Integrity may well be everything. In hip-hop, a genre that's founded on storytelling and authenticity, the hope is that you live what you write, or at least, are in the same sphere as what you write.
In a new interview with French outlet Oklm, Quality Control artist Lil Baby explained why it's OK for rappers to tell "little" lies to secure the bag—just don't promote something entirely outside of your experiences.
"I don't agree with doing anything to get money," Lil Baby said. "But I feel like, if you could find a way to get you some money by telling a little lie and selling something, it's more being an actor. And rapping is a profession, so it's business. But, what I don't agree with is, promoting the wrong type of stuff or promoting something that you won't do. Promoting violence, promoting stuff that you don't even know about, promoting drugs you never heard of. That's the internet rapper that I don't agree with"
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While it's true that hip-hop is a profession and that some embellishments have never hurt anyone, Lil Baby brings a mature perspective to the notion of promoting the life you aren't living. That is to say, Baby is right in that there's a razor-thin line between increasing business and going against your lived experience.
There must be a way to add flourishes to music without also flat out lying or taking on a persona that is entirely removed from the artist. Of course, you don't have to live in every bar, but there needs to be some philosophical consistency between the mask the artist wears and the person they are underneath. Besides, when an artist is peddling something inauthentic, the listener can usually tell.
Follow the Lil Baby formula here, and your music will be better for it.