When one thinks of a Hip Hop executive penning a book (audio and actual) about the music entertainment industry, images of Sean “Diddy” Combs and Russell Simmons are naturally conjured. Undoubtedly, both men have had illustrious careers, but perhaps neither is better suited to deliver a how-to book in Hip Hop than Buckshot. Having worked with artists as diverse as KRS-One, Aaliyah, Tupac, Mary J Blige and Busta Rhymes, Buckshot’s 19 years in the game as both an artist and an executive make him ideal for the task. But there’s an inherent reservation, as projects such as these often turn out to be half-assed, contrived or both.
The Common Knowledgy of the Entertainment Industry comes as an audio book packaged within an actual one. Geared entirely towards schooling those new to the music business, the album (which is rapped over beats, rather than read) is filled with tracks with self-explanatory titles such as “What is Street Team?” “What is a Producer?” “What is an Executive?” and “How Do I Get My Record to a DJ?” The topics chosen are basic but essential. Not only does the album aspiring assist artists and executives in learning the proper channels through which to advertise and distribute their music, but it also clarifies often-muddled differences such as those between producers and executives.
At just over 20 minutes, the album is very digestible. There are no rich, layered beats and intricate rhymes. On the contrary, the music is sparse, and the rhymes are intentionally simple. This utilitarian approach won’t make you want to bump this in the whip for music’s sake, but it does make things more interesting and engaging than a typical audio book. The accompanying book, no larger than a CD case, is also a useful and well-thought-out part of the package. It answers many of the questions posed in the album, in addition to other subjects; it even broaches a bit of music theory, and debunks common misconceptions (such as the myth that Hip Hop is a great get rich quick scheme).
While the overall presentation and execution is generally superb, one item’s absence clearly could have conceivably made this a more complete release. With the bevy of artists with whom Buckshot has collaborated, why not include interviews or some sort of secondary insight? It seems as though that would be an obvious addition to the project. Perhaps that speaks to a desire to make this have as broad an appeal as possible, but it certainly would’ve been a welcome inclusion.
When all is said and done, Common Knowledgy is an excellent resource for anyone trying to get in the music game (not just Hip Hop), or for a fan who simply wants to learn more about the machinations of the industry. It wouldn’t appear on any year-end lists, but this is certainly worth the pickup for its intended audiences.