Tone Stith, a singer-songwriter signed to RCA Records, got some advice from Drake that he recently shared in a new interview with Vibe. While advice from Drizzy, a generational superstar without question, sounds like the jackpot of creative direction, the message Drake sent the upcoming R&B artist is a confused one.
"[Drake] said, ‘You have to know who are you each year because you got to follow what's going on for the generation to recognize it. You also have to be yourself.’" —Tone Stith
This advice is some of the most Drake advice there is, especially when we consider that every year Drake changes his sound and adapts to what is hot so he can stay relevant. 50 Cent, as we've covered, thinks this is genius. And for the most part, it is. This strategy works for Drake because he is a massive act. However, the second half of his advice—staying yourself—falls flat for this very reason.
Since Drake is such a big artist, it's very easy for him to suggest to a developing act to "be yourself" while also chasing what's hot. He doesn't have the added hurdle of getting heard to contend with. For Stith, and every artist in his peer group, there is the constant push and pull of wanting to create organically, but also having to craft something on-trend to get people's attention. At this stage in his career, Stith has to choose between himself and what's hot; trying to balance both is a fool's errand.
It's an unfair shake for upcoming artists, to be sure, but there is a nugget of gold in Drake's advice. That is, we can see the struggles of an indie and upcoming artist clearly through the lens of this suggestion, and we can appreciate the artists doing it their own way all the more. Sometimes, too, sticking to your guns works out: word to Monte Booker and Tyler, The Creator.