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It is often believed that the career of a performer depends only on his/her talent. However, one should not disregard that the outcome greatly depends on the managerial skills of the artist and the promotion of his/her works.
Moreover, one should not disregard the cultural environment in which this person lives. This paper is aimed at discussing the careers of two successful performers, namely Michael Jackson and 50 Cent.
They represent dramatically different styles; in particular, pop-dance and hip-hop, but their careers have some common traits.
Certainly, these artists may differ in term of musical genre, style, and influence on other musicians; yet, by looking at their progress, one can see that the success of a performer can be attributed to talent, hard work, and the knowledge of the music industry.
Moreover, without managerial skills it may be difficult for them to rise to prominence. These are the main issues that one can identify.
The career of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson began his career in the early sixties when he was a member of the Jackson 5. This band was managed by Michael’s father, Joseph who attempted to promote the band.
One should point out that his musical career began at the time of the civil rights movement was very strong in the United States.
Certainly, one cannot say that his success can be attributed only to the social changes in the country; however, they removed various barriers that prevented many black artists from reaching the popular concert halls or signing contracts with recording studios.
The influence of social environment cannot be disregarded. Additionally, Michael Jackson grew up at the time when Black Arts Movement was extremely popular, and it was aimed at showing that African-American could invent their distinct culture and art.
In his turn, Michael Jackson strived to create his own original style that did not exist before and this style is one of his major achievements. Thus, social and cultural environment affected this artist.
He achieved recognition in the eighties when he became the symbol of an emerging musical style, called dance-pop. This style has such attributes as constant tempo, emphasis on grooves or beats, and catchy lyrics that is more likely to be remembered by listeners (Warner 2003, p. 15).
In the eighties, the name of Michael Jackson was associated with many successful songs and albums. In particular one can mention his studio album Thriller that still remains the best-selling album in the United States and all over the world (Hombach 2001, p. 97).
This album contains many successful songs; among them one can distinguish Billie Jean; this song was written and composed by Jackson. This song is blend of such styles as rhythm and blues (R&B) and dance-pop (Hombach 2001, p. 97).
This composition contains such elements as the unchanging drum beat, synthesizer bass, and chord progression. This song instantaneously achieved instantaneous critical and commercial success in part because of the short video which accompanied this song (Hombach 2001, p. 95).
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This video assisted the promotion of this single and contributed to its popularity. Furthermore, when performing this song, Michael Jackson popularized the famous moonwalk (Hombach 2001, p. 95).
On the whole, Billie Jean is an eloquent example of Jackson’s work because it demonstrates the diversity of his talents.
At this point, Michael Jackson is regarded as one of the most successful performer in the history of pop music. Since early eighties up to 2008, his songs and videos often received critical recognition.
To explain this success, one should speak about several things. First of all, Jackson was a diversely talented musician and performer. He could work in very different genres such as dance-pop, rhythm and blues, funk, and so forth.
Moreover, Michael Jackson was an excellent dancer who popularized the technique called the moonwalk.
Furthermore, one should not forget that Michael Jackson was an extremely talented composer and poet who wrote many of his songs. This is one of the reasons that explain the musical longevity of this artist.
Additionally, it is important to discuss Michael Jackson’s career from the standpoint of management and promotion. As many artists, Jackson had to rely on the assistance of other people who helped him establish contacts with record companies, producers, and other musicians.
At the beginning, Jackson was managed by his father Joseph. Moreover, one should take into account that Jackson has worked a prominent record producer Quincy Jones who promoted many artists like Ray Charles, Steve Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and many others.
His expertise was of great assistance to many performers. For instance, he was engaged in the production of the song Billie Jean. In his book Moonwalk, Michael Jackson recognizes the assistance of this person (Jackson 2009, p. 7). In other words, Quincy Jones assisted Jackson in achieving commercial success.
These examples indicate that a performer cannot always achieve success independently. He/she is assisted by producers, photographers, promoters, directors, choreographers and so forth.
In the course of his career, Michael Jackson was able to cooperate with the best professionals of the music industry. Such an opportunity was not available to many performers even if they were very talented. This is the key issue that should be taken into consideration.
