Business(men) and Art(ist) Don’t Mix

Music has always been considered a form of art which is a large part of why people appreciate it so much. However music is not only about an artist’s artistic expression anymore but has become a product of businesses. Its not that one side is bad and the other is good, both the record label and the musician help each other in some way, but considering that the musicians goal is art and the others is to make money. With the control that record labels inevitably have over the artists they’ve signed its not that hard to believe some change will happen with the artist and their work.

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One example of this label control changing an artists material is the young Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa who through out his career has worked independently and with labels. In 2010 Wiz Khalifa signed with Atlantic Records and began working on his first studio album called Rolling Papers, which was released the next year.This album did well in mainstream music charts but received a number of reviews saying that it had a very pop sound and it was lazy lyrically. Which I would completely agree with, his mix tape before Rolling Papers, titled Kush and Orange Juice, is proclaimed as the best work he has done and makes the transition even more apparent. He even states during a dialog section of his latest mix tape Cabin Fever 2, that he may have done it different, but that he was open to working with new people and labels. Another aesthetic change he has had to make is abbreviating the title of his second album with Atlantic Records to O.N.I.F.C(Only Nigga In First Class) for mainstream release.

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2 thoughts on “Business(men) and Art(ist) Don’t Mix

  1. It seems to me like Wiz Khalifa doesn’t mind working with a mainstream label, and this seems to be the case with other musicians. I’ve never really thought about it before but to us, when a musician is signed to a label, we think they’ve “sold out” but they’re probably thinking they’ve succeeded. I like how he keeps a positive attitude about working with a more controlling label.

  2. I agree with your argument here, that artists want to focus on their art and have the creative freedom to sing what they want. However, I don’t think that is the only thing they want, money does come in to play. For every artist, in order for them to continue making music they need to have money to produce it which leads to artists changing their sound to please the producer. I’m not saying that its not sad though. I think it takes the time for the artist to build a musical status that allows them to take control over the producer. Maybe that’s why Wiz Khailfa changed his sound once he joined a label.

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