Image via Rap Genius

Image via Rap Genius


By Justin Charity

A common complaint is that I am a deluded fuckboy who rides Kanye West’s crotch as if it were warmed BMW leather. Allow me to answer and dismantle these allegations.

I’m Justin Charity, a staff writer at Complex.

Among the most vocally derisive readers of the Complex website, this complaint takes one of two forms, if not both forms: (1) we cover an artist uncritically, or (2) we cover an artist too much. Never mind the reality that the musicians we cover most frequently are true superstars who, in fact, get their fair share of criticism from me.

All the whining about clickbait and stanning and whatnot amounts to an ironic prophecy: a website obsessively covers a rock star, and then hundreds of dissenters flood the comments sections to complain about the abundance of such coverage, thus justifying the abundance of said coverage. Meanwhile, independent artists and niche musicians are frustrated with the scarcity of coverage they get from major websites.

I understand that frustration, and I sympathize. But covering unknowns and novice musicians is a greater investment of effort on my part, and with way less immediate rewards. When I watch young, independent artists with great (or at least tentative) interest, trust that I’m writing about them as frequently as I can afford to. That’s word to Chris Crack, who drops dope verses on a weekly basis.

But here’s the thing:

A successful website publishes articles that people want to read.

Music fans and random bloggers can agree that people generally enjoy hearing, watching, and reading about Kanye West.


Artists, managers, and publicists frequently misunderstand—don’t bother to understand, I should say—why writers cover what we do, and why we don’t invest significant chunks of our schedules in covering untested artists who’ve yet to develop an audience for their music, much less an audience for news coverage of their music.

Celebrity fixation isn’t new, and it’s hardly unique to music blogging. If you scan the headlines at Slate or The Daily Beast frequently enough, you’ll notice that these websites catalog every minutiae of President Obama’s life and travels. In the past couple weeks, news websites have produced millions of words about Hillary Clinton’s mobile email preferences. Entire news cycles have been driven by the color of Barack Obama’s suit. Millions of readers care about these god-level politicians, so dozens of publications jockey for coverage of their every move.

The media is trifling and occasionally annoying, but really, who gives a shit? Just ignore it.

Artists, managers, and publicists frequently misunderstand—don’t bother to understand, I should say—why writers cover what we do, and why we don’t invest significant chunks of our schedules in covering untested artists who’ve yet to develop an audience for their music, much less an audience for news coverage of their music.

Kanye West doesn’t have this problem, of course. Tens of thousands of readers will flock to a news post about hacker group Anonymous’ trolling Kanye West with a seven-minute video that insults Kanye’s wife and the memory of Kanye’s mother. This story (which, as I’m writing this, is the hottest story on Complex) will drive huge amounts of traffic to our website because it is, indeed, a briefly interesting development. Readers will watch this insane video, and that traffic will help several music publications keep the lights on so that we can also write about, you know, music.

We write about Kanye West because we generally find him and his music fascinating, and because his fanbase is millions of people who are likewise fascinated by him.

In contrast, in lesser cases, when a musician with a low-profile in their city and negligible buzz among young fans asks me to post their new song, or to review their new mixtape, they’re aimless and ahead of themselves. First, hone your craft. Cultivate your fanbase. Grow and build. Show and prove. Bloggers will follow.