What Other Musicians Can Learn From Justin: It Won’t Kill You To Give Yourself And Your Fans A Break
I was was in college the last time Justin Timberlake put out an album, and as I watched him do movie after movie, both comedy, drama and action, I was pissed. “Justin needs to quit playing and come out with a new album!” I said that mess for years and for years he made it clear that getting back in the studio wasn’t his first priority. He had always wanted to try his hand at acting and he was finally getting the opportunity, so music would have to wait.
And fans waited, that is until last Tuesday, when he finally put back on a suit and tie and released The 20/20 Experience. Six years since his last release, the album was met with a great response, as I reported last night, almost pulling in a million copies sold in a week. It was clear that the long wait had done Justin some good. He didn’t come back sloppy, and those who are fans, whether they initially liked “Suit & Tie,” were lauding the new release on social media. Time apart made the fans fonder.
I’ve always felt that a break from some of our favorite artists would do everyone involved some good, but we live in a time where artists in the game want to be overexposed. They are on every form of social media every day, they are on every magazine cover saying the same things in every interview, they are on every person’s single as a feature, and they put out a new album one after the other, each leaving you to say, “Eh, you know, it was alright.” Why? Blame it on the very obvious fear that if they actually take a break, people will forget about them.
They have reason to feel this way, but it should be more of a fear for new artists. You’ve just built your brand, gathered some fans, thrilled people with your music. If you disappear for even a hot minute, chances are, people won’t be as enthusiastic when you come back. See a Chingy or Ashanti for example as people who lost steam around their sophomore efforts after taking a break. Even musicians who used to have droves of fans have come back after a hiatus, tried to return to them with a whole new sound, and wound up flopping. However, it’s just my belief that when you have real talent and true fans, you shouldn’t be afraid to go away, live life and come back when you’re actually ready to make GOOD music. Keyword: good.
There are way too many people who don’t say no to to a new album or new feature and because they don’t give themselves the opportunity to live life and write music based on their experiences, the output is stale and a bunch of the same. They’re singing somebody else’s songs, selling sex, drugs and fashion labels instead of substance. Take Lil Wayne for example. How many times can we hear you get on your own song or someone else’s and talk about your appreciation for the nether regions of a woman? Such a radical difference from his “Best Rapper Alive”days circa 2006-2009. He and those who listen to his music know that he’s not really feeling it anymore.
Breaks give very talented artists the chance to cultivate their skills. Go learn how to play an instrument. Write until your hands get sore. Watch life happen around you instead of fiending so much to be a part of every moment, of every thing and doing the most to make sure people see it. Justin stepped back and finally made the time to try something new, and while the results weren’t the greatest thing ever as far as being an actor, he also got to meet a new love interest, get married, gain some new insight and be clear about what he wanted to do musically when he came back. Maybe that’s why his album had no hint of the dance-pop every artist thinks that people are only willing to buy nowadays (You too Usher…damn you David Guetta!). It gave us some time to miss him instead of thinking, as with most musicians out now, “Can they sit down somewhere!?”
If you have true fans and real talent, you can come and go from public view as you please, so for those doing the most right now, use all that money to take a vacay and LIVE. Give us time to get excited about your work and talents once again.
As for those with no real talent…Hey, you better not go anywhere because irrelevancy could be waiting for you when you come back…