Image control is a big thing when I think about the industry of music. As much as we can drop this all on Hip-Hop we can say they all have the prat falls of image and more so than ever since the whole "Punk" thing seems to be big, at least the other genre's interpretation on it. For hip hop it has been the whole "Nerd" thing (which I have rashed on) or "Freeks" or whatever, and for rock being it's always been edgy it seems it more turning groups non edgy more edgy and the random more weird (Avil Levegne, Lady Gaga, etc). While some might scoff at the comparison Punk became thugy at a point after some time. Previously we had the Clash and Elvis Costello, who rocked bright colors and suits. Of course everything overlaps and has since day one. Monae is awesome and I like Rianna at times (I'm not big on her singing but she has an it factor that makes you want to like her), They both are products of intermeshing styles of many. This goes along with race as well with more integrated groups being recognizable even though it's been that way forever. Whites have been in hip hop since the start, word to Rick Rubin (A rock genius) Beastie boys, 3rd Bass and whatever too, rock and punk bands like Fishbone, Bad Brains, even mid modern like Hootie and the Blowfish, to right now.
The point Im looking at though is was it decided by the musicians, the fans, the current times or the A&Rs who have to foresee the change in what's the hot shit. While I dig the Neptune's I think they created a Frankenstein monster with the style that came of Pharelle and Ashton Kutcher rocking trucker hats. One Lil Wayne adopted it the whole style thing changed.
It looked more like it started for wanting to jump on a steeze that would carry over, the producers saw it and out goes the baggies in come the skinny jeans. I have never worn anything under my ass ever because I had enough fam and friends in Prison to tell me what it actually means...Surprise Butsecks!
Anyway while I may not like some stuff I wont bad on it because people have used that to express personal style and I have done it too. I am however impressed by people who made they own thing and controlled it. Many times what you do dictates who you are. If you a female rapper and you rock the hip hop gear and stray away from sex your automatically labeled as gay. Being gay aint bad if thats your thing, but being labeled by dress code aint. Some are but many haven't actually spoke on it. I know Jean Grae probably has been labeled a lesbian but she was engaged to a man at one point.
One person who strikes me as amazing is Erica Badu. She has changed her image a ton of times and had everything thrown at her, but for the most part in all her work she has directed her audiences focus and each time with stunning results. Think about it. In an industry caught up in sex she managed for years to keep the focus on her music and the image she is working at the time and less of her ass. (and she is mighty healthy too.)
In one random dude conversation About hot singers bodies I said her and all my friends looked puzzled. I said go on google and all of them said "Ohhhh........ DAMN!" You have control when you can get an entire room of sex hungry dudes to not notice you have a nice kiester. She took a loss due to window seat but she managed to get enough neg press to make it positive and re-introduce herself to a younger audience, and you got to consider what pop, i.e. popular music is in comparison to someone who has a voice and style closer to Nina Simone than Gwen Stefani. Thats image control.