'Rap City': Fans Discuss if Spice is Ready For Stardom?

The rapper has potential for growth, but some may wonder if she's truly ready to catapult to the next level.

Ice Spice had an opportunity this month that many artists would leap at the chance to get, but some fans thought she wasn’t ready for the big stage just yet.

With her hit song “Munch” and her accompanying project Like…?, Ice Spice has become one of the brightest new stars in rap this year. She flaunts catchy, social-media-caption-ready quips, rides her drill beats with a pitch-perfect relaxed flow, and shines with charismatic camera presence. Her superstar package has led to a meteoric rise, and all the spoils that come with it: collaborations with PinkPantheress, Nicki Minaj, and Taylor Swift, magazine covers—you name it. Not bad for an artist who reportedly first started rapping less than two years ago.

But that lack of experience also means more room to grow. When Ice Spice performed her songs “Pretty Girl” and “In Ha Mood” on Saturday Night Live last weekend, social media was ablaze with viewers who felt she wasn’t prepared for the stage. One commenter wrote,  “Her manager needs to focus on artist development because this is absolutely horrible.” Another commenter said, “She has the looks, but performance and personality be [sic] very lackluster,” another said. “I tried to give the girl chance after chance but she doesn’t do it for me. Yall really hyped her up too much.”

As Twitter user Ladidai pointed out, Mariah The Scientist has suffered the same fate. The Atlanta singer/songwriter has garnered critical acclaim and an excited fan base for the music she’s released, but she’s been teased on social media for lackluster stage presence. In an interview, Mariah explained the gap between her opportunities and her experience. “I was inexperienced in what I was doing for a living,” she said. “I wasn’t good at it. I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know how I sounded.” One of her earliest performances was at Rolling Loud, one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Music industry vet Naima Cochrane framed it perfectly when explaining why older artists can still tour: “Artist development included developing a stage show: pacing, breath control, all that. These new artists don’t do small clubs local and build to radio dates to bigger stages over time. They go straight to a festival stage and half rap over the track.”

Ice Spice’s ‘SNL’ Debut Features Rema Collab and Taylor Swift Cameo

Watching young artists develop in real time can be exhilarating when we see them transform from seedlings to superstars, but that also means that we have to be more forgiving of the steps it takes to get there.

Do The Knowledge: BET has launched an essay series called Uncomfortable Conversations that dives into difficult, ongoing topics that have plagued hip-hop for decades. The latest, by esteemed journalist and author Miles Marshall Lewis, gets into the realities of colorism in hip-hop.

'Rap City': Doja Cat Feels Discredited As a Rapper

The Listening: Westside Gunn says that this new album, And Then You Pray For Me, is his last. Only time can tell if he ends up sticking with this decision, but either way, he’s created one of the best, most prolific rap discographies of the past decade: his curatorial ear for beats leads to dynamic, textured palettes, and he consistently gets the best out of his collaborators, even if they might seem like unnatural pairings to the untrained eye. Check how Dreamville lyricist JID annihilates this ominous Mr. Green production alongside Gunn and Conway The Machine on “Mamas Primetime.”

They Reminisce Over You: This week 20 years ago, Brooklyn rapper Half-A-Mil reportedly died by suicide at age 30. His debut album Million featured production by the likes of The Neptunes, Just Blaze, and Poke and Tone, but he’s perhaps most known for his bar-heavy verses on “Throw Your Guns,” the closing cut on The Album by The Firm, the supergroup of East Coast rappers Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature.

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