This is from a writing assignment I completed today. I take classes from an entertainment school, and I am currently in a math class. You can gather from the context created by the answers what the questions most likely were. I’m sure I’d violate some sort of copyright by posting the questions here.
The majority of this assignment was based on the edited version of a speech made by Courtney Love in early 2000. (You can view it here.)
5) As I was reading the article, I found myself repeatedly going back to check the date the speech was delivered (even referring to other sources of information to corroborate). I was shocked at the accuracy of her “predictions” (or proposals):
“With unlimited bin space and intelligent search engines, fans will have no trouble finding the music they know they want. They have to know they want it, and that needs to be a marketing business that takes a fee.”
“We’re about to have lots of new ways to sell our music: downloads, hardware bundles, memory sticks, live Webcasts, and lots of other things that aren’t even invented yet.”
(… and the one that made my heart stop…)
“Why can’t MP3.com pay each artist a fixed amount based on the number of their downloads?”
It has become much easier for fans to discover new music and “make” their own tastes. Search engines allow users to type in just a few words of lyrics they may have heard in the background of a television commercial, and immediately access message boards of other users discussing the same exact song, pages with the full lyrics of the song in question, or even the Amazon.com page allowing the user to buy the mysterious song that, just a few seconds ago, they weren’t even sure was a real full-length song at all. Songs are definitely not just sold as singles or full-length CD albums anymore. Individual songs from an album can be purchased for download, or even for streaming only. Songs can be paid for when they are wrapped up in a bundle of music sold as part of a software package. And, as of late, it has become very en vogue to be counted among the tens of thousands in attendance at one live set that may be part of a online broadcast of a group of live sets from different locales. Courtney love had a very sharp eye when she envisioned where the connection between artist and audience was headed, and how technology would facilitate its rapid evolution.
I don’t believe the evolution is as rapid for television and film, but drastic changes are taking place, nonetheless. For instance, Kevin Smith launched a full-on, independent assault on movie goers (in a good way) when he purchased the rights to his own film and limited the ways in which audience members could access the film before its “official” release. Though this may not have been a huge financial success for any major distributor (or Kevin Smith, himself), it did create a uniquely intimate connection between the film and any fans that got to view the film before its official release. It also shed much light on independent film (and the plight of the independent filmmaker), gaining the attentions of those that may have known Kevin Smith’s work having never viewed a truly independent film before “Red State.” The internet played a huge role in helping Smith shed this light.
Countless television shows are now streaming online the way music was almost exclusively just a few short years ago, and the rights to these episodes, the pay for these episodes, and the math of the money involved in all the different avenues of distribution now available are constantly, and very publicly under scrutiny.
Websites and applications like Hulu, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and the ever-evolving Amazon.com have all proven the validity and feasibility (or sensibility) of Courtney Love’s propositions. Whether or not these new models take the artists into account remains to be seen. Whether or not these companies take the artists into account is a completely different story.
Many independent (non-tv) shows and films are popping up all over the internet. Many new music acts (and an increasing number of well-established-turned-independent artists) are now producing their own work and by-passing The Industry altogether by negotiating deals directly with these websites to sell their music. I could sell my own music via iTunes right now if I wanted to. Even YouTube facilitates unsigned and independent artists to profit by allowing advertising during playback of the artist’s work.
When these websites work directly with the creators of these types of works (the creators very often being the writers, producers, rappers, actors, singers, directors, and musicians in themselves), they help to make sure the real artists are being paid for their very real art. These websites become Patrons of the Arts. And since the artists are being paid in full for their work, they then have the resources needed to expand their art and deliver better, more entertaining (and more distributable) content. These new models will continue to change and evolve as time goes on, but so far, it seems these new models can work to the advantage of the artist if the artist understands how to fully access the websites’ flexibility, and capitalize on the direct link they provide between art and audience.
Of course… prospective artists are going to have to learn that it is now impossible to make Beyoncé money with one Britney Spears single.
