Last night I wondered, how much work do you have to put in til they [the public] consider you one of the Greats? This was prompted by seeing someone’s list of the current greatest rappers alive, with Kendrick Lamar on it. Kendrick is fairly new to the scene as compared to the others on it, those considered veterans such as Nas, Eminem and Jay Z, but for someone, actually, a lot of people, he’s already there.
It got me thinking about his work. He’s a decent rapper. He has the ability to be both ignorant and insightful, something many find difficult lately, or are simply too lazy to do. But then, how can we consider him a Great? I think it all boils down to the fact that we’ve grown accustomed to accepting what’s Less Than so when something’s mediocre, average and should be the bare necessity for any artist, to simple NOT be one-sided, we celebrate it like it’s the best thing ever.
But that’s not the issue here.
One of the answers that I got to that question [I tweeted it] was “You have to die.”
You have to die for people to appreciate the true extent of your brilliance.
You have to no longer be able to create, for them to look back on your past work and see how amazing it is.
Isn’t that some shit?
People only see your excellence when they have to catch up and take all the time in the world analyzing it.
So, what I gathered from this is:
- Most times, if you’re truly great, chances are, the majority won’t appreciate you, and if they do, it’s not immediate.
- If you’re Great, you don’t create for the public.
- When you begin to create for the public, you have to sell out. Water it down. Come down to their level.
I understood the surface meaning, but then I thought of one of my favorite artists, The Weeknd. He’s very much alive, well, in the physical sense, but what any fan can tell you is, Abel Tesfaye [The Weeknd] is far from alive internally.
He is a man incapable of love, yet somewhat envious of those who can feel it. We aren’t sure why he is as he is, we don’t know what happened to make the man switch off internally, but what we do know is, whereas he shuns the women who seek to love him romantically, he appreciates his fans, though he remains fully aware of the fact that they could leave at any moment. It sounds like a sad existence doesn’t it? To most people it would. It’s easy to pity him because many of us feel our lives are only worth the love we receive.
I used to think so too. I understand why you may be shaking your hand as you “tsk tsk”, but let me tell you a little something about being an emotional person, and an artist..
Things hurt you in a deeper way than they would the average person. Heartbreak stays with you, you force yourself to keep it on the surface, sometimes for inspiration, sometimes to feel like you have a colorful story, sometimes because you simply don’t know what to do with it.
I think to such people, every relationship, every interaction with a person, is a story in itself, and when it doesn’t end well, it’s a tragedy, not a simple end to a relationship.
Everything is greater than it is. Nothing is ever what it is and to be honest, we don’t get over things.
You reach a point where you tire of constantly having to fix yourself and tell yourself this is simply Life. When you get tired of feeling like a mess who overreacts to everything. Of doubting your sanity, of wondering if there’s anything wrong with you because you can’t ever seem to find Peace.
And maybe, you decide to switch off.
You decide your body can’t take the sleepless nights anymore. Your heart can’t take the pressure and you can’t keep up with all this mess. You can’t constantly feel like you aren’t coping, and so you stop it.
Now, it’s not immediate. It’s a gradual process. It’s constantly detaching yourself from anything that might take too much from you, anything you might feel the need to give yourself to. It’s constantly saying “it doesn’t matter to me” until eventually, it doesn’t. Until romance is just something to write about, but not feel. Until intimacy is only for inspiration, not bonds. Until you feel nothing more than what’s already within. When things that used to make you want to help, or care, or intervene, are too far away for you to bother with.
I can’t tell you then you’ll feel “happy” or “fine”, but you’ll be within yourself and hopefully that’s a safer place than out here, for you.