The day before yesterday Kendrick Lamar announced the dates of his European tour with James Blake American Rappers Friends TV Show Shirt and, although we had all hoped, there will be no concert in Italy. The nearest is Frankfurt, about seven hours drive from Milan. It’s not the first time that the great American rappers don’t consider us when they cross the ocean, and it certainly won’t be the last. When we talk about international rap, we have small or medium artists, but in order to be able to see a distant dot on the stage that looks like Frank Ocean, the least we have to do is take a plane.
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But, in three words, why does this happen? Why don’t American rappers play in Italy? We asked Alex Ravizza (Indipendente / Live Nation), Pietro Fuccio (DNA Concerti) and Giorgio Riccitelli (Radar Concerti). The main reason is simple: our promoters don’t have enough money to afford to play big caliber rap artists. Giorgio Riccitelli explains: “The concerts of the great American rappers in Italy, with very few exceptions, were bloody economic flops. The fees are astronomical and out of the market for us, especially because until now they have almost all snubbed us in the first European tours and then get here when now too big and expensive, almost inaccessible. Giorgio speaks with good reason, since he was the one who organized the only Kendrick Lamar concert in Italy at the time of the good kid, m.A.A.d. city: “Kendrick Lamar came to us by mistake four years ago on a single date at the Magazzini Generali in Milan, without even filling it. Today for the fee he asks would not be enough the Forum, obviously not justified and crazy as an option.
Pietro Fuccio of DNA agrees: “For rappers we can hope for some private party of Gucci,” he says. “Artists don’t have any more fees or even ask for them. You go there, make an offer and they can say yes, no or don’t answer exactly – and they often don’t answer you. I have no idea what Kendrick Lamar can get, but I think he would have to sell out two or three times at the Assago Forum to pay for it. And an offer at the Forum is negligible: Kendrick can make one hundred similar dates in Europe, and so he prefers to make ten and return home equally satisfied.
Alex Ravizza from Indipendente is also of the same opinion, who explains: “The American hip-hop world is interested in money, which is therefore an important component. You don’t tend to build a career in a country, but rather to see where you can monetize more and then go and hit them. Many times Americans ask you for the numbers you could do, and if you propose a location for 3000 people while in Germany they could make one for 6 or 7000, you automatically can’t afford it. Either you try to do the crazy, and then get to the offers that go around Europe, or forget about it. It would mean putting your business at risk.”
“Hip-hop is only becoming mainstream in recent years, while in France and Germany it is very strong,” explains Alex of Indipendente, pointing out a statistic that shows the reality of fandom against American rap in Italy: “If you look at Kendrick’s data on Facebook, in Italy has 100,000 fans of the total. In France 290,000, in Germany 250,000. But Denmark has 80,000 with 5 million inhabitants. We have 100,000 out of 60 million inhabitants, to give you an idea.”
Kendrick is coming to Europe with James Blake, and it’s DNA Concerti-the Peter agency that manages his live promotion for Italy. According to Pietro, the dynamics that lead a Kendrick Lamar to snub Italy are repeated identical even for artists of other genres: “Blake has done two concerts in Italy since it existed, one in 2013 before his record came out and one last year at the Siren, and that’s it,” he says. “I think I’ve made him 29 offers over the years. And he never had time to come to Italy. This is also true for other greats of my tour: The National, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear. A lot of artists, even not from that musical area, don’t come to Italy, or come to the second or third European tour when the other countries don’t follow him anymore. It’s a separation between international value and Italian value”.
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Italy is not a country for festivals, historically. There are many reasons for this: administrations that are not interested in developing projects based on music, lack of money, cultural and media delays. But the absence of international festivals does not only mean having to leave Italy every summer to see certain artists. It also means starting with a considerable gap with other European countries when it comes to individual concerts.
Pietro Fuccio explains: “Almost all over the world there are five or six big festivals, from seventy to eighty thousand people who, when a Kendrick Lamar films, start to make auctions in the order of millions of euros. We’ve been cut off from international tours because there’s not the same opportunity. There’s no real reason not to do the Assago forum, but then you have the Coachella that offers you millions of euros a few months later, and I Italian promoter that I offer, shoot, a hundred thousand euros end up in spam.
Alex Ravizza also stresses the fact that the need to attract huge audiences and generate large numbers is fundamental: “In Italy, big concerts are all sold out: look at Coldplay, Rolling Stones, Vasco. In my opinion, at this moment we look at the big historical groups for which people are willing to pay even a very high ticket, while it is very difficult to sell very cheap tickets for smaller bands. The absence of international festivals is also due to the absence of demand. We don’t have that tradition, and the attempts so far have not given great results. But we trust in the new generation between 15 and 30 years old, we all hope so.
Giorgio Riccitelli believes that the current state of affairs leaves some room for improvement: “As always, we arrive late, but gradually we get there, thanks above all to a very strong Italian scene, which takes its cue from the American originals and which is depopulating among our teenagers, and which also acts as a driving force for the international scene. Rap is a new and very recent phenomenon, which I’m sure will bear fruit in 2018, where we will undoubtedly see many new names in international hip-hop ready to make the leap with us. And so while in the recent past the acclaimed D’Angelo was a flop, now Anderson .Paak is sold out, as well as the Run The Jewels organized by me no less than two years ago that went below expectations.
Alex Ravizza, who organized Freddie Gibbs’ concert in Linecheck next November, is of the same opinion: “In my opinion the fact that the new generations are used to studying English very early helps. However, Italian rap dominates the charts, so I don’t see why in a few years even the American rap can’t do it.
Morally, guys, for the moment the only thing we can do to watch Kendrick Lamar live is take a plane or get into a car and leave. For the moment, what we can do is keep listening to him, maybe get him in the standings and make sure that he notices a very large audience, and then the general media begin to talk about it. The platforms are there, and we are in the historical moment American Rappers Friends TV Show Shirt in which rap is at its greatest expansion at an international level: as Giorgio Riccitelli says, “Many new international hip hop artists are about to arrive, just a moment’s more patience is enough. PS: in the coming months there will be some good rap concerts, going to these can only be good for you and the state of Italian rap. From here to April we’ll have De La Soul, Bryson Tiller and SZA, Loyle Carner, Freddie Gibbs, the $uicideboy$, Ghostpoet and Rejjjie Snow.