In 2017, it's easier than ever before to become a rapper. But just because someone can rap doesn't mean they have what it takes to make a long-lasting career for themselves in the music business. For every JAY-Z, there is a Charles Hamilton, for every Kendrick Lamar, there is a MIMS.
There are a million reasons why one artist will achieve longevity in the music business while another will be here today gone in a matter of minutes, but setting aside actual talent and financial backing, long-term success begins and ends with a key understanding of whether or not you're a career artist or a "moment" artist.
In a new interview with HardKnockTV, Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae, who later this summer will release his eighth studio album in the past 10 years, explained the difference between the two.
"A lot of times, artists don't see themselves as expendable, like an athlete," said the 37-year-old Houston native, adding, "In a lot of ways, like, you only have a window. Some people can be career artists, and do this like U2 all the way until the end of time, like JAY-Z, but a lot of people have a moment. You've gotta maximize that moment."
While there's nothing wrong with seizing a moment and striking it big while the proverbial iron is hot, artists often mistakenly believe they are career artists when they are actually "moment" artists, piddling away all of their income because they think more will forever be on the way.
"A lot of dudes just run out and spend that first royalty check on a necklace and a car and it's like, they haven't created any kind of legacy, any kind of foundation," Lecrae continued. "I think it's important to be in control of some of that and not have the major labels, so to speak—and I won't demonize 'em, you just have to know how to use 'em properly—have all of the control, have all the collateral. I want my kids to be able to walk into something, be able to own something when it's all said and done."
Now ask yourself this: Which artist do you expect to still be making noise in five years?