Say what you will about the stigma that hip hop music breeds: The guns, the violence, the sex-laced lyrics..it's all been said before. It's nothing new. All forms of music have at one point or another preached, and even glorified the same exact topics. Rock music (example here, here, and here), and yes, even country music (see here, here, and here) have all had their fair share of controversy. But that's not really the point of this article..

In this DJ's humble opinion, Hip Hop has been losing it's audiences since 2007 not because of the lyrical controversy but primarily because most (keyword: most) touring acts have become all too lazy with their stage performances and their connection with fans! They seem to think that just a microphone and an instrumental is all they need to rile the crowd up. Not anymore. Welcome to a new world, a world of finicky, compulsive mouse clicking and easily distracted "fans". Why would anyone want to shell out money to see a lackluster stage performance when they can just Youtube one of their glitzier (and heavily edited) music videos in the comfort of their own home?

The point is, performers, it's time to take your game to the next level if you plan to win the hearts and minds of your not-as-loyal-as-you-think fans. Believe me, if you aren't giving fans something to write home about each and every time you perform in public, you WILL be replaced by the next hottest thing.  I must admit, I am impressed with a handful of locals that are seriously trying with their live sets (example here, here, and here) but when it comes to the true example setter that supports our scene, this is your man right here.

Now granted, Jay-Z and Eminem haven't rolled through our neck of the woods, so their stage show can't count for this particular argument. However, Tech N9ne sells out his shows in Missoula practically every six months. That's almost unheard of for any other underground act that comes through our area. Why? Because he brings an organized event to the stage on a consistent level. That's the key: organization. Tech brings pyrotechnics, stage props, back up performers that actually have a purpose on stage, and a presence that just bleeds talent.

Tech returns to the Big Sky state yet again, this time with the biggest names in the underground scene. The Independents Fest in Helena is sure to be one of his best performances yet. My advice to anyone considering even the slightest career in rap, take notes at this show. Try to visualize what you can do to amp up your stage presence and hopefully you can win over even the most unloyal rap fan. I know you can do it.

Does anyone else have advice for our local talent? What can Missoula's performers do to help you justify buying a ticket and CD?