Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nicki Minaj, Sell Out?

In commenting on a blog about what artists would you consider to be sell outs, Kendall (a random blogger) commented on a blog from the NY Times written by Katherine Schulten saying…

“Nicki Minaj, definitely because she is the only “really” famous female rapper. She is like the female version of Lil Wayne, in the way that she is in a lot of songs. Her new album Pink Friday, has a lot of famous people in it which is helping her get her name out there for the rest of the world who hasn’t heard about her.” (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/what-artists-do-you-consider-sellouts-why/)

In my opinion collaborating with other artists doesn’t make Nicki Minaj a sell out; I think it more makes her a wise business person.  In my first blog I gave a definition of a sell out from wikipedia stating “Selling out is a common slang phrase. Broadly speaking, it refers to the compromising of one's integrity in exchange for money or other personal gain. It is commonly associated with attempts to increase mass appeal or acceptability to mainstream society. A person who does this is labeled a sellout.

I don’t see how Nicki falls into that definition of a sell out for the fact Minaj never compromised her own beliefs or integrity. She simply found artists who fit her style of music and even found some artiste that were from a completely different genre of music than where she was comfortable in and found a way to make her style work and blend in with it. Now in my opinion that is no where close to being a sell out, instead I believe she should be complimented on her creativity and musical skills in which allowed her to do such things.

Some people might say these collaboration tracks are just her way of marketing her music to different ears, but at the same time, as a musician I believe such collaboration tracks where you take two artistes from two different extremes and merge them together is a work of genius! No one ever said there was anything wrong with piggy backing on some one else’s fame, in fact that has been going on for years dating back to early rock music days, so are we going to say that every artist dating back to the days of soul and jazz are sell outs? Just because they were able to devise different strategies that worked for them and at the same time helped promote their music?

I believe the work that artist like Nicki Minaj have done with these collaboration tracks are great because personally I love to hear two different styles of music clash with each other. In my opinion Nicki Minaj is far away from being a sell out.

Should we be considered sell outs?

Now personally being a musician I know the feeling of that dream of wanting your passion and love for music to be your career, but does making that transition make someone a sell out? As I was asking myself this question I came across a blogger that was pretty much caught in the same exact cross roads as I was.  Robb Scott Drawings is an artist who enjoyed painting just for the fun of it and tried his best to not make his art become his career BUT after getting a family and many more responsibilities, Robb was in a position where he needed to sell his art. He depicts this dilemma in my following quote from his blog...

"I would not draw famous tourist landmarks, I would not pander to those with money, and I would only create what my heart told me to create. If it was not meant to sell immediately than it would sell in its own time. All great work takes time to discover, right?

As idealic as those thoughts are they were constructed during my life when I had little responsibility. I didn’t have a car, I had no children, no house, no cares. It was easy to pretend I didn’t have to do the little things necessary to get where I wanted.  And where I want to be was creating great art without caring if it sells.

However, I’m married now, I have two cars,  three children, 1 house and hundreds of kilometres worth of cares. I have to care that my art makes money and doesn’t just leave someone with a nice feeling. It feels great to be appreciated as an artist but that alone doesn’t pay the bills. Because of this I’ve been told often by other artists that I’m selling out."  (complete blog can be viewed @ http://www.robbscottdrawings.com/)

Now I am in a similar predicament as Robb for the fact I started playing professorial jobs at the age of 12, a stage in my life where anything more than $5 in my pocket was being rich. There wasn't any need for the money at that age and I myself said if given the opportunity I would play music for the rest of my life for FREE, sad part is now at the age of 21 that $5 I dreamed about being a kid, really can’t even afford to get me a meal. Plus being a student, with social needs as well, having music as my only career I have no choice but to try to make a profit on my music and not only be concerned about the quality of music. Of course I am still very picky as to what gets put out there and what people hear from me but still money became a big part of the equation after a while. Does that make me and Robb sell outs? Aren't we still providing pieces of art that people enjoy? And that are true to our beliefs? Then why are we sell outs, when all we are trying to do is provide ourselves with the basic elements needed to live?

Please readers I would really like to hear your opinions on this. Personally I feel there is nothing wrong with feeding yourself once you stay true to your art and don't give in to the current trends of media that are completely influenced by what society asks for. But I am very anxious to hear what you all have to say about this.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


As a young upcoming musician I have sadly come to realization that all artists, no matter if it be a mainstream artiste or just the guy that sings at our local bar every week, eventually reach a point in their career where they have to put their own preferences and choices to the side and instead have to perform what the public views as "the hot song" out.

Being in a band from the beginning has taught me a lot, I was there back when we were a small band and were able to perform the kind of songs we wanted to and, and what we approved of. But after making a name for ourselves and being known by quite a few people we have been forced to promote music and perform songs in which we personally feel are inappropriate.

I believe music as well as other various forms of arts should be able to inspire people, especially the youths in society, and I am strongly against some of the topics some of our main stream artistes choose to promote, which in my opinion can pin them as being sell outs.

Selling out is a common slang phrase. Broadly speaking, it refers to the compromising of one's integrity in exchange for money or other personal gain. It is commonly associated with attempts to increase mass appeal or acceptability to mainstream society. A person who does this is labelled a sellout.
From www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellout