Promoting last week’s East Side Music tour in Milwaukee, local hip-hop artist, Juiceboxxx, made an appearance on the local news. The interview was awkward, the quality of the performance was terrible, and the internet blew up. While the popularity of the video will actually probably help Juiceboxxx in the end, it’s a bit of a shame to see the knee-jerk reaction so many people had to a situation pretty well beyond his control. The incident demonstrated the ugliness that sometimes happens when artists get out of their niche and into the general public. After watching the video several times, looking at Juiceboxxx’s other performances and material, I compiled the top 5 lessons we can learn from the Juiceboxxx incident.
- People can’t differentiate technical problems from artistic problems: So many of the comments about the disaster talk about the terrible quality of the performance, but Juiceboxxx isn’t at all to blame for that. The station clearly didn’t mix the backing track high enough, there was absolutely no reverb, eq, or other basic processing on the vocal signal, and the earpiece monitor system didn’t look helpful. None of this has to do with the songwriting or performance. Musicians rely on the people behind the board to bring their art to life, and it takes a ton of dedication, talent, and good faith to battle on when the deck is stacked against you like that.
- Appearance Matters: Based on some comments, a lot of people knew they wouldn’t like the music just by looking at Juiceboxxx. He’s pale, goofy, and looks incredibly tired/and/or/stoned. There’s a reason most big-name performers are really, really ridiculously good looking. I wish it weren’t so, but <narcissism>with my healthy head of wavy dark hair, I’m not complaining</narcissism>.
- Impressions are Made Quickly: I’ll admit it, the first time I watched the video, I didn’t make it past 15-20 seconds of video. For me, it was partially out of embarrassment, and partially out of respect for Juiceboxxx (everybody has shows they wish people would just forget). Honestly though, he does overcome the technical problems and at least hones in on the tempo of the impossible-to-hear backing track as the video goes on. Most people didn’t even make it there, much less go on and listen to the studio version or other performances of the song.
- There Will Always Be a Generation Gap: Kids these days. Am I right?
- Haters Gonna Hate: People love to be critics. Tearing others down is many people’s only way to build themselves up. It’s sad but true.
I honestly don’t have much of an opinion on Juiceboxxx, but I know it certainly isn’t fair to form one after 20 seconds of a shoddily produced local tv. There’s not much an artist can do about most of the things on this list other than insist on better sound checks and more qualified staff to work with. Don’t fall into the trap, however, of blaming the sound guy for every show that doesn’t go over well. For the last two items on the list, the quicker you come to terms with and dismiss them, the better.
Keep at it, musicians. For all of the people out there just waiting to stomp all over you, there are at least a few of us digging in and giving you an honest shot.