Friday, September 28, 2012

[Editorial] Hip hop is dead? More like Hiphopplaya is dead

In the earlier generations, probably dating back to the first generation of hip hop, the music genre itself wasn't even a music genre back then. It was more like a type of music that select people enjoyed and was more of an undiscovered hobby that people had. In Korea, people labeled older lovers of hip hop as "마니아층," translating to "maniac-level" and defining it as only "maniac-leveled" people liked it. But with older generations paving way for newer generations, hip hop had the opportunity to be under the spotlight and is still under the spotlight today. Hip hop has kind of become a household name where everyone believes that throwing up random signs with your fingers, wearing overly excessive jewelry, and sagging your pants are all considered to be hip hop.

But what hip hop really is  (or was), is it's a community. While hip hop artists formed crews and worked with one another to build the genre of hip hop and their own community, "maniac" lovers of hip hop also formed a community that started from sharing their thoughts about their favorite artists and albums. Although the artists deserve much credibility for their hard work, the hip hop fans also deserve a round of applause because without their interest and devotion to the music and artists, it would've been a difficult path for hip hop to be even remotely close to the million dollar industry it is today. At times like this, the phrase, "the fans make the artist" come into play and how people believe that Justin Bieber is this crazily obnoxious kid thanks to his teeny bopper fans (shoutout to the Believers!). 

So why is it that when hip hop has made it big as one of the top music categories in the music industry today that the phrase "hip hop is dead" is going around? A lot of people associate it with the deterioration in quality of what hip hop has become which is partially true but I think it goes back to the community, that the people who were crazy over hip hop fell out of it and newer generations aren't really keen on building a hip hop community but more about slapping songs in their cars to project the image of themselves being "gangster."

It's unfortunate to see that the in comparison to American hip hop, Korean underground is already such a small playing field and Hiphopplaya, the largest source and community for Korean hip hop, has changed into a magazine that people mindlessly flip through rather than housing a community of fans and artists. And having Hiphopplaya be the largest community of what Korean hip hop is, the lack of passion on both the management and the fans' end reflects what Korean hip hop is to the general public, and right now I can tell you that "Korean hip hop is dead."

Although I haven't been into Korean hip hop as long as others might have, I guess I can consider myself a witness in part of how much Hiphopplaya has changed. Even though the mid-2010 era might be considered a fairly "noob" level, I was still able to see the quality drop from what I started off reading up till what it is today. The biggest change I felt was when the renewal of the website was announced in early January of this year.

Although many people love the easy navigation of the new layout, the convenience of being able to purchase MP3s of new releases directly from Hiphopplaya, and being able to find artists and songs through their quick search engine, it wasn't these aspects that they needed to renovate on, but what Hiphopplaya used to be and reviving what it was before: a community.

The issue was finally addressed a few days ago on the 'national music board' of Hiphopplaya, a member of the website titling the post, "Why did Hiphopplaya fail" and proceeded to explain why he/she thought so. The topic had 30 replies and although 30 may not seem like a lot, it says a lot that a post bringing awareness to a failing website and community has as much replies as posts about G-Dragon releases...

In taking a look at the topic, the top three replies for the post definitely sums up the issues Hiphopplaya has been facing and the flaws they really need to work on.

1. corea312 [+7, -0] 
I think there's various reasons but first off, I think the problem goes back into the management of Hiphopplaya (shortened to HHP). HHP claims to be the No.1 sourced website for hip hop but I believe that they're beginning to carelessly manage HHP. If I was running a site I liked, I think that one should have a variety of entertaining reads. For example, another hip hop website has what's called "Artist of the Month" and I remember HHP had done this for a while where their old system was unique in which they'd paste an interview as something to read along with so that the readers were able to know more about the artists and even buy their album. But nowadays, it's all about pasting a photo and that's the end of it. Even if they weren't artist of the month, if they released a good album, they'd interview them and we were able to obtain more information about them. With lack of interviews releasing as of lately, it seems that Noise Mob is the end of it. Even for the title of "Rookie of the Month," it's as if they never even released anything and just vanished. Even weekly news releases ends with 1-2 sentences of who released a mixtape. There's nothing much for me to do on HHP nowadays as I read the 4-5 posts that get posted each day. Although there are worthy reads in the posts that get posted, some are just trash. This is why people don't have fun on HHP anymore and dare I even say that DC Hip Hop Gallery is more active than here? Anyway, my thoughts are that other sites in comparison to here are more fun and that the blame falls back on both the management as well as us.

2. rla9659 [+5, -2]

This seems like a good debate topic. Every day I feel that HHP is slowly dwindling and seeing it happen makes me upset, so I’ll write a few things about it.

First off, the recent (could be old) renewal; since the renewal, I found the site to be a little odd and have a lot of bugs. When a site has problems or flaws that are brought up, normally the management is supposed to check on it or reflect on their actions and give their feedback to us but I feel that the management lacks the passion as they had before since they’ve managed the site for too long, thus the lacking response which is very frustrating.

