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The Weeknd & Why AI Can Never Replace Real Artists

Updated: Mar 14

The ongoing conversation about AI is one everyone in every sector of human life is being forced to have. Everyday it gets better and our social media is bombarded by images and music that don’t exist at all that have been manufactured by AI and everyday it’s like a million times better than the day before from pictures of Trump in prison to entire Joe Rogan podcasts, everything is being faked.

A song by Drake and The Weeknd has racked up millions of streams and a lot of people are saying AI is taking artists “out of the job” and it’s something that infuriates me more than I can articulate. Aside from a lot of the writing being very corny and not anything I would imagine The Weeknd would say, the conversation surrounding ai is wrong and blasphemous to me for so many reasons. We should look at AI as a tool that can create things with great accuracy in all kinds of styles and methods, but I love art, and I love artists, I think artists are literal superheroes and to compare a machine rendering to real artists is more offensive to me than I’m able to understand why, but some of the reasons are that AI can’t get its feelings hurt.

AI can’t be Etta James, get her heart broken, see her man walk away, start using heroin and write Id rather Go Blind and sing it with the visceral emotion of someone who has experienced that emotion while sweating, being confused, and crying profusely. AI can’t be Tupac Shakur, have black Panther parents, grow up around America, go to art school, join digital underground, get dissed by the Vice President as a 22 year old while getting your head bashed in by cops. The Weeknd was literally homeless in the streets of Toronto from Scarborough and used his voice and his art to propel him into becoming the biggest artist on Earth, he went through years of drug abuse, sleeping on floors while trying to find ways to eat, and life experience that AI will never be able to have into telling one of the most inspirational stories ever told, something AI can never really do.

The idea of AI replacing artists comes from this perspective of viewing art as a point of accuracy or a commodity, but there’s no AI that can recreate Etta James Live At Montreaux in 1975, absorbing the energy from the audience, the band, the city, the mistakes, the pain, the hunger, the joy, the soul, the humanity of it all! The literal humanity, that’s what art is, it’s expressing human life, humans utilizing the tool to create more useful things is important, but the conversation being centered around AI being superior to artists is asinine and pointless because its not the same and thats not the point. You'd be reducing artistic expression to a combination of data which it can never be if its real art. Real art is more of a cosmic location.

AI John Coltrane will be able to hit all of the correct notes, maybe even better than John Coltrane, but he won’t have Coltranes spiritual exploration, the heroin addiction, his love for Alice Coltrane and their children, his friendship with Miles Davis and Bill Evans and all of their experiences, the room temperature when they were making Blue In Green, the books he read, his parents, the way he grew up, these intangible things that make up what a human being is that led to albums like A Love Supreme, and why we value what artists are capable of expressing, past just what they’re capable of producing. J Dillas drum patterns were irregular before he came on the scene, his wrongness was made right because it was human. AI can’t account for human flaws that make something better than perfect.

An artist is an artist because of how he lives his life and the perspective it gives him that allowed him to create something useful or beautiful. The parents, the siblings, falling down some steps, the irregular speech pattern, that thing that makes an individual an indvidual down to the fingerprint. What I do think AI will do is make reality that much more valuable, real humans and real experiences are the most valuable experiences in a world that becomes faker by the day, and as many AI songs they can create, there will never be anything like being in the room as Jimi Hendrix when he burned a guitar on stage, or when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston and told the world that he shook it up. There will never be anything like seeing Tupac Shakur perform in the flesh, or Michael Jackson moonwalking at Motown 25.

There will never be anything like being in the audience when Kanye West snatches the mic out of Taylor Swifts hands. Real human beings are flawed, they’re confused, they’re lost, they’re hungry, on drugs, competitive, emotional, they’re exploring, they’re passionate, they’re real, because the human condition is weird and nobody has all of the answers, AI might be perfect, but humans aren’t and that’s kind of the whole point, and even if AI studies our imperfections and perfects them, they will still never be human and that’s what we are here to continue to express, they can just be an opportunity to enhance our expression or have their own expression, but I still want my art from a fucked up person at a fucked up point in their life that needs to create art as a source of spiritual sustenance.

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