Social media has completely changed the way artists are able to interact with the public on a day-to-day basis, but while this direct connection has helped artists to expand their fanbase and speak directly to their biggest supporters, it can also cause way more trouble than a 140-character message is worth.
Case in point: On Wednesday evening (April 5), French Montana decided it was a good idea to respond to a negative, trollish tweet—that didn't even include his Twitter handle—by calling a young woman a "musty crusty dusty rusty ass hoe" with "nappy ass poetic justice braids."
Of course, with Twitter being Twitter, oversaturated, fake outrage over French's comment—which, incredibly, almost 12 hours later remains on his feed—began to sprout, which has turned a non-story into the No. 1 trending topic on the social media platform.
As someone who has been personally attacked on social media for my skin color (white), my religion (Jewish), my sex (male) and my age (32, but I feel 27), it's not hard to understand the backlash over French's racial, sexist, crude and derogatory remarks.
However, as Chicago emcee Mick Jenkins so eloquently pointed out in a stream of consciousness Twitter thread, French has actually said much worse about women—black women, specifially—in his music.
Mick's assessment of the situation is spot on—society as a whole is fundamentally hypocritical—but he doesn't delve into the why. Why are we consistently inconsistent when it comes to expressing shock and awe over hot-button topics? That answer is quite simple. While plenty of higher-profile artists have experienced backlash over controversial lyrics (seeRick Ross), by and large, tweets tend to drum up a larger outcry because it's easier to directly interact with them in real time.
When we're on social media and we see an offensive tweet, we can respond within seconds; nobody is walking out of the club at 1 a.m. when the DJ drops French's "Pop That" and he spits "Show me what you twerk with / Ass so fat need a lap dance" so that they can fire off an angry tweet.
For French, believe it or not, this is a huge win. More people are talking about him today on social media than they did when he released his last project, which, considering the shit show that followed that album, is quite impressive.
Welcome to the new age of artist publicity, where an ill-conceived, racist quote tweet— and subsequent apology—can produce enough social media impressions that the discussion surrounding the tweet becomes a story worth a think-piece.