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Nov 21, 2023Liked by Dr. Joel Brown FRSA, Haley Kennington

Seriously. I found the album to be quite the disappointment. A huge one. Almost like he’s playing a joke on us.

Not a single track hooked me in any way. And, no, I don’t listen to just Pop, or Hip-Hop, or Rock. I listen to more than a few genres.

If I’m saying the quiet part out loud and you find it offensive, that was not my intention. I just can’t NOT write what I wrote.

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I've never been a rap aficionado, so my comments will focus more on your underlying theme of artistic freedom rather than as critique of the work in general.

I fully agree with you that artists are often pigeonholed into what got them where they are, fans think they want to hear, or what labels think will sell the best. Few artists have the clout, or the talent, to pull off a genre switch with aplomb. Many remain in their boxes for fear of ruffling feathers, or because they simply don't have more to say. But for those who can escape, I can't imagine anything more boring than limiting themselves to some preordained description of what their art should look or sound like.

This always causes critical blowback. When Dylan "went electric" for half of his "Bringing It All Back Home" album in 1965, he caught considerable flack from critics who felt he was abandoning his folk roots. The Stones rolled some eyes when they "went disco" in their late 70s attempt to keep up with the musical times. Springsteen turned a career of bombastic electric performances on its head when he released an entire album of songs featuring just him on an acoustic guitar, recorded on a minimalist tape recorder in his home.

The common denominator is great artists who challenged convention to create what they were feeling in their hearts at the time, and Andre is no different. The best art comes from pushing boundaries, damn the torpedoes. Great art is risky, and kudos to him for doing what he wants to do and, in his words, "following the way the wind blew me this time".

Nothing is more creatively stifling than being pigeonholed. When I started writing, what came out of me was a novel. The next book was non-fiction. After that, I turned to writing articles on various subjects. They all worked because they were what I was feeling at those times. I can't imagine being confined to a creative box, and none of us should seek to confine anyone else in such a way unless we're ready to be saturated in prepackaged pablum as a result. ZL

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