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I am a big fan of writing, I love reading great writing regardless of whether I agree with it or not and I truly believe that the best writing should be celebrated whenever found. This week MTV News effectively shut down its current operations in order to redirect its focus towards video and short form content. Basically, MTV wants to get in on the ADD quick hit industrial complex that prizes cutesy, attention-grabbing 30 second videos over actual quality and labored over writing.

This news comes on the same week that Complex’s interview series Everyday Struggle went viral over a confrontation between its host Joe Budden and Migos happened on the air. Everyday Struggle is the textbook example of everything worth hating about media today: a show where middling (at best) rapper, Joe Budden, and sentient twitter parody account, DJ Akademiks, yell at each other and at guests for any number of minutes. It is the rap version of First Take and as low brow and shameless as it is, it’s brilliant. A cranky rapper complaining about rap next to an easy punching bag isn’t intriguing or quality but it is entertaining and succeeds at inspiring both hatred and love –which work the same as far as online traffic goes. For as much as Everyday Struggle personally disgusts me, it is an indicator of where all of media is headed. Easily digestible and shameless content that focuses on “takes” and panders to large masses of people; garnering strong reactions (positive or negative) is an easy sell and good content for companies that purely want to make as much money as possible. It’s getting harder and harder for journalism and great writing to fit in this incredibly cynical climate.

I don’t know anything about teens but I know that when I was a teen I read my dad’s copies of GQ and Esquire all the time. It’s what made me want to be a writer and when the blog era began, I used Livejournal, Myspace and Blogger as my training grounds for writing longform content about music and movies. The teens of today turn to Tumblr now for the same thing. The idea that teens are not interested in good, interesting writing feels disingenuous. There’s no doubt that video content is all the rage but the two things can coexist and this latest plan to forgo good writing feels extremely cynical and dismissive of the very audience that MTV hopes to appeal to. Regardless of whether it.s video, essays or a page full of giant, flashy gifs to catch the eye and/or cause epilepsy, treating your audience like its stupid never works out in the long run. MTV News marks the second time a site that had grown dear to my heart thanks to its dedication to good writing and interesting subjects has been dissolved thanks bottom lines and money-hungry corporate execs (the first was Grantland). It’s incredibly sad and it makes you feel like there’s no point in being good at your craft when lowest common denominator trash is more talked about and coveted than the best writing out.

2017 has been the worst year for me as a freelance writer. The editors I once worked with have left their respective jobs or the new ones I talk to are either unresponsive or more fickle with who they give assignments to. Despite my snarkiness and the disdain I show towards media on Twitter, I blame no one for this but myself. Media is an extremely tough gig and it takes more than talent to stay afloat. It takes networking, insightfulness and strategy. There are a million writers out there and many of them have thought the same pitches that you have; it’s up to you to find that unique angle to set you apart and connect with the particular audience of the site you’re pitching to. Not getting work out there has been extremely difficult and frustrating but more than anything else, I miss working with good editors who made me better at what I do. That to me was the most satisfying part of the writing process: having that person there who could take your words and make them better, more thoughtful, more detailed and beautiful. I don’t know where writing online will take me or if I’ll ever break out of this funk and have my words on more sites, but I hope and pray that I will work with editors again to be better at my craft. I do not believe in accepting the new normal of easy controversy and reaction bait; I still believe being a good writer is worth it and the words of the best of us will last when all the disposable content has been forgotten.

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So for about a week or so there’s been a new Rihanna track circling the wagon that everyone seems to be sitting on. Now I’ll be frank (no ocean), I don’t dislike Rihanna (shifty eyes)…Okay, I do, but for reasons I don’t have the time to delve into. But unlike my “RiRi-Hater” cohorts who see no good in the self proclaimed Good Girl Gone Bad, the majority of my reasons are comprised of musical quality, or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, RiRi has lots of talent, otherwise she wouldn’t be where she is, and so highly celebrated. And while this is Hollywood, where the “real” is harder to find than a g-string on a fat man in a two-door coupe, they don’t tend to hang around fakes too long either (see Milli Vanilli).

