I am writing this post to all those emcees out there that are currently trying to find themselves in the music industry. It is a very tough to carve out your niche and have people come back to what you have to offer. You can really fall into any category. Do you want to be a Kendrick Lamar? Big Krit? 2Chainz? Drake? All the choices are yours. But after working with a few hip hop artists and seeing what they have done to push themselves forward as well as had moments to push themselves back (unfortunately), I will share with you the things that believe makes a great hip hop artist.
1) You Must Write Rhymes EVERYDAY
Yes. In order to be a successful Hip Hop Artist, you must write rhymes everyday. Write rhymes to exercise your mind and your creativity to have words that don't visually rhyme, rhyme (i.e. Power can rhyme with Coward). Rhyming is like bench pressing, in order to be a strong emcee you must rhyme everyday. write lyrics down in your phone and have rhymebooks of just nothings and then when you put them together for a song, you have a something.
2) You Must Be Willing to Collaborate and (yes) Even Battle
In order to get known as a Hip Hop Artist, you must let down your guard and get to know other emcees. Encourage other emcees to hop on your track and hold a contest for it. Don't be afraid to battle them either. You can battle emcees without being offensives. Ask if you can hop on their track and offer that you would like to remix it. Offer space on your tracks too.
3) You Need Different Beats
You want to know why artists like Jay Z, Busta Rhymes even Drake have great selling albums? It is because they have different beats to compliment their project. The problem I always see with emcees is that they want to stay true to hip hop and only use 90s sounding beats and beats that have samples. While I do respect their motives and believes, staying true to hip hop is not necessarily going to help pay the bills for you or finance you house for you. Hip Hop is growing up and you must grow too as an artist in order to sell. You need to buy beats too because without you buying beats, you most likely are using beats that producers already gave out before. The need for original, raw material is a must. There is nothing wrong with spitting a 16 over a dubstep track...move forward.
4) You Must Have a Solid Brand
A solid brand is a must. Points 1,2, and 3 compliment this. Your rhymes need to be unique, your beats need to be unique and as the old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. That means, when you meet and collaborate with artists collaborate with those you feel comfortable associating yourself with. Their fanbase will most likely bleed into yours. The brand is important too. Have a trademark saying in front of your rhymes or at the end, have business cards, and even have a website/logo. Representation and content is key.
5) You Must Sell Your Music
You must constantly sell your music. When I say "sell your music" I don't mean exchange for cash necessarily. In order for people to obtain your music, they must give you something in return (maybe a facebook like, a twitter follow) but the thing I would want is them to sign up on my mailing list. Have a mailing list so when someone joins, they get your single and newsletters about you. When you have a solid brand/foundation, start selling your music for cash! Be innovative too, like give a T-Shirt or sticker to someone that buys/downloads your song.