TDE is winning because they look and act just like their fans

BET Hip Hop Awards 2013 - Red Carpet
Schoolboy Q
‘s Oxymoron is expected to sell between 150,000 and 160,000 copies by the end of the tracking week, according to Billboard. And the album, the rapper’s major label debut, will likely land at the #1 spot when the numbers are revealed next week. Needless to say, Q is having a great week.

And it’s a great time for Top Dawg Entertainment.

Schoolboy Q is the latest success story from the Los Angeles-based label founded by Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith and Terrence “Punch” Henderson, whose roster also includes Q’s fellow Black Hippy stars Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and, of course, the label’s biggest star Kendrick Lamar. Since signing a joint venture deal with Interscope/Aftermath in 2012, TDE has been on a roll. Following the success of his Section.80 mixtape, Lamar released his acclaimed major label debut, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and exploded onto the national stage. Now, with Schoolboy Q’s success, it looks like there’s no label in hip-hop doing bigger or better things than Top Dawg.

And they’ve done it with high-quality production (even on their mixtapes) a commitment to touring, genuine interaction with their fans and while championing a certain sort of relatability. With so many hip-hop artists and crews perpetuating an image of affluence or detachment, TDE’s stars seem like the emcees-next-door. Kendrick Lamar could pass for a thousand kids hitting the books across colleges anywhere in America. Schoolboy Q could be the stoner that lives above you in your apartment building. There are no purple wigs, references to martians, declarations of god-like status or raps about hanging with the president.

They are regular guys.

In contemporary entertainment, artists are encouraged to project a persona and, often, that persona is over-the-top and dramatic. It would be naive to think that there isn’t at least a little “projecting” happening with TDE’s artists as well; but the fact that they feel so familiar is the reason so many hip-hop fans have embraced them so quickly. People began to wonder out loud what happened to “regular people” in mainstream hip-hop?  Now they celebrate a crew that figured out how to be extraordinary by appearing to be the average guys.

Stereo Williams
Stereo Williams

Todd "Stereo" Williams, entertainment writer based in New York City. He co-founded Thirty 2 Oh 1 Productions, an indie film company.



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