The word on the streets is hip-hop is dead. The word in the boardrooms is the music industry is dead. Sway & King Tech of the legendary Wake Up Show are on a mission to prove the world wrong on both counts with the 100K Battle, a revolutionary competition that, in conjunction with the innovative new social networking website urSession.com, may just end up being responsible for the discovery of the next great rapper – and the next great record label.
Power to the people. The Internet has transformed the world by operating on this simple premise, and it’s the same philosophy that drives the 100K Battle. 28 brand new beats are ready for download at urSession.com from top-shelf producers like Pete Rock, DJ Muggs, 9th Wonder, Rick Rock, Alchemist, DJ Babu, DJ Q-Bert, Evidence, DJ Revolution and the late, great J Dilla by any emcee who creates an artist profile. Rappers record the best song(s) they can on their picks and upload a maximum of three to their profiles, at which point urSession non-artist members are free to listen and vote for the songs they enjoy.
The artist with the most votes by the end of the competition gets $5,000, a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles to appear on the Wake Up Show, and all the exposure one can expect from the first, longest-running and most influential hip-hop specialty radio show in the world, which graces the ears of 11 million people in 19 markets across three countries every week, and has been instrumental to the careers of everyone from Eminem to Xzibit.
“How the 100K Battle came up, I was up in the Bay on the radio”, explains Tech of the Battle’s beginnings. “When I go to the Bay, a lot of the callers are young cats who want the stories [of our past]. So one guy called, and he was like, ‘OK, this is great, you guys are legends – but what can you do for us now?’ And one of the ideas that has always been in the back of my mind is, one of the problems I got is that cats are rapping to wack-ass beats! And it’s hard to listen to a dope dude over [imitates a synthesizer plinging]! So I called Pete Rock, The Alchemist, the Avila Brothers, Focus, right on the commercial break. ‘I need a beat, dude. Can I get a free beat?’ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Tell you later. We gonna have a rap battle’. So I got on the radio even before I put it together and said, ‘In a month I’m going to come back to the Bay and make the biggest announcement. I went back to the Bay a month later, got on air and said, ‘Remember what I told y’all last month? These are the producers. These are the beats’”.
As the mastermind behind the Battle, Tech took time to ensure that the beat selection would provide something for everyone. “I wanted to make sure there was a sound from everybody. I would call up Pete and say ‘Yo Pete, give me old school’. I would call up the Avila Brothers and be like ‘Give me a party single’. Focus: ‘Give me grimy’. Khalil: ‘Give me orchestral’. In other words, I organised it to make sure that all the beats don’t sound the same, so I don’t get that complaint – ‘Man, I can’t rap to this s**t!’”.
The 100K Battle was born out of the very real need to preserve and nurture the voice of the independent artist, as Sway explains. “The industry has been shrinking recently in the conventional fashion. Major labels are consolidating, radio’s narrowing their playlists – it’s getting harder for the independent artist. For the Wake Up Show, the 100K Battle was an opportunity for us to tap into our resources and allow independent artists who aren’t getting breaks because their music isn’t compatible with what’s out there. They don’t have access to Grammy award-winning, well-respected, proven producers like all these different guys that we got to donate their beats".
"We can give you access as an artist to music that can make you competitive with artists who already have that kind of access for free. You just gotta be able to write the song, and if you got what it takes then you’ll get that break. Not only that – we’ll give you the exposure that’s hard to get. These independent artists can’t get on commercial /mainstream radio. You get enough votes, and we’ll fly you to LA to be on the Wake Up Show, which means a ton of exposure. Plus, we’ll put money in your pocket”.
But as fruitful as all this sounds, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The 100K Battle is a litmus test of sorts for urSession.com, which is gearing up to be the record label of the future by utilising the same force that has brought the record industry to its knees – the Internet – to spawn its rebirth.
Co-founded and owned by Tech, Sway, Shavo of metal band System Of A Down and entertainment lawyer turned music business maverick Narb Avedissian, urSession is looking to the people to decide which artists it should sign and promote – because who knows what the people want better than the people themselves?
“urSession was born to fill a much-needed gap in social networking and the music industry as a whole”, says Narb. “We saw too many talented artists struggling to make it in an industry that has barriers that have nothing to do with talent. The Internet knocks down these barriers by empowering the masses and, in our case, democratizing the discovery of new talent. urSession is more than just a social networking site. Our objective is to create the first ever fan-driven open market for unsigned and independent music – the Sundance of the music industry. urSession members act as our A&R by voting for acts they want to see get signed. Fans should be the ones deciding for themselves what they like to hear – not a couple of corporate suits. If you’re an artist, what better way to see if you have what it takes to make it than to have actual music enthusiasts set your value?”
“Every and any independent artist across the genre should be building profiles on urSession”, Sway concludes. “And any hip-hop artist that really believes they got what it takes – because everybody believes it, but not everybody’s got it – show and prove, and enter the 100K Battle. Where will you get the opportunity to download this caliber of music from this caliber of producer – for free? And if you can’t create a noise beyond that, with those type of resources, then you might wanna question what it is you’re doing. If you get a beat from J Dilla? The Alchemist? Pete Rock? And you can’t make a hot song outta that – what are you doing? So it’s like, show and prove. Get it poppin”.
100K Battle Trailer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=xBnKifQAkJI