Letters to the Editor, Sort Of


It’s another beautiful day on the back porch. In the course of getting VTHH re-situated, one of the things I’ve had to catch up on was my own inbox. Which I have mostly ignored over the course of a beautiful summer I spent outside as much as possible. I’m not just old and grumpy: there was more correspondence to dig into than ever. 

Truly, for better or worse, the ‘scene’ is growing, and fast. Much of this correspondence is from artists, naturally, because nobody cares more about your career than, well, you. Many of these emails are also from fans, managers, journalists, and weirdo academic types. It’s been fun. If you have questions to ask, shoot here.

What follows is six questions worth answering in public. These are distilled from much longer emails. Some because they’re important questions, some because they’re so frequently asked. 

Why are most of the interviews not in the “Interviews” section?

Stupid, right? This is my go-to example for proving to people that my dumb-ass little website is not worth getting upset over. It’s a mess because I did a very poor job running this, and still do so today.

Most of the “GET FAMILIAR” content will be going up in the Interviews stack from now on, though. Links should be useful. I have a ton of new interview content on the way, so this bad habit will sort itself out.

In related news, the Music stack also needs a serious update, since that’s all mid-2018 vintage right now. Also, the Shows stack has been inconsistent. Overall, while VTHH undoubtedly exists, that is perhaps the best that can be said for it so far.

Are you looking for other writers for VTHH?

Yes and no. Yes, that would be great. Since launching the dot com, I’ve talked to a cool dozen people -- freelancers, other artists, college students, bloggers -- about writing for the site. So far, I’ve encouraged everyone who applied, and so far nobody’s sent me anything. 

I’m not surprised. After all, I’m asking people to work for free, here, and I can’t even pretend the traffic we get amounts to “exposure.” In theory, I’d love to have sharp young writers come onboard and contribute. In practice, I’ll have to pay them. And I should.

So no, I don’t want to deal with editing other writers when you, me and God all know I can barely edit myself. No, I am wary of aspiring “writers” because you motherfuckers can be exhausting. And no, I think any & all of you could do far better with your lives than contributing to … all this.

Ideally, though, I’d like to see you contribute and put that effort into something you own. Or, say, into signing up for the Big Heavy World blog and giving them more hip hop content. Or into DJ’ing a two hour set every week on a local radio station. My coverage here will never do justice to what’s going on. We need more voices. Thank you in advance.

Can I talk to you about sponsorships / advertisements for the site / brand?

As long as you’ll buy me dinner and you’re fine with me saying “No,” then yes, we should absolutely sit down and have that talk. Soon, too. But don’t be disappointed. I detest advertisements, and few sponsors with real value to add have much interest in allowing me to keep swearing & sharing unfiltered opinions here. And there’s no reason they should.

For the record, though, certain local breweries could absolutely change my mind about this.

Do you know that people think you’re an asshole?

Absolutely, and I’ve earned at least half of that. One of the big reasons I’d rather see young writers start their own projects and platforms is to improve the coverage. People treat me as an “authority” only because my name shows up on Google; and the purpose of my project is to help your names show up on Google, too.

I am lazy, stubborn, and often wrong. Unfortunately, I’m the only person so far willing to do this, so: cheers to you and yours, no matter what you think. May we all still be here this time next year to have the same arguments.

Are you interested in a re-design for the site?

I am not. This is simple, clean, and legible. I will never need this project to be anything else. I’ve had some really talented people offer this, for free, but there are better causes you could donate that sweat equity to. This will always be simple and this will always work.

I sent you a message about my new album. You never covered it and never replied. What gives?

I neglected you. I apologize. That’s my fault, not yours. It’s also going to happen a lot when you send people emails about your music, so make it a point to get used to that. I cover less than half of what comes out any given week. Variations on this email happen a lot.

I also get artists who ask me to interview them. That’s bold. I appreciate the assertiveness but … seldom ever jump on that. While I’m always behind on coverage, what I choose to cover is of course a matter of taste -- yours and mine. What I prioritize might be fake, wack or trash to you, especially when I am outright ignoring your work.

Take solace in this: you will be vindicated by time. When Savvy Row told me they were building a movement and a fanbase, I laughed, and I was wrong. They proved that. When Rico James told me he and ILLu were starting a real deal record label, I didn’t believe them. They proved me wrong. When Omega Jade told me she was going to fuck up the local scene on every front, wearing every hat, well … you get the picture here.

Like I’ve said before: make yourself unavoidable and you will start getting media mentions. Even if we’re six months late to the party. Get used to that, too.

Besides, who gives a fuck what music journalists think? BL Spitz has long called me a ‘culture vulture’ but the truth is far worse — we’re more like vampires. Don’t enable us, don’t trust us, and don’t invite us inside.

Justin Boland