What The Dallas Observer Needs to look for in the next music Editor- someone who hates Austin by @ryanmega

I wish I had the resume to be considered for the position. Unfortunately, I’m not a professional writer and though I consider myself a worthy critic, I have to preface this post this way because no matter how critical I am of the weekly, they are still a necessity and if I wasn’t banking 40+ hours already, I might risk being rejected to throw my hat in the ring. Instead, I’ll throw my hate. Yes, the Dallas Observer sucks these days. Their staff seems to be more uptown douche then downtown owl, but other than a handful of passing bys and fucking a few of their staff writers here and there, I don’t think I really know anyone at the paper, especially anyone with any editorial power, so please take anything I say at face value- I’m just a reader and former fan. I don’t know their motivation and though it seems like sometimes they operate on payola, acting tit for tat in their coverage of local artists, I have no evidence nor any first hand conversations to validate this suspicion. In the end, its a business, and I do know that some things, some ads, some event promotions, are done for the sake of the business. When weekly papers fold left and right, it damn well better be about the bottom line, everyday. But many things that could have been done to help progress the local music scene and (still make money) are not being done. While Austin gets all of the shine as a platform for groundbreaking new artists and festivals, artistic creation, and independent thought, Dallas is still seen as the pretentious prick capital of Texas and the region- and if you regularly looked into the voice of our village, the Dallas Observer, it would be hard to argue against it, with their lists of places to eat and drink and buy fashion (usually in fake ass Uptown or Bishop Arts District right?). The music section should balance this. Instead of a Village Voice imprint that speaks for and supports the local underdog, like the Nashville Scene for example, we have a promotional tool for living in excess, a paper that survives on a great investigative journalism team and corrupt Dallas officials providing constant fodder. But the music section- it just bites ass and that sucks because I am huge fan of the local music scene. You know what I use the Observer for- checking out happy hour specials. That’s why I have their happy hour application iframed into my site- for people who don’t want to load up any of the other bullshit they are pushing. Its not a paper for the people and this is why you can’t expect much support for local music from the Observer.

My igginess stems back to the coverage of the local scene during the NBA All Star game some years back (you know, that wonderful weekend when the city fell victim to an ice storm). At that time, I was still new to Dallas and was pulled into the local rap scene as a promoter, not because I dig hip hop or saw an opportunity to profit, but because my old friend DJ Red X wanted to help a few artists he was down with locally, and at the time I was flush with cash (John Ralphio/Tom Hagelford voice). If you were around then you know a few of the things we tried and a few of the people we connected with and worked with but all and all, I was never in it to win it. Yes, I was somewhat in the local industry and that should be known- because if you think I’m a hater, well there’s your ammo. But with a college degree, a real day job, with a title and a salary and free perks like Yoga and internet reimbursement, and real debts to clean up, rap money and anything associated with the music industry have always been extracurricular pursuits, if even that. The priority then was to simply help Red X get his name going in the community, because that’s what friends do. And it was a easy sell, as I was really impressed by the local rap community and his knowledge of it. He might be a scary ass, midget, gossipy muthafucka, but Red X knows and loves hip hop. He put me on to local go hards like DMGz, Sore Losers, Wreckamic, B.Hardy, Dustin Cavazos etc. and while Dallas shag/swag rap was at the forefront of the hip hop nation, I was sure Red X was tapped into the most talented emcees in the city, the ones that could not only help Dallas music, but push the culture of hip hop forward in the region. Instead of opening the dialogue to include these rappers and other emcees in the city, the Dallas Observer consistently chose (and still chooses) to feature acts that didn’t and don’t  really need a local spotlight, acts like Play N Skillz, Dorrough,  Tum Tum, and even fucking Vanilla Ice- as if these artists needed any more help from a local paper.  I want to say this clearly- fuck yeah these were and are the biggest artists to ever emerge from Dallas, but they already had Grammys, 106 and Park visits, and summer tours on lock. Their features in that issue came off as nothing more than another Madonna moment and far from good journalism. But hey, these artists paid for the ads and the young local rappers couldn’t so that’s who the Observer decided to cover, right? Even after that issue, when they did cover critically acclaimed artists such as Playdough, Astronautilus, Dow Jones, Bavu Blakes, etc. the write ups were flagrantly concise and wack.

If this was a one time thing, I wouldn’t still harbor this opinion, but there’s been at least 24 more issues since then where local Dallas musicians are pushed to the back burner for Dallas artists that are already signed and on their way (I love Sarah Jaffe but if she gets one more fucking story before she gets a Grammy win…). This is not music journalism. This is dickriding 101.

So what do I want in the next hire for Dallas Observer Music Editor? Someone who is really a fan of the local music scene. Not someone who is a fan of the Dallas artist that made it big, but a fan of the little guy doing the show with 5 people in attendance, then 15, then 150. The community needs someone who gets familiar with the good local promoters, like Parade of Flesh, Score More Shows, SpunePro, and Tactics Productions, and features these companies and the acts they book because they are the pulse of the local industry. I just want a music editor who does real music journalism, an editor who reviews and reports on the little band that’s posting flyers in Deep Ellum and Addison, trying to be the biggest they can be , and not an editor who researches articles by scrolling the twitter feeds of people who have nothing to do with local music scene.

We have HomeGrown Fest, NTX35 fest (most years), fucking Deep Ellum, great hotels, restaurants, and hospitality, Jerry World, and tons of pretentious people, rich kids, and wanna be hipsters looking for a culture to buy into, but no cultural map to lead them on that spree. Until we have a true voice for the people, we ain’t go shit on Austin. They are killing us with fan blogs. Fucking fan blogs. Its time to change the image of Dallas’s music scene by giving us a real identity. Are we a city capable of creating our own musical culture and sustaining it without the approval of national media? Or are we simply going to let Austin continue to wave its dick at us with their corporate festivals cloaked as hoedowns? I’d love to see Dallas hip hop at the forefront of the national scene again, but if we missed the opportunity to shine, its the Observer’s fault. They didn’t do their part to sustain the culture. While the national spotlight enjoyed from All Star Weekend to the Super Bowl has dimmed, the talented artists, promoters, and venues we need to cultivate a true cultural identity are still working in the shadows. We need someone in position who knows priority number 1 is to bring them to the light. This is what I want in the new music editor.


Ryan Mega


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