Finding My Way 4: Do I Need a Cosign to be Relevant?
Think of some of the biggest cosigns in hip-hop history: Jay Z to Kanye, Dr. Dre to Eminem then Em to 50 Cent, Lil Wayne to Drake, and so on.
It is a well-known fact, that in the hip hop world, notoriety comes by means of succession or more commonly put, “You need a cosign.” This has been a trend in society since the beginning of time….the Bible even gives credence to many individuals based on who they are connected to. The understanding is that connection breeds consistency and if you are cut from the same cloth, the expectation is that you will be reasonably close to the quality of the one I already trust. The problem this creates though (especially for independent artists) is that it creates a glass ceiling, where until you get that stamp of approval from an OG (or someone already known), you will continue to be marginalized until someone of status recognizes you.
As awkward as it sounds to be a trend in the “Music Business,” like many other trends, it has NOTHING to do with the quality of music.
This phenomenon brings us back to the conversation of branding. I’m sure we all can think of way more talented artists than those receiving the spotlight, but I can guarantee you the missing factor is the “cosign.” A brand is the part of your packaging that people interact with and hear about before ever meeting you. To put it neatly, it is a reputation. As we all know, reputations generally precede introductions and more often than not end in disappointment.
The key is, the opportunity for disappointment was created by the reputation (branding), & while there was an unfavorable outcome, you will always remember that meeting and you would have added to the awareness that the brand successfully created. I hope I didn’t lose anyone. Though you were disappointed by the individual, the point of branding is to make you aware in the first place. The branding was so successful that you even had an expectation of someone you had never met before…which when you think about it, is kind of weird because you don’t really know them.
So how do you bypass “the cosign”? Maybe you don’t know a star, or don’t have a relationship with anyone known enough to vouch for you. Reverse engineer it. Become so active that the people begin to tell the “OG” that they need to know about you or look you up, only for them to find you and stamp you that way.
It seems far-fetched, but if there is no way to get around the cosign, then you have to value proposition your way into it, seeing it as an objective and not an obstacle. The OG/star is only valuable for as long as they are relevant. If you become relevant enough though, the OG/star will need you as much as you need them and this, can’t be bought. I’ve seen people try on the secular and CHH side, there’s a spike in attention, but it doesn’t last.
Remember even the Bible says, “a good name is to be preferred rather than great riches” and I believe that when your name (brand) is good, the riches will come (& the cosign).