Anyone who knows me personally knows how critical I can be. Not only do I judge others harshly, but I get singed regularly as well. It’s a curse. Or so I always thought it to be. But I later began to realize that being critical isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I just needed to apply it more analytically.
Let me shed some light upon what I mean. When someone shows me something, the first thing I do is look for flaws (and pass judgement). For example, you could play a song for me and I’d immediately start pointing out the errors, especially when these errors are obvious. Does this mean I do not allow myself enjoy things? Haha.
I’m a big fan of Wizkid. I know at least a million people who will disagree with me over that. I enjoy Wizkid’s music albeit not always. I think he’s inconsistent as an artist and I’m not sorry to say that I judge him heavily for that. You have fans that love you dearly. The least you can do is repay that love back by giving them quality music. (Yes Wizkid, this is for you).
Although I usually went about my criticism of artists and their music wrongly, I have now learnt that you can criticize without being harsh or insensitive with your opinions. The most important thing is to show an artist empathy. It is easy to criticize when you have no idea what issues the artist is battling with.
Instead of running to my Twitter or Laptop to scribble abrasive comments about an artist and his or her music, I take out time to try and understand their situation. After all, artists are human beings. They breathe the same air as me and you. Their bodies don’t function any differently than those who are not artists. They have feelings like the average Joe. Why then do we refuse to consider their feelings when shelling out insults?
Artists have called my bosses angrily after reading my articles. I won’t mention names so as not to spark any controversy. I’ve nearly wrestled with fans (in reality) after stating my opinions. I have argued tirelessly on Twitter — I still do. It’s not that people don’t know that I speak the truth when I state some of these opinions. Rather, it’s usually my approach that fazes them. It fazes me too. Sometimes, too many times, I put myself under scrutiny and show myself no mercy when criticizing.
Being critical is important. What is, however, more important is showing empathy. Understanding that it’s not easy to be an artist. On one of Simi’s songs (The Artist) on her recent album Omo Charlie Champagne, Simi stated that nobody truly understands or cares about what the artist is going through.
And I agree with her on that. The artist is believed to be able to take any insult dished to him or her without making a fuss.
Now, I’m not saying it is ethical or advisable for artists to react violently whenever they’re being criticized. Neither is it a good look for an artist to engage critics online and resort to abusive words. It is even better to troll and decide not to take derogatory comments personally.
But just as we keep telling artists to react (or not) in a certain way, it is equally important to urge those who like to criticize to show more empathy when addressing artists and their songs.
I’m not excluded from this. Whilst it hasn’t exactly been easy, I’ve gotten better at understanding artists and their struggles. I’ve learnt to view things from their perspective. And I intend to make it tradition.