The culture didn’t need another platform.
Publications like XXL, Complex and Rap Radar have made the transition to online-based content, making it easier for readers to consume the latest news in hip-hop.
But as most people in the media know, there’s been a recent shift in the Internet: the resurgence of Youtube.
Rather than viewers gravitating toward elongated stories or short news blurbs, people have been going to Youtube to obtain their news and social commentary. In today’s world, the visual element of a story is often what draws people’s attention, which the video-sharing platform has commanded since its launch in 2005.
In turn, Youtube stars like DJ Akademiks have emerged to become influential figures in pop-culture, having carved out 500,000-plus online subscribers based on his videos.
As the growth of Youtube has become prevalent in today’s media, podcasts, which have been around for some time, have also gained an increased amount of cultural significance.
Podcasts like “The Joe Budden Podcast,” which features former hip-hop artist, Joe Budden, and his two co-stars, Rory and Mal, have used Youtube to gain viewership. As a result, they have revived the deadened media source, terrestrial radio, one that has recently heightened the voices of people speaking openly about topics and issues across the media spectrum.
These two transitions caught the eye of Complex Networks, who’s move from print to video-based content has grown exponentially over the past two years. The company wanted to expand its reach and, in doing so, they needed the two biggest draws in hip-hop: Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks.
Complex cultivated these two figures, and their fanbases, to create rap’s version of First Take, where the two online heavyweights verbally spar with their musical and generational opinions in hand.
And since the show’s start in April 2017, “Everyday Struggle” has gained a following that’s drawn a wide spectrum of viewers. In just a few months, it’s quickly become the top platform in hip-hop.
Most people recognize Joe Budden, or simply Joe, as “that one guy who made ‘Pump It Up,’” or for his past stint on Love & Hip Hop. But what’s often overlooked is Joe’s accomplishments as an acclaimed underground artist.
Despite his controversial split from Def Jam Recordings, Joe built a cult following from his Mood Muzik mixtape series and work with rap group, Slaughterhouse. And unlike many of the voices that saturate the media, Joe is one of the few culture critics that has firsthand experience in the music industry.
On the show, Joe uses his experience to provide information on segments relating to disclosed topics within hip-hop, typically lending his voice to decode artists’ bullshit statements and discuss potential inner-label conflicts. Though his biases interfere at times, his insight adds much needed value to the show.
Clash of The Generational Gap
The show’s hype is centered on the personalities of Joe and Akademiks, who both use their satiric and impassioned perspectives to evaluate hip-hop music and 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 co-hosts. Joe, 36, reflects on his experience listening to artists that were present during the 1990s, what 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 them.
In turn, Budden’s portrayed as the bitter historian and Akademiks as the young, mumble rap enthusiast of the current generation of rappers. This makes for great conversation, as 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 “Everyday Struggle” are artists’ desire to walk through the doors of Complex, sit on the couch of the show, and address topics that they commonly dismiss or avoid outside their personal circles. It balances out the views of Joe and Akademiks, allowing artists to speak candidly from their experiences in the industry.
Opening up guest spots also provides some of the more memorable moments on the show. Having artists like Wale, Lil Yatchy, Sza, and of course, the controversial appearance of Vic Mensa, who threatened to slap Akademiks for comments he made on his Youtube channel, make for great conversation outside the show’s hour-long runtime.
Akademiks’ admiration for the young wave of rappers makes the show well rounded. He offsets Joe’s views, which are far more expansive because of their 10-year age difference. Akademiks’ perspective gives way to fans that support rappers like Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug and XXX Tentacion.
With his presence, millennials are drawn to the show because of the relationships the Jamaican-born Internet troll has developed with these rappers and the insight he obtains from them.
Akademiks is also referred to as “The Numbers Guy,” as he’s tuned in on the significance of streaming in today’s music industry. During the show, he analyzes what an artist’s projected sales will be, then tracks the project’s success or failure following its release.
Good Guy, Bad Guy Dichotomy
What makes “Everyday Struggle” successful has been a formula that, ironically, shows like First Take have mastered: The good guy, bad guy dichotomy.
No, not the traditional, hard-nosed sense of the phrase, but rather a nuanced version. During the show, Joe serves as the overly critical and harsh “bad guy,” while Akademiks is the more optimistic and open-minded personality. creating the show’s balanced dynamic.
It’s a formula that works seamlessly for them, having resulted in “Everyday Struggle” becoming the highest rated hip-hop show of all-time, one that’s obtained a firm grip on the culture outside of hip-hop circles.
Though the show’s been on for three months, it’s already gained hundreds of thousands of daily viewers, and artists have even began utilizing the show as a promotional tool.
But with the questions of longevity and the controversy surrounding the show’s two co-hosts present, “Everyday Struggle” has proven to be a great platform hip-hop. And hopefully, in time, it can grow to be the preeminent source for viewership and online commentary for years to come.