Tuesday, June 19, 2007
How To Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps (Pt. II)
How to Get Off the Plantation in 5 Easy Steps:
2. Eat your anger.
So as I discussed in Step 1, the first important step is all about vision. Having a concrete vision for what you want to do. And this vision should relate to a passion you have—something you would do even if you couldn’t make any money doing it. After finding this passion, the next step is to truly begin your march to freedom. You need a starting point. Most successful people I know who are young and in the music business full time were starlets waiting to happen. They began early, like Tiger Woods. We’re talking people who were singing in brushes at the age of three, in acapella groups in high school, banging on keyboards in college, and now producing, writing and singing full time a mere fifteen years later. But for every single rising star I know there are 100 trying to make it---100 folks that decided at the age of 20 that they wanted to do music and now are dropping out of school, stripping or pumping gas so they can pay a producer for a demo package, and hoping they can get a record out before they have to hang their head in shame and go back to mama or school. (I used to do this every Christmas until I decided to go back to school, graduate, and pay my own bills, or at least most of them.)
But what if you’re 25 and unable to write songs, dunk a basketball, too “dumb" to be a doctor, etc. What then? Then go back to step 1. Find something to believe in and stick with it. Because even if you have passion and vision “making it" takes hard work, planning, talent, discipline, and perhaps most importantly of all, luck. But even if you have no passion, no vision, no idea what you’d like to do or where you’d like to go, you gotta start somewhere.
So start with anger. Study the things that enrage you. And eat them. What makes you maddest? Homelessness. Sexism. Racism. Poverty. The fact your mom can’t dress. The bad music at parties. The fact you’ve traveled nowhere except to campus and back home. Your inability to find a date. The lack of art in schools. The fact that black people don’t read. The many historical injustices of American foreign policy. The fact Americans consume so much, waste exponentially, and give back so little. Find these things that drive you crazy and then pour your whole being into them. This anger is a career, an economic opportunity, a new invention, business model or technological breakthrough waiting to happen. Eat this pain, this frustration and anger and use it as fuel. Often this is where the most innovative ideas and passions come from.
As we know, most great art comes from guys like Woody Allen, Spike Lee, Andy Warhol, James Baldwin, the list goes on--- these guys were misfits, the guys that never got a dance at prom and it ate them up. It ate them up so much they had to find a way to be noticed, a way to make it happen. The tricky thing to remember here is that most people who have lasting success had a burning mission, something to say, core values that formed the foundation of everything they accomplished. You get the impression that Spike Lee genuinely cares more about black people and the community than he does about himself. And it makes you go see his films. So what do you have to say? What do you believe in? What drives you crazy? Make a list of those things that keep you up at night and then attack them systematically by volunteering, joining with others to form a company or organization, write a song, paint a picture, run down the street naked, just get angry and make it happen!
You can do it. You can turn your hopelessness, your despair and despondency into action. Stop staring at that computer screen. Turn down the zombie syndrome and become determined to be somebody. And by somebody I don’t mean an asshole with a Swiss bank account, a fixture in celebrity culture or a reality TV star. I mean become the best you.