Amy Winehouse wore her self-destruction on her sleeve, but ultimately, that means her music only illuminates a particularly nasty universal. Winehouse’s addiction in itself made her more ordinary; it was her ability to express addiction, like other singers do love, that mattered. It’s a given that drugs don’t make the music. What they do, though, is give some artists another banality to mine and transform.
Houston’s music and her voice weren’t built for that task. Or, rather, that voice was so regal, so full of grace, that it was hard to imagine it troubled by any kind of grimy, worldly constraint. Maybe this is Whitney’s gospel pedigree shining through. She had plenty of demons, like all of us. Church was meant to dispel them, to look beyond the everyday struggle. That may sound corny, but it’s the formulation that has kept faith going for who knows how long."
Once while interviewing Lil Wayne I asked him if it ever bothered him that people forgot he had been rapping professionally since he was 9, supporting his family since he was 15, and was cited in the dictionary by the time he was 20. Did it bother him that people seemed to forget that people like him, Sammy Davis Jr., and Michael Jackson had been legitimately earning paychecks since before they had hit puberty, most often as a means of helping their families escape the crush of poverty?
Wayne seemed slightly fazed by the question, but he told me: “I never felt like a child star because on my first single I was talking about selling crack …. And it went platinum. I was 15 years old and I had a daughter. So I never felt like a child star because I was feeding my family and when I say family, I don’t just mean my Moms. That money took care of things. That is how I made my living.”
The interview was soon over. Later someone in his crew told me that after I’d left Wayne was still disturbed by the question, and began asking them, “Don’t people realize I didn’t have a childhood? How come they come in here asking me about jail and drugs and not that shit?”"