Labor of Love

It is now 2.33 am on a Wednesday morning.

I’ve been chatting off and on with homieloverfriendartistdude for the last four hours while he records masterpieces in whatever region of the world he’s in and I write (or at least try to) songs here at mi casa in Brooklyn. Every other creative I know is up working and hitting me from time to time. While the world is sleeping, we are all up working, writing, recording, producing, performing, mixing, editing, designing… creating.

Truthfully, I feel like throwing the Macbook Pro at the wall in a fit of frustration. The Reason? I’m on deadline and have come down with a severe case of writer’s block. When this happens it terrifies me. It’s like I’m staring down the barrel of a gun  watching my whole life flash before my eyes. It reminds me of my mortality and that my gift for singing and songwriting, if not nurtured, can go away.

The pressure to produce within the entertainment industry is overwhelming. When you make the decision to make your love your labor, it changes things. I remember banging on lunchroom tables and writing songs locked in the downstairs bathroom of my house—the only quiet place in a home brimming over with kids—imagining stadiums full of screaming fans and videos in heavy rotation. I wrote daily and would spit rhymes for free, for the hell of it, because nothing compared to the magic of how a slick 16 bars made me feel.

Soon after making the decision to pursue a career in music  I rudely awoke from my delusions of grandeur to the business of music. An industry reminiscent of the wild wild west where anything goes and only the strong and steadfast survive. Relationships are everything! Your team will make or break you and you must be the best at your craft or you’ll fail miserably.

We’re all fighting to either be relevant or stay relevant. Some artists, such as myself,  struggle to maintain a balance between being commercially viable and what is artistically sound; others could truly give a fuck about artistry and follow the trends. We gotta tip on the tightrope (well put Janelle!) You have to find a way to be innovative and edgy enough to standout in the musical landscape yet accessible enough not to alienate your audience. Pop producer Dre Knight, formerly of The Narcotics now of Starclub, always says to me ‘Young! We’re not making music for ourselves.’

I shudder at that quote; it haunts me every time I pick up a pen.

Read the rest over at Parlour!

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