My impulsive self half wanted to skewer young Mass rapper Joyner Lucas for saying that Boston has no music scene, and for his followup comments on Facebook last week (edited for space):
When I said BOSTON has no music scene, I wasn’t speaking of artists. I was speaking in a sense of music business. It’s a fact that boston doesn’t have a big music scene as far as music labels, executives, A&R’s, publicists, management, agencies and a lot of other resources & opportunities compared to NEW YORK or LOS ANGELES and other places. I had to leave to other states to build relationships and use resources from different markets & take advantage of outside opportunities because there wasn’t much going on in Boston that was gonna Help jump start my career … there’s plenty of talent in boston / New England & I mentioned that as well. But name me 1 artist that really POPPED OFF from New England … name me 1 artist in the last 15 years that really POPPED OFF to become A list or B list.
If anyone can nitpick here, it’s me. With a few possible exceptions, I have published more features about New England hip-hop artists, in local as well as national publications, than any other journalist, and I’m familiar with loads of MCs and producers who have passed through the Hub scene and onto major milestones beyond the mainstream radar, from DJs who now rock for tens of thousands in Las Vegas to multilingual lyricists whose new releases line the walls of record stores in South America and Asia.
But despite all that, regardless of my background, I’m going to stand firmly behind Joyner Lucas this time. Not like one of the most hardworking successful rappers out of Mass in years needs the approval of an aging hip-hop head in dad jeans, but I spotted a potential critical message in all this, so here goes …
Who the hell does this young artist owe a damn thing to?
It’s a cold-ass world out there. Maybe the dude could have found his lane without leaving New England, surely others have, but to his credit, Joyner upped the chance of channeling his talent toward sustainable career goals by taking his show on the road.
So, should Joyner Lucas do more to acknowledge acts like the Almighty RSO and the Perceptionists who came before him? And who have dedicated fans and in a lot of cases tour the world and feed their kids and purchase homes and cars by moving merch and making cameo appearances? That’s up to him, but really it’s a matter for the hip-hop message boards, which I retired from cold turkey years ago. While people in those nerd forums may argue, correctly, that Lucas doesn’t know much about Massachusetts music that came before him or even that which is happening right now, the only thing your average person needs to know is that the young man has a lot of talent and was able to rely on that, since coming up in Worcester didn’t give him a leg up.
Joyner’s I’m Kind Of A Big Deal tour wraps in Boston at the House of Blues on June 7. While the concert will be merely one of countless events happening that evening on a thriving music scene, it will be a significant show that both he and his hometown fans should be extremely excited for.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.