As I notice the underground overcoming the dwindling barriers of the music industry, I sit and ask myself, are we better off? By “we” I mean the listener, the consumer, the retailer, the producer, the party-goer, the hater, the rapper…the citizen. Are members of this expanding and boundary-less community becoming more or less satisfied?

One of the most basic barriers to so-called success in this industry was/is money. But obviously money, in and of itself, is not what players need(ed). Rawkus needed to get national distro so they got with Rupert Murdoch’s son. Wu-Tang needed to get manufacturing and promotion, so they got with Loud. But today these hurdles are becoming less awesome. Mass distribution for an independent artist is no longer an impossibility (although establishing control over the technology that makes it possible could be). A national and even international marketing effort is not necessarily a multi-million dollar effort, especially when you can reach your target market(s) through niche sites. And access to reasonable recording equipment is more practical than ever before, enabling artists to record in their living rooms or at the motel after the show.

I know it’s hard to quantify “happiness” and things of that nature, but let’s generalize for the argument’s sake. Much like economists try to measure quality of life by jobs, disposable income, life span etc., can we as a community expect to see more accessibility to 1000-copy-runs of music, more convenient and suitable show venues, more media outlets and more interest by the hordes of consumers out there? Or, is what we are witnessing some kind of trend towards market-saturation consisting of weak material being presented by a bunch of perpetrators?

Over the passed few days I’ve stumbled upon a good amount of music I’m enjoying and it has made me, at least temporarily, optimistic. The reason I’m rambling on about this is because, even as I get older and less idealistic, it’s nice to know I am still susceptible to the power of music. I still bop my head uncontrollably when I hear a dope beat drop for the very first time. I thought I’d share:

De La Soul – Rock Co. Kane Flow featuring Doom
Handsomeboy Modeling School – The World’s Gone Mad featuring Del
Typical Cats – Justice Coming
TOCA – Joyful Misery
Sage Francis – Slow Down Ghandi
Saul Williams – Black Stacey
Shyheim – New Producers

Even though I know a lot of people won’t feel these tracks the same way I did when I first heard them, at least the potential for something is there. This can’t be a bad thing. And since I’m well aware of the fact that my optimism will eventually fade and swing back towards the darkside, I and the other people at GrandGood have decided to force ourselves to make a post at least once a month featuring music that we like.

All these low-fi real audio samples can only be available for thirty days, so as not to a) Annoy any artists or audio-hound sites and b) Annoy our website’s host. Too bad we can’t post mp3s, maybe in the future.