• Thato Mathebula


Denzel Washington, Robert De Niro and Regina King are just a few names likely to receive praise for acting as multiple characters in different films. Being versatile and getting out of your comfort zone as an actor to play different characters in different films is what makes actors/actresses receive attention and opportunities to act in more movies.

It is a form of currency in the world of acting , essentially you are investing into a fictional or real character and portraying that character as best as you can by capturing the audiences attention,imagination and evoking emotion by embodying and being that character to the best of your ability.

It is more than just repeating the script for that character, in some way it is becoming them and making everybody believe that you are them, that nobody else could’ve played that role but you. Well for great actors at least that’s the case.

Music on the other hand is very similar to films in the sense that the artist is expressing their experiences, lifestyle and current stage in life more especially in hip hop. However the difference is that in rap music there seems to be an emphasis on the stories being authentic, relatable and most importantly real. Fictional stories and being a fictional character do not seem to resonate with the culture and if that is the case usually there is a level of credibility that is lost by the artist.

This is probably because of where hip-hop culture comes from in terms of individuals who transcended the music such as NWA, Public Enemy, Wu tang clan and many others. They all had elements of rebellion in their character and made music that the culture could relate to at the time which made them real and relatable.

Hip hop has evolved and there are multiple different sub genres and roles to accommodate different types of artists. You don’t have to be a gangster rapper or be from the hood to succeed in hip hop. One thing remains the same regardless of the type of audience you are trying to communicate with whether that’s gangster rap, trap, conscious rap, melodic or boom bap, authenticity and relatability remain key.

Many examples can be referenced from the 90’s about rappers who paid the price for being fictional characters most notably Tupac Shakur whose murder has been a mystery for almost 25 years. Many say Tupac ended up living a life of violence and got involved in street life he did not fully understand and have control of leading to his demise. Most people will agree that Tupac was one of the realest to ever do it with a powerful and beautiful message but were those fictional elements of his lifestyle his ultimate downfall?

In 2021 should artists be fully transparent about their truths or are we moving into an era where that is not of importance in an ever-evolving world?. Should musicians be free to experiment with a fictional approach? We’ll let you decide. Look out for this week’s podcast episode.

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