Aswell as being a rapper, drummer and actor amongst many things, I also mentor a handful of artists which falls under the umbrella of Artist Development. With that, I diagnose the style/genre of the artist, how they can grow as an artist, how they can excel in their field and at times co-write their projects. As you may all know, I've been performing and touring for the past 11 years and I've met many amazing people along the way and learnt many valuable lessons and the key things I've learnt as an artist is that if you MUST grow!
Let me quote Susanne Langer “In human life, art may arise from almost any activity, and once it does so, it is launched on a long road of exploration, invention, freedom to the limits of extravagance, interference to the point of frustration, finally discipline, controlling constant change and growth.”
Growing as an artist, you can not try come with the 1998 Garage sound and expect for it to work in 2010. Music is forever changing and so should you. If you want to be relevant you must work with the current sound or even better yet create your own unique sound. A prime example will be when you hear a beat and you can picture a specific artist on it. That's a result of the artist finding their style and running with it.
I recently put on my FaceBook status "I'm not tryna be better than YOU I'm tryna be better than ME! Do YOU. Be an original not a copy. No one can do YOU best"
I know a couple of artist that are no longer relevant as artist cause they've tried to copy others. I know of an artist who was once the in thing, then lost his audience cause he changed his style as a result of what I see as an attempt to fit in. Peep this, your audience comes to YOU as an artist cause you give them 'A', they do not want 'B' from you because they are getting 'B' from elsewhere. Not necessarily that 'B' is wrong, but they don't want that from YOU. As an artist you have to cater for the audience. Your audience matters. Learn from your inspirations and use what you've learnt to create your own sound, style and image. No one wants to hear a Mali Music impersonator when they can hear the real thing on iTunes, so be sure to focus on YOU, you have something great to offer to the world so don't let your inspiration cap your potential. I took this from one of my drummers’ Facebook status “dont let what u do be who you are....who you are shud b reflected in wat u do!”
I listen to my own songs everyday! Its not that I'm full of myself, I simply make music that I wanna hear. If you do not like your own music, then why would the buying public? Now, don't go do a Shardinay and think your the best thing since EMA! Play your music to people outside of your circle as its easy for your friends to give you biased feedback. By the way, Shardiany said in an interview that she did the song and video for her birthday. So don't use her as an example for determination.
Another point, as a rapper you can not spit freestyle bars on a song!! That will just make it a riddim or a dub. I know MC's who are AMAZING lyricists but not necessarily song writers. A song has to have a concept and a journey. Some rapper rap bout you being the best rapper alive, but don't have a song under their belt. Real music will never die, that's why MJ's music will forever live. An example more close to home of "music" is Guvna B's song "Looking Out The Window" that song was recorded in 2008 but will never get old.
Being a Gospel rapper doesn't mean you should compromise the quality of your music.
Eg: if you start a Christian school you can't say "We don't need to do CRB checks, we are all covered by the blood of Jesus" OFSTED will shut you down one time, now let's relate that to music! As a Gospel artist, you have to make your music applicable to the recipient otherwise you'll just be frustrating yourself. Now in making it applicable, you have to know who you're writing that song for! You can't be using big words in an Evangelistic song, cause the words will go right over their heads just like when we were baby Christians and knew little. However, you can use them big words if you break it down. By the way these are just MY OPINIONS and what has helped me develop as an artist.
Ok let me move on a bit, as an artist you must utilise what you've got and put your best foot forward. If you're at a Fruity Loops level then do the best you can with that, but DON'T remain there. Oh and don't go shopping around for collaborations to build a big name for yourself. When the time is right you will shine.
Oh yeah I nearly forgot this, the most straight forward formula to making a hit is working WITH producers that have hits under their belts!! Simple!! The keyword is "with". When I was making "Flashback" I went to GP, told him the lyrics and told him the kinda beat I wanted, he said let's try something different and I said "Umm..ok then" and months later the song is a hit. It is very likely it wouldn't have been as successful if hadn't listened to him. By the way, I write 2 verses of my songs THEN approach the producer, that's just how I like to do it and it makes the producers job easier as they have more to work with.
As an artist you MUST make use of the internet. Its the best thing an artist can ever do. Go get yourself a MySpace, ReverbNation, Twitter
, Facebook Fanpage
and all these social networking sites. A website is good but costly, so make use of the FREE sites I listed above but one key thing is BRANDING!
A great example of good branding is Coca-Cola's font. No matter who uses it you'll still think of Coca Cola. When I say "Allo Mate" you think of Guvna B, when I say "Whose That" is a husky mysterious voice you think of Utter Once. I'm not saying go around making slogans, but have something people can identify you by then run with it.
A BIG shout out to Christophe Pierre from DesignbySPIRIT
who has my branding on lock, from my album artwork, to my website, to my drum skin, to my merchandise
(click on the shop tab above and check the items). These minor things make a difference and makes people take you seriously. If you don't invest in yourself then nobody will.
Well, I think I'm done for now. I'm sure I have a few more points lingering in the back of my head somewhere but that's all for now. If you've found any of the points useful kindly share the link to this blog with people and drop a comment too ;-)
Bye for now!