I feel as though I have to throw in my observation of Robin Thicke, especially in light of the fact that he & Pharrell had to give up $7.3M to Marvin Gaye’s estate. Can you remember a time where a song provided an artist with his greatest triumph & his worst nightmares all in one fell swoop like this? Blurred Lines has become Robin’s Gift and his Curse. I want to insert you, the reader, in Thicke’s shoes for a moment.
You’re the son of a famous 80’s actor who stepped out into a different avenue altogether to become an R&B singer. You marry your high school sweetheart (the beautiful Paula Patton) whose dream is to become an actress. Together you both embark upon a journey to make it in your respective fields. Your wife starts to acquire great roles that help her become somewhat of a movie star, acting alongside a variety of people, from Andre 3000 & Big Boi (Idlewild) to Denzel Washington (Deja Vu). You break into the R&B market as a white soul singer; casts your wife as your leading lady in your video “Lost Without You” which wins the approval and hearts of women everywhere. Your buzz starts to grow bigger. You do a couple of collabos with Lil’ Wayne, and put out a couple more hot singles & albums, & the black community continues to appreciate your work even further. You’ve basically become this generation’s Jon B. Everything goes a step further when you accept a role on your friend, Kevin Hart’s mock-reality TV show, “The Real Husbands of Hollywood.” Nobody sees the potential you have to hang with the other actors & comedians on the set. Not only do you hold your own, but you become one of the most favorite and memorable characters of Season 1. On top of that, the frenemy dynamic with Kevin Hart at times takes the show to an whole other level than we ever imagined. The episode where you get so angry at Kevin for stealing your “Lost Without You” song and video, all the while continuing to make comments of him wanting to steal your wife, & instead of turning into The Hulk, turns into a big, buffed out angry Black man, is probably one of the funniest things seen on TV since The Chappelle Show. Even though your career has been pretty successful thus far, you still haven’t had that major hit that maybe one day would take you over the top.
Then Blurred Lines entered your life.
You collaborate with Pharrell & T.I., making a fun party record, sounding like everyone is having a good time while its being recorded. It’s a record that brought a different sound than what you would normally record. The song sounds great & you figure this could be the early-bird type of single that can start generating a buzz for your new album in the future. You release it, and within weeks, the buzz starts to mushroom. It takes over all the important music charts in the U.S., then Canada., then London, Spain, Italy, China, etc. It has not only become one of the hottest records in the world at the moment, but it might be the best R&B song that came out this decade. Every man, woman, and child, every race, every young teen demo, every senior citizen demo, and everyone in between LOVES your song. And just like that, you’ve finally obtained your major smash hit, and you’ve turned into a superstar.
Would you like to come back for Season 2 of RHOH? “Uhhhh, no thanks!”
Would you like to do exclusive interviews with people like Oprah Winfrey? “Uhhh, you mawfuckin’ riiiight!”
You went from watching these big time music award shows to now you and your wife are sitting front row, and you’re one of the performers the world tunes it to watch. It reaches its full apex when Miley Cyrus brings you on stage to perform Blurred Lines on the VMAs & decides to “Twerk” on you (if you want to call it that) while rubbing your genitals with a foam finger. The whole world goes “Andre is off his meds again” crazy…. & you’re just riding the tidal wave of fame and success. Now women (who know you have a beautiful wife at home) are throwing themselves, their bras, and their panties at your every step in every part of the world. Man, it’s getting hard to turn all this down. You start getting a lil’ handsy & comfortable at some of these after parties & the social media agents start taking & sending pictures. The wife who’s nowhere near you, keeps hearing these rumors and seeing these images & starts to flip out.
Now, no one really knows for sure what really happened between you & your wife, whether you cheated on her or not, but now your marriage is getting more blurry than your eyes after going hard in bottle service. Your wife, your friend & someone who’s been there for you for almost twenty years is about to leave. The one song that you’ve been waiting for your whole career is now cracking at your foundation. You start to panic. You start rushing an album basically begging your wife to come back….
*** Cue the Announcer ****
“And that’s when ‘Keeping it Real’ goes wrong”
Let’s step out of his shoes for one second…..
