I’m from a strange place, a land far away where cell phones were black and white, there was no Instagram, there were entire shows dedicated to showing new music videos and people wore a lot of bandanas; the 90’s! In this far off land musical artists, whether they were rap, pop or rock had to actually gain fans by doing heavy tours and producing mass amounts of music and videos to go along with it. Artists did interviews that mostly focused on the music they were making and what inspired it instead of who was beefing with who. You didn’t really need much of a personality back then since it was mostly about the music, but just like today’s days, a good scandal never hurt anybody. Advertising and marketing fell more heavily on magazines, newspapers and other old things that are basically considered ancient these days. What I’m getting at with my little tirade here is that artists had to work a lot harder 20-30 years ago to make a name for themselves. Now a days it’s so easy for a band, an emcee, or even a producer to get their name out there and start shining and that’s all because of one thing: Social Media. From Facebook, to Instagram, various blogs/personal websites, Soundcloud, Twitter and let’s not forget YouTube, anyone interested in pursuing fame and praise can do so instantly!
Back in the day your whole album had to be fire and all your performances had to be on point. These days though all you need is one hit with an interesting look and the public will be eating out of your hands. Take for instance someone like Dej Loaf, girl came outta nowhere with that song “Try Me” and now all of a sudden she’s on tour with Nicki Minaj! I have to admit that it is a great song though; the lyrics are easy to follow along, the beat is fantastic and when you look at Dej you kind of think to yourself…WTF?! Dej is a pretty lady, but I think for the most part when she first burst onto the scene with that hit we were all confused about her androgynous look. Of course I have nothing against it, I actually think it’s kind of cool, but of course it made people out there talk. Is Dej gay? is she straight? Is she bi? Who’s allowed to try her? People were so concerned that an interview had to be released to clear the air. The interview is on YouTube and somehow garnered over 1 million views. 1 million views to find out whether or not someone is straight? If you ask me that’s crazy! Of course that interview helped to propel her into stardom; unfortunately, that star money couldn’t buy her a personality because the interview is actually mad boring.
A viral hit is always a requirement these days to make it, but sometimes you have to forge connections on your own. As a 90’s kid I was shocked to see that MySpace was still in existence and that people were still making gains off of it. Cue in ILOVEMAKONNEN. It seems that Makonnen had an average upbringing and a dream to make it in music like many people do. He must be great at networking because it’s through MySpace that he was able to connect himself with artists Adele and Mike Will Made It. It was Mike who brought him into the studio last year to record a few tracks. Other producers were impressed with him and gave him a hand with his mix tape. Next thing you know Miley Cyrus is sharing his music on Instagram and Drake decides to remix “Tuesday”. All ILOVEMAKONNEN had under his belt is a few mix tapes and now he’s on his Loudest of the Loud tour all thanks to MySpace.
The next best example of the social media spike in career creation is Fetty Wap. I’m sure we’ve all heard his certified platinum his “Trap Queen” by now. When you actually look the guy up, his Wikipedia page is mad short! That’s due to the fact that all he has is his single “Trap Queen” and two others where he is the lead artist. He has mostly done a lot of features, but now that everyone is singing along to him baking pies with his baby, I’m sure that will change in no time. Fetty’s claim to fame all started with SoundCloud; he got a sick beat by Tony Fadd and wrote some dope lyrics and the rest is history.
To any aspiring artists out there I want you to know that this whole stardom thing is possible. If you look at the artists I mentioned in this article you can see that the beats are banging but the lyrics aren’t complicated. Not to insult these artists, but I’m pretty much saying that anyone can make it these days; you only need one hit and an interesting look! The focus has shifted from the old days where it was all about the music to an age where we’re more interested in who the artist is as a person. Back in the early millennium troubled starlets like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan would tell the press to leave them alone and even each made a song about it. Today, artists are inviting the press into their private space a la the Kardashians, which is a great way for fans to connect with them more and relate to them. So if you’re an artist you better get to writing that hit single and planning out your reality show! - Asha Mullings