#SwagDown: 10 Artists With PR Problems in 2013

CHICAGO, IL - December 15, 2012: Justin Bieber performs live on stage at the B96 Pepsi Jingle Bash at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois (photo by Alex Goykhman/ B96 Chicago)

I am sure there are more artists than mentioned, but there have been some big time  artistic miscues by numerous musicians in 2013.  I have chosen fifteen, err..sixteen overall with ten to highlight, but I’m sure there are many more! Welcome to 2013’s Disastrous Musical Artists PR Tournament!

Others with some PR problems:

  • Brad Paisley/LL Cool J: The controversially bad duet that should’ve never happened…SMH (8-
    seeds, unranked)
  • Nicki Minaj: This one should speak for itself… Are you watching American Idol every week? Well even if you are avoiding it, take my word for it.  (7-seed, unranked)
  • Jason Aldean: The divorce/cheating thing…  (7- seed, unranked)
  • Azealia Banks: Too many twitter beefs.  This girl can’t seem to get along with anybody.   (6-seed, unranked)
  • Keyshia Cole:  Should probably keep her opinions about others to herself… not helping your career.  (6-seed, unranked)

Now for the ranked opponents!

10 Frank Ocean 

This is a soft example.  Frank Ocean hasn’t had many miscues. BUT, there was the whole argument with Chris Brown (#HotMess).  More troubling for me, was Ocean’s Grammy debut.  He didn’t offend anyone, but he also didn’t impress anyone.  His performance of “Forrest Gump” fell flat (really, that pitch was all over the place) and his presentation as a musical artist seemed incredibly naïve. Sure, I have no problems with Ocean being more hipster and more comfortable with a more intimate audience, but Frank, Frank! You got nominated for album of the year! Get it together boyyyyyyyy!  (5-seed #1)

9 Lauryn Hill

Here’s the deal… You have to file/pay your taxes – it’s a simple as that.  Lauryn Hill failed and is serving three months in prison. For someone hinting once more about making a comeback, this is not a good way to start.  Nobody likes taxes – I know I don’t – but that’s just the way life is.   (5-seed #2)


Beyoncé is not on the level of the people above her on this list.  BUT, she has had some miscues, arguably for the first time in her illustrious career.  “The Star Spangled Banner” controversy has died down at Pres. Obama’s inauguration, but it was heavily criticized after lip syncing came into the picture.  She redeemed herself at the Super Bowl Halftime with all the younger demographic, particularly younger me – she’s sexy, what can I say? BUT, some of the older folks who prefer more clothing, more conservative fare, and more ‘vocals’ weren’t as onboard.  Then there was the song “Bow Down”, which drew ire from many and wasn’t particularly well received from her fans.  And the trip to Cuba with hubby Jay-Z was more fuel to the fire.  I wouldn’t say Beyoncé’s in big danger by any means, but the usually detailed-oriented R&B diva has had more missteps than usual.  (4-seed #2)

7 Ray J

Ray J we really do get it… ‘you hit it first’.  But does anyone really give a flying fcuk about your sex tape with Kim K? That is rhetorical. So why in the world would you release a single called “I Hit It First” and then try to claim it wasn’t about her knowing people would connect two and two together.  It’s not even a good song because it sounds desperate and is titled obviously/badly. “I Hit It First” – really? REALLY.  You land on my list of bad publicity Ray J because you’ve done better.  I mean, where’s that “One Wish” or “Sexy Can I” swagger that had people on your side? Also, couldn’t a lot of guys have claimed to have done the same you assert in this song?  Come back when you’ve got a jam, not something for people to roll their eyes about.   (4-seed #1)

6 Chris Brown

Chris Brown, you are showing improvement, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that you have been a mess and a half.  To me, it is going to take more than “Fine China” to ‘clean up’ the mess that Brown has brought on himself since he infamously abused Rihanna.  Sure, I don’t believe that that incident should always be held before him or hinder him from continuing his career, but he has to truly embrace being a ‘changed man’, not just put on a facade.  He’s had beef with Drake and Frank Ocean and didn’t stand up when Ocean beat him (expectedly) at the Grammys in February 2013. Hopefully, he is really ‘getting it’ and while he is doing so, he avoids arrogant musical material the likes that graced 2012’s Fortune.  Time will tell.  (3-seed #2)

5 Tyler, the Creator

The modern generation knows exactly what they are getting with Tyler, the Creator.  He’s brash, loves his f-bombs (its the first word he says on the opening track of 2013’s Wolf), has been known for homophobia lyrically, as well as rather crude, inappropriate sex jokes.  Part of the awful Mountain Dew fiasco is his fault (since he directed it), but also blame lies with Mountain Dew for putting faith into a controversial presence like Tyler, the Creator.  The two components of the commercial that caused it to be pulled were its blatant racism playing up black stereotype and perhaps most troubling, the women’s abuse aspect (Tyler plays a goat who claims he’s going to get a woman who is identifying black men at the police station who committed violence against her…).  Sure it’s been politicized, but another problem is the clip is far removed from focusing on “Mountain Dew”.  Sure TTC was going for humor with a ridiculous storyline, but it just didn’t work.  Why bad press? Tyler may have drawn more fans to his main gig (music) had he delivered something feasible that wouldn’t offend.  Shock value can have a positive or adverse effect. (3-seed #1)

