The brightest and most successful music artists in the world are amongst the biggest celebrities living.
Celebrities are even birthed after association with musicians. Some examples throughout the generations include Yoko Ono (John Lennon), Courtney Love (Multiple artists ALLEGEDLY), Sharon Osbourne (Ozzy), Kim Kardashian (Ray J and Kanye) and most recently Martin Shkreli (Bobby Shmurda, Wu Tang Clan).
As we now have a lot more access to celebrities, we’re learning a lot more about their antics. My question is should this flood of information affect your opinion on their art? Let’s explore.
Let us start with the case of Amy Winehouse. One of the most powerful and influential artists of our generation. All respect to the dead but let me be objective. She had a strong drug addiction which could be labelled as disease or a choice depending on your outlook. If she wasn’t super talented musically, she probably would have been labeled a dirtbag by society. She eventually ‘caught the Holy Ghost’ as a result of an overdose.
Her lifestyle was somewhat conveyed through her music. Her shenanigans were well covered and she made it easy. One of my fondest memories is watching her strike a fan during a Glastonbury performance.
Her music correlated with her lifestyle, but is that really something we are happy to hear? Would her music’s reception have been different if we found out she was a medical student raised in Hampstead? It’s debatable.
This white boy was a big talking point in hip hop as he rose to stardom in 2015. His single ‘Drill Time’ was a viral sensation. The ‘Drill’ subgenre of Hip Hop originated in the Chicago area and has a prominent ‘SKreet’ element which is influenced by South side Chicago’s extraordinary rate of gun related crime.
Check out Slim’s efforts below
In what was debatably heralded as a first in Hip Hop, Jesus came out in an interview and told the world that all of the content in Drill Time was essentially make belief. He went on to confess that he used props in the video and he was simply a fan of the Drill sound. This split opinions in the hip hop community with many claiming they would no longer bump his music anymore as it wasn’t for them. Some people actually applauded him for telling the truth about releasing a fabricated image. The world is a crazy place.
Artist credibility is a recurrent debate in Hip Hop and other honourable mentions include the MMG President, Rick Ross. He moulded his persona on ‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross who was one of the biggest drug dealers in US history. After he became an established artist, it was revealed that he used to be a correctional officer. He vehemently denied this.. until he managed to get his ‘version’ of the truth memorized in his head.
In the world of RnB, it is well documented that male singers tend to hide the fact that they are in relationships or are married. The logic behind this is that their success in terms of sales and touring would be negatively impacted as their fanbases tend to be largely female. I don’t know if being married makes you less credible as an artist but it is an example of how musical reception can be influenced. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to apply to female RnB artists which is probably some type of reflection of the western world.
I grew up heavily influenced by the more rugged and raw artists in Hip Hop like Wu Tang Clan and Mobb Deep where street code and integrity were important. Of course as you grow up, You question the solidity of certain messages that people convey. For example, being a cocaine user is definitely frowned upon in the hood, so it’s always disappointing finding out that your favourite artist is really a crackhead.
If you really have a love for music, then the more information you hear surrounding it can really tarnish the love affair. In other genres of music other than Hip hop, your social life is more disconnected to your music. Maybe Hip Hop needs that to keep the culture pushing. BUT… when credibility meets musical genius, the legacy is undeniable.