2009: Photo Reflection Through Travel.
my record store went out of business in february 2009. i was sort hurt but not surprised. the record store is a dying breed (read my editorial ‘death of the american record store’) so it was inevitable. regardless, i was hit with fear and uncertainty. so, why would a newly unemployed record store guy decide to travel across the world two months later is beyond me. but, i’m glad i did it.
the trip offered a perspective that being in the states couldn’t explain. it was something that made me realize that the world is beyond north america, and that people love the music i’m doing worldwide. it’s equally fascinating and intimidating at the same time. especially coming from a background where my family doesn’t travel. a southern black background, we tend to stay put and have no desire in travel. maybe these are effects of a jim crow south that both of my parents grew up in, making it difficult to travel with ease if you were to go out of town. whatever the case maybe, i felt the effects of it.
i felt handicapped, the same way i feel about the hip-hop genre. handicapped but probably in its own mind. self-inflicted boundaries to keep you from experiencing pain or failure. the idea of a major label coming in and saving someone from financial turmoil is a dream that doesn’t exist for many artists anymore (i think drake will be the last new mega-ton-super-rapstar). so, in understanding this, i have to realize why i still do it.
when i interviewed dj babu (read interview here), he told me about how he sees his music. he said that during what would have been his college years, he was in the dj circuit battling, working on his craft. so, now years later if he needed a job, he couldn’t get your regular 9 to 5 because his school years was his music years. he said “this is all he has.” i didn’t take it as a desperation thing, i took it as an affirming thing, that “i want/need to do this. fuck everything else.”
i don’t think there’s a more healthy approach to have with your passion. i say that now, but when rent is in jeopardy of getting paid and bank accounts are in the negative, it gets tempting to opt for different forms of employment.
the reality is, that there’s two things to realize: 1) the industry is fucked up. it always has been the traditional ways of ‘making it’ don’t exist anymore. and 2) you can control your definition of ‘making it.’ i have no aspirations of being on BET or MTV. i can still have a career. i can still travel. i can still pay my bills. i can still have a life (a wife, a baby, backyard, dogs and whatever else thing i may want).
i guess the real response to a new year is to push myself harder. and embrace all of the uncertainty. embrace the chaos because that’s what life is about. life isn’t about living in a cubicle, going home and watching ‘law and order: svu’. if that describes your life, i’m sorry, i’m not judging. and if you’re happy with that, so be it. but if you’re not happy with it, what are you going to do about it? -PJ