One Direction watchers will recall that Liam Payne spent time in the studio with rapper Juicy J way back in January. The rap star posted Instagram photographs of himself with Liam and revealed that the pair were working together. It was initially thought that Juicy and Liam were laying down some beats for the fifth One Direction album, but this proved not to be the case. According to Idolator Juicy told MTV that he and Payne had laid down seven tracks and that he intended to get back in the studio with Liam to work on some more.
Juicy was full of praise for Liam calling him “super talented” and indicating that a surprise may be in the offing.
Since then, Payne and his One Direction band-mates have completed their fourth massive tour in as many years and the fifth album, Made In The A.M. has been released. It was clear that Payne’s work with Juicy was not on the new release, and so the prospect of Liam Payne becoming a hip-hop star faded into a memory. That is until this week.
Earlier this week, Juicy retweeted a message asking if the work he did with Liam was ever going to be heard. Juicy added the comment “coming soon.”
— juicy j (@therealjuicyj) December 14, 2015
Capital FM reported that Juicy later sent a tweet to Liam suggesting that they get back into the studio to “make some more fire.”
It seems that Payne may well bring out music with the rapper in what many will see as an unlikely, but very interesting collaboration. Payne’s work with Juicy J arguably mirrors the work that Liam’s former band-mate Zayn Malik did in the studio with his former pal Naughty Boy. Fans will be wondering why the material laid down by Malik and Payne has been kept under wraps.
The likelihood is that both Liam and Zayn are bound by restrictive contract clauses. After appearing on X-Factor in 2010 One Direction were signed by Simon Cowell’s SyCo and have been worked almost to death since. For four years, Payne and his pals have been locked into a predictable and punishing schedule that has them releasing an album and conducting a massive tour every year. In many ways, One Direction have become a major brand, a money-making machine, and nothing will be allowed to disrupt that brand.
It is highly likely that Malik, Payne, or any other member of One Direction would be allowed to release solo music that deflects attention from the core brand. With Payne and his pals, nothing is left to chance, as the Sony e-mail leak proved their image is carefully cultivated by their management. It is highly likely that any solo releases from Payne, even as part of a collaboration will need to wait until their current contract expires. Music industry contracts are famously restrictive and may believe that artists are exploited by big labels.
As everyone knows by now, One Direction are now heading into an extended hiatus. Payne and his pals have now largely completed the promotional round for the latest album and will now be looking forward to a long rest. Liam and his band-mates have the annual music industry awards cycle to enjoy before they are officially on their break.
Yesterday, Liam saw the funny side of a cheeky piece of advertising by Nestle, the makers of candy bar Kit-Kat. For many years, the core of Kit-Kat’s advertising has been the slogan “have a break, have a kit-kat.” It seems that Nestle have spotted an opportunity to profit from One Direction’s break by releasing a “special edition” bar with the names of Harry, Liam, Louis and Niall on the wrapper.
It is beginning to look like Liam Payne could be very busy during One Direction’s hiatus.
[Photo by John Davisson/Invision/AP]