Versatility is cool, but perfect your genre

06 December 2019 | Art and Entertainment

As musicians try out new things and merge diverse styles of music to create previously unheard kinds of music, there's been a lot of talk around the topic of genre. Is this a concept that even matters anymore? Back in the day, people used to identify themselves as a kwaito fan, house music fan or a member of the hip-hop community, but these days almost all music lovers are fluid. Trying new things is expected from most artists, and fans seem to love good music, no matter what it sounds like. I recently had a conversation with an artist friend of mine and her concern was about musicians, as they progress in their careers. The questions that always pops up is: Should they worry about assigning themselves and their music to one genre? That's a decision for musicians to make, but I believe there are advantages and disadvantages associated with both sides. Artists being versatile is the reason why music fans have always created heated conversations when the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs), for example, puts out a list of nominees in various categories. Remember when The Dogg, now known as King Tee Dee, won the best hip-hop song award in 2006 at the Sanlam-NBC Music Awards and the hip-hop community was upset?

In recent years this trend still continues, where an artist known predominantly for a particular genre makes a song in a different genre, and it is a hit, and ends up scooping awards.

Whether this practice is wrong or right, I do feel that music fans shouldn't be too hard on these artists.

On the other hand, I believe being versatile sometimes deters the progress of musicians. Letting people know what genre your music is before they've even listened to it is important, because it gives them an idea of what they are about to get themselves into, and that's valuable in many situations. As a writer, I can say that I hate when media releases or artists themselves won't say what kind of music they make.

[email protected]; @MichaelMKAY on Twitter

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