They also seem to lack a drive.  They announced that they would provide benefits for users with higher level rankings after the leveling process but it seems that those words became forgotten. Not only that, but they seem to not be active in their website store. With the music market being so bundled up nowadays, they’re supposed to receive a fixed price for albums but despite purchasing albums, the shipping fee is the same, they take the accumulated money as much as a rat’s tail’s length, and the Black Coins I have can only be used if I’m lucky enough to purchase what’s worth the money (currently, I’m at a legendary level and I still have nothing I want..). And that cycle of waiting for something valuable to buy is very~ long. Also, it’s not like there’s a date set for what’s to release and they update whenever they want so it’s not like I can wait all day for it and I’m pretty much a slave to this system.

Also, when did HHP lay their hands on a fashion store. To be honest…if you purchase from here, you’re really an idiot. If you go to the Musinsa store, they have the brands that HHP carries and the mileage points as well as benefits are incredible there. Since they specifically focus on that area, the field they play on is fairly big so HHP’s fashion store can’t even compare to the game they have going on over there.

And with the problems of the community, before they’d use to warn and even ban the select members who were a bit crazy that caused havoc and seeing this from before up till now, I see that they’re exhausted themselves. It’s no wonder that as time passes by, people feel disgust towards the community and don’t even bother to look at the freeboard.

So in conclusion
1.       Take note and listen to the proposals made by the users of the website.
2.       Change or recruit new management who is more passionate.
3.       Apply benefits to the store (weekly updates for Black Coin items, free shipping after a certain amount is purchased, free membership renewal, etc.). Get rid of the fashion store and focus on selling CDs.
4.       Needing a more robust community.
Well, this is it..I guess if I had to choose the similar points in agreement, it’s that management needs to be fixed. This has been all from a teenager who loved HHP.

3. bpt3747 [+4, +1]

As a member who watched from a long time ago…

I think that people left HHP for the reason that it’s not fun anymore..  People say that the website failed because of skinhead but when skinhead was really active, the free board and the self-record board was fairly active.. It seems a bit random to add this but “when there is evil, there is good and when there’s light, there is dark”.. Because there was skinhead to go against the average HHP users, there was chaos but I think that it brought up the debating atmosphere.. Even during the chaos back then, on posts of people telling one another to stop writing shitty posts,  there were a minimum of 8-10 replies per post. But look at it now; what are the administrators doing running a democratization policy against the users where if something seems to flow well, they just block the users. Is this how you revive the free board?;  Look at the national music free board. The place is scattered with kids trying to hold a gentleman concept and people just leave after obtaining info about Korean hip hop artists so there’s no enjoyment..  And as someone said before, “Does the free board keep flowing without the shitty posts?”;; It doesn’t look like it’s flowing; Anyway, what I wanted to say was that this place runs well naturally and that the administrators running it don’t need to get involved and diplomat their weird policies.

I agree with the top reply by corea312 the most because he/she brings up points that I've had troubles with myself with Hiphopplaya. Running this blog itself is hard for me when I have no source to feed me the information. Sure, 1-2 sentences can get me the general gist of what's going on but when they don't release information that the artists themselves do through their Twitter accounts, you know that there's a problem. There's no consistent updates on the news released and if there is a follow-up, it's usually 3 days late. This is why most of my articles written are straight from the artists' Twitter accounts opposed to Hiphopplaya because hell, I can pull an article out the ass and straight to you faster than Hiphopplaya can report it, even if they are being spoonfed by the music labels with the press releases all written up. 

Not only are press releases the problem but the creativity and passion is lost. I used to enjoy reading the long interviews of artists who were gearing for comebacks or just chilling around and sharing some good word on music and their whereabouts. As months go by, what were interviews that were probably 4 pages long on Microsoft Word are now photos slapped onto the sidebar of the home page titled "Artist of the Month" and "music playlists" by artists where it's the artists doing the work to salvage the remains of Hiphopplaya. 

So in wrapping up this editorial, the ball is dropped as I'm sure everyone's thinking of the question: "What happens now?" Well, there's several options.

One can go to R.O.K Hip Hop to rely on Korean hip hop news and have to endure through amateur writers and management that pretend they're hardcore hip hop lovers when they just support their rookie friends...

...Or continue to go on Hiphopplaya and deal with the shitty PR and wait for 3-day old news to be "officially" announced.

There's also the option of going on DC Hip Hop Gallery, the 4chan of community boards, and deal with trolls who'll probably feed you information you don't really need, like "E.via is hot and I'd do her."

And my last option, something I'd hope to see in the next year or so: another established hip hop website build a better community. In this case, my bets are on Hip Hop LE or Rhythmer. Although they receive the same 2-5 replies per post on average for Korean hip hop news releases, it's better than nothing to start from scratch. And despite their main focus being on American hip hop & R&B, they still keep tabs with Korean hip hop artists and are doing a hell of a better job with creative editorials and interviews than what Hiphopplaya has been doing.

Considering this post was brought up on Hiphopplaya a few days ago (26th in Korean time) and the management hasn't even touched the post, I have no hopes in the revival of what once was a community and with that said, I pronounce Hiphopplaya dead. Time of death: 10:41AM. September 28, 2012.


  1. Insightful read. As someone that grew to learn and love khiphop through HHP, it's disappointing to see what they've become, especially since the problems look like they can be rectified with care (hire more staff, competent writers, actual journalists, be more active in reaching out to artists)...

  2. I use to go on HHP a lot more often, but considering that most of it was in Korean, it was hard to navigate around anyway. Very insightful read though.