Music culture has been a hot topic in the summer of 2023, as two of the world’s most popular performers — Beyonce and Taylor Swift — are nearing the end of their prospective world tours.
Taylor Swift’s Era tour, which has been the subject of multiple national headlines due to competitive ticket sales, had been projected as the biggest tour of all time in August.
But, Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour has just beat her to the goal with a projected $500 million over the Era’s $1.6 billion projection.
Why does this matter? Because Taylor’s fanbase, Swifties, and the Beyhive — Beyonce’s fans — have been intensely debating online which musician makes better music, but ultimately makes you ask: why are the two musicians being compared anyway?
As their gazillion-dollar performances sweep through every major city, it brings millions of fans to do insane things in support of their fandom, but they are not the only ones pushing the feud narrative. Major media publications like Forbes and Time have tracked the cost of artist’s outfits, ticket sales and even their personal homes.
The two artists are starkly different. Swift, 33, is a pop/country artist while Beyonce, 42, is a R&B/pop artist. Both artists cater to different demographics, age ranges and races. But the differences may be the biggest motivator for the artists’ feud. Many fans believe the criticism is due to Beyonce’s contributions being limited by her Blackness.
“I have been compared to other female artists, and the comparisons are often thoughtless,” says Ekene Osuchukwu, a senior recorded music major at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
As a recorded music student, Osuchukwu often sees these comparisons daily. “If there is another Black woman, my classmates often compare us due to race. Sometimes it makes us feel isolated, especially when our peers don’t make that distinction between our music, lyrics or style.”
Dallas Kennedy — a senior history education major at FAMU from Tallahassee, touched on her own experiences as a contemporary R&B artist. “I feel female artists can be compare as long as they are not pitted against each other,” Kennedy said. She says that fan bases compare artists “to the death.” “For example, Nicki and Cardi,” Kennedy said as she alludes to the female rap stars Cardi B and Nicki Minaj who have been “beefing” since 2017, “and it’s not fair that they have to deal with that.”
The two rappers’ feud has led members to attempt to harm this artist and their families. In August 2023 Nicki Minaj was “swatted,” a term for someone reporting a fake emergency in an attempt to cause damage or harm by having armed law enforcement forcibly enter a home. Cardi B had to address sexual and violent messages posted on her young daughter’s Instagram in 2022 due to constant harassment.
“The world likes to see female artists fight, because when a woman creates music it becomes “you’re not better than me!’ or “she’s better.’” said Mycah Brown, a broadcast journalism student at FAMU and an R&B singer from Laurel, Maryland. “You’re comparing how people feel on the inside, and what they have gone through.” Brown said. “My music is based on real-life experiences. The way people compare sports teams is not the way we should look at art.”
As musicians work their hardest to share their stories with the public, comparison steals the joy of connecting with an audience. When fans begin to use their influence on the media to create hurtful narratives, it prevents Black female artists from growing within their music. When race and gender are put aside will the media still continue to put female artists against others, or will the listeners work towards a better community?