Engineering is hard. And the word “producer” just doesn’t mean the same thing it meant 20 years ago. Producers used to be genius engineers – now they’re just beat-makers. I have been reading a lot of material on engineering/mixing/producing, and almost all of the books I have read start off with a brief history of engineering/mixing/producing. And almost all of these brief histories made me painfully nostalgic for the beautiful, now quirky, traits that could only by captured on tape or CD.
1) SONG ORDER
Song order is a lost art – like, a REAL – ART. A classmate of mine released a mixtape in December (see below). It was your typical hip-hop mixtape, with probably the majority of its downloads taking place on DatPiff.com. The music was well above average for a mixtape, but the thing that stood out to me the most was… the song order.
I remember telling him that, in the days of the 99 cent download, it was very impressive to find a mixtape that told a lyrical story – ever so graciously moving from track to track, theme to theme – and, even more importantly, a sonic story. The total sound of the album was cohesive, and not a single song took a far leap from the character of its predecessor while it skillfully turned to the album’s next page. So easy it was to let each track play out and feel yourself being carefully slipped out of the resonance of the last beat and ever so smoothly slid into the opening bars of the next.
Even if you didn’t have the same feelings for every song – even if there were some songs you just plain didn’t like – you listened to them… because, somewhere between the intro track, the powerful and proud Track #2, and the inquisitive, almost-sinister, but equally as powerful Track #3, you come to the realization that this is not a mixtape at all… It’s a collection of paintings in a gallery… It’s a runway show… It’s a five-course meal. Each track has its special place in the collection and each piece deserves to be enjoyed individually, but in the light of its counterparts. It’s an album… with impeccable song order.
2) SONG FADES and SEGUES
For a good fade, I am nostalgic. Given the way the industry functions today, the segue is not a feature considered as artful (or important) as it used to be. It’s almost impossible to get the masses to notice the way an album’s track-to-track outros, intros, fades, beat changes, et cetera push the story forward and help the listener easily transition between moods and tempos. No one listens to albums anymore. If I am on Pandora, how in the world am I supposed to interpret the abrupt cut in the instrumental outro of the song to which I was just listening? Because I am a music geek, it would, in fact, be my first assumption that the album from which this song was pulled (before its cruel relocation to my playlist) features a subsequent track that builds on this outro and into a whole new song.
If I were listening to the album (instead of my cruel, piece-work playlist), I would be listening to an extended musical work of art that – yeah, sure – could be divided up into smaller songs… but since the songs were so magnificently blended together, the seamless transitions would not allow me to find a clean spot in the music that would allow me to make an aurally pleasing dissection.
If we were to assume that an expert segue was not my first guess at why my music abruptly stopped, the effect the abrupt stop has on the listener becomes even more disastrous (and annoying). It almost pays to make sure that each track stands alone.
However, well produced transitions between songs serve (at least to me and Music Geeks alike) as incentive to listen to the whole album. I hesitate to admit this: The Black Eyed Peas album, The E.N.D. is one of my favorite albums. I hate all the singles – HATE them! – but the album as a whole is one of the best produced pieces of work I have ever listened to. As someone that aspires to be successful in the music industry, I can’t help but wonder if there is progress to be made in this area. Is it possible to demand a listener purchase your whole album by simply releasing a single as a stand-alone, while giving the single a more elaborate, meaningful, complex, full, rich meaning by allowing a different version of it to be featured as a seamless patch in the album’s quilt? For only a dollar more, you can have all 12 songs and the 15 seconds of musical magic that happens between them!
3) THE HIDDEN TRACK
When I was very young, I lived in my headphones. My Discman was my best friend. And the ‘program’ button was my nightly lullaby. I had discovered a group called Les Nubians. I was completely in love with their music, and listened to their album, Princesses Nubiennes, over and over again… but I only listened to my favorite tracks, as there were a few that I just could not stand, as well as a few that I had to listen to two or three times before skipping to the next. When I would go to bed, I would program my Discman to play Demain, Les Portes du Souvenir, Sourire, Embrasse-Moi, Si Je T’Avais Ecoute, and Desolee. I would have a few of the songs programmed to play twice in a row, and I would often be well asleep before I reached the end of this “playlist”.
