A-Trak Delivers Much-Needed Advice for Artists Caught Up in the Numbers Game

“Focus on making great art, keep your head down and have fun with it too.”
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What are we talking about when we talk about Nicki Minaj? This week, it seems we are mostly talking about her reaction to Queen debuting at No. 2 as opposed to No. 1, and the string of inflamed tweets blaming all sides of the industry that followed. 

While everyone rushes to deliver this Nicki take, A-Trak tweeted out some measured perspective on the negative consequences of the numbers game in music.

Across his thread, A-Trak harps on the unhealthy obsession we have all developed with numbers, be it sales or RIAA certifications or social media followers. From fans to outlets, no one is absolved of making the numbers game an essential element of the rap game. Though hip-hop is innately competitive, there are real people attached to these records, and as A-Trak points out, constant comparisons can weigh heavily on an artist’s psyche.

“Everyone compares themselves to others, numbers are given way too much importance, there's insane pressure and it's extremely unhealthy,” A-Trak writes, and he’s entirely correct. Of course, Nicki Minaj’s recent behavior is not simply a consequence of focusing too heavily on the numbers, but we can all agree her obsession over sales is partly a catalyst for her naming a “Hoe N***a of the Week” on her radio show.” No one wakes up that disgruntled.

The best takeaway here is what A-Trak communicates in his last tweet: don’t forget that art exists as expression, as a piece of yourself. Artists should never create for the sake of riling up their clout, and when they do, fans can tell. Of course, money and security matter, but neither will last if the music does not come from an organic place.

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