R&B artist Ari Lennox has taken to Twitter for an emotional and strikingly honest take on her career. The tweets seemed to be sparked by her snubs at BET's 2019 Soul Train Music Awards on Sunday night.
After expressing her hurt over not winning, people quickly responded, calling her "entitled." Lennox then went on to tweet about how she is tired of playing "this game." This honest outpour of tweets (which you can read below the article) led to a reflection on the music industry's currently less established artists and the darker side of social media's influence on them.
Music journalism, and journalism as a whole, has been in a strange predicament for the latter part of the 2010s. Twitter, the very platform that was once used as a way to make news more easily accessible, is now often the subject of news itself. Tweets have become newsworthy. Of course articles like the one I am writing in this moment add to the very frustrations that Ari Lennox is alluding to. But I am hoping my transparency and my awareness of the oxymoron that is unfolding here in this article is enough to reconcile.
"My intent is never to annoy people who clearly don't fuck with me," she tweeted. "I don't be asking these shady blogs to post what I write."
I've been refraining from writing that Lennox is saying she's quitting music even though I know that's what will get people to click on this. I'm hoping what she means by these tweets is that she is done trying to chase today's version of success in the music industry: making good music while also trying to project a like-able social media presence, which is now an actual career on its own (social media managers, etc). This last sentence is perhaps getting to the root of the problem with tweets being news.
These un-editable, bite-sized expressions often sent out in the heat of the moment can be so easily misunderstood. Twitter began as one way for fans and artists to connect on a more intimate level. It's quickly spiraled into the main way people connect with artists and cast judgements on them.
For example, Summer Walker's rise and fall in Twitter's version of the public eye took place over a matter of months. Although they loved the music, people began viciously critiquing her stage presence and prompted the singer to share her struggle with social anxiety. Luckily, she is dealing with it well and has cut down on tour dates in order to prioritize her health and continue to make music. But it's still concerning. Why are we trying to tear down artists before they've even begin reaching their peaks?
It reminds me of an idea that has been floating around in several music podcasts and publications for the past couple of years. They say if the punk movement had emerged in today's music industry, it would have been blogged to death.
Because we constantly crave content, we have resorted to unethical measures to produce it. Not every artist's tweet is newsworthy. However, I don't believe this means the public's opinions on artists are invalid. It's just a matter of how it's presented. The time spent frantically churning out these meaningless "news" articles could be spent doing deeper dives into an artist's history, reaching out to them, and hopefully providing a clearer, more thoughtful opinion on their music and presence in the industry.
As the articles on her tweets start to trickle in, some already tying Lizzo into the mix even though she was never mentioned, I hope Ari Lennox is not taking any of it seriously. I think she was right to tweet about her disappointment over losing something that meant so much to her. That's something we never see after award shows. And as for her follow up tweets that hint at her quitting her career, maybe it'll wake some people up. Ari Lennox is tired of playing the game and maybe we should be too.
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