But, once fast asleep, I would have dreams of this crazy, tribal version of the song, Demain. I loved the jazzy, single version of the song, but this song I was hearing in my dreams was big, powerful, beautiful. When I was dreaming, I was almost crying as the song crescendoed and the voices multiplied. I would wake up to dead batteries, completely confused as to where this tribal remix of Demain was coming from. Until one day, I noticed that the song, Désolée (the last track on the album) popped up on my Discman’s display — with an absurd time listed as its length. Most songs are between 3 and 4 minutes long, but Désolée was like 15 minutes in duration (or 8 or 12 – ‘twas years ago, I don’t recall!) I skipped through it, past the end of the song, into the silence, and finally, I arrived at the sound of crickets chirping. It was the intro to my Tribal Remix of Demain (see link below). This time when I heard it, I did cry. It was such a beautiful song – so rich and moving, so emotional and authentic – I was so happy that it wasn’t just all in my dreams. I could go back and hear this beauty whenever I wanted to – now that I knew it was there. And that is the art of the hidden track.
It’s a gem, a surprise, a gift! A prize rewarded only to those who listen to the album in its entirety – those that pay attention to the album’s detail.
Early today, my sister and I were sitting in my living room, each on our own laptops, Facebooking and Tumblring away, not speaking, just listening to Ed Sheran on Spotify. We had reached the end of the beautifully perfect and incredibly powerful “Give Me Love”. I noticed an uncomfortable amount of silence and clicked on my Spotify icon expecting some pathetic plea that I pay attention to some useless ads. But I was in the middle of an 8-minute track. “Give Me Love” had ended some time ago, but I was still listening to it. I skipped forward to hear the – sing it with me if you know the words – HIDDEN TRACK. Recalling Demain, The Tribal Remix, I was so giddy and excited that, by the time I finished listening to Sheran’s hidden track, I was actually devastatingly disappointed in comparison. It wasn’t as big, and bold, and beautiful as “Demain Roots” (aka, The Tribal Remix). But — here I am, listening to it again. And I realize something now.
The Art of the Hidden Track is still an Art. The Hidden Track serves different purposes for different artists, and is open to interpretation – the audience chooses the impact. On Princesses Nubiennes, the Hidden Track was an organic reimagination of one of the album’s hit singles – a reimagination that took the song from Jazz to Fire-Side Drum Circle. Ed Sheran’s Hidden Track was a quiet, but (I admit) equally as beautiful nod to music of a different genre that would not have otherwise fit in the album. Les Nubians went Tribal. Ed Sheran went Gregorian Jig. Both hidden tracks truly are gems, and the fact that these two tracks are featured on albums fifteen years apart serves as a great source of hope, and, for me, inspiration. You can, in the digital age, still leave easter eggs, production details, and other sonic gems on an album. The listeners that pay attention will still appreciate them. They’ll still benefit from them. Your album can still be a better work of art because of them.
perfect song order on The Purple Smoke Project’s The Day After the End of the World mixtape:
the perfect track to hide on an already gorgeous album, Les Nubians’ “Demain Roots“
Where are you? I miss you! Something tells me you and I should have been married. Don’t ask me why I’m thinking about you now after all these years. I haven’t the slightest idea, my dear. But I think I could have loved you.
I’m so deeply sorry my attentions were all turned to all of the Bad Boys by which I was surrounded. I was young, dumb, and convinced that a thug was what I wanted to love. It was. But I wasn’t that same person for very long. I’ve since moved on to here, where I sit now, in front of my MacBook – strong, wise, alone and online.
But strong enough now to contend with the great personal strength I recognized and appreciated and feared in you. I could never understand why you liked me.
Now that I’m a better Me, a Me that knows with great certainty where she is going, I can’t picture myself ever settling down with anyone less than all you.
