I've always been fascinated with critics. It started with Siskel and Ebert and then Ebert and Roeper as a kid.
As my taste and interest began to develop it became Vibe album reviews or The Source. I remember when getting five mics could make or break someone's career. It was like the equivalent of going viral these days.
That was a time where opinions/reviews, whatever you want to call it were not only coveted, but valued.
Flash forward to today. In the age of social media and 'groupthink', having an opinion is like wearing a scarlet letter or being the Loch Ness Monster in the flesh...that is unless people agree with you.
Hardly anyone goes against the grain anymore these days. It's all about cosigning or riding the wave of whatever's popular at time.
The way I see it, it's all about business.
Forget quality, talent or hard work. If you're an artist, before anyone cosigns you, you gotta show how much revenue you can generate.
I'm not saying that marketability hasn't always been important, but there was a time where if you had talent, if you worked hard, then they would bring in people to make you marketable.
It's the other way around now. Basically if you have a following, they'll just throw some autotune, a dope beat, or a feature from someone that is poppin to make an artist appear talented.
Take that illusion of talent and add it to the potential revenue of the artist and boom...suddenly, the powers that be are with the shit.
Now when I say, the powers that be, I'm not talking record labels. I'm talking about DJ's, about blogs, and most importantly consumers.
We're all at fault.
The DJ's spin the records that the labels sponsor, the public hears the same thing repeatedly to a point that they're almost brainwashed into believing that the music is actually dope (it must be, its always on the radio), and the blogs repost because the public is always talking about artist that's always getting played on the radio.
It all contributes to the illusion that certain artist are better or more talented than they actually are.
Take a look at this list of albums that received five mics in The Source (courtesy of Wikipedia):
Now compare this list to the albums being labeled 'classics' today. One thing about great music, one common characteristics is that it's timeless.
The albums on this list are just as relevant today as they were then. Let's be real, we live in a microwave generation.
Nothing, none of it, has the longevity of a year, so ten years from now, these new 'classics' will most likely just be labeled popular music representative of their time.
We only have ourselves to blame though. By not accepting different opinions, agreeing to disagree & pretending to like something or someone simply because it's popular.
We, the consumers, are aiding in the assassination of quality music.
Instead of questioning the credibility of those who disagree with us, why not question why they like certain things that we don't.
In I, Robot, Will Smith's character didn't get the answers he needed until he started asking the right questions.
It's important to keep in mind, that an opinion is not a fact. I don't like Techno. That doesn't make it trash, just makes it not for me.
The same logic applies to rappers, top 5 lists, albums, etc. It all starts with someone's opinion, a stepping stone so to speak.
See here: The DJ, was hiphop's first critic/reviewer/opinion that mattered.
Think of every single autobiography you've ever seen or the first major goal of any new artist.
What's a common theme? Radio play.
In a world where DJ's only spin popular records sponsored by labels, instead of breaking new ones, many talented artist get over looked while weaker ones saturate the airwaves.
Having an opinion doesn't make you any less of a fan.
In some ways it makes you more of one because you don't want to see your favorite dilute their brand or legacy simply because people cosign what's popular instead of giving their honest opinion.
But hey, that's just my opinion tho...