A gate keeper is someone who regulates the access to anything. In the Hip-hop context, I would say, gate keepers regulate access to mediums artistes may use from reach.. This may be in the form of press articles, internet podcast and blog, radio or television.
Whilst many of these mediums exist nowadays there are obviously mediums artists prefer to be showcased on because of their large following or the influence that the gate keeper holds.
ARTISTS AND SOUR GRAPES
I have seen people throw shade at radio for instance but be so happy when it finally plays them or at African Hip-hop Blog but be the first to jump for joy when Pilchard finally writes about them. The relationship between mediums and artistes is much like that of a girl who is in demand and a guy.
If the guy doesn’t stand a chance, “I don’t care about that girl.” If she begins to show that he may have a chance by talking to him the tone changes to, “No, she’s really a nice girl. Just get to know her better. Was with her yesterday.” Get the gist.
So basically at the under-dogg level, rising talents earn Klout by discrediting any medium that does not agree or which keeps ignoring their emails.
Reminds me of a line by immortal technique in Crossing The Boundary (Revolutionary Vol.2) which says, “You only independent till you’re major so f*** you.”
JUSTIFIABLY FRUSTRATED TALENT
Then sometimes the artists are really frustrated because they are investing all their money and time to perfect products which gate keepers halt and keep from the public, whilst repeating the same select few they were convinced by months ago, whom they are sometimes seen on Instagram and such drinking with.
What I mean is, it’s not bad to have friends. There is freedom of association in most democratic countries. On an ethical perspective however if one company seems to get tenders all the time (which is legal) but is also always seen in unrelated photographs on personal accounts drinking with the ones who approve the tenders.
Can we blame those who think the tenders are not given on merit even if they probably are.
These are simple cognitive biases.
TO BE FAIR
Okay I zoned in on artistes. I criticised artistes and curators alike.
We can spend all day on that but what I really want to bring out and this is for the artistes is the different types of gate keepers. The ones they must be worried about and the ones they must not care about in the long term.
Gate Keepers with significant and notable Klout on mediums they created themselves are the most dangerous as only they can fire themselves from what they began.
Just because AHHB can go quiet for a while or Nafuna TV can take a sabbatical does not mean they “fell off” or what-ever “presence auditors” call it.
In the same manner that they made you care in the first place they can make you care again from a different angle.
Note that everyone with a little blog or podcast out is not automatically part of this group. This group is influential enough to be quoted in the press or by radio presenters. Namely the Carl Joshua Ncube’s, the Begotten Sun’s and so forth. Many more, you know them, I know them.
They can gate keep, but the gate is them. It’s not a place of employment.
Who Doesn’t Matter?
By the way I am talking in the long-run, they do matter while they employed. The fact that I say this group doesn’t matter that much does not mean go around disregarding their hard-work and effort. But in the long run I am unapologetic to say…
Anyone whom if they are fired from the medium they are relevant from seizes to be relevant.
How many of you still bootlick Mariachi after School of Hip-hop stopped. I’m not saying my brother Yachi is not relevant. He is a great emcee. I am just saying his curatorship edge was only dependent on his contract with Power FM.
So anyone at Star FM, ZiFM, Power FM, The Herald etc is not a gate-keeper you can invest in on a long term basis unless they have a Tich Mataz mindset.
It’s like depending on a bouncer at The Volt to get into shows free all the time. One day you may get there and hear that Boss Spencer fired the dude. However if your access to the gate was always Spencer himself, unless you and Spencer personally had beef you would tell any bouncer, black, Indian or white that you can get in free.
I know a Bulawayo rapper who used to get spins when a certain DJ was at Power FM, then when the DJ left, he stopped getting spins. You need spins like Jah Prayzah. No matter who is on radio they can’t ignore. If they try to, people will call and request him.
Coca-cola on The Beat went off air but Tich Mataz remained the go to Master of Ceremonies.
Who really matters?
Like it or not, the people are the true Gate Keepers. Find a way to reach the people with no bloggers, TV presenters, podcaster and so forth and you win.
You are lucky to live in the age where you can take control and use your social media platforms. It is not embarrassing to sponsor ads. Use any strategy that works best for you and stay away from mob mentality.
Just keep everything clean and ethical and mind your own business I guess.
Who matters more than who really matters?
All gate keepers are not really bad people. They are just trying to curate what they believe to bbe the best quality music. Sometimes they are wrong.
What they think will not be liked may be what a certain percentage likes but they can’t take chances especially if they are employed by a certain company which already gives them targets on audience statistics. The reason they repeat the same people is because they are proven.
Of course humans being social creatures, friendships will form with people who frequent the station and invest in friendships. That’s the earth.
Now YOU do not control that at all. Do not try to control it but don’t hesitate to have an influence on it if you like that medium.
Stop thinking that things must be done the way they are written in law and text books. Unless you like being an underdogg all your life.
If you don’t like the idea of putting someone else on a pedestal, just create a medium of your own where you won’t need them. If you need them and they are in charge, play by their rules if you are failing to change them.
WHY DO I SOUND LIKE AM TARGETING REAL LIFE PEOPLE?
I sound like I am writing about real life people in this piece because gate keepers are not Smurfs. We are real life people.
I am no longer writing politically correct articles where i would give tips that we know don’t really work. Artistes nowadays do most of the things I recommended.
They write good emails, press releases, invest in good artwork, do videos, then we gate-keepers look if they are card carrying members of our party (a.k.a our cliques).
However whether we let them on our platforms or not it is really up to them to treat us as gods.
You will liberate yourself the day you possess the attitude, “I am the only gate-keeper I should fear.”
Tweet it, repeat it, eat it, shit it, then eat the shit.
That said…. leave a comment today. I want to hear your view on this subject.