To Pen a Butterfly: Be patient with your favorite artists

Kenan Draughorne | Daily Trojan

These days, new albums, collaborations and singles are popping up around every corner, which is certainly good news for the everyday music fan. Prolific artists like Gucci Mane, BROCKHAMPTON and Future have proven themselves to be more than capable of releasing multiple projects in a single year, and with so many aspiring artists hungry to have their music heard by the masses, it’s become common for multiple highly-anticipated albums to be released on any given Friday. The never-ending onslaught of new material has made the music industry one of the most exciting fields to follow, but it’s also created dangerous expectations from fans and a toxic environment for many musicians. Rather than taking to social media to lament an artist’s absence from the spotlight, it’s important to remember that a musician’s mental health is just as important as our own, and that patience from fans is necessary to ensure the final product is as impressive as it can be.

Artists with the ability and desire to rapidly create hit songs like it’s nothing deserve to be commended, but for many others, the creative process takes time and thought. Music is one of the strongest forms of expression in existence, and the amount of work required to effectively carry out one’s vision for an album can at times be a Herculean task.

Take KAYTRANADA, for instance. The heralded producer made waves with his 2016 debut album 99.9%, yet hardly a year after its release, many of the same fans who were praising the album were doggedly pressuring him to release another. Eventually, the noise prompted KAYTRANADA to tweet a thank you to his fans who were “patient,” promising his next creation would be worth the wait. R&B group The Internet, who performed at Springfest in 2016, has endured much of the same stresses, despite various band members such as lead singer Syd, guitarist Steve Lacy and keyboardist Matt Martians releasing solo projects in the meantime.

Rapper Big K.R.I.T. detailed how the pressures of the industry have affected his psyche on his double-album 4Eva is a Mighty Long Time, questioning the value of his craft when fans’ attention spans are so short. Photo courtesy of Multi Alumni.

The wait can certainly be grueling, but more often than not, it’s also worth it. R&B singer Frank Ocean tormented fans for four years following his breakthrough channel ORANGE, but the eventual follow-up Blonde was a staple across “Best of 2016” lists. Similarly, indie pop artist Lorde took four years off after releasing Pure Heroine, and 2017’s Melodrama saw her take a huge step forward after taking time to grow both personally and artistically.

“Hustlin’, arguing about who’s better than I in tweets / but what does it matter when a new artist comes out like every week?” Rapper Big K.R.I.T. ponders on “Drinking Sessions,” a track where he lays out his struggles with depression and hopelessness after over a decade of putting out music. Big K.R.I.T. has fought tooth and nail to remain relevant in the industry while receiving little support and enduring years of restraint from his label, Def Jam. It makes his revelation here even more biting, essentially questioning the very importance of the craft he’s dedicated the better part of his life to honoring.

But when a new album by another artist is coming down the pipeline before fans even have time to digest the latest release, the lyric rings true; the blistering album schedule not only shortens the amount of time fans are willing to wait for a new project, but also means that albums can fade out of the conversation before they’ve been able to make their intended impact.

Rather than expecting an artist to fulfill our own selfish needs and moving on from them when they don’t, it’s important for fans to respect a musician’s own timeline for creating. Trying to rush an artist into dropping a project is futile, and certainly won’t better the final product when it’s all said and done. Be grateful your favorite artist is taking the time to put maximum effort and care into their music — it’s probably the reason they’ve managed to become so successful in the first place.

Why I’m Smiling: Will Smith parodies Jaden Smith’s music video for “Icon”

What’s the only thing better than watching actor-musician Jaden Smith strut his way out of a luxury car in the middle of the wilderness? Watching his 49-year-old father Will Smith try to do the same thing. Celebrating his son earning 100 million Spotify streams off his 2017 album SYRE, the elder Smith continued to stake his claim for the best Instagram account of the year with a clip of him recreating his son’s commanding video for “Icon.” It’s not easy to moonwalk in a pair of house slippers, and Will Smith is no exception, but the attempt alone is more than enough to please.

Why I’m Shaking My Head: BlocBoy JB cancels all appearances to renegotiate price after receiving a feature from Drake

Somewhere right now a struggling rapper is furiously writing 16 bars about why he doesn’t need your co-sign, but BlocBoy JB is living proof that a strong co-sign still doesn’t hurt. The same day his Drake-assisted song “Look Alive” released, his manager announced on Instagram that all contracts with promoters and the like would have to be renegotiated with a new price, due to “an overwhelming amount of calls and offers.” You’re not alone if you’ve never heard of the Memphis rapper who earned brief fame last year for his viral dance in the music video for his song “Shoot,” but it’s safe to assume you’ll now be hearing his voice more often.

Why I’m Hopeful for the Future: Effected – Cozz (Feb. 13)

Two years ago, Cozz took the stage at Springfest to perform for no more than 100 people in the afternoon. On Tuesday, rappers Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole are slated to appear on the Dreamville rapper’s debut album, Effected. Cozz’s gritty, earnest lyrics first put him on the map with his 2014 mixtape Cozz & Effect, but has since flown somewhat under the radar while the label pushed out impressive projects from the likes of Bas, J.I.D and EarthGang. That’s not for lack of talent on Cozz’s behalf, however, and expect him to make the most of his moment on his heavily anticipated project.

Kenan Draughorne is a junior majoring in journalism. He is also the lifestyle editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “To Pen a Butterfly,” runs Mondays.