Journalists Are Looking For Musical Closure In All The Wrong Places

Recently, rumor of a joint J. Cole and Drake tour announcement this week cropped up on a blog quirkily titled — to be breaking news about anyone not called Kendrick Lamar —  Section Eighty. Drake is one of the preeminent artists in his field today, and the mention of a concert series with J. Cole is sure to turn heads. The potential powerhouse act could be a boon for both. The gossip has already been quashed by its originator, Ebro Darden, an entertainer on Hot 97 who retracted his statement in a tweet just hours later. Hearsay as basis for a story is an all-too common trope highlighting a propensity for flagging journalistic integrity in the music industry, but judging by my own time spent on the website its effectiveness must — for now — go unchallenged.

The era of tangible and deadly rap beefs is far removed from the relatively tame inter-artist commentary spectrum of general praise, however buffeted by a tiptoeing atmosphere of irreverence for the work of other performers that currently exists. By and large, “it’s love at the top.” Serious doubt should be placed on any proclamation (not made by the artists) that suggests the development of either extreme — that is to say, collaborations or controversies. As of yet there is no public indication of a joint tour from either party, and the uninformed mind (presumably you and I) and the informed mind (Darden, supposedly?) appear to realign on that point.

This doubt is certainly missing in the minds of excitable fans and entertainers, who feed into one another to produce an endless cycle of hype. Darden’s reward is a permanent reverberation among publications of a similar, sordid quality. Dozens of articlespresent the same diminutive lie, until it wills itself into fact or dies a forgotten death. Various Facebook event pages has arisen, garnering tens of thousands of interested fans to a tour that is less certain than aquatic archaeologists confirming the existence of Atlantis, an event I have also not seen anyone attending. The inertia of the media clearly stretches far past the boundaries of reality.

What powers this almost deliberate delusion on the part of our musical overlords? Is it hope? Fear of Zika virus, perhaps? My guess is boredom. Entertainment writers (at this point they no longer aspire to journalism) desperate for a story worthy of their majesty weave whispers into fabric from a loom of pure invention. The public, desperate for the truth, latch onto even the most volatile rumors. And artists themselves, if only for a moment, consider the possibility the engine of the entertainment writing industry may be onto something. But in this instance, the week has ended, and there is still no concert declaration.

The desire of many entertainment journalists today extends beyond researching, developing, and writing articles or think-pieces. The phenomenon is best seen in sports journalism, where Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski are venerated not in particular for their writing, but rather their well-sourced and expeditious dispensation of the Truth. The behavior of the debilitated stock of music journalists attempts much the same, but it appears sports stories (even those subjected to perpetual coverage) are still more tangible than the fan fiction that exits the music stable today.

The focus of Darden on a tour featuring two of the most prominent artists in their field is still of importance to the future of the genre, but tolerating this method of dissemination cheapens the musical experience as a whole. Instead of seeking existing music, new or old, or attending local, often enchanting concerts, we reduce ourselves to swallowing up gossip about larger-than-life individuals presented by smaller-than-life personalities seeking a leg up on the rest of the industry. There are myths we write, and there are myths we live, but this should not be one of them.

-Matthew Sandler

This article was originally published online at the Swamp Records blog. 

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