Your average person might think the above question was a simple one with this simple answer: good music. Your average person would also be dead wrong.
With the way technology is advancing, social networks are evolving, and the music industry is crying over the spilt milk of lost revenues; the most important thing successful musicians can possess in 2009 is integrity.
In the old days, rock stars were gods hidden behind clouds surrounding the Mount Olympus called a major label. There was an army of secretaries, A&Rs, managers, bodyguards, fan mail processors, and drones (the entourage) that prevented mortals from ever coming in contact with their objects of worship. The only way to show praise was listening to the radio, buying albums, going to concerts, and mailing letters.
During the advent of social networks, youtube, and the mad dash of labels and musicians to set up shop in these new Meccas of cyberspace, the tables turned. Fans, instead of feeling as if they owed musicians for the pleasure of their contributions to the world, began to realize the musicians owed them. How could they not, when there was now direct access to those they had once worshipped from afar?
With every blog post, friend request and Youtube view, the public came to an epiphany: “We made you”. This realization also came with an added warning and set of instructions: “Be real with us”.
As fans and bloggers alike realize the power and influence they have, it has become imperative that artists live up to the images they try to sell to the public. One genre where this is especially important is urban music.
In the past year we have watched giants like Rick Ross (who in his music plays the role of a former hustler and drug cartel leader) suffer massive blows to his reputation from the leak of pictures of him when he used to work as a prison security guard; Chris Brown has lost much support from industry outlets, celebrities, and fans alike for his alleged beating of Rihanna; and most recently new comer Charles Hamilton was revealed to have stolen a beat from St. Louis producer Black Spade and continuously lied about it, even when confronted with irrefutable proof.
There have always been “god killers”, those looking to tear down the rich, famous, and affluent. This is nothing new. However, these days it is much too easy for dirt to be found and spread to every corner of the globe.
The world has simply become too small for musicians to not be what they claim... Vanilla Ice, Milli Vanilli, you guys would agree, right?