Billy Currington © Mercury NashvilleBilly Currington

Terroristic threat Billy Currington to an elderly person? What in the world or as the young generation says, WTF? So the “Must Be Doing Something Right” country singer has been doing the opposite apparently.  You know what makes this bad besides the fact that Currington apparently couldn’t control his anger? He’s preparing a new album… his single “Hey Girl” was just recently released… Big promotional blunder for an artist who isn’t touting numbers like Luke Bryan or Kenny Chesney.  (2-seed #2)

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne is an artist whom many know what they are getting. Some crazy antics from the rapper are not unexpected. However, this year in particular, Lil Wayne has been off his game.  I Am Not A Human Being II was a clumsy album with too many sexual references in itself. Some editions even touted the horrid “Romance” which perverted the Folgers coffee jingle: “The best part of waking up, is breakfast after a nut.”  Ew!  But it wasn’t I Am Not A Human Being that got Weezy into a firestorm.  It was a poor decision to for Lil Wayne to make a poor lyrical reference to Emmett Till on Future’s “Karate Chop (Remix)”. I think Lil Wayne is creative and good at what he does, BUT, why would you reopen such a horrific part of history? He also lost an endorsement.  (2-seed #1)
Rick Ross

Rick Ross has been in his fair share of controversy in recent times, more than goes along with being a rapper.  His love of ganja is one thing (lots of people are into that it seems), but it’s his poor allusion to date rape and lack of a sincere apology that lost Ross his Reebok endorsement.  On Rocko’s single “U.O.E.N.O.” (from album Gift of Gab 2), Rick Ross rapped as follows:

“I die over these Reeboks, you ain’t even know it / Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it… ” Rick, Rick Rick! Maybe the weed went to his head, or maybe it was all the money or his Reebok deal, but that is one of the more careless lyrical references.  Lil Wayne’s Emmett Till blunder is up there, but Rick Ross basically condones date rape, regardless if he says he doesn’t.  Bad move Rick.  (second 1-seed)


1 Justin BieberJustin Bieber (instagram/justinbieber)

This could be a novel.  Justin Bieber has been the worst publicity blunder of the year.  Sure Rick Ross condoned date rape and Lil Wayne messed up with Emmett Till, but Bieber certainly has done everything possible to destroy his image and potentially his career and/or life.  Everything has been wrong here from a PR standpoint.  Bieber’s life, which too many of us are a part of, seems like nothing short of a circus – and it’s not even an enjoyable one.  There is a new situation everyday it seems whether it’s Justin threatening to “…f**king beat the f**k out of…” the paparazzi, his questionable friendship with Lil Twist and others, his annoying shirtless photos, ugly new tattoos, marijuana, getting attacked at his piano, driving recklessly, sagging his pants disgustingly low… it’s all just a mess.  Why is his entourage of people who are supposed to make him look fashionable to his young fans (yes, that’s his core base) letting him act so dumb.  No he’s not controversial musically, but his ‘growing pains’ are nothing short of extreme.   He’s got the number one seed locked down on this list – he’s a shoe-in to win the title.  (no. 1 overall seed)

And here’s the bracket!  I’m still shaking my head!  (you may have to zoom and/or open in a separate window to make it bigger)

2013 Musical PR Distasters Tournament.png

True to form, no. 1 overall seed Justin Bieber beat out the second no. 1 seed Rick Ross in a battle for most disastrous PR in 2013.  Rick Ross was in it for the first half, but ultimately, Justin Bieber had too many ‘weapons’ – well too many PR incidents that were just disastrous.  I’d say congratulations, but its not really a celebratory affair… at least in my eyes… :-/

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Laura says:

    Lol, Brad Paisley releases a song about a dialogue between a Southerner who is judged for his cowboy hat and southern pride, and a black man who is judged by his clothes and his skin color… A song about forgiveness and compassion and understanding. And people shit all over him and LL Cool J. Yet, Lil Wayne, who is quite possibly the most disgusting human being on the planet, releases a song with that dirty ass lyric associated with a horrible historic incident, and everyone still digs him and buys his records. What bullshit.

    1. brent80 says:

      Thanks for the comments Laura – I always appreciate a discussion. Mr. Paisley’s latest album didn’t sell as well as previous ones, however, I don’t think that his lower sales were necessarily attributed to “Accidental Racist”. Personally, I do admire Paisley/LL Cool J’s intentions by all means and the song did indeed raise the issue attempting to be ‘forgiving, compassionate, and understanding’. That said I didn’t dig the song in itself. Having listened to Paisley’s music in the past, I think he’s done better than the song itself. I wasn’t personally offended as some were, but I also wasn’t ‘impressed’ with the song itself. Again, thanks for comment.

      1. Laura says:

        I, personally, dig the song, but I can understand why some do not. Just find it a little ridiculous that so many are quick to judge and make fun of someone with heart and musical talent, but we have people supporting and buying music from Lil Wayne, who objectify’s and uses derogatory remarks about women, and Rick Ross, who basically condoned drugging and raping women. Can’t even sugarcoat the lyrics or take it out of context, that is exactly what he said. Sad, the music that is popular these days. But thanks for the reply! And did not mean that response towards you, just meant it towards the public. Hope I didn’t upset you!

  2. brent80 says:

    Of course you didn’t offend 🙂 You made a good argument!

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