The internet has proved to be an invaluable tool for promotion of music, but fast-moving music cycles means holding the public’s attention for more substantial success proves challenging. Memes are one way these artists have been gripping onto popular culture consciousness – Rea Sremmurd’s motionless mannequin challenge boasted a viral wildfire, while Migos’ “rain drops/drop top” bounce could easily slot itself into any rhyming reference, rewarding both artist with their first number 1 spot in both ‘Black Beatles’ and ‘Bad and Boujee’ respectively. This trend has continued throughout 2017, but at the heart of many of these viral moments is an endearing, relatable personality, which is proving to be hugely beneficial to artistic longevity.
Post Malone’s Stoney has proved to have an incredibly long life, nearing a year since its release and it still hasn’t completed its promotional run, ‘I Fall Apart’ was recently announced as a fifth single, due to a viral twitter post demonstrating his heartfelt sincerity when performing the track. However, Stoney wasn’t initially a victory lap for Post, even ‘Déjà vu’, which features Justin Bieber, sat at the bottom half of the billboard charts, it feels like that all changed when ‘Congratulations’ got attention, assisted by a viral video full of his goofy charm. In early May, Rich Chigga gifted Post with a mariachi band, who gave ‘Congratulations’ their own flavour, and Post subsequent infectious enthusiasm led to the moment spreading through twitter timelines, it’s a moment the world really needed given the hopelessness that currently surrounds us, people coming together to celebrate music and Post feels like the embodiment of that. Since then, ‘Congratulations’ has become inescapable and was his highest charting single at the time. His most recent single ‘rockstar’ debuted at a peak position (2) in the Billboard charts, and has been breaking streaming records, without the need for a viral moment to propel it forward – since Post’s addictively fun personality was revealed to the world, it feels like people have been fucking with his music so much more.
Despite a music industry that indefensibly doesn’t want to invest time and money in female rappers, Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’ has proved undefeatable in its success this summer, it recently hit the number 1 spot, seeing Cardi become the first solo female rapper to nab that spot since 1998. This success is partially due to it being a total banger, it’s inspiring to see know-every-word club crowds, but a campaign to put it at the top pushed it forward, because of her deeply relatable personality, we all rooted for her to hit that peak. Through appearances in reality show Love and Hip Hop and large Instagram following, Cardi’s ‘no filter’ personality and addictive positive energy amassed fans, giving her that army of support that transformed into the numbers necessary to secure her historic billboard top spot – because we all want to see people we like succeed. Well-crafted artist investment like this stems from us becoming obsessive with participants of reality shows, which proves why reality stars are starting to become notable musicians.
Nearly two years since Desiigner’s ‘Panda’ exploded into mainstream consciousness (which is like 10 music industry years), and it very much feels like he’s on the clock, he’s, so far, failed to follow it up with a substantial hit, yet his personality is allowing him gracious extra minutes to attempt success. Despite having GOOD MUSIC behind him, what Desiigner is winning us over with is uncontrollable, sunshine energy, whenever TMZ interviews him, it’s another chance for us to remember his exist as we chuckle as his incomprehensible ad-libs – without motivation to visit his catalogue. However, he’s proof that without, uhh, good music, a personality can only leave you surviving so long, and Desiigner is certainly running out of time to deliver.
The most recent Vince Staples album, Big Fish Theory, portrays an artist who does whatever the fuck he wants, chucking in wild beat changes amongst an exploration of UK dance music, what you get in the music is what you can expect in interviews, as Vince’s outspoken personality makes his interviews as compelling as they are goddamn hilarious. His interviews have generated controversy amongst old heads, as he derides rap beef as corny and points out that, as a baby in the 90’s, he cared about Toy Story more than Pac/Biggie, and he pulls it off, his chill demeanour effortlessly caries his sometimes-controversial words. Hip Hop needs a personality like his, he’s settled into a role that can draw more attention to his music- who wouldn’t wanna hear more of his unique worldview?
‘Dat Stick’ currently sits at the 67 million views, it’s Rich Chigga’s biggest hit for a reason – his personality really comes through on the track. Chigga confronts the stereotypes thrown onto Asians by the west, as he’s a guy who goes aggressive with his persona, a trait he shares Higher Brothers and Keith Ape, who are also demanding notoriety with personalities we’re taught to not expect. There’s also appeal in Chigga’s awkward, absurd comical style, his wearing a fanny pack in ‘Dat Stick’ is very much in line with his personal YouTube account, where you can see him microwave bread and doing product reviews, to an also substantially large view count, a dumb sense of humour that is shared with an audience will obviously lead to worthwhile returns. People who were suckered in these raw personality traits are being rewarded with an artist whose music continues to evolve into new, exciting places.
Streaming has made music so easily consumable that we can often go without encountering an artist IRL personality, but it feels more than ever that infectious personalities are important to the future of music, as the gap between artist and human become blurrier. Demanding more entertaining and positive stars can only be a good thing too, as, in the face of a distressing political climate, we need all the positivity we can get right now.