A cut above the personality cult

2011-02-18 14:56

Yes, I often moan about the same things.

That’s because they don’t seem to change over time.

And then something happens to reaffirm the very thing I have whined about previously.

It is a frustrating space to be in.

Last weekend was filled with live performances in Joburg.

Friday night, the German industrial rock group Rammstein performed for multitudes of metalheads.

On Saturday, N.E.R.D. – No one Ever Really Dies – performed at the Standard Bank Arena for the Hansa Legends In The Making Tour.

Tickets were not on sale and from my understanding, the only way to get to the concert was through competitions or as part of the press contingent through the various PR people ­involved in it.

For those who don’t know, N.E.R.D. is a group comprising Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shae Haley, who play “a hybrid of rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop, R&B, country, blues [and] sci-fi” .

While everyone knows who Pharrell is because he features on songs with an array of artists, his real impact on the music industry has been as part of the Neptunes (with Hugo), producing for everyone from Britney Spears, Jay-Z and The Clipse, to Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg.

At the press conference for the show, a couple of journalists ­lamented the fact that there seemed to be so few actual ­journalists there to cover the conference. The rest were Joburg’s twitterati, socialities and borderline celebs.

At the actual show, a lot of people discovered that N.E.R.D. is actually a group that doesn’t just do hip-hop and that their music was not necessarily what they ­expected.

Nonetheless, the only thing ­reported on was how attractive Pharrell is for his age.

On Sunday night, legendary rock group U2’s tour of South Africa kicked off at FNB Stadium.

They had about 100 000 people losing their minds, submerged in the ­music. It was a spectacle like none I have ever seen.

I sat in awe of the production, the music and the messages. It was more about the music than just The Edge or Bono.

Increasingly, it seems as if we are allowing the cult of the personality to cloud the beauty that is music.

When one views segments of mainstream media, the hype seems to be about the people and whether they are fodder for gossip rather than their artistry.

Rammstein and U2 concerts felt like they were about the music. N.E.R.D. felt like it was about Pharrell. Let us rather celebrate the music and avoid the gossip.

» Baffoe is the editor of Destiny Man magazine

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