Tastemaker, it's a term I see used quite often these days in the Hip Hop blogosphere and it's always been a curious one to me. By definition a tastemaker is "one that determines or strongly influences current trends or styles, as in fashion or the arts." So, we're talking about the current trends and styles in Hip Hop and the people that direct us to accept and embrace them. From my observations we're talking about the media. That includes writers, radio/TV personalities, bloggers and DJ to name a few. But are they pointing us a good direction? Are tastemakers even a positive thing within Hip Hop?
The DJ has always been at the forefront of bringing whats hot and new to the people. That up and coming artist that no one knew was often introduced to us via a DJ. After gaining a level of local grass roots support and buzz the radio would eventually take notice. I remember the 1st times the LOX and DMX were played X was hot, Big Pun was hot, no one questioned it because the system was authentic. It was stamped and certified by the culture. Today that stamp comes from businesses and corporations and that's where I think the role of the Tastemaker begins to erode.
We don't need people force feeding us who is "hot" because they have songs that get the club moving. Yes that entertainment element factors into it but we don't party 24/7. Why must the making of taste only focus on this one area of the culture. Hip Hop effected more then just the party. We don't need the major media channels giving us MC lists for artist who clearly don't command that level of skill. I get it that these people don't want to burn bridges and stunt their own personal progression but can that advancement happen without them selling out the culture to endless Turn up tunes, Ratchet anthem & Swag raps?
Growing up, taste always followed the word personal. Personal taste over peer pressure was part of maturing. Today instead of looking at a select few to decide our taste for us can we get back to a more broad presentation of talents and we can decide who is worth influencing our style. Our selection can't be any worse then whats in the mainstream presently.