Kemba raps in “Exhale” off his newest album Gilda, “I feel more pressure from my n*ggas than my critics (uh).” This line relates to something we’ve been thinking about for awhile, if you read our last newsletter you’ll know. It this idea that how we interact with art is somehow important enough to be, almost always, included in the conversations we have about that artform.
It is not enough to just listen to a piece of music performed by a friend for example, there is a component of performativity and you must show your friend and those around how much you love that piece of art. And this leads to questions like: Am I a bad guy for not making it to your show? Are you a bad person for not checking out my newest SoundCloud update?
Of course not, but it speaks volumes, especially to a paranoid artist’s mind, when coincidences slowly turn into patterns, and patterns into routines. An artist could be left wondering why you missed those shows, could be wondering if their friends don’t like the work why would anyone else?
One of the hardest parts of being a creative person comes in making the transition from hidden scribbles, vaguely named folders on your phone and the sort of work you would only show your mom to prove that you are actually doing something “productive” with your time, to the actual work of showing the rest of the world too. People want to consume your work, you slowly discover. They want to listen to your raps, to listen to your podcast or read your writing.
The people closest to an artist can often be a sort of microcosm for the way they assume their work is being consumed by the wide world around them, so what happens when your friends don’t show the enthusiasm for your work that you’d hoped? Or at least, when they don’t respond the way you imagined, being impressed is cool.
It hurts, but why? It speaks volumes to who we are as people. It speaks volumes to our behaviours and how we treat one another and what we want people to let us get away with. Its one thing when I randomly post on a social media platform about an update that has to do with my creative works and no one checks on it, that’s to be expected in a sea of content and information in an era where a day becomes a week becomes a year becomes 2020 next Tuesday. (For example, the last post both of us put up on Facebook and we each got like two or three likes but then when I went in and checked traffic, turns out like 50 or 60 m*therfuckers, i.e. ‘friends’, had clicked the link and read it.)
It’s another thing entirely when you message someone you believe you care about, who you think cares about you, tells you they’ll check out your work, doesn’t, and after you ask them for the second time they still haven’t, it hurts…a lot. When you ask people if they’ll show up to a show and pay a ticket price, but they won’t? It hurts. When your friends say they haven’t heard your new stuff because they don’t know about it, it makes you question and doubt yourself, whether your work matters and whether you matter. It’s a critique of ourselves and our behaviour, we need to treat each other better. We can make 1000 excuses, but you don’t have to is the point. I understand, we all have lives, we’re busy, we go through things, and that’s totally understandable but after a certain point, sorry won’t cut it.
We will say though, invisibility is the strength of young artists. It makes them resilient to the fact that the world doesn’t care about them. Not really. Not to veer off, but we live in a world where Kanye West, one of the greatest artists ever, is making hundreds of millions of dollars because he was able to successfully market his fame that he got because of his art into a shoe business.
He’s a millionaire because he’s an artist but not because he makes art, ya feel?
It can be tough to find the will and motivation to work on a craft or passion that you feel no one will support you in, especially when it’s one that is a shared interest. It speaks volumes when you’ve gone to your friends shows or bought their content but they haven’t shared yours or supported you in the same ways. Then it makes you question and doubt yourself but you have to remember, people aren’t required to act as you do and reciprocate the same energy you give them, at most, you just have to accept that their motivations and behaviours aren’t shared and friendships just aren’t easy sometimes.
T-Pain is the embodiment of this, as he explains a very real and tangible anecdote about his experience in music and how he is someone who’s done more for others than they have for him.
In the video he discusses a period of time in his career when he was doing numerous feature for other artists for free without wanting to charge them, but later being surprised by all those artists later charging him for features.
They say you should put business before pleasure, and it sucks, not because its wrong, but because we forget that a lot of us will put financial gain and stability before relationships and happiness, but it also speaks volumes to the world around us. Making art isn’t easy but we often make it harder than we have to.
Anfernee “I’m in my feels again” Cadogan and Clayton Tomlinson