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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

For the Culture: Are audiences demanding too much of artists?

Young rappers that found viral success don’t have the luxury to wait years between projects.

For the Culture

Graphic by Kayla Drazan

Frank Ocean has not dropped an album in nearly eight years, Kendrick Lamar took five years to release his fifth studio album and A$AP Rocky fans continue waiting for his next project after six years. Whereas these vocalists incessantly prolong the release of new music, there are other artists who release at securely frequent rates — Drake has been releasing new projects nearly every year, YoungBoy Never Broke Again released two full-length studio albums in the span of four months and Tyler, the Creator releases full-length projects predictably every two years. Nevertheless, having steadily cultivated dedicated fan bases over several years, these rappers can afford to decelerate record releases without losing much support. In contrast, up and coming rappers who have found success via TikTok virality do not have the same capacity.

For instance, following TikTok virality via his 2019 record, “Knock Knock,” Atlanta rapper SoFaygo saw his listenership increase dramatically. In rapid succession, Faygo went from an anonymous SoundCloud artist to a mainstream success. Yet, despite undeniable talent and charm, Faygo fumbled his spot at the top. After the release of his third mixtape, “After Me” (2020), Faygo signed to Cactus Jack Records, an imprint label by Travis Scott, in early 2021. During the two years between “After Me” and the eventual release of his first full-length studio album “Pink Heartz” (2022), Faygo sparsely released records to mixed critical and fan reviews. During this time, in addition to losing millions of monthly listeners on Spotify, Faygo witnessed his fan base turn against him to levy allegations of “falling off.” Ironically, many of the people alleging that Faygo had “fallen off” were likely the same ones who abandoned the artist after his descent from popularity. In October 2022, Faygo finally released “Pink Heartz.” Whereas the critical reception was generally favorable, many fans harshly derided the project.

Often described as Faygo’s successful classmate, Oregon rapper Yeat capitalized on the virality of his music on TikTok to secure himself a position in mainstream music. Whereas Faygo released his first full-length project three years after his debut mixtape, Yeat released four full-length projects in 2021 — the year of his emergence: “Alivë,” “4L,” “Trendi” and “Up 2 Më.” Generally, the projects received positive fan reviews; however, the critical reception was far more negative. Many critics reported that the distorted, synth-heavy, atmospheric sound that garnered Yeat his mainstream breakthrough became monotonous, droning and grating throughout these four projects. Despite occasionally experimenting sonically throughout these projects, Yeat generally maintains the sonic standard that garnered him success. Confusingly, Faygo, patiently preparing an exceptionally well-crafted album over two years, received critical acclaim but fan disapproval. In contrast, Yeat released several overwhelming bloated projects which were adored by fans but derided by critics.

This dichotomy makes me wonder: Are audience demands becoming exceedingly unrealistic? If an artist delays releases, their fans relinquish support; yet, if an artist releases too frequently, they risk poor critical reception. Immediacy is essential to our society today — what are the implications for artists?