The culture didn’t need another platform. With publications like XXL, Complex, and Rap Radar transitioning to Internet based content, the accessibility to news is seemingly at the readers’ finger tips. As most people in media know now, however, is there’s been a transition within the internet.
Rather than viewers gravitating toward elongated news stories, people have been going to Youtube to obtain their social and cultural commentary. In turn, Youtube stars like DJ Akademiks have emerged as influential figures in the hip-hop world. Simultaneously, another platform would emerge: the podcast.
Podcasts like the Brilliant Idiots, which features radio personality Charlamagne Tha God and comedian Andrew Schultz, have sparked a new form of radio and allowed people to speak openly about topics/issues that plague American culture.
These two transitions caught the eye of Complex, who’s move from print to video-based content has grown exponentially over the past two years. But they wanted to expand and, to do so, they needed the two biggest draws in the culture– Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks. Complex cultivated these two figures, their fanbases, and created hip-hop’s version of First Take, where the two’s generational and musical differences combat one another. The show’s great, and it’s quickly becoming the top platform in hip-hop.
- Joe’s Perspective
Most people recognize Joe Budden as “that one guy who made ‘Pump It Up,’” or recently for his stint on Love & Hip Hop. But what’s often overlooked is Joe’s accomplishments as an acclaimed underground artist, who despite his controversial split from Def Jam, captured fans for his Mood Muzik mixtape series and work with rap group, Slaughterhouse. Unlike many of the voices that saturate Soundcloud and Youtube, Joe has firsthand experience in the industry.
On the show, Budden uses his experience to provide information on segments relating to disclosed topics within hip-hop. As a result, Budden’s asked to decode artists’ bullshit statements and discuss inner-label conflicts. Though his biases interfere at times, his insight adds value to the show.
- Clash of The Generational Gap
Much of the shows hype centers on the personalities of the two stars, who use their satiric and impassioned perspectives to magnify their impact on hip-hop culture. But let’s be honest, what’s more entertaining are Joe’s enraged blow ups at the half-smirked face of Akademiks.
Most of their disagreements revolve around the generational gap between the two figures. Joe (36) reflects on his experience listening to artists that were present during the 1990’s, who many consider the golden age of rap. Akademiks (26) deviates from this view, as he’s more indulged in the current state of rap – the “new guys” as Joe calls him. In turn, Joe’s portrayed as the bitter historian and Akademiks as the young, mumble admirer of the current generation. This makes for great conversation, for it educates older viewers about the current legion of artists and younger viewers on the acclaimed work of hip-hop’s past.
- Artists Can Speak Openly
One of the best aspects of the show is artists’ desire to walk to the doors of Complex, sit on the couch of the show, and address topics that revolve around themselves or the culture. It offsets the views of Joe and Akademiks, and allows artists to confront topics through their experience(s) in the industry.
Opening guest spots for artists also provides some of the more memorable moments on the show. Artists like Wale, Lil Yatchy, Sza and of course, the most controversial appearance featured Vic Mensa, who went as far as to threaten to slap Akademiks for comments he made on his Youtube channel, The War in Chiraq. But rather than inciting violence, Complex encourages Joe and Akademiks to speak openly about their issues with guests on the show.
- Akademiks’ Perspective
As previously mentioned, Akademiks’ admiration for the young wave of rappers makes the show well rounded. He counteracts Joe’s knowledge on hip-hop that exceeds his by more than 10 years. Furthermore, it gives way to fans that support artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug and XXX Tentacion. They’re drawn to the show because of the relationships Akademiks has developed with these artists and the insight he obtains.
Akademiks is also referred to as “the numbers guy,” as he’s knowledgeable on the significance of streaming in today’s music industry. During the show, he analyzes an artists projected number sales and reports on the project’s success or failure.
- Good Guy, Bad Guy Dichotomy
What makes this show successful has been a formula that, ironically, shows like First Take have used to garner ratings and obtain their cultural presence: the good guy, bad guy dichotomy. Joe is perceived as the grumpy, enraged asshole and people perceive Akademiks as the more likeable, awkward computer nerd. But it’s a formula that works seamlessly for them, for their chemistry allows their numerous differences in music and personality to work.
Though the show’s been on for two months, it’s already gained hundreds and thousands of daily viewers and artists have begun utilizing the show as a promotional tool. Though the longevity and controversy around the show’s personalities are questioned, as of now, this show is great for hip-hop. It’s the first successful hip-hop show and, hopefully, it can grow to be the source for viewership and online commentary for years to come.