I’ve reached peak university student cliche. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, swaddled in the warmest, comfiest jacket I have ever owned (see HERE) sipping on some liquid gold in order to stay awake, considering I left my lecture early after the fourth time I bashed my chin on my chest from accidentally falling asleep.
However, I thought I’d take the time to be somewhat productive, and write up a new blog post for you all, and a post about a topic that I’ve found myself thinking about quite a lot.
And that is separating the person and the artist. I definitely acknowledge that without the person there is no artist, there is no music, but more and more as I continue diving deeper into genres and subcultures that I never have before, I’m finding artists and musicians who I just can’t get around music wise, but am utterly fascinated with as people. For the sake of this post, we’re gonna talk about Princess Nokia.
If you’re unaware of who Princess Nokia is, it’s the stage name of rapper Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, from East Harlem/Lower East Side in New York. I’ve continuously stumbled across her, whether on Spotify or Soundcloud or YouTube or within other music publications and blogs, however I never enjoy her music. I love what she’s saying in some of her songs, very few of her songs, but I can’t get around how she says them and the style of rapping she has. That may very well change the more and more I listen to her, but currently, not a fan.
Princess Nokia the person however, is a very different story. Inspiring as heck.
A little while back, I went through a heavy Genius phase, that lasted a good month. If you’re not familiar with Genius, Genius is the company that supply the Lyrics Behind The Song feature on Spotify while you’re listening to your music, and their YouTube channel is popular for bringing a huge number of mostly RnB and hip-hop musicians to their set, to explain the thought processes and meanings behind the lyrics of some of your favourite songs. I’ve linked the channel, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Anyway, after watching a Genius video featuring Princess Nokia, the algorithm decided for me, that we were gonna be inundated with an influx of PN over the following few weeks, and interview after interview, documentary after documentary started popping up on my YouTube dashboard, as if Princess Nokia’s soul herself was promoting her words on my computer. Naturally, I gave in.
To say I was surprised, is an understatement. In her Genius video where she explains her song G.O.A.T, I honestly found myself floating between thinking she was a boss, and not liking her all too much. She’d say some really profound stuff, but would follow it up with absolute crap that forced me to question whether I could validate continuing the video. However, with each video I watched, I began understanding who she was, what’s she’s been through, and her outlook on the world as a result, much, much more.
I use Princess Nokia as an example, because despite how much I’ve hyped her documentary to my friends and family, how much I love chatting about her come-up and trials and tribulations that inspire me, I cannot, for the life of me, get behind her music. It’s just not fun for me to listen to. Maybe a couple of songs I can stand to listen to for more than a few minutes, like Tomboy or Flowers and Rope, but even then, I can’t picture myself adding them to a playlist to listen to on a daily playlist. I find so many inconsistencies within her music and her style and usually I don’t mind a diverse musician but it genuinely irks me when I listen to Princess Nokia. That said, I will forever hype her up as a person and the things she has to say. I don’t follow her on Instagram because I want news on when she’s gonna drop some new music. I follow her because her captions are interesting, her stories are genuine and I enjoy seeing what she does in her everyday life, mainly because it correlates directly with the life she lives, the values and morals she has, and the lessons she’s had to learn from.
There are several other people who fall under this category for me, whether it be I dislike the music but love the person like in this instance with PN, or whether I really don’t like the person but hype the music, like for example, Chris Brown. I can’t support who he is as a person. He’s talented as hell. He’s an amazing musician and showman, but let’s be real. To put it bluntly, he’s a shitty person. Kali Uchis. I love her music a lot. I bump a ton of her songs but can’t say I love Kali Uchis the girl. Same goes with Mac DeMarco. Tyler The Creator. Not about his music, never have been, but he is an absolute legend of a person.
I guess what this blog post is trying to do, is validate my own thoughts about musicians and the artists behind them. Learning to seperate the person from the product is hard because within popular culture, especially the music industry, people are often commodified along with whatever product they are selling, whether it be their movie, their music or another form of entertainment. Some musicians will go out of their way to ensure you can’t seperate person from product. Some of them would 100% prefer if the person behind the music was not a seperate entity, such as Grimes, who hasn’t really presented her true, natural self outside of the numerous characters she’s created, in a way that is commodifiable. Sure she does a few interviews, but it’s rarely focused on anything but her music and the world she’s created.
I’d be really interested to know what any of you think on this topic. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about constantly for quite a while now, and it’s seeped into the way I look at some of my favourite artists and musicians. Some who I called ‘my favourites’ I never actually listened to their music as much as I assumed I did, and some who I barely thought of outside of their music were high on my radar. Let me know in the comments below!