Updated: Nov 6
In these new, isolated times, I spoke with MC Bushkin of the legendary Garage group “Heartless Crew” over Zoom about how the music industry has changed over the years, along with our methods of consumption. The full interview will be available to read in my book “The Changing Face of the Music Industry” available in 2021.
What do you think about the changing face of the industry since you man got in the game, then it was about selling records and now it’s sort of more like a streaming thing?
I mean, everything changes, you just gotta be willing, accept change, adapt and be adaptable to change, because everything changes, nothing stays the same. But I mean, what I have noticed over time is that the industry has taken the personality out of music. Music has become so dilutided it’s often missing the vibe and personal touch out of it. I mean in our days, it was much more about the feeling music gives you, d’you understand? Things were more physical. These days, the world in general has become so digital. Everything is really fast, it’s bite-sized, it’s quick, everyone wants the quick and easy things basically. Quick download, yeah, it’s like, tunes are popular for two weeks and then it’s another tune in, whereas in our day, there was a bit more quality control, and there was a bit more substance d’you understand? Behind things, there was a bit more reasoning, now it’s so accessible to do music and to be a rapper or to be a personality. It’s because of the internet making music so accessible that a lot of people are just doing it for doing it sake. I think when we was tryna get through, it was like we was really tryna break boundaries - I dunno, I can’t talk for So Solid, but I definitely know for myself and Heartless Crew, we was actually tryna go about making changes, breaking boundaries, and actually pushing and doing something for ourselves on an independent label, as well as touching people, d’you understand, that ultimately was what it’s about. If you see my wall picture there, you can see me and that’s the people there, I’m actually touching the people. Yeah, we’re tryna change lives out here. So yeah, that’s what we were about man, touching and inspiring peoples lives, and you can do that through the power of music. D’you understand? Even in a literal sense, with this whole social distancing, you can’t even hug someone, so they say, d’you understand? But again, that connection, it’s the same with music, that connection, has been lost now, it’s like that digital thing. When you can buy a CD, you could hold a CD in your hand Or tape pack or vinyl, all the same thing, it’s physical, you can hold it, you can open it up, you can read the credits, you can read what a man’s saying, who he’s bigging up, who helped make the tune, all those types of things. Yeah, all that’s been lost now, cause now you’re just downloading a tune to your phone, it’s digital and it’s just like, there’s no real essence, d’you understand? In the day, if you lost the tape pack, you was screwing. Yeah and so now you don’t have any of that sentimental connection. It’s just set up, easy come, easy go type thing..
Yeah, yeah 100. So, what do you think about like the Radio 1 playlist and like the Spotify playlist and that sort of stuff? Cause like for me it seems a bit like, what used to be record labels is now sort of distribution deals and streaming services and all of that sort of madness. So, what do you think about that?
Yeah, again the Spotify, and the playlist, again it’s that they’re just controlling its ownership basically, and it’s just taking something from the grassroots, and they’re just doing it in the way they know how to do it, d’you understand? Which is fair enough, everyone does their thing in a different way. Again, to me it kinda takes out the personal thing- it takes a bit out of the realism, cause a lot of these charts, a lot of these playlists - they’re fabricated. It’s all to do with who you know, that kinda- paying people and stuff like that.
And you’ve seen a lot of stuff like Jay-Z and the streams being a fake on Tidal and all of that sort of madness.
Exactly. People are buying views, they’re buying this, they’re buying reh-teh-teh, so it’s not really genuine, d’you understand? And again, the organicness is lost, people rarely making a tune and it being a banger, not a banger you hear like every minute, so that it’s like subconscious, in your brain because they forced it upon you, it’s when you hear it, it’s like rah that’s electric, that’s sick and timeless like, d’you understand? To conclude, Bushkin holds the view that the physical has shifted more and more to an intangible digital, and in the process some element of emotional or spiritual connection between fans and music has been lost. Though nostalgic about the days of tape packs and vinyl, Bushkin has kept with the times and releases his music oftentimes for free and on digital streaming services. In the words of Wiley, it is necessary to “Evolve or Be Extinct”, and evolve is exactly what Heartless Crew have done.
By Azure Jamali @AJ_KBK_ @deliveringthehype