Published on March 21st, 2012 | by 3G0
Response to a Deadma5 Rant: The Cost of Musical Collaboration
Deadmau5 recently made headlines after posting a long rant on his Tumblr detailing his reluctance to participate in pop-collaborations during a time that many commentators see as a “boom” period for electronic music. It’s no question in the past few years, producers of electronic music have found an increasing popularity in the States due almost entirely to their collaborations (the only real exceptions to this fact are Deadmau5 himself and Skrillex the producer who garnered popularity by pioneering his own brand of music “brostep” which continues to find popularity among college frat boys). But for producers not named Deadmau5 or Skrillex, the easiest way to squeeze onto the pop-charts is simply to collaborate with a B-List pop singer. David Guetta figured this out early on when his song “Sexy Chick” broke into the US mainstream in 2009 with the help of Akon, ultimately reaching the 5th spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Other popular European producers quickly followed suit. Tiesto collaborated with the underground hip hop Three 6 Mafia in December of the same year. Collaborations have even brought relatively unknown, mediocre producers into the mainstream. Producers such as Benny Benassi (who found moderate success with the track “Beautiful People,” his collaboration with popular sub-human domestic abuser Chris Brown) now get to enjoy some level of mainstream U.S. success.
Deadmau5 seems to believe that collaborations like these would compromise his art. In many ways, this is true. He’s right when he states that having a “******* Dip**** blab (on top of his pieces) about lookin sexy, poppin bottles, “droppin bass” would twist the meaning and feelings right out of the original composition.
For example, listen to Tiesto and Diplo’s song “C’mon” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CN9nFNd3zqk. Now listen to it with Busta Rhymes rapping on top of it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6SSTMpIRFI. I’m sure most people would admit that Busta Rhyme’s lyrics make the track feel a tad claustrophobic giving the actually music of the piece little room to shine. The focus of the song is now entirely on the lyrics, rendering whatever thoughts and feelings you had about it before Busta Rhyme’s rap mute. Busta Rhyme’s doesn’t ruin the track his presence certainly doesn’t enhance it either.
Deadmau5 concludes his rant by saying that since music is meant to provoke thought and feeling the lyrics that are sung/spoken/rapped/spat/screamed over the music should as well. I’m going to conclude this essay with the same argument but with a small post script. An artist who cares about his image should be weary about who he or she collaborates with. Deadmau5 wants to be taken seriously and wants people to attempt to derive more meaning from his tunes than “Clubbing.” That is admirable.
However, let’s be honest, unlike Deadmau5. Benny Benassi and David Guetta are not “serious” artists” and are in no danger of being exploited by the popular club scene. They MAKE music for the club scene and let’s face it, that scene is all about “lookin sexy, poppin bottles, “droppin bass.” Expecting anything more than this from them is frankly stupid. Deadmau5 I’m assuming, wants to make “intelligent dance music” and that’s fine, but I mean, are you really going to want to think about “The Veldt” (the inspiration for this rant) while on the dance floor? Of course not, you’re just going to want to look sexy, pop bottles, and drop a bass or two.