For me, it is her talents, at least one in particular, that annoys me. Like the majority of her hits, RiRi seems to have the “catchy track” jones. Whether it was Pon de Replay (when we mixed her up with M.I.A in 05’), S.O.S, Umbrella ella ella (ey ey ey), Don’t Stop The Music…Music, Hard ey ey ey so hard (sorry Jizzle), Rude Boy Boy, S&M, Birthday Cake cake cake cake cake cake cake (not to be confused with 2Chainz’ Bday special) or Diamonds, Rihanna will work the hell out of a catchy tune. This is to be commended because of course you need to move units. Unfortunately for her she’s become so good at it that she’s a Mega star because of it. People overseas and in the states flock to her shows and will beat you down for anything ill thrown her way (Don’t be standing outside my window damnit).

Now maybe I’m the only one that believes this, but once you become a mega-star the pressure should continue to build along with your skills and success. But, I honestly think we get so caught up just jamming along to an otherwise catchy song that we skip over a lot of bad vocals, stale verses, terrible live performances, or we (not so much I, hence the blog) simply don’t care. So then where’s the appreciation for the art? Why do people rip Beyonce (the Queen of the hive) when her performance is slightly less than goddess-like? Why not say Soulja Boy (king of catchy dance tunes) is the best rapper alive? Why didn’t they make Soul Plane 2? Why was D.L Hughley and Cedric on the Original Kings of Comedy and not Martin?? (Yeah I went there #Runteldat)

With this Diamonds track, you know, the one that had to be written after a long and trippy night at K.O.D, hence saying DIAMONDS 39 Times!! (Insert Chief Keef ANY phrase here) It was simply the same formula, same result. It says truly nothing. Or, at least nothing you can’t text. I can just imagine how this went down in the studio… RiRi: Yo…fool I got this hard ass track tho! (thug life) Crew: str8 str8 RiRi: Check it…We shine bright….(laughs and hits the molly) We shine bright like…like..like a diamond ohhhhh shit…Crew: ……str8 str8.

As I looked for a deeper explanation on rapgenius,com I noticed that RiRi has gotten so advanced on the catchy song flow that this track had a PRE Hook, Hook, and Post Hook, which had to take up ¾ of the entire song…where’s the verse space!? #wddda #barbados. You don’t have to try to talk about Slavery, Somalia, Women’s Rights, Education, or the Economy (see what I did there) but if you make a love song, go all the way in. Remember RiRi you’re a mega-star. If we label people mega-stars shouldn’t we get our moneys worth? When Jay-Z or Ye drop an album in comparison with say Young Dro (Best Thang Smokin’ was fie back in 06’), there is a huge difference. The pressure, criticism, detail, skill, everything is heightened due to an appreciation and respect of the artist and music. When RiRi drops an album (she’s done so every year 2005-2012, except 2008’) its like lets hit the club and get ready for a continuation of this album next year, just like last year. Just one huge compilation. Which is fine if you’re trying to make your cash and dash! Just not so much for a mega-star who millions idolize.

And I’m speaking on the masses that hear your singles on the radio. In today’s day and age, you buy an album at your own risk. So if the album is trash, use iTunes album preview. But, for those who for whatever reason can’t and only see you on TV or listen to radio, you have to do better. The game calls for it. RiRi is much better than the Diamonds track, or is she? Cause at the end of the day I’ll probably have all 39 diamonds stuck in my head. Or cubic zirconia, I’m on a budget; either way we’re screwed til’ the next fish line is cast out.

Torch Eberhart is an inspired and highly motivated filmmaker eager to create reflective films that impose a sense of urban culture. The themes of separation and loss are prevalent in his stories due to his inspirations in Japanese Manga and Anime. But his films are not absent from the surreal and imaginary, as Torch believes the ultimate goal of a movie viewer is to escape the threshold of their everyday lives; to venture out and enjoy the real and unreal stories of others. You can check out his site here and you can follow him on twitter here.

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