Ending the careers of famous people since 2015, cancel culture has been a brutal force in recent years. But just how effective has it been in ruining the public persona of musicians?
We have all woken up in the morning wondering what on earth happened the night before. A few boozy benders resulting in complete eradication of memory is nothing compared to what Slowthai would have experienced after the NME awards a couple weeks ago. 21st century punk’s English darling had just accepted his ‘Hero of the Year award’, but whilst receiving the prestigious golden middle finger, he appeared to be overly sexually prerogative towards comedian Katherine Ryan. Oh the irony.
As the introduction of stand out single ‘Doorman’ proceeded to blast through the speakers, a gob smacked Taylor Swift watched on in horror as Thai through his cup at an audience member, who heckled him during the speech. It was not the night to be the Northampton native. The next day, as many may know, he offered his award to the Comedian “for she is the hero of the year” as the rapper explained on Twitter.
“Allow Slowthai being cancelled”, “wait, does this mean Slowthai is cancelled?”, “lol, Slowthai is certi being cancelled” may have been just a few of the tweets you saw flood your feed the following day; the issue with cancel culture in the music industry has certainly risen in prominence over the last couple of years. In this time, Erykah Badu, Kanye West and Azealia Banks, to name a few, have been 'cancelled' by Twitter’s brutal mob mentality.
For any artist who's had serious allegations against them, there is a common dichotomy for their fans. Do you separate the art from the artist, or emotionally delete their discography from your record library? It seems that the former happens to certain, lucky individuals. Before his death, XXXTentacion was one of the biggest rappers to come out of the emo trap movement. Hundreds of millions of streams covered the many myriad legal issues that saw him face several stints in prison.
The allegations of abuse didn’t stop Kendrick Lamar and J, Cole, arguably two of the biggest rappers on the planet, from endorsing his music. The industry mourned of his death on the 18th of June 2018, and you very rarely hear anyone degrading his art and acknowledging his convictions.
Ameer Vann, formally of Brockhampton, was less fortunate. Allegations of his Sexual misconduct surfaced on Twitter in May 2018, threatening the all encompassing image Brockhampton strive to elicit out of their art. Claiming to “not tolerate abuse of any kind”, the 'Boyband' parted ways with one of the most naturally gifted members of their group. In solo material before the Saturation Trilogy, the Texas native frequently opened up about his internal demons and previous acts of immoralities. Twitter still regularly mobs anyone who even suggests the idea of Ameer Vann rejoining the group.
On the release of Nasir, Nas’ thirteenth album, ex-wife Kelis accused the rapper of physical and mental abuse. No one even attempted to crucify the Queens native; Illmatic's legacy proved too strong for anyone to remotely consider the truth in these accusations. An alcoholic Nas conducting violence on the Queen of R&B? The #metoo movement should have had a field day with this story, but this case study proves the campaign is not strong enough to combat all instances of celebrity misconduct... yet. Kelis, in equal rights to Nas, is an artist with NYC royalty status, so why were her statements completely disregarded by the music industry?
Not a day goes by when a new sexual offence allegation comes out against R. Kelly. If you haven’t seen the Netflix series/exposé of the R&B pioneer, then there’s plenty for you to catch up on. Despite the documentary destroying his public image, its release spiked an 100% increase in R. Kelly streams. Similar statistics have been recorded for Michael Jackson after Channel 4’s broadcast of ‘Leaving Neverland’. This could be the most twisted exemplification of the phrase “any publicity is good publicity”, but unfortunately it seems to apply.
What was once a powerful tool to denote prejudice on social media, has now become an addition to the endless list of 21st century Twitter memes. The term has dispersed in focus from individual people to concepts too, which does not exactly help its case as a credible form of web attack. 2018 and 2019 were 'cancelled', apparently. Slowthai seems to have rejuvenated his career despite his car crash of an acceptance speech, and a series of odd Instagram live interactions with fans.
As we move into a new decade, cancel culture looks like it is here to stay. Not me, not you, not anyone is safe from the angriest of Twitter mobs.