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“Although many rappers try to separate themselves from the working class by promoting their lavish lifestyle, if this pandemic has proven anything, it’s that some of these rappers may be on the same boat as the rest of us,” write VOX ATL staff writer Zariah Talyor. 

Art by Zariah Taylor

What Message Are Rappers Sending When They Perform During A Pandemic? [OPINION]

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Most musicians earn a large portion of their revenue from touring and performances. According to Business Insider, U2, the highest paid musical act in 2017, made 95% of their income from touring. Other top paid artists such as Garth Brooks and Metallica also made 70% or more of their income from touring.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted how artists make their money. Popular artists such as Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Camila Cabello, and BTS have all either postponed or cancelled their tours planned for 2020 because of the virus. 

Despite the mounting death toll from COVID-19, some artists aren’t taking the pandemic as seriously as others. Booking shows and getting money are all a huge part of the flashy rapper lifestyle, and a few artists are making it known that this pandemic won’t stop them from earning a check.

Rappers such as Megan Thee Stallion, the City Girls,  Future, and Asian Doll have all been spotted at nightclubs in Atlanta and other cities. NLE Choppa stated on his Twitter account that the virus is fake and referred to a “mask agenda”. J.I the Prince Of New York stated on live that he looks at the virus as a trend and won’t let it stop his lifestyle. Lil Baby recently packed a venue full of celebrities to celebrate his girlfriends birthday. Rod Wave, MoneyBagg Yo, and Mulatto are continuing to perform at large shows to sold out audiences, most of whom can’t be seen wearing a mask.

According to Mayor Bottoms, Atlanta is currently in Phase 3 of the coronavirus opening plan, which states that all individuals need to keep trips outside limited, wear face masks, and social distance. Judging by these concert videos of huge crowds, it seems like these individuals aren’t following these guidelines. I shouldn’t have to explain why a huge crowd of people gathering together in a small space is completely unsafe. However, one may argue that ultimately the artists themselves aren’t forcing people to attend their concerts. It is the fans who decide to take the risk of attending a crowded show with no mask on. In addition, planning a show isn’t entirely on the artist themselves. The record label, the venue, and management all have a role in planning a show, and no one knows the pressure that may be put on these artists behind the senses.

Rapper Mulatto got into a public spat with the editor-in-chief of Affinity Magazine, Evelyn Woodsen, in defense of her behavior. In response to a tweet about celebrities doing paid club appearances during the pandemic, Eveylyn tweeted, “I think they’re stirring cause concerts and appearance is how the D list celebrities make money. Just saw Mulatto and Money Bag at a whole concert.. during a pandemic smh” 

Mulatto fired back in a series of tweets: “Yeah h*e ask what it took to get me out the house too! Im 21 and I take care of my whole family we sending money to 5 different states fuck yeah im still collecting mines.”

It’s understandable that many Americans have taken a hit financially as a result of the pandemic. People are getting laid off, and unemployment is at an all time high. Although many rappers try to separate themselves from the working class by promoting their lavish lifestyle, if this pandemic has proven anything, it’s that some of these rappers may be on the same boat as the rest of us. After all, would Mulatto or any other rapper feel the need to perform during such an unsafe environment if they didn’t desperately need the money?

I sympathize with these rappers’ effort to provide for their families. After all, many of the aforementioned artists come from humble beginnings, and probably have a lot of people who depend on them. Where I start to lose my sympathy however is when I realize that unlike your typical essential worker, rappers have more than one way to provide for themselves during this pandemic. 

Take ChloexHalle for example. The duo always had a solid fanbase, but that fanbase nearly doubled after the release of their sophomore album, “Ungodly Hour”. The combination of a consistent album rollout and a few creative at home performances has catapulted the pair into the spotlight. They are a great example of how musicians can still do what they love while keeping themselves and their fans safe.

Another alternative solution to satisfy the need for concerts in this pandemic are drive-in concerts. Even though Lil Baby isn’t a champion for social distancing, him and DaBaby are headlining a drive-in concert this month in Atlanta. When done right, drive-in concerts are another way for rappers to safely practice their craft.

All of these rappers have young fans, and while I do believe that it is the parent’s responsibility to regulate what media their children consume, what message are rappers sending when they promote their reckless lifestyle? While Mulatto, Rod Wave, City Girls, and others may have money and healthcare to fall back on if they get sick, many of their impressionable fans don’t. Proudly promoting their dangerous lifestyles and inviting fans to concerts could encourage fans to think that they can go out with no masks on and not receive any consequences.

By continuing to perform during a pandemic, artists are saying loud and clear that their fan lives are expendable for a quick check.


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