And did I mention that I eventually got that same tattoo?
It’s bigger – much bigger. It takes up a good portion of the top part of my back, extending from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. Every once in a while, I’ll catch a glimpse of it in the mirror and remember the first time I saw it on skin. I remember everything about how we first met. I will never, ever, ever forget.
And I still love Jehovah with all my heart. If you do too, then I think I can love you…
I read an entry from one of my school’s blogs. In this entry, the author (a film producer, from what I gathered) identified producers as directors – leaders. He said the producer’s job is to be whatever is needed to make sure the project comes together. I completely agree with this. No matter the project, the producer’s job is to make sure everything comes together in an effective manner. In my chosen profession, it will be my job (on a small scale) to make sure all the instruments in my songs come together to produce something (excuse this in advance) ‘greater than the sum of its parts’. On a larger scale (and if I ever get to be the kind of producer that I truly desire to be), I will be charged with making sure the artists are as comfortable as possible, that they give the best performances they can, and that everything is captured and assembled in a way that will move units… I have to do whatever it takes to make the project happen.
(Does anyone say that anymore? “Move units”?)
This month in class, my classmates and I were split into groups and instructed to complete a group podcast. Before we were even given the details of the assignment, I immediately begged my classmates to vote for me as the Group Coordinator should they end up in my group. I knew each group would have one, and I naively assumed it would be an exciting position. We were introduced to Wiggio, a Web 2.0/collaborative site designed to serve as a platform on which parties in different locations (and possibly on drastically different schedules) can all keep up-to-date and continuously contribute to a group project. I love this site. I loved it from the moment it was introduced to me. It’s a fabulous tool. It’s an effective tool. It is a tool that only two of my nine group members have used.
It was made clear to us, early on, that the role of the Group Coordinator is just that: to coordinate. They aren’t leaders, they aren’t directors, and they aren’t producers any more than collecting mixtapes from local barber shop counters makes you a record exec. My only job is to create an introduction for the group podcast, at least once encourage my group members to submit their individual portions of the podcast, and create an outro. The group members’ portions were due last week. So far, only two members have submitted work.
Even though I was specifically instructed to avoid taking on “an aggressive leadership role,” I can’t help but feel as if I’ve failed. I was excited to be Group Coordinator before the project even started because I thought of the role as an opportunity to start figuring out how I would “coordinate” the efforts of different personalities in different locations with different availabilities and abilities. Not all music projects will have to be worked this way, but it is more and more the fad to collaborate over long distances. Even if we’re all in the same physical workspace, I need to know how to motivate artists to take the time, get on their computers, and examine the progress of the work I’m trying to do for them.
One of the tasks assigned to Group Coordinator was to post contact information and an encouraging remark in the Wiggio group feed. I’ve posted like 5 times already, with my contact information at the bottom of each post. The most recent post practically begged my group members to contact me.
Good morning everyone! We have until Friday to get those podcasts in! Please let me know if you need help with anything. I'll do my best to help you with any aspect of your podcast; Just let me know you need the help! ********.*****firstname.lastname@example.org **********@********.edu aim: ********.***** cell: 480-***-****
… It is now Thursday night. They were given a whole entire extra week… No responses… No additional submissions.
What am I going to do when I’m sitting behind the glass with a drummer, a bassist, and a manager, waiting for the singer and the lead guitarist to take an interest in the recording process and come back to the studio?? My job as the producer, the director, the leader, the magician, is to convince the artists that each session is important, not impossible; valuable, not mundane; exciting/therapeutic/euphoric — and not boring… Even if I have to lie to them.
I need to figure this out.
I wonder what it was like to work with Oasis.
In other news, a Haitian artist from Alaska, Sande-O (an artist I plan on working with very closely over the coming years and developing personally) put some beautiful rap lyrics to the least hip-hop of all my songs. You can take a listen here:
http://reverbnation.com/sandeo (“mellow fellow” is my favorite.. but i think he took it down… ill encourage him to repost)
The melodies were amazing… The song, even more so… But the two never came together…
When I first bought all of my equipment, and started making ‘beats’, I had this unacknowledged dream floating around in the back of my mind. I was going to be the first huge female hip-hop producer. I was going to be widely known and well respected. I was going to completely change the game.
