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September 28, 2010

Strictly Truth...Talent: Just Throw It In The Bag?

Chan.Lo. Note:  As a die-hard, in the paint, music fan I must say I've been slightly disappointed with my mainstream favorites lately.  Playing a CD from start to finish is like my therapy.  It rejuvenates me and helps me to put many of my own issues into perspective.  I haven't been able to do much of that in quite some time.  Drake, Trey Songz, Chrisette Michele have been artists that I've listened to for years.  Before the hype, before the mega tours, I was bumpin Drake and Trey when Myspace was my only venue to hear their newest music. 

With their latest commercial releases (Trey Songz - Passion, Pain & Pleasure, Drake - Thank Me Later and Chrisette Michele - Epiphany) I've noticed a certain je ne sais quoi missing from the final product.  To only have three or four favorite songs out of a compilation of twelve to fourteen is problematic for fans of the music.  Forget everything else.  If you are a true fan of the talent, 4/12 is a losing season no matter how you call it.  Did I still buy the records? Yes. Do I still listen? Yes.  I'm a fan of music so, please keep in mind that I'm not blaming them.  I'm simply alarmed at a deeper correlation - all of these artists have one key thing in common: They became alternate personalities, brands, marketing tools and commodities.  It must be hard to grow musically and personally when you have people constantly telling you who you must be in order to cash your next check. 

Mixtape Monday actually began due to my frustration with the lack of hunger in mainstream music and ironically, in comparison with current releases, my favorite artists are nowhere near the glory the work on their underground (often, FREE) mixtapes produced.

This all led me to ask the following question:

Has mainstream music become so diluted with chart topping singles and the latest marketing campaigns that the talent has become disposable? 

Our resident truth guru, Kenny, addresses this very topic on the flip side. 

Peace. Love. Truth.



Do marketability and true talent go hand-in-hand? To some, it seems as if it is impossible for both to function in harmony, meaning that individuals in the music industry with true talent are relegated to the background, while ones who may lack in that department get the glory, notoriety, and accolades, since they are able to be packaged in a way that is favorable to the ever-changing consumer of music. It’s something that, when looked at from a particular perspective, is quite interesting. Currently, I’m reading Eric Clapton’s autobiography, and in his early 20’s, he had a keen insight on how he wanted to present his music. He always wanted to remain true to the art of the blues, jazz, and how it should be played, and even if it came at the expense of his ability to be marketed to a larger audience of people, he did not care. Sure, there were times where he did compromise for the sake of others around him, but it was important for his talent and passion to take precedence over everything else.

Some people, including myself, like to lament on how the artists who want to do it an authentic way are held back, because they aren’t marketed well, but the truth of the matter is every generation of music, any fan who has had an interest in music, can make the same claim about their time as well. The key is finding a way for the two to function in harmony, keep the authenticity of their product intact, as well as finding a way to be marketed effectively, and remain true to who they are. In a recent interview with The Smoking Section, J. Cole spoke about how he feels free and just raps about what he knows, because he is literally being himself in his music. There has to be a sense of satisfaction in knowing an artist can do their thing, be appreciated, and be the person they are, as opposed to searching for an identity that can be so far removed from their true being, that it is almost impossible to let your guard down at anytime.

In any person’s pursuit for happiness, they will (hopefully) decide what they will do, what they are willing to compromise on, and what they absolutely will not do. There should be a sense of knowing “hey, I’m good at this-that,” and their work will speak for them. In terms of music, there are enough fans that are appreciative of authenticity, and if an artist makes it a point to let their true talent shine through, the people will latch on and ride with them through the good and the bad, thus showing their marketability. It’s a gift that plenty of people have, but one that not enough are willing to do what it takes to achieve it and sustain.

Be Easy,
K. Masenda
Follow Kenny on Twitter @soulonice6

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