The road to success is never easy, but a small percentage of artists are able to break through the barrier to make it to superstardom. These artists would not be able to reach these heights if not for a devoted fan base that followed them every step of the way. Sadly, when it comes to breaking into the mainstream, there is a noticeable shift when it comes to new fans beginning to hop on the bandwagon.
The complaints are predictable. People say things like, “I’ve been a fan of this artist before they were big” or “I liked them better when they were underground.” Unfortunately, fans can be fickle when it comes to their favorite artists, and they sometimes feel as though when their favorite artist is underground, they have found an undiscovered diamond. They feel special when they recommend that artist to someone they know. However, once that artist becomes popular, it isn’t that exclusive because everyone knows who they are. Fans don’t feel special anymore.
I’ve noticed this with Kendrick Lamar in recent years. Ever since he released “DAMN.,” last year, which was his most successful and musically-accessible album to date, there has been a shift in fandom when it comes to the Compton emcee.
Lamar has been everywhere. The song “HUMBLE.,” played on repeat for over a year. He swept the rap categories at the 2018 Grammys. He also produced the soundtrack for one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, “Black Panther.”
He is a superstar and has come a long way since the “Kendrick Lamar EP” in 2009. Everyone knows who Lamar is, and it’s starting to feel as if some fans are turning their backs on him.
There has been some talk about Lamar “selling out” because he is starting to enjoy the fruits of his success. Many fans have dubbed “DAMN.,” a sellout album in hindsight since it’s release because of its more radio-friendly vibe, noting songs like “LOYALTY.,” or “LOVE.”
It is a noticeable shift from the jazz, funk neo-soul-esque “To Pimp a Butterfly,” which divided fans and critics alike. That album had to grow on some. His follow-up was way more accessible to the masses. Fans love an artist until they become too big. However, there is no way that Lamar is a sellout because people who weren’t fans before are enjoying his music. Yes, there were radio songs, but Lamar still had songs like “FEAR.,” “DUCKWORTH.,” and even “FEEL.” With songs like that on one album, it’s baffling how he could be considered a sellout. When it comes to some fans unfortunately, they only love an artist until they become big.
Fans should be excited when their favorite artist has made it. That’s what all their hard work is for. No one wants to be stagnant their whole career and have their music continuously slept on. Every artist wants to reach the masses, and fans should not feel as if their favorite artist is turning their back on them when they finally reach that level of success.
I see this happening with artists like J.I.D. and Smino because I can see them potentially making it on a mainstream level, but I fear the weird shift that comes from fans when other people begin to discover their music.
Fans need to stop being selfish and feeling as if they own an artist because they don’t. They were not put on this earth to make music strictly for you. Honestly, it’s irrelevant and sounds very pretentious. Sooner or later, other people are going to enjoy that artist and you are not special just because you discovered them before anyone else.