But I don’t love hip-hop the way hip-hop producers love hip-hop. I love music in general. I love certain hip-hop songs because the music is on point. I do take preference to hip-hop, but I don’t know what neighborhoods all my favorite rappers grew up in, or how they got their big breaks, or what crews they ran with before signing solo. I just know I really love a well produced hip-hop beat coupled with a well written verse. But I love ANY well-produced/well-written song. Hip-hop just happens to catch my attention more often.
Now that I’ve been taking my production seriously, that weird dream I had has disappeared. I want to produce for tv shows. I want to score movies. I want to make commercial jingles (I’ve already made a better Kia song than LMFAO ever will). I want to make a living by doing a lot of little, different, fun projects… And then I want to be able to share my “hip-hop” beats with all my rapper friends completely free of charge… forever…
Working in the industry as a non-hip-hop-producer means I will always be dealing with concrete deadlines. Maybe a movie has to be released by December, but the director is just handing me the completed film right now with no idea of how/where he wants the score to go. Even if, creatively or technically, it seems impossible — IT HAS TO BE DONE! What better way to get used to this than entering a bunch of music competitions with do-or-die deadlines??
I read about Talenthouse.com on my school’s website. They host contests for the arts: music, photography, graphics, everything. It’s a terrific website with a huge variety of music challenges. I was excited about one in particular. The group Dragonette had posted lyrics to a song called “Untouchable.” The challenge was to produce a song (and its accompanying melodies) around the lyrics alone. It took a couple weeks for me to complete the song, but the final instrumental turned out to be the best song I had ever created…
The vocals were a completely different story.
The melodies I had were immaculate. I figured out how I was going to sing the song before I ever even started work on the beat. Once I had a solid idea of how the song was to be sung, I created a basic beat. Then went back, perfected the melodies, and accented the song around them. The lyrics, melodies, and music all fit snugly together in a beautiful, dark, multifaceted piece of music.
I completed the song the night before the close date for the contest… I dragged my microphones, preamp, and macbook upstairs to my bedroom closet, and knocked out the vocals in about 45 minutes. (side note: closets are terrible for sound – don’t do it. get a good mic, maybe some wall foam, and record in your bedroom. but if you have a sleeping toddler and it’s 3am, go to the bedroom closet). I sat down to start mixing and then realized I had no idea what I was doing. I decided to nap and start with a fresh set of ears in the morning.
Here’s a tip to my aspiring producers: TAKE AN ENGINEERING CLASS OR MAKE REAL NICE WITH AN ENGINEER!
Hip-hop vocals are easy. You don’t want a whole lot of effects changing the actual sound of the vocals, because, once the song is completed, you’re going to be more concerned with understanding what the rapper is saying and being entertained by how they’re saying it more than you will be with how fancy the vocals sound mixed into the music…
Singing is completely different. Rapping is giving the music a reason for being. Singing is completing a musical picture that’s already there. That’s why hip-hop beats tend to be so simple (and why my extravagant, complicated, over-thought, over-produced butt will never make it in hip-hop).
The deadline for submission of the Dragonette song was 10am. I went to bed at 4am. I woke up at 6am. By the time I had made breakfast for my two-year-old and convinced him that his toy cars were more entertaining than Momma was going to be, it was 7:45am.
I rushed through some online blogs and articles on mixing vocals. No help. The kind of people that blog about engineering are the kind of people that mix rap vocals for local hip-hop artists on ‘trap music’ songs that they, themselves produced.
I did find a good article about EQ and decided that I would take those pointers, find a good EQ for the verse and chorus, and then just reverb and effect the heck out of everything… And then pray it would all end up sounding like a real song.
