Talib Kweli has spent the past year or so speaking his mind on the blog site Medium.
Last September he penned an article in defense of Lauryn Hill and her more controversial etiquette at live shows. Kweli’s always been one to openly argue with his fans on Twitter, not in any negative sense, rather engaging in coherent dialogue. In a way this exchange between fan and artist is really beneficial, and representative of a personality unafraid of intellectual confrontation.
This past week, fans kicked up some dust in respect to the Ms. Hill article. Kweli made sure to let it be known his stance has not changed, and that in his mind a lot of fans’ requests were selfish. I will agree on that particular point, rap fans can most definitely be selfish about how their favorite artist chooses to steer their own career. Hip Hop artists have to navigate the minefield of selling out, not adapting to the times, changing their styles too much, or not changing them enough; to be perfectly honest, some fans will never be pleased.
There was, however, one point brought up by Kweli that I would like to dispute.
“I am allowed to give a shitty show or not even show up if I feel like it. Hopefully that will never happen, but if it does, it will never take away from the quality of the work I’ve already put out into the world.”
Now, I do agree that a bad show should not influence a fan’s perspective of the content already put out by said artist. I cannot however, endorse the first half of that quote. Technically, yes Kweli is allowed to put on a bad show. There is no written rule that prevents him from doing so. That being said, to do so is incredibly rude. Attending a concert is in a sense a transaction between artist and fan. The latter of which pays money to see the former perform, and while there’s nothing holding an artist to perform well, it’s certainly expected and I don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation. I would rather see an artist cancel a show knowing they’re going to half ass it, and wait for them to be in better spirits.
I can only imagine the weight of consistently performing to the best of ones ability, and I do think it’s selfish for fans to want every show to be a good show. However, that doesn’t mean the artist should feel allowed to trim the quality of their performances. It’s unfair to fans who, in the realm of a concert, are paying customers.
I wouldn’t care if Kweli put on a bad show because he wasn’t feeling well, but I would care if he simply didn’t care. I think in this area of artistry, the importance of intention cannot be overlooked. I would honestly love to hear Kweli’s thoughts on this. I’m open to hearing an extension of his side on this matter.
Also, to the fans who are opposed to Kweli’s opinion, you must never forget the stress and demons one inherits by moving into the house of fame. I don’t blame Ms. Hill for putting on bad shows, I’d rather her be healthy and happy than be putting out music.
art by your homie, Arthur Banach
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