The Edge of Ladyspace: Ladi6 and the Political Limits of Self-Branding
Musicians connected through online and offline networks make use of a personal brand to represent themselves and their work. This self-branding must be recognisable, repetitive, and ‘fresh’ if it is to cut through the deluge of contemporary media content. The brands of politically engaged performers’ – referred to as ‘conscious’ – often revolve around themes of political critique, ‘oneness’, and personal and spiritual uplift. The circulation and consumption of personal brands may not necessarily however, preclude the impact of apparent political critique. This article will explore how the Samoan Aotearoa-New Zealander vocalist Ladi6 plays with the role of ‘lady’ in her brand. Ladi6 draws on genre resources from conscious hip hop, soul, reggae, and electronic music. Her assertion of female presence, or creation of a ‘ladyspace’, is both ambiguous and reflexive. However, I argue that her personal brand, found in videos, lyrics, photos, online presence, merchandise, and live performance, operates according to the logic of global capitalism, where consumption restricts alternative ways of engaging with others.
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