50 Cent and his rise to prominence
The second artist that should be discussed is Curtis Jackson whose stage name is 50 Cent. He can rightly be viewed as one of the most successful rappers of the last decade along with Eminem. Unlike Michael Jackson, 50 Cent does not work in several musical genres; he is primarily a hip-hop performer who does not attempt to incorporate the techniques of other musician.
This genre is characterized by rhyming and rhythmic speech that may be accompanied by turntable beats, guitar riffs, synthesizer grooves and so forth (Brabazon 2011, p. 171). Curtis Jackson’s career started in 1996, when he began rapping with one of his friends.
It should be noted that 50 Cent was strongly affected by the cultural and social events of the early nineties. One of them was the war on drugs (Hagen 2004, p. 20). Such themes as violence, rejection of police, drugs play an important role in the songs of 50 Cents who often had problems with law-enforcement agencies.
So, it is possible to argue that Curtis Jackson was affected by the prominent events of that period and this influence was reflected in his lyrics.
It is also important to look at the landmark events in the career of this musician. He first released his song React in 1998, and this composition earned 50 Cent the reputation of a talented rapper, but it was not very successful from a commercial standpoint.
Overall, it was a very important step in his career many producers began to pay attention to his works. He achieved success in the music industry in 2001, when he began to work with Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg who promoted Eminem’s albums (Brown 2005, p. 127).
The cooperation with Paul Rosenberg was of great help to 50 Cent because this producer helped Jackson promote his albums and sign contracts with studios.
Moreover, with the assistance of Paul Rosenberg, 50 Cent managed to establish his own recording studio. On the whole, Rosenberg’s knowledge of music industry greatly assisted 50 Cent. This is another issue that people should not forget because an artist should possess managerial skills.
One of Jackson’s most successful albums is Get Rich or Die Tryin’ released in 2003. Many of its singles ranked very high in many charters. Among them, one can distinguish such a composition In Da Club (Brown 2005, p. 150).
It was written and composed by 50 Cent, Elizondo, and Dr. Dre (Brown 2005, p. 150). Therefore, unlike Michael Jackson, 50 Cent strongly relies on the cooperation with other musicians.
The song In Da Club was received very well by press and mass media. 50 Cent was praised by reviewers for his performing technique and musical accompaniment that included guitar riffs, horns and even organs.
Overall, one can argue that this song exemplified many typical features of hip-hop, but it also contains some distinctive elements, such as guitar riffs. This is why this song received recognition of critics and listeners. In part, due to this song, 50 Cent rose to prominence.
It has to be admitted that the popularity of 50 Cent cannot be compared to that one of Michael Jackson. 50 Cent can indeed be viewed as one of the most talented rappers, but he has never been called a king of a certain musical genre.
Michael Jackson has often been called the King of Pop, but one cannot say the same thing about 50 Cent. This is one of the main distinctions between them. Still, Curtis Jackson still remains a popular rapper whose compositions enjoy popularity among listeners, especially those ones who like hip-hop.
However, there are some similarities between Michael Jackson and 50 Cent and it is necessary to identify them. Both of them received the assistance of professionals who worked in the music industry.
Without the skills of such professionals, these artists might not have achieved critical and commercial success. Furthermore, both of them were affected by the social and cultural environment of that time. These are the main similarities between them.
Michael Jackson and 50 Cent definitely produced long-lasting effect on the musical genres in which they worked. They are viewed as role models for many aspiring musicians.
The success of these performers can be attributed to such factors as talent, and skillful management which are of great help to every person who works in the music industry. The discussion of these examples can be important for many musicians who attempt to achieve success.
Without knowledge of music industry, promotion, and managerial skills, they may not be able to attain popularity and recognition. In many cases, this outcome can be achieved only through cooperation with the best professionals.
Brabazon, T 2011, Popular Music: Topics, Trends & Trajectories, SAGE, New Haven.
Brown, J 2005, 50 Cent: No Holds Barred, Amber Books Publishing, Chicago.
Hagen, B 2004, The War on Drugs, GRIN Verlag, Chicago.
Hombach, J 2001, Michael Jackson King of PoP, Epubli, New York.
Jackson, M 2009, Moonwalk, Crown Archetype, New York.
Warner, T 2003, Pop Music: Technology and Creativity: Trevor Horn and the Digital Revolution, New York: Ashgate Publishing.