If you had not yet heard, the Oprah effect is very real. Oprah is the daytime diva, who controls masses of minds from her cute little couch. With more authority in most of our lives than our own parents, CNBC has dedicated an entire hour of programming to review what major companies go through to get their product on Oprah’s show. Just the mere mention of a brand has sent many upstart and established companies from obscurity to celebrity. There is no greater gain for a business than an Oprah endorsement. Instead of who has more money, God or Oprah, a better question is who has more influence?
Yet, when it comes to hip-hop, a central and sole voice of authority has been severely lacking. Following Friday’s release of Jay-Z’s newest track, D.O.A. (Death of Autotune), the Jigga Man once again took the industry on his own shoulders. Credibility is everything in hip-hop. These days Jay-Z is the only viable artist out there whose credit is good and long standing. As announced by Mr. Cee and Funkmaster Flex when they premiered D.O.A. to the world, auto tune in music is an issue that the hip-hop community has been beyond derelict in addressing.
“Stop using auto tune as a crutch and get back to rapping.” — Jay-Z
Jay-Z has requested that music get away from the likes of Lil Wayne’s Lollipop, Kanye’s 808’s and Heart Break, and the phenomenal body of work provided to us from the uber-talented T-Pain- while still acknowledging that without auto tune, these songs had great melody at the roots. He told Hot 97, this track was all in the interest of “moving hip-hop forward.”
Thank you Jay-Z. It’s sad that in order for hip-hop to move forward, it needed to be said that rappers needed to start rapping. Hip-hop has long been wandering in the desert. My hope is Jay-Z is the Moses who will lead us back to a quality of musicality that has been all but dead. Auto tune being the noose around the neck of hip-hop just waiting to strangle out any remaining signs of its true existence as it flails for dear life. For real lovers of the culture and the music such as myself, I can’t take another 40 years of this BS.
What remains to be seen is if this clarion call will be taken seriously within the industry. The other thing about hip-hop that is so undeniably unfortunate is the industry is built on trend. When Jay-Z said jerseys were wack, EVERYONE started rocking button ups. Hip-hop is also a very male dominated, egotistical arena, which means some clown is bound to challenge Hov in the name of promoting his own career and to also justify the falsified musical success he has achieved by robotic vocal assistance. Jay-Z is shining a spotlight on what most of us have known or thought for years: If you can truly rap you don’t need any vocal modifications. In the beginning it sounded pretty cool, but dammit, enough is enough.
If a true Jay-Z effect were to take hold of the industry, this could be the tipping point we have all been waiting for. More so, as the lead track from Jay-Z’s eagerly awaited Blueprint 3, this album without a doubt will set the tone for what the corporate heavies will be demanding other artists get in line with. Because as we all know, if it’s hot, music companies, will manufacture it, market it, and shove it down our throats. Props to you Jigga, for stating the obvious; once again you’ve stepped in as hip-hop’s savior. If Oprah had any respect for hip-hop, she would know that she owes you a favor.