What Robin Thicke did was a huge no-no as an R&B male singer. The demographic who support his craft (i.e. Women between the ages of 18-40) want to always feel like he’s singing to or about them, not someone else. It doesn’t matter if he’s married or not. Even if the material he’s singing about is about his wife, it has to be done in a way that feels like it could easily be about them too. Usher’s, “Here I Stand” album was a peek into his progress as a husband, a father, and a family man……but no one was trying to hear about his stable family unit after “Confessions.” That album was fun, drama-filled, and salacious, mixed with great production. It’s probably not a coincidence that he released “Papers” as his first track once the “Here I Stand” album cycle ran its course. He still wanted to air out his business, but to also pick momentum back up from where he left “Confessions.” It’s a slightly twisted view, sure, but it’s a reality. Once an artist reaches that high, no one wants to see them seem weak, especially immediately after that life-changing success of a song/album. Even if they just want their wife back. If it comes off looking desperate while doing it, it’s even worse. What does desperation & ignoring the fantasies of your fan base look like when you mix them together?
Look at him. Head down, all somber, looking like he’s going to weep as soon as he’s off-camera with all the colors following him like the trail of a wedding dress. I’m sure his management team must have spent weeks double-fisting bottles of Hennessey and Grey Goose. After all the goodwill Robin collected in the last 15 months, he basically punted it all away with a “Baby, Baby please!” album to your estranged wife (with her name on it to make sure there’s no mistake who it’s about) and their eroding relationship that’s been in the news for months, & essentially putting his
shit-stained boxers dirty laundry all over the boulevard for the neighbors to see. He should be getting paid by Jerry Jones, not Jimmy Iovine.
Ok, let’s step back into his shoes again…..
Predictably, you release “Get Her Back” off of your dedication album. Surprisingly, it doesn’t go over so well. You then release “Paula”, and your album tanks hard (24,000 1st week sales) officially killing any leftover momentum of “Blurred Lines.” The fame from this song has started to become the bane of your existence. If this wasn’t bad enough, along comes the Gaye family with claims that your biggest song sounds a lot like their Father’s biggest song, & since you didn’t get proper permission, you “Got to Give It Up” to the estate. It doesn’t matter if you were influenced by the man and/or the legendary song itself, the family wants their money, their cut, and for you to never perform the song again. You try to fight it out in court, but eventually you lose the case (that you’re trying to appeal). Within the same time frame that your divorce is settled, you now have to kick out $7.3M, a number so startling that you start flirting with the idea of calling your Dad & Kirk Cameron to get together and do a remake of Growing Pains just to recoup the lost monies.
Now that you have some perspective & have taken a look back at your career leading up to Blurred Lines, the incredible peaks that the song took your career to, the depressing valleys you slid down into that sacrificed your family, putting “Paula Patton” back on the market again, and your career is now as hot as an ice bucket challenge……
……. If you had the chance to do the Blurred Line experience over again, don’t you have to have yes?
**** Removing shoes ****
In any facet of life, how do you know how far you can go, and how far you can stretch your talents and abilities to unless you reach for the ceiling? Once you do, you have to deal with the hurdles, obstacles, &/or temptations that may come with that success sometimes, and then deal with them accordingly. Once this opportunity came and Blurred Lines became what it became, Robin had to exhaust all ways to maximize on it. Could Robin have better handled the success that came with the biggest song of his career? Sure. Could he have maybe cleared it somehow with the Gaye estate just to make absolute sure he had no issues going forward? Yes. Hindsight always comes with perfect vision, and everyone can master his moves after the fact, but as long as you understand that it would be a complete disservice to his career had he not gone through his Blurred experience. He could have continued on with his career hitting doubles and singles like some average light-hitting baseball player & stayed where he was. If that was as far as he wanted to take things, then fine. But what if he knew he could hit that home run? Once he got the right pitch (song) and he know it could be knocked out of the park, doesn’t he have to swing for it, knowing that he’s going to run on the bases of temptation, vices, and pressures before he reaches home? It’s the gift and the curse of success…. and it doesn’t always come with a blueprint to navigate through it. It might be a shame what happened to Robin after that song came and went, but unfortunately that’s the price that comes with taking that bat off your shoulders. Knowing how to jog on the bases sometimes is just as important as taking the swing, so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from everything moving forward.
Cal Cee // South Shore Ave
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