Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
The other day a friend of mine sent me the above video of Cam’ron answering “fan questions.” It cracked me up. Not only that, it made me realize how Cam has not only maintained his career over the past eleven years, but has become more popular as those years have gone by - he has a personality and he isn’t afraid to show it.
No one is ever going to think of Cam the second coming of Rakim or KRS-One, but Cam has always had an incredible connection with his listeners and this stems from the fact that his rhymes are injected with some of the same humor and personability he shows in the video. Heck, he even survived his ridiculous comments regarding the “stop snitching” phenomenon and that was in large part because of his connection with his fans and the fact that many of them view him as a human rather than some kind of a god-like star, and everyone knows humans have faults. When rappers build themselves up to be gods and are later revealed to be flawed, or in some cases frauds (*cough cough* Rick Ross *cough cough*), it’s much harder to mount any kind of a comeback. Cam knows the secret that personability is just as important as musical ability; in fact, sometimes even more so.
Of course, personability doesn’t always have to be achieved through humor. Last week one of my artist friends told me after he got off stage from performing a woman came up to him and said she just wanted to hug him because his work touched her so much. His lyrics were so personal that they truly affected this woman who related to them in a very deep way. That’s another way an artist can be personable. In the end it’s really all about relating to people.
So much can get lost in what I call “rapper posturing.” Gangster rappers always try to act hard, socially conscious rappers always try to be serious, and none of them have long careers because they all lose sight of the very important fact that fans like whole, complete, people, and will quickly get bored with an artist who only has one side to themselves.
If you want to know why a lot of rappers from back in the day aren’t around anymore it’s because they never let themselves get out of having a singular mindset and the majority of their fans got bored with them. When you show people more of who you really are the connection is always better and much longer lasting. For another great example of this just look at Redman. He’s been around for nearly 20 years and while his lyrics are tight it’s his personality that has truly made him a superstar.
“Doing you” isn’t about just doing one aspect of yourself, it’s about doing your entire self. Be a whole person and watch your fan base grow to new heights.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.