These days in the music industry, the catch phrase “to create a buzz” is commonly heard as a public relations exercise before a big premiere. This pertains to being able to stay in the mind of the general public and remaining relevant, before the release or during the newness of a project/album. As a musician, there is the model of “if you are good, become not only but best”, which may work with or against “any publicity is good publicity” argument. With Kendrick Lamar and Young thug, both having album releases within weeks of each other, Lavatory Records attempts to analyse the approaches of both these respective artists. To clarify, Lavatory Records never enters into album reviews, as that will compromise the objectivity (due to consideration of the limitations of human perception) of the organisation. With that said when referral to “critical acclaim” is used by a Lavatory Records publication, it is thus by drawing consensus via public opinion, jury expert of opinion and sourcing other credible music publications. This is by no means an attempt to show which approach is superior/inferior to the other; just to give the two differences. Kendrick Lamar’s latest release entitled To Pimp A Butterfly, has received a good reception by Hip-Hop tribunals and commentators alike. Kendrick in this sense used the traditional method of letting the “music to speak for itself”, in order to garner a plethora of positive reviews from pundits.
“The freedom of a mix tape … but the production values of an Oscar-worthy cinematic event” – Entertainment Weekly “Great American Hip-Hop Album” – Dan Weiss from Spin Magazine “To Pimp a Butterfly is a densely packed, dizzying rush of unfiltered rage and unapologetic romanticism, true-crime confessionals, come-to-Jesus sidebars, blunted-swing sophistication, scathing self-critique and rap-quotable riot acts. Roll over Beethoven, tell Thomas Jefferson and his overseer Bull Connor the news: Kendrick Lamar and his jazzy guerrilla hands just mob-deeped the new Jim Crow, then stomped a mud hole out that a** “– Greg Tate from Rolling Stone
Young Thug on the other hand, was able to create attention for the Barter 6 through playing off of controversy. The Lil Wayne fallout with the Cash Money Records owner Birdman was a detailed incident in the media, which brought about a lot of attention to the situation. It started as social media frenzy where Wayne tweeted that he wanted off the Cash Money records label, as his album The Carter 5 was no longer going to be released on his label. Young Thug then decided to call his next release Carter 6 and added fuel to the flame, between Lil Wayne and Birdman. With the ensuing attention now turning to Young Thug, he then renamed the album Barter 6 to avoid being sued by Lil Wayne’s lawyers. Young Thug’s release has been reported to being nearing platinum status in terms of sales. The effectiveness of being able to create hype of negativity and positivity is in essence what public relations is all about. The art of turning a negative into a positive embodies why media and public attention of any sort, is usually never deemed as bad. However, there are fallacies with depending on attention away from exhibiting one’s talent. Somewhere down the line, the ability to make good music is what will ensure an artist’s longevity. The wrong kind of attention can really be a career ender, if anyone can remember the Milli Vanilli scandal from the early 1990s.
Thus always remain authentic in whichever method you use. The safest route, despite being clichéd and old fashioned, is the model of “practice makes perfect”! Be it through, or allowing talent to speak for itself, in order to remain relevant one must keep up with current happenings of the world. For optimal maximisation of effective mass communication, by incorporating BOTH methods that Kendrick Lamar and Young Thug used, an artist can thus best reach their audience more efficiently. By working hard developing on your craft and working on your image reputation and communication skills, is the best way for an artist to equip themselves with the right skillset to ensure a prolonged music career. “It takes more than just rap” to get over the hill.