“Might of begin to tear up, my nose started to flare up, I’m not afraid of improving” – Word to the Wise
Despair, anger, excitement and above all else, fear. These are the emotions that I have been battling with over the last few months. I recently got an apartment with my lovely girlfriend, successfully learned how to not get lost on the subway in NYC (still needs a little work), found new friends and even started to learn how to DJ. No matter how big or small, these are events that have shown progress in my 27 year young life. I am proud, but on the other hand, these changes have added new responsibility. I now have to provide for a new apartment, try my best to learn the ins and outs of the city so I can effectively make a career change and better understand how to create time in my life for relationships. My life seems to be happening faster than I can process, my emotions are all out of whack; there are less people in my life that I receive support from and each day teaches me that nothing is guaranteed. Some call it an early identity crisis (shout out to D.C. Comics), others call it anxiety and depression.
“What’s a Crew, what’s a gang to a brother who been his thing all alone?” – “I Belong to the World”
Hip Hop artist Oddisee views it as growing pains. He reminds me that it’s ok to be afraid and with hard work and determination anything is possible. Born from an African American mother and Sudanese father, he grew up in Prince George County, Maryland, which is one of the wealthiest African American counties in the nation. He was afforded a cultivated and cultured worldview that has likely provided him sage like wisdom. His omniscient worldview is expressed through impactful poetry over a wide array of jazzy and soulful productions that would make Ali Shaheed Muhammad proud. Oddisee crafts nearly every single one of his songs from the ground up. He uses live instrumentation in his production. Every pluck of a chord, melodic hiss leaking through metal and thud of bass is usually recorded live and edited for his albums. His lyrics are consistently thoughtful and impactful. He wrestles with complex morals, the traditional American ideals of progression and his personal contradictions. Often he explains his mixed feelings of being a successful indie artist. He is essentially trying to do the best he can in a world that is hard, he’s not just a dreamer but a non-conformist to what the music industry deems popular. Oddisee has produced for soundtracks, commercials, podcasts and even your favorite indie artists (Joey BadA$$, Chris Faust, Fresh Daily). He’s an everyman, your favorite indie artist’s Mc and producer. In everything he touches, there is a hint of thoughtfulness and care in all his work.
“Motivated by fear, ain’t the best, but it works for me” – “Tomorrow Today”
Lately, his music has been helping me. It’s sort of soundtrack through my depression, with all the chaos in my mind lately, Oddisee helps me make sense of it, and shows me that it’s always possible to make an honest living and be proud of what you contribute to the world. He has the ability to rationalize and explore his thoughts in a clear and cohesive manner, for the better or worse. It just so happens, when he does it also helps me sort through my own insecurities and doubt. On his most recent album, The Good Fight, he has a song titled “A List of Withouts”. On it, he quickly raps within a verse that money coming and going predict the pattern I’m trying to define. With just that quick string of lyrics, he makes me face the question of if I am willing to sacrifice my belief system to make more money? Or will I stick to my guns and try to find my passion? I think I have always know that fear governs the decisions I make, either it be professionally or emotionally. As I grow and learn about myself and what I want to achieve, it dawns on me that fear and doubt is all a part of the game. In order for me to make it into the next day with my psyche intact, I need to be able to prepare for worse but expect the best.
“I ain’t start from the bottom, I started from the beginning” – “Tangible Dream’
When Oddisee explain his journey of personal success in such unpretentious detail, it stills my anxiety about what I believe I haven’t accomplished yet. It is a constant reminder that just changing my perspective a bit will go a long way.
“Anything I do is a part of me from the start” – “First Step”
Now while I don’t completely subscribe to Oddisee’s personal religion he mentions at times, I do enthusiastically believe in the spiritual values he professes in his work. As I grow, I have been learning to accept the unexpected, it is important to understand that just because I have a romanticize view of something, doesn’t mean hard work isn’t required. Being at the beginning of a life project is something to be proud of, days go by and I have thousands of ideas, yet I do not act on them. I’m at least glad that there was an instance in my life that I believed in myself enough to engage in anything I love in whatever capacity. I believe that all of these experiences not only enrich my perspective but also my soul. Without the first step there can be no destination, for the end and beginning are undoubtedly connected.