In my youth, at an arts centre where I spent a lot of time developing, there was a highly accomplished guitarist who gave regular classes. It was whispered to many of us that he had spent time socialising and possibly jamming with one of the most rich and famous musicians ever to emerge from the United Kingdom.
I was curious enough to want to find out more about this part of his back story. When I asked him, he said it was true. Obviously, I wanted to know what the experience was like. At this point in our conversation, the guitarist became cagey. He simply said “some of us eat to live, while others live to eat”.
Nothing was said about the creative energy of the celebrated artist, who presented ideas that attracted the interest of millions of people. I didn’t reflect on the reasons why the guitarist expressed such an opinion.
I am of the age group of those who were first attracted to the ideas of rappers and emcees. It might seem a lifetime ago when the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaata, Melle Mel and others were the big names in the genre. I could understand the reasons why those performers were lionised, as it was an era when something new was being created.
We didn’t realise that a time would come when the creativity of rhyming wordsmiths would be valued more in the record business than that of musicians who actually play instruments, but who knows what lies around the corner? The terms of reference could change yet again.