• Savannah Zachary

Musicians who Produce Great Music but Are Horrible People: A Brief Look at Tay-K & Others

Hey, guys! This week’s song recommendation is “Show Me Up” by Lil Tecca. Tecca doesn’t often rap over slower beats, so “Show Me Up was definitely a treat. Also, the song was leaked not that long ago. Usually leaked songs take forever to actually get put on a streaming service, but Tecca put the song on his Spotify less than a month after the leak blew up. I’ve never seen a turnover that fast, and it was really satisfying to finally be able to put the song on my playlist. Anyway, on to rappers that have committed crimes and the reactions from their fanbases to it.

Bobby Smurda, the rapper who made the song “Hot N****,” got out of jail two months ago, and it got me thinking about other rappers that have been incarcerated. In particular, I’m going to look at rappers that have been charged with homicide such as Tay-K and YNW Melly, and why their fans still chant for each rapper’s freedom, even after finding out about the horrible crimes they committed. When their cases broke the news, “#FreeTayK” and “#FreeMelly” began trending on Twitter. This theme of rappers being treated lightly by their fans when they do something horrible is common in the rap genre, and I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out why, but I can’t put my finger on it.

The most vivid memory I have of this occurrence is when Tay-K’s “The Race” quickly blew up out of nowhere in 2017, and fans flocked to support him despite Tay-K’s horrid past. Tay-K was found guilty of murder in 2016 on top of three aggravated robbery charges. When he was put on house arrest prior to the conviction, he cut off his ankle monitor and fled to New Jersey.

While on the run from the cops, he filmed his music video for “The Race,” which features him posing with a wanted poster of himself. After three months on the run, the cops caught up to him, and he was later sentenced to 55 years in prison. Even after the culmination of Tay-K’s actions, however, fans were still advocating for his freedom.

The lyrics to “The Race” were used against Tay-K in court, and, honestly, Tay-K makes some of the most violent music I’ve ever heard. His 10-track album titled “#Santana World (+)” is only 20 minutes long, but Tay-K’s wordplay is egregiously clever. For only being 16 at the time of its recording, he made an album that is a solid piece of work. A lot of newer rappers have terrible mixing, but his producers did a pretty good job, and I find myself going back to this album every once in a while.

Tay-K tends to rap over heavy, melodic beats with heavy 808s that create a moody atmosphere along with the already vulgar lyrics that he spits (for example “M….She Wrote”). “The Race” still features one of my favorite flute samples in rap besides Drake’s “Portland.” I listen to the entire spectrum of rap regularly, and Tay-K has always topped my list as somebody with the most vicious lyrics with 21 Savage a close second behind.

Occurrences like Tay-K’s happen often within rap; I have just chosen his story to focus on because it sparked a lot of attention in the news and because I vividly remember it unfolding. Even though Tay-K has good music, that fact CLEARLY does not exempt him from facing the consequences of his crimes. You can’t “#free” somebody from a prison sentence, and, even if you could, having a convicted murderer walking around freely is not a very good idea. People still pushed, tweeting, “Free TayK he didn’t do anything wrong” when he quite literally did everything wrong. I hate how when rappers get charged with a crime, people often flock to support them rather than condemn them for what they did.

This phenomenon, I have noticed, really only happens with musicians. If a politician or doctor had done what Tay-K did, there would be nobody supporting them. The question, however, still lingers: How come a rapper can be the worst type of person but still have a fan base? The common denominator here seems to be that if the artist creates good music (which is up to interpretation for each individual listener), people will still listen to their music. People tend to have a really hard time letting go of a particular song or artist that they like a lot. For example, Brockhampton (a boyband) and Brent Faiyaz (a R&B Artist) fans decide to consume their music even though both of them have a controversial past. Music decorates our memories, and having to break that association is burdensome but absolutely necessary. There are so many musicians that put out amazing music but are horrible people. At what point do you draw the line?