There is an old fable about two swindlers who convince the emperor to walk buck naked down the streets of his kingdom because he thinks he is wearing a cloak of the finest threads known to man. He is naked and people are buying the idea that he is in some fancy duds until a kid yells that he is in fact nude. I am convinced this is what’s happening on today’s music scene.
It might be pushing the creative envelope or maybe even me getting older and thinking that this is just noise and not music, but I am very confused and convinced that the MC has no rhymes. Maybe I believe that if you are talented, persistent, and have just the right amount of at the right place at the right time, then you’ll get your chance to shine. Even with American Idol and The Voice and whatever other singer competition shows are out there, people have actual talent. They win, and then they kind of fade out of existence.
I believe way down in her core, Lady GaGa is a very talented individual. I even jam hard to Born This Way with my eyes closed and hands in the air, but she could come sit right next to me in a restaurant and I wouldn’t know who she was. She never looks the same! She wears meat dresses and performs in ridiculous costumes. Does she need this to sell records? I have no idea, but it got her over 37 million record sales. Ridonkulous.
Then look at an influence of GaGa’s, Madonna. Can’t carry a tune to save her life can she? She is the epitome of an entertainer. Great dance moves, provocative costumes, awesome videos, catchy tunes. She made you vogue! She’s a legend. And her bit of talent in music led her to write books, and act in movies. See: J.Lo, Beyonce, Queen Latifa, Will Smith, Common, Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake, etc.
NWA made headlines for being controversial rappers with ridiculous amounts of obscenities in their lyrics. Best rappers ever? Very debatable depending on what side of America you live on and which side of the 90s you were born into, but no matter what they made their controversy work for them and got a lot of record sales from it.
Hammer had us in giant pants. Kris Kross had us wearing our jeans backwards. Kanye got people taking a letter out of a word like losing a syllable shows just how crazy shit is.
I would talk about Justin Bieber, but I’m an adult so I have no idea what any of his songs are. He may or may not be talented, I honestly don’t know, but if he didn’t have that cute boy next door long bang thing going, a bajilionty little girls wouldn’t be going nuts for him and we would have never heard of him. He’s the 2010 version of Justin Timberlake, who was just the 1999 version of Jordan Knight who was just the 1990s version of whoever came before New Kids on the Block. Talented enough but sold in such a great package you couldn’t help but love them (and I loved me some NKOTB. Oh oh ooooh).
But I’m just waiting for the day I turn on the radio and they say someone (probably Lil Wayne) has a new song and it goes like this:
Weezy too good! Weezy too good! Sign my piddy on the blingy kind!
So do you need a gimmick to make money these days? Something ridiculous or outrageous to get you in the door and on to people iPods or is raw talent actually enough? Has it ever been enough for anyone in anything ever? Who else is more lucky than talented?