You know how some days just feel trashy when they start? Well, some of my best days began this way. I started rapping as a hobby in August of 2007 and after about 6 months of doing this, I figured I was good enough to at least be taken seriously. So early in 2008 I was in Chicago visiting family and decided this was my time. I have a cousin that was at that time, recently signed to Universal. I was trying to do a song with him, we’ll call him T, who again is a for real rapper. No one ever took me rapping seriously because I’m pretty chill 99% of the time. I asked T if he knew of any studios in Chicago that would allow me to record without breaking my pockets, hoping he’d accompany me to one. Instead, he gave me a phone number and said I should be cool. Seeing that he didn’t get the hint, I invited him to the session. He didn’t decline directly, but when folks tell you, “cool, just let me know when you’re heading out” that means nah, I’m good. I set up the appointment for the next day and spent the evening mumbling the words to myself.
The next day was cold, bone chilling, involuntary profanity is the only available sound one can generate kinda cold. I hate cold weather, so that was strike one for the day. My potential ride to the studio session was in question, which meant I’d either have to take public transportation across the city in this cold or potentially miss the session altogether, which made strike two. Then the sound engineer started getting flaky about potentially having to cancel because a bigger artist may need the studio for that time, yup, strike 3. By the time 10am came, I was prepared to waste the day away in the house, so I called another cousin of mine, we’ll call him M, to check on him and that changed everything.
“If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same”If, by Rudyard Kipling
When I spoke to my cousin M he was not his usual jackass self. He sounded depressed and uninterested in pretty much everything. I figured I’d lighten the mood a bit. I knew he also rapped, so I let him know that he could join me if I didn’t get bumped out of my time slot, and maybe we could do a song together. He was all in, just the idea of him getting in the studio was a game changer for his spirits. His anticipation of this session made me look forward to it too. My studio time did get bumped by a few hours, which worked perfectly because my parents would be home by then and I’d be able to borrow one of their cars.
In my parent’s car and warm, I picked my cousin up from his house way out in the suburbs, I let him pick a beat he wanted to rap to and we began creating the song on our way to the studio. We listened to the same beat for the hour long drive to this studio. By the time we arrived, I had my entire verse memorized and M was about half done with writing his. I decided to do the song I was planning to do first and circle back to this collaborative effort. 10 minutes later I stepped out of the booth after rapping the 3 verses to my song and began reciting my verse to what would be our song titled ‘Go Hard’. 15 minutes later I came out of the booth again and M went in to do his verse. Our collaborative effort was pretty terrible, but the song I planned to do is one of the best songs I’ve ever recorded and this was all in the same session, which is by far my favorite studio session ever.
It’s not lost on me that this highly positive outcome was fueled by relatively negative inputs. It’s like the weather, how much appreciation is shown when you have two straight weeks of ideal temperatures? However, do you notice the appreciation shown when a storm ends? Pure bliss right! Removing expectations is great, but lowered expectations opens the door for pretty much anything being better. In life, storms are inevitable but as long as you don’t let them consume you, coming out on the other side will feel great.
It’s easy to say don’t let the storm consume you if you’re not in a storm. Every storm is different and we all aren’t equipped with the same level of resolve to get through them. That is absolutely true and it would be BS if I said otherwise, but we all have the ability to try. When I lived in Japan I experienced major typhoons that I thought nothing of; and typical rainy days that completely messed my plans up. Where you are and what you are planning will dictate how you perceive the storm. How you perceive the storm drives your desire and ability to get through it.
“Chemistry can be a good thing and a bad thing. Chemistry is good when you make love with it. Chemistry is bad when you make crack with it”Adam Sandler
My wife received a call from her doctor stating they found some abnormalities in the baby she was carrying a while back. They wanted to do some tests, so we did, and every minute feels like 5 when waiting for medical results. We decided to take a trip to San Diego to distract us from the situation, but no matter how much we tried, it was looming in our thoughts. I took a picture one evening while we were there of the Dole plant, Coronado Bridge and the early evening sky. When I see it, I see the nervous hope that we were clutching onto for good news regarding these tests. When others see it, they see the Dole plant, Coronado Bridge and the early evening sky shot at the hands of a bad photographer.
It’s never easy to see things how someone else may see them if you have a biased view of that situation. That doesn’t mean you should stop caring though. You don’t have to adjust your view of it, just be mindful that there is another view on the subject. Where there is beauty, there can also be pain and oftentimes one comes with the other naturally. People on social media, political pundits, and folks on the internet in general can give the appearance that things can be perfect. However, behind every beautiful facade is the reality it took to make it.
My friends and family know me for being super calm more often than not, even when it seems like turds are being lobbed at my ceiling fan on high. My secret ingredient to weathering these flurries in life is recognizing there is balance in all things. It took a lot of practice, but I am never too high on the triumph and never too low on the disaster. I see them both as imposters determined to push me off center.