Published Aug 21, 2010For Toronto-based producer Rich Kidd, his We on Some Rich Kidd Shit series of mixtapes aren't just a musical calling card, or a showcase of his beat-making skills ― they act as a showcase for everyone he works with, too. To Kidd, Rich Kidd Shit is a way for him and the MCs he works with to pull an end-run on a Canadian music industry that has a long history of being indifferent to up-and-coming domestic hip-hop artists.
"I know some of these artists can't always push their music to the fullest," said Kidd. "Whether it be their mixtape or a full album, sometimes it doesn't get the proper push, so in the places where I know that tape or that album won't get that push, I put it out there."
Dig a little deeper, though, and Kidd sounds less like a producer looking to help his fellow artists, and more like a music industry revolutionary, determined to get artists to band together and turn their backs on major labels that tend to either ignore hip-hop all together or else exploit the musicians. In addition to being a producer, Kidd has found himself acting as a sort of informal publisher, A&R, publicist and mentor.
"A lot of artists don't know that you don't need a label. You can go touring and make enough money on your own... and labels ain't going to teach you nothing. Nobody is going to teach you nothing," said Kidd. "When I get with these artists, I kind of act like a publisher, but I don't take money out of publishing. But I'm pushing joints where people couldn't otherwise see them."
Despite taking on all these unofficial roles, Kidd says he doesn't want to get formally involved in the business side of the industry at this point in his career. In fact, he worries that the music business may just be inherently corrupt.
"If it ever got to the point where I was to create my own label, I don't feel I'd be as corrupt as these people. But to break bread with these people, just to get money to operate, it feels like you almost got to be as corrupt as them," he said. "All these big multi-million dollar labels, they feed off artists. They're like parasites. They sell you dreams, and then they feed off of you and suck you dry, for fucking whatever you have to offer."
Unfortunately for record labels, artists like Kidd are using technology to circumvent the traditional record industry set-up. According to Kidd, this doesn't just let artists like him make money by cutting out the middleman, it also means that they can get feedback from listeners.
"You don't even need iTunes. There's a site called Bandcamp, you can put you album up and you pay what you want... that's a way to tell if people really like your shit. Back in the day, [you] had to go buy a whole album just to see what [you] liked and didn't like. Now, you can listen to thing and say 'I don't give a fuck, I'm keeping this shit,' or if you're a real die-hard fan, you can go buy it. That's a testament right there. If it came to that, me running a digital distributed label, with digital marketing, I wouldn't object to that kind of shit. I think I have some knowledge I could bring."