Fragility is not a quality permitted in showbiz, unfortunately. A display of fragile spirit is permissible on paper, in the recording booth and finally when the words are pressed on a CD or in today’s world, converted into whatever format and shared across various digital streaming platforms (DSPs) for the streaming pleasure of fans. Or, when the person is acting a movie scene that requires him or her to exhibit vulnerability.
In the real world, especially in this social media era where 240 words could be as lethal as a nuke, wearing an armour to deflect these caustic commentaries or opinions is necessary. One cannot be too careless. You have to stay guarded and walk the tightrope of evading ‘missiles’ from the public like a professional landmine scouter. Even those who consider or position themselves as ‘free spirits’ most often walk on these streets guarded.
Public officials are mostly at the butt of some of these wild, vile attacks. Public scrutiny – from what they say, tweet, wear – is open to scrutiny; sometimes for good old humour but most often as bared knuckle criticism. Artists aren’t spared in this regard, your profile notwithstanding. We have witnessed how certain public figures lost their temperaments, going after people who threw shade at them on twitter
Although one would expect some of these public figures to exercise a modicum of restraint, the infuriating nature of these taunts or suggestive accusations makes it impossible for them to hold back their anger. Like they say, the frog who takes in too much water will ultimately explode . After all, these public figures are humans first.
One Ghanaian artist who has had his share of jokes and caustic commentary is Kuami Eugene. From his brand of music to his sartorial outlook, people have raised issues with him. Some of the opinions may be valid but many has lacked merit. Take for instance the music he makes. The criticism has been that, he has helped in “cheapening” the art of songwriting with his penchant for incorporating old classic songs into his compositions either through repurposing part of the song or outright sampling. (This approach has become the stock in trade of today’s afropop music creators).
Kuami Eugene knows how to make hit records. His songs have dominated radio across the country. He has won various awards since he entered the music fray some three years ago. Aside singing, Kuami Eugene is also a producer and a songwriter. He is also an amazing entertainer. Seeing him perform on stage is nothing short of entertaining. His energy is always right. He is able to connect with his audience, leaving an impression on their minds. Added to these qualities is that fact that, Kuami Eugene has the ‘Drake Sauce”. Feature him on a record and see your streaming figures spike. He is undoubtedly a bankable artist.
If there is one thing the Lynx Entertainment artist has mastered, it is how to handle criticism. Kuami Eugene has not been found lashing out at critics for their unwarranted trolls. His response has been quiet quaint: post a picture of himself with captions that take a veil dig at these critics. Similarly, he has been addressing some of his critics through music like he did o “Wish Me Well”.
In addressing the critics, Kuami Eugene went the route of courting sympathy than sounding vicious or disrespectful towards them. He sounded like a man exhausted by the frequent attacks on him by a section of music fans. Breaking from singing, he delivered his aching remark in a rap verse:
Joe, mon gyae/Mo tumi ki ka mi ho nsem as if I record with a stolen mic/ Obi sᴈ mafↄn anka menye keseyie na toor mi pai (hmm) Obiba nye mo hwee na mo destroy the soul inside/M’ayᴈ bi ama mↄ na mo kai.
These lyrics translate from Twi to English as follow: “Joe, stop it. You talk about me as if I record my songs with a stolen mic. Some say I’m too lean, they expect me to grow obese. I have not done you any wrong yet you want to destroy my soul, Remember, I’ve done some for you”.
“Wish Me Well” is one of the biggest songs in Kuami Eugene’s career. Being the smart artist he is, he found himself featuring Nigerian rapper Ice Prince on the remix of ‘Wish Me Well’ when accusation arose about him ‘stealing’ a line from two songs by Ice Prince: the first being “Juju” where apparently Kuami Eugene took the “If you wish me well, I go wish you well’ line from. Same is gleaned on the rap verse where Eugene incorporated the ‘I record with a stolen mic” heard on Ice Prince’s “In The Morning” tune.
Being an artist or a ‘public’ figure means opening yourself up to criticism. For artists, constructive criticisms help shape the rough edges of your craft. It is therefore, incumbent for all artists to be accepting of criticism. Like the adage ‘he who cut a path won’t know if the path is crooked’ goes, one cannot be too sure of him/herself. Inasmuch as criticisms helps make one a better artist or person, knowing which criticism to consider is also imperative. Thus, how one handles criticism is very significant. After all, as humans, our feelings will get hurt. The way to respond to critics is to keep making good art and raking up the numbers like Kuami Eugene did – and we’ve seen Omar Sterling and Medikal continue to do.
With Kuami Eugene, his response was contained in his 4-bar rap line on ‘’Wish Me Well’’; a simple song that appeals to your humanity and sensitivity in a more compassionate way. The song left you feeling for Kuami Eugene’s plight. He could have come after his critics with a more vicious response but he chose to appeal to their soft sides.
Not all criticisms come from a place of hate. There’s a difference between ‘’you suck’ and ‘your music sucks’. Sometimes, you have to discern which ones are pure hate and those which are born from a place of care.