I had cut the lower frequencies of the vocals to bring attention to the creepy, bass-y sounds of the song. I kept the first verse clean with slight reverb in one channel, and an obnoxious delay in all the right parts. The chorus was a single voice with alot of reverb and air. It was sounding pretty good.
The second verse never happened.
It was 9:45 and I was just starting to mix the first chorus. I hadn’t even picked out which parts of which takes of the second verse I was going to use. The song was 5 minutes long and I had only finished about 2 and a half.
I was about to start crying, but stopped short when I realized what had just happened. It was my first deadline and I was going to miss it. It wasn’t a paid project; It was a passion-project. It was completely free work that I was sweating over as if, at 10 a.m., my son and I were going to die of starvation. From 7:45 to 9:45, I taught myself more about treating vocals than most of my fellow South Phoenix at-home producers will ever even begin to understand. In less than 24 hours (had I completed the vocal mix), I would have completed a full song, with a professional sound… first ever… all by myself… no producers… no singers… no engineers…
Just me and my “studio”.
I know I can never miss a deadline in the professional world, but I now know what I really am capable of. I missed this deadline because of my own lack of education, but recovered quickly. If I hadn’t slept, I wouldn’t have missed the deadline. That is NOT going to be the story of my life.
I’ll sleep after I hit “submit” — every time. I’ll learn as much as I can about everything I don’t know once it becomes apparent that I don’t know it. And I’ll never cry over what I can’t do. I’ll just make myself do it.
The song would have been entitled “Untouchable” and would have featured myself singing the lyrics Untouchable by Dragonette… if I had submitted it and won the Dragonette competition.
It is now called “Dragonette and Deadlines”. It has no vocals and can be enjoyed by clicking here:
I have a terrible habit of starting projects and giving up on them pretty quickly if I am not immediately gratified.
I’m trying to quit that habit.
It’s been another whirlwind year. Since my last post, I started talking to Fine, Young Black Man again, I lost my job, and am now back in school.
Around this time last year, I bought a bunch of equipment. A keyboard, mics, interface, mic stands, a music stand, pop filter… I started teaching myself to make my own music. I started with the intent of becoming the most successful female producer of all time…….. Everyone sucks at beat making when they first start, but everyone gets better with education and experience. It was very slow going for me.
I would come home from work, tend to my child, then pass out. I would only work on a song maybe once a week, and only for maybe an hour. It was incredibly hard to find the time to work on anything, and constant fatigue had completely obliterated my ambitions.
I was fired from my job for stepping on the wrong toes. I don’t believe that ‘everything happens for a reason’ the same way most people do. I believe things happen… that’s it. But I do believe there’s something to be said about the energy you put out into the world around you. The weeks leading up to my dismissal, I was miserable. I was crying on my way to work almost every morning. I was crying at work almost every lunch break. Sometimes, I would get up from my desk just to go cry in the stairwell. I was miserable.
When you’re working really hard at something you’re not truly passionate about, there’s a lot of disappointment. When someone else gets that promotion, what are you left with? Not even a job that you love doing — you never had that. You end up with nothing. I had nothing. Just an obligation to my son to make money. An obligation that took up way too much of my time.
I met with the vice president of our company over an issue I was having with a manager. As soon as I walked in the door, he told me that I stabbed management in the back, that he had already cut my severance check, and that I had one opportunity to convince him to let me keep my job… Yes… He wanted me to beg…
All I said was “I’m good at my job.”
I could have cried, begged, recapped all of my accomplishments over the previous two years with the company, all the things anyone would do when they know they’re about to lose the job they could save with a few carefully chosen words… I wondered for a couple weeks why I didn’t.
…. and then I realized that, since being fired, I hadn’t cried at all. Even on the drive home that fateful day, I didn’t shed a tear.
I had convinced myself that I was just in shock… That, once the realization that I was a single, unemployed mother hit me, I would be a complete emotional wreck. That day never came.
I realized that I was blessed with a terrific opportunity to start over.
