Big stars, like Jay-Z and Calvin Harris, seem to be everywhere in the world at once. Despite where they came from, once artists reach that echelon of fame, they’re music no longer reflects the gritty reality of artists’ experience.
Fame often means that the artist loses a sense of place.
Sense of place in music is really important. It’s what roots the artist to reality, to the audience’s everyday experiences. Even if that artist is singing about a place where most of his or her fans don’t live, the truth in the lyrics and the emotion behind them gives listeners something authentic to connect to.
Drake does it. A lot of his songs celebrate his identity as a citizen of Toronto. Even if you’ve never been there, you understand where he comes from, and you can transfer what he’s saying to your own home town.
DJ Craze does the same thing with his shout-outs to Miami. Vice interviewed him recently and asked him how and why his favorite city features in his music.