Today is my three year sober date. To be completely honest, the idea that I would be able to go three years without drinking wasn’t something that I believed was possible when I first decided to quit. So I’m equal parts proud and surprised today. Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago on twitter, I made the statement that it’s easier for a performing artist to remember their bad shows than their good shows. I wasn’t suggesting that good shows are meaningless or unappreciated, my point was that we remember the bad shows more often because they provide a larger opportunity for learning and growth. In most instances, it’s hard to justify a reevaluation of your strategies when you’re being successful. But as soon as you fail, you start to question everything. In my opinion, the best performers aren’t the best because they have a talent others lack, they’re the best because they’ve all had bad experiences that made them take their level of preparation and performance up a notch.
One of the questions I get asked the most often is, “What’s the most difficult thing about being an entrepreneur?“
Whenever I hear this question, it brings me back to when I first made the transition from a full-time corporate employee to a self-employed artist. While there were many things that were legitimate causes for anxiety – like healthcare, steady paychecks, and the idea of job security – none of those things bothered me too much at the time. Continue reading →
“When the tide once turns in any nation in favor of war, it generally rushes on with great impetuosity and force, and bears all before it. It was so in Carthage in this instance. The party of Hanno were thrown entirely into the minority and silenced, and the friends and partisans of Hannibal carried not only the government, but the whole community with them, and every body was eager for war. This was owing, in part, to the natural contagiousness of the martial spirit, which, when felt by one, catches easily, by sympathy, in the heart of another. It is a fire which, when once it begins to burn, spreads in very direction, and consumes all that comes in its way.” – Jacob Abbott(from Hannibal The African Warrior)
If you’re a fan of music, you hear it every couple of months: the story of an unlikely band that blows up from an unlikely song. Usually, the song “came out of nowhere” and was “all the sudden” a hit everywhere, knocking down the barriers of entry and unseating the previously all-powerful gatekeepers of the music industry. At that point, the song itself becomes more than just a song. It begins to take on the collective identity of all the fans who, through sheer will and enthusiasm, propelled it to its unlikely position at the top of the charts. Proof of what happens when the people speak loud and clear, this unlikely (or “lucky”) song embodies their generation in a way no other song has before…at least until the next one comes along. If the song had a theme song, it would be Rocky’s theme song.
I’ve decided that I’m bringing back the slang term “ranchin,” and will start proliferiting it into cyberspace effective immediately.
The term ranchin was first brought to the limelight on the debut album of ganster rap pioneers Above the Law. They dropped it many times on their album, as well as a lot of other never before heard west coast slang, but ranchin never took off like the other slang on the album. I think ranchin deserves another look.
For the past month or so I’ve been stuck; unable to write a rhyme or make a beat – even though I had plenty of time on my hands. Even my blogging has been sparse. In the past, being stuck creatively was usually caused by something very heavy going on in my life that I needed to work my way through. In that sense, it was very easy to understand and remedy – resolve the personal issue and become unstuck. Unfortunately, there were no personal issues hanging over my head this time around. Although last year was pretty rough family-wise, the past six or seven months have been great.
The other day I noticed that the only times I was able to squeak out a rhyme or a beat was when I wasn’t home. I had no problems writing on tour or while I was visiting my family, but as soon as i got home things were at a standstill.
I just had a very awful customer experience checking into a hotel this afternoon. When I got to the hotel, the lady at the desk told me to come back in two hours because the room we needed wasn’t available. I didn’t have a problem with that, so I paid for my room and told her I would be back at the time she asked.
Things went for bad when I returned a couple hours later. After standing in line, she asked me “Can I help you?” I was a bit confused that she had forgotten me already and showed her my paperwork. After looking it over, she started asking me for information that she had already gotten from me, looking visibly frustrated as I calmly pointed out that she already had the information. Then she said,”Why is there so much paperwork?” as she leafed through the paperwork that she had given me just two hours prior. It took her about five more minutes to assign a room to me, all the while she was grunting and sighing underneath her breath, as if assigning people rooms they paid for is the most difficult job on earth. After getting my room, I realized that she never told me which building the room was in, so I went back to look at the room chart. When she saw me glancing at it she said,”it’s in the second building” which is true, but didn’t tell me what side of the building the room was on. I just ignored her and looked for myself. Continue reading →
Despite the up-and-down nature of the music industry, I have managed to make a career as a full-time artist for almost eleven years now. As one would expect, being an entrepreneur hasn’t been easy, but it has been extremely rewarding. It has also been an experience that, for the most part, I have navigated alone. Although I’ve received great advice and counsel from other artists and people along the way, I have never had a real manager.
I’m not saying that my decision to not have a manager is the right decision for everybody, only that it has been the right decision for me thus far. There are days when I wish I had a manager to handle certain things and days when I’m glad that I didn’t. Continue reading →
I first got familiar with Maw several years ago when he popped up on the Weightless Recordings forums. He quickly became a regular poster and welcome contributor. Although his conduct was very mature, we soon found out that he was only a teenager at the time, which made him the youngest regular on our forum. Even more interestingly, we found out that he was from Finland and english was his second language. You never would have guessed it by the way he interacted with everybody.
Over time, Maw started getting into hip-hop production and posting his beats in our “show & tell” forum. His beats were decent at the beginning – especially for a young kid who didn’t even seem to have any equipment – but he seemed to get exponentially better every time he posted something. Eventually he was damn good. From there, I always kept my eye on him, and every year he gets better and better. It’s reached the point where I check out anything he releases and try to spread word about him as much as possible. Continue reading →
One of the movies I was heavily anticipating this fall was The Man With The Iron Fists by The RZA. Being a huge fan of his work with the Wu-Tang Clan as well as his books, I’m about as big a fan of The RZA as it gets. His love for classic martial arts films and their history is well documented and makes him the kind of person you want to see making them. Continue reading →
One of the most overlooked and underutilized qualities in making albums today is pacing.
