At around 1pm on Friday, March 6th I had the unique opportunity to welcome the Legendary Young Guru to MIT. I didn’t realize quite how legendary he is until later that night when we began counting which of the songs that were playing he was involved in. Within about 50 minutes the DJ played 15 tracks that Guru had a hand in. That’s right, that is pretty much every single track the DJ played in that timespan.
Clearly, as far as “behind the scenes” work goes, Guru is pretty much as legit as it gets. At MIT we got a rare chance to see how this man is in the spotlight. Guru, being the broadly interested man that he is (he bought 2 bags of physics books at the MIT bookstore), had much articulate thought to share on a myriad of topics. He spoke about the realness that makes Jay-Z special, what Will Smith was like backing Jazzy Jeff 25 years ago, why his favorite X-Men are X23 and Wolverine, how he wanted Def Jam to buy Napster, and how different his children’s music consumption is compared to his own.
The most important thing Guru talked about was the growing struggle of what he called the mid-tear or “working class” artists. These are the artists we care about deeply at TapTape. To be clear, Guru wasn’t referring to the music teacher down the street. He’s referring to the Action Bronsons or Twin Shadows of this world. The business model of music has devolved in a way where artists are almost expected to give their core art away for free just so they can become a brand and make money off that brand. This MUST be fixed (unless we think it’s ok to pay Dentists for the magazines in the waiting room rather than our healthy bite).
Much of this is why we created the MIT Hip Hop Speaker Series. It’s meant to be a place where we bring together leaders in hip hop with leading faculty and students at MIT. We want to create entirely unique and meaningful dialogues on topics outside the traditional realms of both academia and entertainment.
We’re currently working very hard on locking in our next two speakers. I’m not yet allowed to say who they will be, but I will say one of them had an album that did VERY well in Pitchfork's “Top 50 Albums of 2014” list.