With “Old Town Road” securing its 15th week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart and a new artist rising to viral fame seemingly every other week, the power of the internet and social media to drive musical careers is an unavoidable fact. However, while many have praised the modern tools artists have at their disposal, Lil Wayne took a more critical view in a recent interview with Complex, pointing out the ways in which the internet can actually make it harder for new artists to get their music heard. The full interview can be viewed above, while the specific comments can be found at the 3:20 mark.
The veteran artist denies that the easy accessibility afforded by social media and streaming is an advantage. “I think about how difficult it must be these days,” he says. “To be more than just one of these balloons ’cause so many people can do it now. As soon as you come out with something — ‘I like it,’ and we don’t even remember who you are next week when such-and-such come out with the next dance. So you end up just being one of these balloons.”
Wayne makes some salient points here. This publication has pointed out on separate occasions how the near-constant flow of new music and new artists makes it nearly impossible to keep up, while many artists within a given subgenre can start to blur together if they don’t do enough to distinguish themselves from the pack. In an effort to do so, many new rappers have adopted shocking visual aesthetics and trollish, viral personalities in the hopes of attracting the eyes and ears of potential fans — sometimes to their own detriment.
While it increasingly seems like anyone can go viral at anytime and because a star like Juice WRLD, Lil Nas X, or Megan Thee Stallion, there are plenty of Tekashi 69s out there too. Just like with any tool, there can be drawbacks that come with the advantages, and modern artists will have to learn to navigate both if they want to follow in Wayne’s sizable footsteps.