Detox, Act II: Patents of Nobility, So Help Me God, The Cool 2, the list goes on for projects that we the listener have believed ‘in the works.’ Some were but never saw the light of day, and others feel more mythical than griffins, unicorns, and dragons ever could seem.
Bodies of work are often conceived, but just as often don’t make it to fruition and reality (We both, as rapper and writer, are the living embodiment and personification of starting amazing projects that we cannot finish, cannot make amazing enough). Is that the fault of the artist? Possibly, or maybe we just set our expectations too high. Maybe, we as fans, are too engaged in the idea of these artists as artists, we fail to see them for people as is so often the case with celebrities.
One of the key factors in consuming art, artists and their image, is the next fix. Like drug addicts waiting for the next hit, the promise of the next one will only tide people over so long.
Some fans won’t wait over a year for a new album from some artists however this could be due to a few things. For one, what is too long of a wait in 2019, and more important in the Digital Streaming Era? Albums in a traditional sense have developed a new set of rules. Too many tracks, relative to the listener, or too long in length, also relative, have changed. Some albums of the past could be as short as 5 or 3 tracks that had about 6-8 minutes in length per track, but fans and publications were receptive and willing to sit through and digest the music. Now our expectations have changed. Albums can be too long and too short, too ambitious or not creative enough, feature heavy or lacking in features all at the same time. Our idea of a Frank Ocean album, as opposed to a DMX one, or a Kanye West project or something from NF is all very dependent on how we view these musicians. In 2019, it’s not just about music, but everything surrounding it as well. Being that we’re 23, this could very well be true for every generation of popular music but we plead ignorance.
Frank Ocean isn’t lost in the actual ocean (although with how polluted it is, isn’t like it’s anywhere anyone wants to be, shout out to aquatic life) he’s just made a conscious decision to not spend every second occupying our screens, looking at you The Game. He still has a life, and has afforded himself the luxury to involve himself in the public sphere when he chooses to. He is part of a generation that came up before the imperative to be a social media maven was appended to every ‘creative’ job in North America. I mean, he joined Odd Future the same year Instagram was created – it was a different world, one it would seem is more suited to Frank’s life.
After Channel Orange in 2012, it got to a point where it almost seemed like we’d never get a solo body of work again. Then the same week in 2016 we got PARTYNEXTDOOR 3 & I Told You, Frank returned with his critically and commercially acclaimed album Blond(e). As of 2019, it doesn’t seem like a new album is coming any time soon, but it doesn’t seem fans would be quick to disregard or lose faith in Frank anytime soon. His quality has become enough to satisfy and maintain a loyal and strong fan base that are willing to wait for the music he’s known for.
He also falls into that artistically superlative category of commercially successful/ extremely popular/ critically acclaimed/ cutting edge. The people who disregard him are either dumb, lame, or just not fans of the genre.
The clamour for Lil Uzi Vert music is in a strange place right now, if it were anthropomorphic it would be a depressed teenager waiting their already-late pizza to be delivered.
Post-2016 XXL Freshman Class cover, his star shone brighter, especially after the release of “XO TOUR Llif3”. Fans and publications rabidly awaited Uzi’s LUV IS RAGE 2 album, it finally came after much speculation. However in the time since its release, Uzi’s future is uncertain.
His second album Eternal Atake went from having “New Patek” as the lead single. Once again anticipation was built, new Uzi is a phrase almost exciting as the late pizza finally arriving. Between self imposed retirement and issues with his label Generation Now many are wondering if Uzi will return with more than remixes “Free Uzi” or late new singles “That’s a Rack” and leaks turned finished songs “Sanguine Paradise”
Recently, Wisconsin Rapper Trapo announced a retirement from music on Instagram.
He wrote about his departure, “I want to thank everybody for being apart of a fun ride. I started this journey young and just exited to put out what I thought was good music. I had so much fun in the beginning and learned a lot about myself during this whole thing. I won’t be making music anymore and I hope I don’t let too many ppl down with this decision. My mental health is weakened due to this thing I used to love, and I can’t continue this knowing what it does to me. I love everybody who ever had love for me and I’m still a fan of great music and wish everybody in this business lots of success. Don’t let anybody cancel your dreams . And don’t ever think you are only on this planet to do one thing. The opportunity’s are endless. You can be whatever you believe in. I love y’all again for making a fantasy I had for so long come to life for a short period of time. I was never perfect and I’m working on myself everyday. Thank you so much for proving to me dreams can come true if you really work at it. Now it’s time for me to figure out what else I can do, I just want to be a good person for this world I don’t have to be the man in front. Love”
Though music loses a very talented artist, it’s important to note that he’s more than just an artist, that he’s still a person, with a life, and one with decisions that we as fans and supporters can’t make for him. Behind the label issues, the artistic impulses, the greatness and the failures, this is directly aimed at Chance’s latest, there is a person. They have a gift, they have something to say, they have our attention. But as Trapo shows, this is nothing with health and happiness.
It’s easy for us as fans and consumers to get wrapped up in the idea of musicians as creators of art that we can forget that they are still people with lives and realities that exist outside of these realms and fields. There’s a world around these people, and often times we can get lost in our own, to consider how theirs is being affected by things like death, failure, self doubt, the list goes on. This isn’t to say we should never expect new art, but more to say that we should recognize that we aren’t owed it and they aren’t required to provide it to us forever. There are new artists finding inspiration all over the world, there’s no reason we can’t support them while waiting for the ones we already know of.
Also, let yourself breathe a bit. You really don’t need to know all the outfits Lil Uzi Vert wore last week, or the colour of Kanye’s hair this week. None of that matters and it’s so beyond what brought you to the artist in the first place. Be good to yourself and you’ll be good to others.
Anfernee “My project is coming soon, be patient” Cadogan and Clayton Tomlinson