Before I Was a Rapper, I Was a Writer
Every day that I have a show, I wake up in the morning and think, why do I do this to myself? Nobody had a gun to my head. I voluntarily booked this show. Do I even know my songs? How’s the weather? Is anybody going to show up?
I was never the outgoing, star of the show, all eyes on me personality. I can’t even say that I’ve grown into it. I’ve recorded hundreds of songs, been in thousands of videos, and performed on stage countless times. I’m riddled with anxiety every time. Inevitably though, I battle through that anxiety, get up on stage, start performing, and wind up having the time of my life. Becoming a rapper, a real honest-to-God rapper, required me to step way outside of my comfort zone. Some of the best things in life lie outside of our comfort zones.
How did I end up here? I’m a writer. From a young age, I scribbled in journals and wrote short stories. As a high-schooler, I developed a fondness for hip-hop. Of course I enjoyed the instrumentation, but I fell in love with the lyricism. I’m competitive. I’ve always played sports. Hip-hop, to me, was like The Olympics of writing. No book, in three hundred pages, could provide the type of witty wordplay that I could consume by listening to three minutes of Lupe Fiasco. Naturally, I was drawn to the art form. I wrote lyrics of my own, and eventually I began to create music. Turning that passion into a career has been nothing short of a dream come true.
2020 brought turmoil to many people’s lives. Mine has been no different. I released my third album, “Guess You Had To Be There,” in June and was forced to cancel the accompanying tour. Much of the second half of the year was spent contemplating the next ten years of my career. What does it look like? I’ve always been keenly aware that hip-hop, particularly the style of hip-hop that I enjoy, is a young person’s game. That being said, great music is never out of style. It’s been difficult, but recently I’ve enjoyed finding creative ways to stay true to myself and the place that I’m at in life, while still creating great music. I’m lucky to have a fanbase that’s grown with me over the years rather than having to constantly try to speak to a much younger generation to stay relevant. I’m a man! I’m 30!
I still write almost every day, but rather than throwing on a beat and having life stories naturally flow out of me, I find myself thinking about the goings on of the world. Things happening around me and not always to me. I’ve been grappling with it for months, and I finally came to the realization that I don’t have to fight it. I don’t have to choose to only write music because writing music is my job. Writing music became my job because I loved it before it was ever profitable. So I’m going to write the things I feel like writing. I’m going to record the things I want to record. I’ll write music. I’ll write blogs. I’ll record songs and podcasts. And most importantly, I’ll be passionate about whatever it is that I create.
These decisions come with a bit of housekeeping. I have twenty thousand people who like my music and follow me on Twitter. I’m not impervious to the fact that fans of my music may not be fans of my podcast. Shocking as it may be, they may simply not care about my opinions. I’ve developed a name for myself with my music. Moe and I have built The Specktators’ brand and I don’t want to saturate those pages with other content. I want to keep those platforms intact for people to enjoy the music. Followers are meaningless if they don’t actually care about the content.
Going forward, I’ll be tweeting from the @DudaDamn handle for personal and podcast purposes. The @PackyRaps handle will remain strictly about the music. “The Specktators Podcast” will transition to “Duda Damn Podcast” and The Specktators will continue to function as a music platform only.
I’ve done the heavy lifting as an artist. I know how to write a song. I know how to record it and distribute it. I’ve built a fanbase that I can rely on for support. I’ve gotten quite comfortable with the whole thing. But some of the best things in life happen outside of our comfort zones.