Recently, I’ve been listening to Dr. Dre’s latest album, Compton. Now, I know it came out last year but I didn’t like it when I first heard it. It was only until this year that I recognized it for what it is–a great album. It also introduced me to Anderson Paak. When I finally started reading reviews of what other people thought of it, there was a surprisingly amount of people that didn’t like it. And that got me thinking.
I’m currently reading the second volume of Brawl in the Family, which I backed on Kickstarter. I didn’t like the first volume but I loved the webcomic enough to back the hardcover collection. People this past year loved Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens although I’m not entirely sure why. Believe it or not, I am going somewhere with this.
Humans are weird. We’ll want more of the same when it comes to our favorite artist, book, movie, comic, etc. Now when they do the exact same thing, we’ll be disappointed as we’ll be like, “They really couldn’t come up with something different?” Yet when they do try something different, we’ll chastise them for it. As Hollywood has recently realized there’s also a middle ground like Jurassic World and The Force Awakens where it’s different but the same.
I think, as an artist, myself. That we grow and evolve. We don’t want to do the same thing over and over. It disappoints me when I see artist do that such as Stephen King, JK Rowling, Orson Scott Card. Those are mega successful people yet even they feel the need to do what they’ve already done. Of course, sometimes when we try something different, people don’t like it. That hurts too. While my Passage of Hellsfire series sells more than my short stories or novella, I feel more excitement when one of those sell over my fantasy series. Might be because those sales are rare.
You may or may not know this, but I’m a huge fan of Kanye West. Well, what he’s done in music. Listening to his albums, he’s done something different every time. He didn’t do it because he was pressured into it. He changed as a person and his tastes and interests did too. He wanted to experiment. I personally may not have liked everything he’s done but I do respect him for trying it and not being forced into it.
I can’t tell if it’s easier or harder if you release something sooner rather than later. Dr. Dre’s albums were each 7 or more years apart. Kanye’s albums were sooner than that. If you release something sooner and gradually change, the people won’t notice. If you change abruptly years later, they’ll definitely notice.
What do people expect from Dre? He’s a billionaire(?) now. He’s older, wiser, rich, famous, his kids are grown, lives in a different age, people he grew up with are dead, etc. He’s not going to rap about the same things now that he did then. His sound isn’t even going to be the same. I think, for the most part, that’s a good thing.
We became artists because we had something on our minds, souls, and hearts that we had to set free. We don’t want to be confined nor do we want to conform. We want to do our own thing. I enjoy reading/listening/watching an artist not only evolve but get better. Listening to the Chronic now is a little tough because my mindset is different and even back then I wasn’t about that life. Reading the first Brawl in the Family was also very hard, but I loved seeing where he started from and how great he got.
The things we grew up loving change. Sometimes, it’s not for the better, but I believe that most of the time it is. And we ourselves change. The core of us may be the same, but our likes and dislikes, our maturity, our interests, it all changes. We change because of our experiences, because of things we’ve done or not done–of things we wish we could take back. I don’t know if it makes us a better person, but it does make us a different person. And we have to keep on growing, otherwise we’ll be stuck in the same place.