The cardinal rule instilled into the minds of young journalists is the importance of objectivity. In classrooms as well as (supposedly) in newsrooms, we’re taught to prioritize the truth over everything else, as it’s the only way to maintain the integrity of the profession. Bias be damned, facts are to be sought out and sent out, regardless of whatever personal ties might make it difficult to do so.
Of course, writing about music is an exception; naturally, since any reaction to art is based on opinion. For the most part it’s foolish to view an album review or song critique as fact, but instead as one voice helping the culture move toward some sort of agreement. Still, that doesn’t mean other objective qualities should fall by the wayside as well, such as not allowing personal relationships to influence the direction of an outlet. Which is exactly why there’s a problem with entertainment blog Karen Civil’s actions over the past weekend.
Recently, one of the company’s interns took to her personal twitter to chime in on Nicki Minaj’s upcoming album, arguing that “a new direction is needed” as she enters a new stage in her life. Nicki was quick to jump in her DMs with a barbed retort, and before long the blogger not only found herself swimming in a sea of resentment from the rapper’s fans, but out of an internship as well.
First of all, it’s a reasonable opinion. Suggesting that Nicki Minaj could use a rebrand after relying on the same themes and marketing strategies for much of her career is far from absurd; rather, it’s the same pivot that’s allowed artists such as Jay-Z to keep an engaged audience deep into his career. And while other rappers (Jay Rock, for example) understand that such constructive criticism is essential to growth, Nicki’s resounding clapback shows that she hasn’t quite reached the same place.
But that’s beside the point. Regardless of how Nicki Minaj decided to react, choosing to fire the responsible intern shows how the people at Karen Civil value their insider relationships over promoting a healthy discussion. In an extended Twitter rant after the story came to light, Xtian Emiliano attempted to shed some light on the situation, claiming she had been let go for breaking the NDA she originally signed when coming on board.
However, while attempting to clear Karen Civil’s name — and seemingly breaking the same NDA by publicly sharing company details — Emiliano’s admission that Nicki Minaj is a client of the marketing department of the umbrella company shows where their priorities truly lie. In order for a blog to be trusted as an impartial, honest news source, it can’t be on the payroll of someone it reports on. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the conflict of interest, essentially making the platform a propaganda machine in the artist’s favor.
It’s certainly not the first time that business interests have overridden the story; not too long ago, MTV News found themselves in a similar situation after Chance the Rapper and his team took offense to a negative review. When a writer mentioned the “emotional disconnect” he experienced at a show during the rapper’s Coloring Book tour, Chance’s manager reached out to their contact at MTV, threatening to cut ties with the company due to the incident. Attempting to appease him, MTV quickly scrubbed the article from its website — just as it had done with another article the previous month after Kings of Leon had complained about it.
Criticism is essential to being a music critic, and it shouldn’t be swept under the rug just because an artist isn’t able to handle it. By default, not everything can be considered good, and someone has to be there to call it out when it isn’t. It’s the reason why the journalism and public relations industries shouldn’t be conflated together; let the writers worry about giving their honest take, and leave the blanket promotion to the PR team.
Anyway, here’s some new music that we genuinely believe in, and not because the artists threatened to run us out of the city if we didn’t.
For the solidarity: 03 Greedo - “Basehead”
It’s still Free Greedo until the Living Legend is allowed to live like it. Just before heading to prison to serve a 20 year sentence, the Watts rapper dropped off his second album of the year in God Level to keep his momentum rolling while he’s away. “Basehead” is one that dials up the aggression, as Greedo raps over blown out bass that pounds the eardrums with a vengeance. There’s plenty of other standouts on the 27 track album, and since he still has hundreds waiting in the vault, there’s a good chance we’ll be gifted with even more songs before long.
For the feelings: Golden Boy Rich ft. A Blue - “Reminiscing”
On “Reminiscing,” Two members from the Chain Reaction crew link up for a sentimental ode to losing a good one. The soulful chorus is allows the passionate verses space to breathe, as the two rappers spill their hearts to girls they’ve fallen out with. Sparse yet tender piano chords set the mood early before the vocals enter the frame, and and help give the song extra weight once they do.
For the afternoon cruise down PCH: Kalan.FrFr - “Star”
Who doesn’t love a summertime drive by the ocean? Just ahead of the 4th of July, Kalan.FrFr released a new mixtape in TwoFr, and the second song has the perfect vibe for that waterfront setting. On “Star,” lush production courtesy of Hollywood gives the song an upbeat, relaxed energy, while Kalan’s melodic vocals beautifully blend into the soundscape. “I’m a star in my hood,” sings Kalan on the hook, and he’s certainly moving like it in 2018.