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Thursday, 2 September 2004
late bloomer syndrome (or "how can i be DOWN?")
Now Playing: Japanese pop...and lots of it.

What would you be doing if you were not making music?
M: God, I don't know. Probably have a regular job or be stressing on the street doing something that I ain't supposed to do, like my other homies. Luckily music can save your soul, and you can be in tune with more of yourself.

-Taken from an interview with Madlib, Tokion Magazine, September 2004.

I read this interview earlier in the week and it made me smile. I have so much respect for Madlib as a producer, DJ, and musician. Seeing him spin along with Peanut Butter Wolf and Trevor Jackson at P.S. 1 back in July was easily the highlight of my summer. It?s funny some of the traits that some record collectors share, like buying records just for the cover art or getting a certain feeling about how an album will sound without even listening to it first, then getting home and discovering that you played the right hunch. I totally relate to that. Some of the most challenging and creative music in my record crates were purchased by playing hunches.

I look at all that Madlib?s doing and think to myself, damn?he spends all day in the studio. If only that could be my life? At the same time, Stones Throw is an indie label and at the end of the day, you need to move units. So they gotta put in work: promotion, tours, in-store appearances and all that. But still, they?re doing what they want to do. You gotta respect that. The same can be said for so many other artists and hard-working labels dedicated to releasing quality sounds.

A good friend of mine and his girlfriend were over my place this past weekend and he asked me why I wasn?t already doing the same. I said something about having too many other responsibilities to really pursue it, as well as lacking connections. I?d like to think that at least the first part of those sentiments ring true. I gave up rapping a long time ago; I?m a poet, but I?m no MC. I just don?t have it in me to be that boastful ALL THE DAMNED TIME. The house that MCs built is fortified with bravado at its foundation. Meanwhile, I?m a Christian, which means I?m supposed to make it my business to crucify self daily. Kinda hard to do when you?re claiming bragging rights, isn?t it? Besides that, it?s through the blog and my rants that the vocal side of me comes out.

Most musical ideas that I have these days are more instrumental than vocal anyway. I could probably say a lot more through the rhythm than my vocabulary. Sometimes you just need to know when to shut the hell up. There are beats in my head that have been haunting me for years. They will more than likely continue to do so until they are fully realized outside of my mental. So what are my excuses for not doing so already? Time and money. Both of these are my greatest enemies. Working a pride-swallowing, soul-sucking job for craptacular wages can seriously sap your energy. Most of my day is spent at the job and traveling to and from the job. When I get home, there is always something to be done that keeps me away from the music. And the money?s spent before the pay check?s even in the account. The few dollars that I?m not even supposed to spend usually end up going towards music purchases.

I suppose I?ve been championing other artists? sounds for so long that I?ve left no time or money to bring my own to fruition. This is about the point in the conversation where my friend responds, ?You need to stop doing that.? The thing is I like being the person that turns others on to cool sounds. I?m a selector before a producer. Granted, back in my college radio days, I was able to do both on the regular. I was a lot hungrier then. I was also more conceited and considerably more dishonest. Long story short, I was a so-called follower of Christ who ran game on people on the side. Once I graduated from college, I did my best to distance myself from the person I was back then. To a large degree, the producer in me may have been swept up while I was internally cleaning house.

I haven?t been spinning anywhere since March and I don?t have a radio show, so my circle of influence isn?t nearly as large as I would like for it to be. I?m a man with much music and very few outlets. Other aspects of my life (primarily the job and the never ending war of economics) have done well in beating me down to the point of where I?m just numb to so many things. These days, I can swing from really numb to verbally violent (just exactly the states in which every employer loves to see their customer service representative, wouldn?t you say?). I don?t like extremes, so this has gotta stop, but without a new corporate gig lined up, there?s likely more on the horizon. Listening to Giuliani?s speech at the Republican National Convention Monday night (yeah, I know, should?ve known better) had built up a murderous rage, which thankfully subsided Tuesday afternoon...shortly after I started reading the Madlib article.

I have a picture of myself at 11 months old, dragging Roberta Flack?s Quiet Fire album over to the record player. I recently found that record for three bucks at a vinyl spot I stumbled upon in the East Village. Things like that remind you of who you are. More than often, who you are has nothing to do with what you do for a living. It?s no accident that I found that record. Maybe fetal beats will actually have a chance to become newborns. It would be nice to be pregnant with production again. It would probably take my mind off of the unnecessary annoyances. It?ll happen when it happens; I?ll only dread it if I rush it. Until then, tempos and chord changes wipe their feet on the tissue of my brain and take residence, nagging me every so often to become ?the poor man?s Prince Paul? that I?ve always pictured myself being.

Posted by macedonia at 11:08 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 September 2004 11:17 AM EDT
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Thursday, 2 September 2004 - 1:10 PM EDT

Name: Mikal Lee
Home Page: http://www.myspace.com/freeradicalz

I have to respond to this. I don't think that your faith is a barrier to your talent, if anything it can and should be a catalyst. I think there are many artists you know right now that are of a hip hop mentality that don't exhibit the same type of Braggadocious posturing. But you are not or never were a straight "rap" person.

The thing that I will keep trying to drive into your brain is that you have a talent and gift for music that needs to be shared. Just as Beth has pursued her passion, the goal that will help her further fulfill and enrich her life as well as others...you need to do the same. In earnest. As a producer and DJ, a social commentator, you have such potential to make an impact.

You've always as long as I've known you been able to communicate without being preachy. Translating the most amount of information and insight without losing people, without scaring them and many times leaving them energized.

Yeah, the politics, the business, the lack of security and grind can make the music seem marginal and less friendly. But think for a minute, what are you doing right now? Can you tell me that you don't already deal with these things getting up and hoofin it on the train. Putting up with other people's BS, stupid bureacracy, and the fear that any one wrong turn in the economy or your job....and you're back to square one? What is the payoff? We do what we have to do to make things right. That's a given. At the end of the day, we have to seek what will make US right. You have much of that equation solved, Jason. At peace with your soul. A loving partner to reflect the best and worst of who you are. But there is more there man. Much more. Drop me a line...

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