Surfin

I don’t know how I missed this song.

“Surfin” came out in 2016 but despite the attention that centered around the Kid Cudi release, I never heard it.   Truth is, the buzz about the record had more to do with Cudi’s mental health than the actual music.  He had checked himself into rehab for depression.

Alot of Cudi’s music is dark.  Not depressing, but in a psychedelic way.

But sometimes he taps into something else, and he certainly does when he connects with Pharrell on this song Surfin.

“I ain’t ridin’ no waves
Too busy makin’ my own waves, baby”

Cudi repeats on the chorus.  It’s great.  He’s not chasing trends, he is creating his own.

Then he hits with the perfect closing line on the hook:
“Surfin’ on my own wave, baby”

He’s made his own trends and now he is just staying in his own lane.

Surfin.

The ultimate control of being in charge of oneself and direction.

 

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The Power of the Follow Up

Many people assume that after you’ve contacted someone the ball is in their court.

Since you initiated the conversation, now its up to the other person to respond.

If they doesn’t respond – or respond quickly – it’s easy to get upset or frustrated.  Sometimes we create a false narrative thinking that the person doesn’t “like you” because they didn’t respond right away.

That’s why there is so much power in a follow up.

I recently sent an email to a blogger asking them to check out one of my new songs.  I had tailored it specifically to the person instead of doing a generic email blast.  After all, I knew this person and we had exchanged emails in the past.  A few days later and I didn’t hear back.  Strange I thought, but all good.  A week passes by and no response.  So about a week and a half after sending the initial email I sent another email.  “Hey, just wanted to follow up on the email I sent last week and make sure you got it.”

Five minutes later and I had an email in my inbox.

“You know what, I didn’t.  I just double checked my junk mail and there it was!  Sorry about that.  I’ll check it out right now and get it up on the site.”

Problem solved.

I’ve heard from many artists that get discouraged when their music isn’t posted on a blog.  They will tell me “But I emailed them!”  or “That blog doesn’t like me.”

And maybe their music wasn’t up to par.  But maybe the person just didn’t get the message.

Back in the day things were harder.  To get music to a journalist you had to physically send them a copy.  You wanted to have professional CD so if it wasn’t pressed, you had to burn one and design and print a label.  Oftentimes I would include a whole press kit – a file folder with 8 X 10 full colour photo and some additional attachments.  It was a lot more work and it cost a lot more money.

Now we just have to send an email.

Techonology has made things easier but its also made people lazy.

It’s amazing what taking an extra step can do.

 

 

Put Your Best Cut First

I used to love magazines.  Couldn’t wait to get the latest copy.  I loved going into a convenience store just to see if the latest edition had arrived.  One of my favorites was The Source.  It was recognized as the bible of hip-hop – at least until it went downhill in the mid 2000’s.

My favorite column was Unsigned Hype.  It was a section where each month, the magazine would select an aspiring rapper to do a profile on.  Some of the greatest rappers of all time achieved this status… Biggie and Mobb Deep come to mind first.

I dreamt that I would appear in the column one day.

I still remember the key guideline:

“Put your best cut first.”

In other words, when sending in your music make sure to put the best song first.

It seems like common sense.

But as an artist sometimes you overthink things.  As a lyricist, you may want to put a song that showcases your lyrical skills first.  You may put an “album song” first as opposed to a single – the commercially strongest song.

As an artist we forget that listeners aren’t always in the optimal position to hear our music.  People rarely drop everything to tune into a new song.  Especially nowadays with so many distractions.  Even myself.  I listen to music while multitasking – responding to emails, doing the dishes, driving, etc.

Short attention spans and ADD have made it essential that an artist puts their best song first – their best foot forward.

I’m not just talking about a column in the Source.

Many times I receive music and the first few songs fail to grab me.  But it’s not that the artist isn’t good.  I will play a few more tracks and will hear something I like.  But it shouldn’t have taken that long.

Many listeners aren’t as forgiving.

You need to hook them.  Make them drop everything else.

 

Videoshoots

“Just Forfeit” – D.O. Gibson feat Arabesque, G. Stokes, Slakah the Beatchild

Directed by Marc Andre Debruyne

This was the first video I shot with a grant.

I received the grant 10 years ago right around this time of year.

I found out on a Saturday morning after doing a show the night before. I had been in Hamilton at MacMaster and just before I went on, the CD wouldn’t play. But they had already introduced me. So I went out and did what I had to do. Kicked a freestyle, won the crowd over and by the time the CD worked, I was able to do one song and call it a night. I drove back in a snow storm. Wasn’t paid. Kinda frustrated, but glad it worked out.

So finding out we got the video, I was hype. I had been turned down at least twelve times before this. As a musician, there are always moments like these that help validate the dream. Was a blessing to shoot this with so many friends and fam in the video.

Today I’m heading to a video shoot for my latest single. I’m hype. It never gets old…

Shoutout to The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR) for supporting the forthcoming video for “Follow Me”

Blue Jays Fever

The Blue Jays are back in the playoffs.

It’s great that they are in the post season, but more than that its just good to see people care about baseball again, good to see the stadium packed instead of mostly empty, good to see a second Toronto team in the playoffs in one year  (shoutout to the Raptors).

Toronto is a great sports town.  We just haven’t had a lot of good teams to cheer for.

Been so long that the Jays were in the playoffs, this was the song I was playing at the time…

#GoJays

 

Toni Morrison on Creativity

I’ve always liked the saying from author Toni Morrison on creativity.

She says she started writing because she couldn’t find the books that she wanted to read.

It’s a powerful statement.

As a rapper, I can relate.  When I was growing up, I had no problem finding music that I enjoyed.  I purchased tapes and CD’s weekly and would listen to them again and again, learning the lyrics and rapping along.  But as I get older, I find myself listening to music less and talk radio and podcasts more often.

I still love music, I just find it harder to find the music I want to listen to.

But that’s why I love to create.

If I am listening to music, its usually my own or music from my friends.

Sometimes not fitting in can be a good thing.  No sense in trying to duplicate what is already out there when you can create your own.

An Insider Look at the The Toronto Rap Scene

When I saw that Ian Kamau had written a piece on the Toronto rap scene I immediately grabbed a fresh cup of a coffee and dug in.

Having been immersed in the Toronto rap scene for over fifteen years, there are only a handful of people that I think can give accurate insight into the scene.  Kamau is definitely one of those people.

For anyone that is curious about the Toronto scene this is essential reading.

Click here to read the article