DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel that I am compromising my art for the consumer. I’m a hip-hop artist, and I make what I would describe as “conscious rap.” I know that conscious rap is hit-or-miss in 2021, but I’m losing my patience a little. I keep watching rappers with no lyrical depth make hits and get famous for their music when it all sounds lazy to me. My music has heart and soul, and I get little to no support for it. I’ve dabbled in making music that aligns more with the “mumble rap” that I hear on the radio today, but it makes me feel sad and unfulfilled. My art is my passion, and I don’t want to change it, but I don’t want to keep getting ignored. What should I do? -- Conscious Rapper
DEAR CONSCIOUS RAPPER: First, you cannot compare yourself to artists who do a different kind of work. Yes, there have been “conscious” rappers who have done well for themselves -- from Gil Scott-Heron to Dead Prez to Common. You, too, may be able to make a name and a living for yourself, but you have to be strategic and connected. Work now to meet people in the music and entertainment industries. Look for opportunities to get your music and message out there. And stay positive.
Moaning about what your contemporaries have or don’t have will not help you progress. Stay focused on your goals and look around to see who can help you manifest them. Stop being mad at artists who are having their moment. Yours will come in time -- hopefully. Do your best to make music that aligns with your values and connects to the masses. There may be a compromise; just don’t make it too great. Never stoop below your standards.