In short, pacing is the speed and sequence with which events occur. Since we are talking about music, the events we are referring to would be songs. To master pacing is to master the speed and sequence with which the songs on an album are delivered to the listener to create the maximum impact. Continue reading →
When I started messing around with video a couple years ago, I told myself that I wasn’t going to buy any professional video equipment until I reached the level where I was getting paid for my services. I had picked up a used Canon T2i camera for pretty cheap and was determined to not become a gear junkie. Plus, it just didn’t makes sense to buy a bunch of equipment when I had no idea if I would ever reach the point where I could actually make the back any of the money I had invested.
After doing several posts this past year titled The Last Five Albums I Bought, it’s only right that I list my five favorite albums of 2012. To be honest, it’s really difficult for me to rank any of these albums above the others. That seems a bit unfair when I consider how much I like them all. So what I will say is that these are the albums that I remember playing the most in 2012.
So here it goes…
#5. Large Professor ”Professor at Large”
To say this album came out of nowhere would be an understatement. I had no idea it was coming out but, to be completely honest, I’m not sure if it would’ve made any difference since I hadn’t been really moved by anything that the Large Professor had released since Breaking Atoms. I had pretty much written Extra P off, content with listening to Breaking Atoms and never checking for any more of his newer material. That all changed when I stumbled upon the song “Light Years” on youtube. It sounded like he was finally making the album that I had been waiting on him to make for years. I copped it immediately and played it a lot. It’s a conventional hip-hop record that isn’t progressive at all, but that simplicity is its best asset. Professor at Large is unapologetically oldschool and dope.
A couple of weeks ago, I was speaking with a good friend about his son, who was having a hard time in middle school. Apparently his son had started to lose focus in class and school in general. He was also completing less homework and getting into trouble more frequently. For my friend, his son’s behavior seemed to appear almost out of thin air.
We talked about how important it was that kids nowadays understand the necessity of education, especially in an economy like this where jobs are becoming increasingly difficult to find, even for those with skills and degrees. Growing up, my friend and I both had our troubles in school. From cutting class, to fighting, to being suspended – we had done it all in our day and were far from model students. I was a smart kid, but thought it was cooler to only do just enough to graduate high school and get into college. In the meantime, I was constantly in and out of the principle’s office for discipline problems. My friend, on the other hand, was usually in a lot more trouble than I was. So much so that he had to transfer schools and couldn’t graduate with the rest of his class. Continue reading →
Shorty after turning my last album Adventures in Counter-Culture in to Rhymesayers, we began having weekly or bi-weekly meetings to discuss the release of the album and any ideas that would help create awareness about it.
One of the things we talked about was how many of my own fans actually overlook the fact that I produce all of my own solo material. My presence as a vocalist, and even being a front man on stage, seems to take the eyes off of what I do behind the boards. I had produced three albums for Illogic, one each for Zero Star and Envelope, one solo album for myself, and five Greenhouse albums, yet my casual fans had no idea. This realization led to some brainstorming about ways create more awareness of Blueprint the producer. Continue reading →
For the first six years of my career as an independent artist, I was fortunate enough to work in a team environment. I owned and operated a small independent label, Weightless Recordings, and along with my business partner and best friend, always had a couple people to help in certain areas. Tasks like promoting events, writing press releases, booking shows, selling merch, and managing websites were all team activities. And because of this, we thrived. Continue reading →
“It is easy to like the youth because they are young. They have no faults, except the very ones which they are asking you to eradicate: ignorance, shallowness, and inexperience. The really hateful faults are those which we grown men and women have. Some of these grow on us like diseases, other we build up and cherish as though they were virtues. Ingrained conceit, calculated cruelty, deep-rooted cowardice, slobbering greed, vulgar self-satisfaction, puffy laziness of mind and body–these and the other real sins result from years, decades of careful cultivation. They show on our faces, they ring harsh or hollow in our voices, they have become bone of our bone and flesh of our flash. The young do not sin in those ways. Heaven knows they are infuriatingly lazy and unbelievably stupid and sometimes detestably cruel–but not for long, not all at once, and not (like grown ups) as a matter of habit or policy. They are trying to be energetic and wise and kind. When you remember this, it is difficult to not like them” – Gilbert Highet (from The Art of Teaching,1950)
I’ve lived in my current Columbus neighborhood almost my entire life. I did leave for college and to work for a few years in Cincinnati, but that was it. The rest of the time, I was living in the same neighborhood that I grew up in. Most of my neighbors have known me and my family since I was just a little kid. The elementary and high schools I went to are both less than half a mile from my house.
Basically, I grew up on the south side of Columbus and feel really comfortable out here. Most of that comfort comes from the fact that I understand my neighborhood. While things have naturally changed over time, I had never felt like I had seen anything out here that was out of place or flat-out bizarre. Continue reading →
I’m no stranger to home repairs. I’ve been a home-owner for about eight years now and have had some good experience in smaller remodeling projects and making repairs. In addition, I remodeled a property (mostly by myself) about 5 years ago. That was a long, drawn out process with a lot of twists and turns, but I learned a hell of a lot. Not just about remodeling, but about the process and how patient you need to be. Speed is definitely the enemy when it comes to home repairs.