charles Hamilton. Massive talents, major deals, mental issues. But their paths after getting on could not be more different. As the culture became less about artist discovery and celebration, blogs, in order to get engagement, became dependent on chasing page views at any expense.
If the 2009 XXL Freshman cover was a celebration of the blogs, the 2010 edition was a significant crack in the blogs' foundation. Space had never been a problem on the internet. But now, artists were no longer focused on being one in a million on NahRight.com; they wanted to be one of ten on the cover of a magazine.
For years, absent options, artists and bloggers focused on independence. But fuck it! Money! In 2009, it was time to cash in. When Complex started their vertical ad network, NahRight was the first website they even approached. XXL, long in the business of promoting larger-than-life stars from the majors, went left and selected ten blog-friendly rappers to put on their cover. Thanks to this, names like B.o.B., Asher Roth and Kid Cudi got a ton of attention and major label offers.
Blogs evolved from a gathering place for people looking to waste time into a prime platform for content creators: from early podcasts to sketch comedy to low-budget/high quality music videos. And thanks to those very same blogs, artists figured out just how far the internet reached. Curren$y, Nicki Minaj and Dom Kennedy, once seen as niche, regional acts, found fans from coast to coast and then some. For the first time, artists could get free distribution, create a very loyal fanbase and pull in millions of dollars, without the weight of a label behind them.
In 2008, bloggers - who discovered, posted and leaked records with impunity - built momentum. With the spread of these mp3 websites from big cities to unheard-of regions, power was steadily being seized from the record labels. There was success, copy-cats and egos. But there was also a harsh reality: blogs weren’t making any money. Eskay, running the most notable site of them all, watched both the landscape and his competition extremely carefully, and decided that he was ready for a giant, new fight.
What started as a small outlet for eskay to celebrate underground music, in two years became a destination for artists like J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, Curren$y, Wale, Big Sean and so many others looking for a co-sign outside MTV, Hot97 and XXL Magazine. When NahRight, a rappy-rap paradise, bent its unwritten rules to post Drake, he became a huge deal. With a growing audience and growing influence, suitors began incessantly knocking on eskay's door.
In Downtown Manhattan, a small group of friends attracted attention worldwide thanks to MySpace. There was so much talent within this community: Kid Cudi, Teyana Taylor, Wale, the Cool Kids. But it was Mickey Factz who broke out first, once he was posted on a website called NahRight. The music and media industries didn't take notice until January ‘07, when DJ Drama - the biggest mixtape DJ - was put on the ground by Georgia police with RICO warrants. The dominos tipped and The Blog Era began.
At the turn of the century, music labels like Def Jam were a superstar-making machine. Around NYC, a high school dropout named Joe Budden put in the work and earned his place at Def Jam as the next big thing. But Joe's downfall as a major label artist would run concurrent with an industry out of touch and fast on the decline. What so many didn't see was that out from that rubble would come the blogs.
The dynamic story of how complete unknowns built a world free of music industry gatekeepers -- the global superstars that it birthed, the kingmakers you've never heard of, and how big buildings and big money snatched back the power. This is The Blog Era. An ItsTheReal Production
The dynamic story of how complete unknowns built a world free of music industry gatekeepers --the global superstars that it birthed, the kingmakers you've never heard of - and how big buildings and big money snatched back the power. An ItsTheReal Production