Since termination, my music has gone from snare, hi hat, bass and a little synth to full blown compositions of violins, cellos, electric guitars, and lots more synth. In just a month, I’ve grown more than some at-home producers ever will… I know I’m good at this, and I love doing this more than I ever loved singing. I started class two weeks ago. If all goes as planned, I will have my BS in Music Production within three years.
I plan to produce for television shows, commercials, and games. I have dreams of making it as a country producer (side note: I’m Black, Guatemalan, and love hip-hop music). I will eventually score a film. I finally learned to read music last week and will be playing piano like a pro by the end of this year. Next year, we’ll revisit the guitar and finally start recording live instruments with the wonderfully expensive equipment I haven’t really used yet.
Here’s to my future. I don’t know what it is, but it’s already turning out to be so much better than my 26 years of past.
I’d like to share this journey with anyone that’s interested in watching the slow, hard won success of a music producer from it’s infancy. Thank you WordPress for keeping everything as I left it.
Let Me School You: “No Can Do” by Daryl Hall & Cee-Lo Green.
I hate the term “Writer’s Block”… I like saying what I mean, meaning what I say, calling things how I see them, and hearing people do the same. When people say “Writer’s Block”, they’re implying they typically have no truoble banging out song/poetry/literature, but, recently, have ran into some abnormal, unexpected lapse in creativity/initiative/motivation… Most people that use the term “Writer’s Block” are the kind of people who have “Writer’s Block” more than they do clarity and production. I never really truly have Writer’s Block… I think I just have more apprehension than is healthy for a song writer. When I have “Writer’s Block”, I’m not out of material —– I’m afraid to write what I have…
I met a boy over two years ago when I first moved here. I was working at a financial services office, and this fly, well dressed young Black man came in to apply for a loan. He told me that he was a rapper, that he needed a singer, and that I looked like I could sing. I told him I could, but was not interested in releasing my number. He wrote his phone number, voicemail line, and myspace URL down on one of my business cards. I went home and tossed it aside with the intent of taking it out with the morning’s trash.
Where I had lived before, young people had nothing to do but sell drugs, do drugs, rap, and dream. Every neighborhood rapper needed a good hook and a cute voice… I was far too overweight to ever be considered the cute voice — but I was the go-to girl for the good hook… So when people told me they rapped and could use a singer — I took it as an offer for copy and credit… or a date… Nothing more… Ever… No matter how fine and nicely dressed the offer was…
A year went by. I fell in love, got engaged, got pregnant, left the baby’s father, had the baby alone, went through 3 jobs, and finally ended up unemployed and in online school for medical insurance. The last few months of my pregnancy, I started a journal – a big notebook full of things I wanted my future son/daughter to know about the family they were being born into and the life I had tried to build up for them. During this time, I tried so desperately to write songs. I had plenty of inspiration, but even more “Writer’s Block”. I had always been good about writing down my feelings on life, love, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends… But that’s because life, love, and boyfriends had happened to me soooo often, writing about those things was like telling my best friend what I ate for lunch — it was trivial, colloquial… I was just very good at expressing the mundane in a poetic manner.
The break-up with my fiancé, the pregnancy, the unemployment, and the full time school work with the new born were far too personal, too new, and too complicated for me to feel comfortable approaching them in a medium that could possibly trivialize everything that had become the Me I had never had time to figure out before.
It was completely random (and, in retrospect, very strange) that, during this time, I found this old business card with the fine, young, Black man’s information. It was a year later, and I didn’t even remember what he looked like or what he said to me. I decided to visit his site before throwing the card away for good…
Listening to his music, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had missed out on the opportunity that could have changed the course of my life. I still have the messages from our first contact after almost a year…
March 10, 2010:
“i dont know if you’ll remember me or not… i worked with you one night at **** – told you i sang, and you gave me your number and myspace url… i just found the card you wrote all that on, but i cant add you unless i know your last name or email addy… so add me
April 20, 2010
“Hey what’s up !!!!!
