It has been a few weeks since words exchanged between Hip-Hop Rap Queen Nicki Minaj and Music Culture writer Wanna “Wannasworld” Thompson hit the internet causing a division between Nicki Minaj’s Stans and Music critics supporters. And while this post will not solely be about that particular situation, I will be making reference to it.
I am an Artist, and I’m Sensitive About My Sh*t – Erykah Badu
The sensitivity of an artist of any medium (music, painting, film-making, etc.) can be seen in their work, the way they describe the process of creating and the journey to completion. And although constructive criticism is usually needed in order to make something better, it can strike a nerve with an artist who feels that their work is being compromised or weaken. Creative expression is a personal trait because it comes from a multitude of sources, whether it is a personal experience or a thought of some sort, an artists’ creative expression is theirs and theirs only. However, as a critic of the art medium, we only want to give a critique that would make it even more enjoyable for us. Is that not what we are supposed to do?
In a time where Internet Trolls are overpopulating social media and wreaking havoc on those who enjoy the internet realm, it may be hard for an artist to detect when someone is being genuinely helpful and when someone is just being a troll. In the aspect of Wanna and Nicki, a music critic was giving her musical opinion on the quality of music that she would further enjoy from an artist that she respected, however, Nicki being a victim of body-shaming, slut-shaming, and other disparaging terms, saw a critique and felt it was more hurtful than helpful and reacted. It may be hard for us as critics of music, art, films and etc., to accept this but sometimes we should just STFU. Our opinions aren’t always unwanted.
There is a very fine line between constructive and deconstructive criticism. And while the receiver may not always be able to detect which one they are about to receive, usually the giver of the criticism does. Let’s face it, criticism hurts. And when we are brought to a moment of criticizing someone, we should ask ourselves if what you are saying will a) help the artist or b) bring them down? Because after all, art is the most personal and transparent tool for anyone.
Define the criticism’s relevance.
When it comes down to the receiver of the criticism, instead of overreacting in the sense of full-blown attacking the critic, taking an assessment of the person who is critiquing you will help you decide how important the criticism is.
You can ask yourself:
Is the criticism valid?
Does it reflect something that needs work on your part or is it only an opinion reflecting the critic’s own rules?
Is the critic important?
Is this somebody whose opinion means something to you or is it somebody who ultimately doesn’t matter?
Is the problem something that needs to be addressed or is it something that’s more bother than it’s worth?
At the end of the day, whether you are an artist who doesn’t like critiques that aren’t asked for or a music critic who only wants the best for your favorite artist, boundaries must always be put in place between you and the other person. It’s in our nature to make mistakes. As we go through life we have a lot of opportunities to learn and improve ourselves and our ways of approaching different situations. No matter what kind of criticism is thrown your way, try to analyze and find something you can learn from it. And if you are the one doing the criticizing, make sure you are doing it to help them and not demean them.