Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Alter Ego of the True Artist

“Hip-hop avoids extinction by reinventing itself and challenging convention”.“Eminem primarily uses his alter-ego Slim Shady to manufacture this aura (a credible and indestructible aura).  Slim Shady is someone inaccessible and elusive, someone highly valued but who is also both deceptive and untouchable” according to this scholarly paper. Marcia Dawkins proceeds to conclude that Eminem has created success for himself by using an alter-ego.  “At times that call for serious and contemplative biographical speech aimed at white males, he refers to himself by his birth name, Marshall Mathers.  At times when he negates or excludes hip-hop Others (e.g., homosexuals, women, himself, and other white men) he invokes humor and horror, often dresses in drag, and always inhabits his alter-ego pop persona of Slim Shady. In battle raps, hip-hop’s traditional rhetorical situations in which he struggles for street credibility and is the Other, he refers to himself as Eminem". This gives Eminem multiple dimensions and maybe even allows for different types of people to relate to him on different levels, therefore creating increased potential for success and record sales.
Many of you might be thinking “this sounds extremely familiar”.  Nicki Minaj seems to have successfully mastered this concept of alter-egos with her rap career as well.  Cookie, Nicki Minaj, Nicki the Harajuku Barbie, and Roman Zolanski, her twin brother, are all alter-egos that the megastar has discussed in countless interviews.  These many alter-egos have allowed for her to reach various audiences in the market from teenage girls (Barbie) to middle-aged men.  What a great way to create a group of people (boy/girl band) without having to share royalty checks with them all and later declare bankruptcy after major label advances need to be repaid.
 Lady Gaga has been said to appear as Jo Calderone as her alter-ego.  Many have guessed Bob Dylan or Bob Geldof, but her true alter-ego is said to be French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg according to this article. This individual brands himself often with “the cigarette, unkempt hair, stubble, and sideburns”. This performer often pushed the envelope much like Gaga. International Business Times goes on further to describe a life very similar to Gaga’s for Gainsbourg, where he worked at a bar before he recorded his first debut in 1958.  It took 10 years for him to top charts and be recognized for his art.  If anyone has read up on Gaga’s story, they would find out that she too worked in a bar before being discovered. So we can see why Lady Gaga would choose such a fitting alter-ego to portray. 
Let’s not forget the most popular alter-ego of today’s music, Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce.  Sasha Fierce was created by Beyonce and is said to be her persona while on stage, especially after her last World Tour in 2009.  Sasha Fierce was created to protect the “real Beyonce” while at work.  This is much different from Mariah Carey’s emancipation of Mimi, also discussed in this article, which was created to release the “real Mariah Carey”, the fun side of Mariah Carey. 
Whatever the purpose of the alter-ego, it almost always seems to help the career of the individual "temporarily altered".  Spectators can't seem to get enough of entertainers who claim to house an alter-ego, always looking to sneak a peak of it unexpectedly. Even recently, Adele has revealed her Beyonce-inspired alter ego, Sasha Carter. We all know that Adele needs no help in her career at the moment, but one article says she uses hers to psych herself up right before her shows. Maybe in order tap into an incredible artist within you, a transformation must knowingly take place.  Whether or not it is an alter-ego does not matter; Michael Jackson was one of the greatest entertainers on Earth, but he didn’t have to coin himself an alter-ego for people to understand, we just knew that Michael onstage was different from Michael off the stage



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