Hop off the dills: three ways to “Stan” less

 Eminem "Stan"/Interscope Records

Eminem "Stan"/Interscope Records

 Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole have been two of my favorite hip-hop artists from the new school for quite some time now. Their meticulous attention to detail when it comes to lyrics is one of the main reasons why I enjoy them. Living in a bubble offline, I honestly thought there was a general consensus that yes, these are 2 of the most elite spitters in the game at the moment.  It goes without saying that a bubble or a particular pocket is never representative of the opinion of the masses.

While I shared the same views on this opinion with a majority of my friends in real life, Twitter and the rest of social media informed me (and constantly reminded me, even to this day) that unwavering love for these 2 rappers isn't universal. I came to the full realization of this around Winter 2014/Spring 2015 when 2014 Forest Hills Drive and To Pimp A Butterfly were released. The world, especially when it comes to music, will never be 100% in agreement about any one thing. That being said, I have never in my life seen such a polarizing disparity of opinions for one album, let alone two.

The judgment that was reined down split people into 2 camps: CLASSIC or TRASH. A middling stance will leave you complicit in the eyes of the opposing party, regardless of side. I genuinely believe that the former opinion begets the latter. Rabbid fans declaring something as a classic only 20 minutes after it drops can rub some casual observers the wrong way. It's not a crime to enjoy either project, but the amount of condescending "your favorite could never go platinum without any features" or "this album is a masterpiece that's too complex for your feeble mind" takes are absurd and off-putting. Hyping up your favorite artist isn't the problem, but forcing someone to like something you do but they don't will get you tagged as annoying. Excessively doing so will get you labeled as a "Stan."

Indirectly created by Eminem with the video of his single off The Marshall Mathers LP, Stans are overzealous advocates. Advocates that will never admit the people they Stan for have or ever will make a mistake. We're all guilty of it from time to time when it comes to our favorite musicians, especially after an anticipated project lives up to the hype.

We all want to share this brand new sound that we enjoy with as many people as possible, but some of us go a little too overboard with being a fanatic. Sometimes, people need to reel back their overbearingly strong opinions and let others form their own opinion.

Here are a few ways that people can catch themselves, regroup, and "Stan" less:

Acceptance

A general rule that's applicable to most things in life: not everyone is gonna fuck with the thing (s) that you really care about. The quicker you realize this, the better. The energy that was spent crafting a maxed out 280 character, 7 tweet thread, professing your argument for why "Artist X" is dope, only to be quote tweeted with a "lol," can be allocated in a more productive way.

A friend of mine a while back brought up a good point about liking something that's perceived to be "legendary." We were choppin' it up about music and came to the topic about classics. My homie said something to the effect of "I can recognize that Metallica is considered a legacy act and I understand why people love them...but that doesn't mean that I have to like them."

Stans have a mentality where "because this meets the threshold of acceptance for me, the rest of the world must love it too." That is far from the case. As a product of being shaped by different life experiences, people are different and complex. So are their barometers of "good." Some people value melody over lyrics. Some people value lyrics over production. There is no right or wrong answer as to why someone's not feeling a song an artist or an entire discography. A Stan is definitely in the wrong by excessively explaining why someone's music opinion is remedial. Don't continue to combat the person. Just accept they don't accept it and move on. Which brings me to my next point...

Don't Be Condescending

When people do dumb shit, call them an idiot. But when people don't like a certain album from your favorite artist, don't immediately jump at their neck for lack of intellect. Standing on a snobbish high ground will certainly have people viewing you as a lame. Just because someone is not in favor of a "lyrical miracle" doesn't mean they failed out of middle school English. They're just not a fan of that particular style.

I remember talking to a girl in the club about Future's "Mask Off" remix with K. Dot when it came on. I'm a fan of "Mask Off," a fan of Future and a bigger fan of Kendrick. But I did not like the remix at all. I tried to explain that I felt like Kendrick's verse didn't mesh well with this song and that the original was fine as is. The only response she kept repeating was "YeAh, BuTdIdYoULiStEnToThElYrIcStHoUgH???"

I did.

But I haven't since that night in June 2017.

All signs are pointing to me never listening to it again.

Not because of my original opinion, but because that shit encounter at the club made me never want to hit play on that track again.

Speaking in Absolutes / R-E-L-A-X...

...and come up for air. THE BEST _____________ OF ALL TIME at 12:11am on Friday is completely mental. It's a troll move sometimes, but people legitimately will state this opinion for their favorites days and weeks after a release as well. Dialing back on the strong verbiage and adjectives when having a serious discussion is a helpful way to build a rational debate.

When someone's fanbase speaks in absolutes without budging or giving any type of wiggle room for anyone else, it can create a negative perception that'll be off-putting to casual listeners. "I don't want to be associated with that crowd" could definitely be a byproduct of experiencing extreme fandom. Let something breath for a while before declaring it GOAT. Add a qualifier like "it's a personal favorite" or "it's a personal classic" to the dialog.

We understand that you have a personal connection with your favorite artist on a level that goes deeper than beats and rhymes. Retweeting and sharing every single post said artist makes is going overboard. Being over the top when expressing a lasting dedication to or new affinity for an artist/label/brand/song/album/discography could lead to an adverse result with the person or people that it's being shared with. The love won't always be reciprocated or immediately felt. Sometimes it'll never come. But that's okay. It's not the end of the world. It doesn't mean your music opinion is completely invalid. It just means someone isn't in favor of it. Excessive Stanning, however, isn't okay.

I'm not saying completely suppress these feelings. Let loose in the privacy of your home or at a live show. Just scale back and contain the urge to force strong opinions on people that don't want to hear it, online and off. In the words of Aaron Rodgers, a young legend (justified by numbers and game tape), from time to time, please just...