Written by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Edited by Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
When we turn on the radio, depending on which radio station, there is a good chance that the song being played is sung by someone who is not the greatest in lyricism, not the greatest in voice, nor is the greatest in instrumentation. Why is it that the spotlight is not on someone who is great, but someone who falls below? We turn to the true underground, the ones who are not receiving airplay or widespread recognition.
Throughout history, we have seen representatives from this crowd, scattered in the under-tunnels of their own community. Yet, their devotion and execution of their craft is top-notch and beyond any of the people sitting on the throne of mass appeal. When we ask the mainstream stars who their hero is, we often hear the names of those who live in the underground. Their works are sampled in the works of their admirers. We always strive and we look for something great, yet the great are right under our noses; why do we not turn to recognize them publicly about their contributions to the scene?
The consistency of HYPE is broken – HYPE in itself is supposed to be something great. Something great is right there, both young and old, new and mature, but it receives no attention. This causes a misperception between the notions of reputable work with consumer-targeted mainstream products. Ingenuity is lost in this world where people have dual-intentions of creating art that is truly an expression from their hearts, and art that is for the masses. How could one even fight for their true motives when the line between mainstream and underground is thin?
While one instance of the mainstream music is surging, another brews underground and gains momentum. Many claim not to be the mainstream, which is true for a portion of their career. Something interesting happens, though. Depending on what they chose to be their craft, their popularity and fame turn the underground into the mainstream, causing followers around the world to emulate and duplicate with slight variations. Soon, their works take over the mainstream and become mainstream.
Despite this transition from under to mainstream, the greats are still left in dust. Like a veteran returning from war, society may feel like they have no place in society itself, but the respect for the veterans remain strong. When someone makes reference to them in their works, it is recognized instantly and gains praise, but not the veteran himself.
After enduring the underground life long enough, the veterans gain a quasi-cult status, with pockets of following all over the world. Their recognition knows no boundaries and there are people of all ages discovering their works. For some reason, even though they are not recognized in the mass media, they are a name that everyone understands, respects, and values.