I had not expected to give it any mind. An interview with Zayn Malik, that is. Unprecedented, the recent compelling interview, done seven months succeeding his exit from one of the most successful pop groups in the world, One Direction. One Direction released a platinum-selling album every November from 2011 to 2014. This young man, an artist, has seemingly struggled with the product he was supposed to sell, supposed to be, and the music which was packaged for him and others to produce mainly for young teenage girls. In that sparkling interview with The Fader's Duncan Cooper, Malik has explained himself, he has mustered up the courage to tell his truth, and at the risk of upsetting a lot of influential people. "If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B," he revealed, "or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as fuck, so they could use that version."
Should one truly be a creative individual, style is everything. All of the influences Malik has described - with a particular admiration for the wonderful work of Frank Ocean - these influences were not tolerated in his previous role, until one day when all became not what it had been for the past five years. In March 2015, whilst sitting in his hotel room with his younger cousin one day, Malik got up, walked out, and went home. His life, it appears, was an iceberg pushed out by those managers who wanted to keep the real him at enough distance not to risk sinking the ship. Rather than take the ship head on, Malik simply drifted from them. No person is ever fully understood. What you do in public will be scrutinized by them, and once made available to them, is theirs for the keeping.
Having fortune made, Malik now wants a life as rich in feeling as it is in opulence. Rejecting the pop goup has made him much more interesting, and he has out-maneuvered his fellow bandmates. Malik is now working with the very crafty James "Malay" Ho; Producer, Writer, Engineer, Musician on Frank Ocean's album 'channel ORANGE', and he is also working with Ocean on the follow up album. If and when it actually ever gets released. Malay, has also cut his teeth with John Legend, 50 Cent, and Alicia Keys.
"It's not hard," Malik declared to The Fader. "To me, it's like I stood in front of a canvas for about five years, and someone said like, You're not allowed to paint on this canvas. I've got the paint, I've got the fucking brushes, and I can't get it on there. Now someone removed the plastic and was like, alright, you can now paint."
I thought, though strange it might to some seem, of Caitlyn Jenner, of all people. During the Kardashians, Caitlyn, when she was known as Bruce, had to hide who she felt she was. She acquired fame in what many people would decry through artificial means, then all of a sudden she became a voice for all those who have felt marginalised and increased the visibility of so many. The common factor here I am alluding to, is not marginalisation, but that the audience and the reach has been acquired. Now Malik has the potential to create something magnificent. Something sincerely innovative, by rejecting the constraints imposed upon him, he can reveal himself on his own terms, experiment with the medium, recreate himself and his image. I know I have done it myself, many people in everyday life have, people are doing it as we speak, but not on the public scale he has. The remarkability is the fame, the wealth, and the audience.
This is a new direction. Malik will inevitably be reprimanded and the recipient of abuse for this decision to evolve at a cost. People will impose their restrictions and he must, if he is truly individual, and to survive, reject them. The further outward he drifts, the greater he can become, as all great art must come from an individual mind. No remarkable artist in history has ever been consistent, and why would they? Malik has rejected commodity for art. But has he got what it takes? What is he made of? I think he will surprise a lot of people and is far more interesting then the high-brow people might presume him to be. The world is watching. Is he more than the commercial product so many cultural elitists percieve him to be? As long as one is a true representation of oneself at any particular time, who then much cares about the objections of others. The curiosities of your neighbours, and their criticisms, are tributes to your individuality. People in the pop product machine do as they are told, they seek fame and money, a chance to make a life for themselves. Malik has chosen to be himself and develop.
This capitulation to commercialism is ultimately, in terms of creativity and self-development, an empty pursuit. One lives a dual existence. One form, the public phantom, is what they want you to see, the person you are expected to be, and a conduit for the profits of others. The other, which is the private self, maintains secrets and dreams away of liberation. There is the disquieting realization, ultimately, that this is not a healthy life. Do we really know who we are while building the lives we feel we should want? The more we learn about ourselves compels us to be realistic. Why waste precious time that could be spent cultivating the actual point of life; self-development.
Time that should have been spent thinking about who one is. Spent thinking about who we are as a species. What the point of being here is about and what we actually are and want. We are repeatedly told about earning a living. In order to live, you have like who you are, like what you do, and know what you want, and accept yourself. There is no reason for you to try to become like them, and this assumption that they must accept you is misplaced. It is you that must accept them. If you can do this, you will be a successful person.
As Zayn Malik confronts all of this, we see our own life. In the lives of celebrities are our own lives. There is connection. We must all come to a point where we must choose evolution, because if we do not, there will be only annihilation. The question is, what are you willing to sacrifice?