How Jealousy Will Cost You Your Creativity

Mr. Eazi tearing it up at Coachella 2019 // Photo: Brian van der Brug

Mr. Eazi tearing it up at Coachella 2019 // Photo: Brian van der Brug

I have a point, I promise. But first, let me give you a little background on Afrobeats music. 

Afrobeats is basically African pop music, originating from Nigeria. Not to be confused with Afrobeat popularized by Fela Kuti, Afrobeats with an “s” is inspired by African roots and combines the sounds of hip-hop, reggae, dancehall, and even R&B. In my opinion, it reflects just another glorious aspect of a musical diaspora, and in short, it’s blowing up.  

Artists like Beyonce, Drake and Walshy Fire have collaborated with some of Afrobeats’ most relevant artists like WizKid, Mr. Eazi and Yemi Alade. Projects like the soundtrack The Lion King: The Gift, which was executive produced by Beyonce, is only going to take this musical movement to the next level. Yes, they saw an opportunity, but they’re also culturally proud tastemakers who have a knack for churning out hits. The word “smart” comes to mind.  

Anyway, this article isn’t about the history of Afrobeats or where I think it’s headed. Rather, I want to focus on artists in general and the idea that, as creatives, we should support each other. It’s not a profound idea, and it’s not one you haven’t heard before.  But I felt the need to send a reminder to those who feel like they’ve been overshadowed by other artists or musical movements. 

I recently came across a social media post by a dancehall artist basically whining about the mainstream taking notice of Afrobeats, and because of that, he alluded to the idea that reggae and dancehall are basically done. It wasn’t a congratulatory post, it was a salty spiel at best, and it didn’t make a case for much. So, it got me thinking…

Rather than hate on others' success, how about congratulating other artists for having their moment in the spotlight? Why not admit that Walshy Fire’s Abeng album is a brilliant attempt to build a bridge that has me dancing my... I mean has us dancing our tails off while crossing it? Why not celebrate that the music and the culture that drives it is now reaching more people than ever before? 

I assure you, reggae and dancehall won't die. They branched out for sure, and whether you and I vibe with their direction or not doesn’t matter, because millions of people do. Music builds communities. Music is meant to build bridges, to educate us, and to make us feel free. So regardless of your genre, using music or your platform to divide people is almost like going against the natural order of things. Hating on other artists and even the culture behind their music is just as divisive. 

You know why an artist, a genre or a movement dies? Because the person behind it wasn’t compelling enough. An artist dies because his views aren’t progressing with a growing conscious generation. An artist dies because his sound lacks both the foundations of a musical tradition and it reflects an inability to evolve. An artist dies because he’s crossing his arms, pouting, stomping his feet, and he’s talking badly about other artists and musical genres having their day. It’s probably the same guy that thinks everybody owes him too. 

If you ever teetered on the side of hate, or you’re just grumpy and feel the need to blame someone for your fading presence, remember, nobody’s trying to take anything away from you. Open your mind, set aside that ego, and learn something from the artists who have been given a platform and are rising to the occasion. Appreciate them for sharing their culture. Congratulate these artists for garnering the attention they worked so hard to get. Humble yourself, evolve, and maybe they’ll let you in on the next project. “Lord have mercy.”