Reflections External

They say the greatest rapper of all time died on March 9th.

I guess that’s a matter of opinion. Personally, I was a fan of Big as
a rapper and often wonder how different things would have been if he
hadn’t passed away when he did. His passing, and that time in hip-hop,
was tragic for so many reasons — regardless of whether you were from
the east, west, somewhere in the middle, or completely outside of the
borders. It’s always a shame to see the untimely departure of a
talent. If it interests you, you can click your way around the
internet and read some pretty insightful write-ups about the
anniversary of Biggie’s death and his legacy…because that’s not what
I’m going to talk about today.

As more of our musical icons pass away, one of the things that we are
reminded of is that the artist and the art are two entirely separate
things. Sometimes we forget to make that distinction. A great artist
doesn’t always make a great person. Occasionally we end up finding out
things about our heroes that actually shock and even disgust us. But
the art lives on. This, however, can be a bitter pill to swallow.
Especially when you have to work in that industry and have a
responsibility to stay professional (damn you, integrity).

My great lesson came some years ago when I had the opportunity to work
on a project involving a deceased artist that I was a big fan of. I
came into the project with a desire to share some of the inspiration
that I had received throughout the years because of their craft. I
came out of the project with a desire to never again hear about what a
great man he was or his fucking legacy. That experience, in part, is
why I stopped drinking (and other things of that nature). To say it
was a horrific eye-opening experience, is the understatement of the
year. I learned that he was indeed an extremely talented artist, and a
most foul person. In hindsight, I feel blessed to have walked away
from that project without ever having to complete it. Those months in
the trenches almost broke me, taught me more than I was ready to
learn, and left me with a shoe box full of research material that has
never seen the light of day. And trust me when I say some things are
better left in a shoe box under the bed. I realized that staying
on-board or attempting to see the thing through would have resulted in
nothing more than further headaches and troubles (troubles that it
definitely wasn’t worth). Drama truly and sincerely does not interest
me. Sometimes you have to cut your losses and just walk away…and
that’s exactly what I did. It took me a while, but I can once again
listen to the music without thinking of all the negativity that
surrounded it.

The interesting thing is that despite the countless horrible things
this person did, and lives that he [almost] ruined, no one ever put
dude in his place while he was alive, or speaks of his ills now that
he’s dead. And I’m pretty sure that’s not because etiquette tells us
that it’s the decent thing to do, but rather because his art was so
fantastic and moving, that it transcends all the fuckery. Sometimes an
artist gets so big that you can hardly avoid the personal bullshit
that overshadows the art (see the curse of Michael Jackson). Or you
might have the living ones that make a career off of an image (say
like being a huge time drug dealer) that turns out to be completely
false (for example they might have actually been in law enforcement).
Those cases are a little different, but still an example of art vs.
artist. And one can argue that they are still talented regardless of
the image/reality, but for many ‘reputation is the cornerstone of
power’. Of course once a person is dead, all that we’re really left
with is the body of work that they produced in their lifetime. Hurt
feelings eventually go away, and lawsuits, legal matters or IRS debts
all get settled at some point.

If you’re a fan, lucky enough to not be privy to any of this sort of
bullshit, then you carry on listening to the music and enjoying it for
what it is. And that’s how it should be. Regardless of what we want
them to be, artists are people who make art…and not necessarily
great or insightful or responsible people. If they happen to be
anything more than that, then that’s a plus. And frankly I’ve never
been a big proponent of bestowing the dubious title of king or queen
to anyone. Seriously, it’s a ridiculous notion at best, and somehow
crowns always make me think of dunce caps (I’m just saying). So maybe
we should take away the blame and take away the acclaim (because in
the end, they’re both meaningless) and just let the music speak for

by : third rail


~ by livefromheadqcourterz on March 10, 2010.

2 Responses to “Reflections External”

  1. I’m dying to know who this is…lol bad i know..but hey….

  2. there’s an old saying…”loose lips sink ships”…lol.

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