The internet has snatched power from the mighty and handed it down to the ‘powerless’. Everyone today now has a voice, and this has created a system where anyone with a modicum of talent can stand up, cough into a mic, gather a huge following and in a couple of weeks attain the coveted “icon” tag.
That isn’t the worrisome part. This is.
The aforementioned ‘icon’, being backed by a questionable bunch of social media heavy weights, is given without recourse the most coveted title in music history; the individual is tagged a “Legend!”.
Never in the history of mankind has the word ‘Legend’ been abused as it is this generation. Internet fame, popularity and access to numbers has blurred the lines of success and excellence. So I drew up a well-researched list to help correct this worrisome trend and to put some other minds at ease.
What really makes one a legend?
Is it the number of his followers, the amount of awards credited to him, the duration of his career or eccentricity of his style?
Attaining the legend status takes more than just talent. One solid fact of attaining the legendary status is that you must be talented, or at least be ahead of the pack. But talent alone on its own has never made anybody a legend.
Here are 3 distinct features (not in any way exhaustive) that marks one as a true legend, as far as music is concerned.
1. Distinct Style: Legends go the path less traveled and even when they go along familiar paths, they take the most unconventional routes, either in delivery, act, art or in expression. No one becomes a legend hiding behind the shadow of another. Naturally, legends are pacesetters, they are brave, daring and people with strong convictions. In cases where someone else has set the pace, legends go on to change and transform an existing genre eternally be it in delivery, style or expression. In so doing, they become the new goal or finishing point that all other upcoming acts desire.
2. Influence: To become a legend you must be bold, strong and unflinching in your message and voice. Legends are inspirational, they are points of inspiration to all, they hold a voice that shakes the world before and after them. They are real and authentic, real enough to become focal points and culture shapers. Most legends stand for a cause; they always raise their voices beyond music, to whatever it is they believe in unapologetically. From socially-conscious causes like racism, good governance, advocacy, self-image, equality, feminism or less strong opinions representing something their followers and fans stand for like sex, drugs, culture, travel etc.
3. Consistency: To become a legend, you must be consistent, prolific and unswerving in your style, your voice and what you stand for. Staying consistent emphasizes you and keeps you distinct among your counterparts. The duration of one’s consistency plays a role in marking him a legend. Legends are not built in one day. One of the marks of being a legend is unflinching influence crossing over generations, reaching both old and young by virtue of their consistency.
Being a legend may sometimes mean not being the most successful or the most loved, but it without a doubt leaves you with an indelible mark; a mark that has tainted everyone who has dared to walk this path.
It leaves you unforgettable.