You will not believe what I’m about to tell you, but one thing u will learn from me is I’m a true brotha. No reason to lie.Yea i remember u. U frm ****. So check this out. True story. I kept that card tht you gave me at ****. I have tried to find u on here a few months back. Like 7 or 8 months Lol. I only had your 1st name and I could not find you. So Fast foward, on everything, I was cleanin my room. I found your crd. I was about to toss it. I thought nah try one more time to search for her. I tld my self if I did not find u on here I was gonna try FB, then I was gonna give up. I have not been on my myspace page in 2 months at least. Tha only reason I got on today was a friend tld me to check his songs on here, so I decided to check my email. And here you are hittin me up like a month ago. 1st I want to say I hope your year is good, hope life treatin you well. 2nd, I want to thank you. Honest cause I still been loookin for a female singer…..”
I met with him and his boys, we laid out a plan of attack on the Music Game, I recorded some stuff – and then everything fell apart. I never wrote for Fine Young Black Man’s rapper friends ever again, but I did stay very well in touch with him.
Here we are over a year later… Fine Young Black Man and I have gone through multiple cycles of making music together, debating over music, allowing the friendship to take a romatic turn, and then taking a break to get our heads back in the Music Game… There’s been at least three instances to date when I have completely blocked his number to keep from hearing from him and remembering how very special he is to me… But every single time – remeniscent of the first time – we somehow manage to run into eachother and the whirl-wind professional romanticism starts all over again.
This time was the hardest… Probably because I know it’s so final…
He was one of the best friends I’ve ever had. He was constantly pushing me to pay attention to myself… To not let myself become “MOM” without leaving something to identify me as “KITA”… To get back to the one thing that always made me feel like myself: MUSIC… To always write – to always record – to never let that part of myself go, even if I’ve long ago let the dream get away… It’s because of him that this blog even exists, that I’ve written anything at all in the passed two years, that my son is singing, dancing, and playing keyboards at 19 months of age… and it is purely because of the Fine Young Black Man that I am sitting here, drinking Captain Morgan and Bud Light, blogging – instead of writing about all the feelings he has provoked in me over this last month.
Him and I always had the understanding that, as long as I was super-Christian, and as long as he was an aspiring rapper, we could never work out romantically. But why did we have that understanding? Why does it feel so wrong that I am not with him right now, working on a couple of beats he just bought, debating over whether or not J Cole will be the rapper to bring back hip-hop, laughing, thinking, and waking up togehter?? Why is it so hard to just work on music together, without thinking about eachother in any other light? Why can’t we get on the same page and let the Love Thing work?
I have my standards and he has his: they will never intersect at a point that will allow us to even consider dating…. But he truly is one of the best friends I have ever had. In the past three weeks, I have written so many songs, I can’t even count/name them right now. I have probably twenty good verses and/or hooks that just need a little more attention to push them into full Album Worthy maturity… I am the same hungry, musical genius I was back when I was 18 – before I moved here and lost myself to find someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife, someone’s ex, and someone’s mom… I am Me again, and the person I owe it all to is now on my Verizon “Block Calls and Messages” list…
I don’t believe in fate… I don’t believe in karma… I don’t believe in spiritism – or even Divine Intervention in the conventional fashion… I do believe that life happens in whatever way it happens —- and it always turns out the way it was going to, had you made the descisions you made… There is nothing whimsical or romantic about it — but it’s hardly predictable. I love this man…. and he is completely wrong for me…
But all he is to me now is the best song I never wrote…
I dont believe in sharing my personal information online… My facebook page is found under the pseudonym “Bomb Diggity”… So we’ll just call me Supastarruh…
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember… Mostly songs, but a lot of poetry, essays, short stories, non-fiction narratives… I feel I’m better than most at being able to effectively communicate my ideas… But – with all the wonderful, glorious, valuable talent I possess – I’ve always wanted to be an R&B Songwriter…
This blog is dedicated to all the GOOD songwriters out there that will never make it big because good songwriting is not marketable…
Like a G6??…. WTF????????