Do You Really Need Kanye to Validate Me?

Don’t wait for someone else to validate your friend’s work to support him/her. Ask yourself, “If Kanye said my homie’s art was dope, would I start supporting?” If the answer is yes, don’t wait for ‘Ye or Kim or Barack or Cardi or LeBron or Beyoncé or Cole or anyone else to say it. Just support your people the same way you support ‘Ye or Kim or Barack or Cardi or LeBron or Beyoncé or Cole. Go to their shows. Rock their clothes. Hype them up on social media.

And, while money is ALWAYS nice for artists who pour our souls into our art forms, I get it: We don’t all have bread to spend on every little thing (I blame Sally Mae). But you can click a link. You can repost a piece of work or a web address. You can have their new track playing on your Instagram Story while you’re driving up I-95. You can go hard for your homie’s business like it’s yours every now and then. If you wouldn’t buy their stuff regardless of whether ‘Ye liked the work or not, that’s cool. But if (s)he is truly your friend, still repost because art is like food: everyone has different tastes.

In short, stop killing genuine art (and, ultimately, your friends’ livelihoods) with your apathy. It’s not 1984, it’s 2018. Supporting is as easy as tapping a touchscreen once or twice. If you don’t even do the bare minimum to support, don’t expect to get put on when your talented friends make it.

While we’re on the subject of support, check out my Patreon page and subscribe to get an exclusive look at my creative process and weekly pieces that won’t hit the public.

Make supporting your team a priority.

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#EatPray10v3 Takes the United Kingdom

A few of my favourite images from the quick stop in the UK. To keep up with all the amazing images over the course of this two month excursion, follow @DSquaredVisuals.

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An artist sits in a café across the street and captures a medieval cathedral in Cardiff, Wales.

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My first international concert had to be featuring rap’s greatest entrepreneur.

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40 Licks in St. David’s Dewi Sant

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A queen kicks it on a corner in Cardiff.

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What if America cared about us this much?

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“The ceiling is the roof.” – – His Airness

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The Great Western Rail felt like the Hogwarts Express. America, can we copy them soon?

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If nature takes time to reflect, why don’t you think you should?

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Need I say more?

 

OTR II – Live from Cardiff, Wales

I’ll kick this off by saying that the only Beyoncé songs I’ve ever liked have been the ones w/ Jay Z on them. I just haven’t ever gotten into her or her music. Such is life. But I must give credit where credit is due. The woman is an amazing performer. She is, in my mind, a better performer than vocalist but she actually showed her range some last night at the opening show of the On The Run II tour. Now, does this mean I’m adding her to my playlists? No. But she did her thing last night and put on an amazing show.

Ok, now on to the next one. Jay showed up and showed out. I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t reach as far back into his catalog as I would’ve liked but he hit the Blueprint album so I won’t complain. From where we were standing, I one of a few Jay fans in the vicinity, but we were also in the United Kingdom and I will be the first to admit that, while Jay is more of an icon within the African-American male community, Beyoncé is a world pop star so I’m not surprised. Either way, I was going in, spitting every line like I had been in the booth feeding him lyrics. This was my third time seeing him live and I’ve come to the conclusion that he is the most impactful name in the history of hip-hop. He saw hip-hop as a political movement. He was in the rap game through its gangster stage. And now, as mumble rappers are dumbing it down and conscious ones are working to maintain a level of excellence, he is still the go to O.G. Last night, he showed that even as he knocks on 50, he can deliver an amazing show and spit a dope freestyle.

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If you can, I suggest going to see the show wherever you can. Don’t go broke doing it but if it means cutting out a few beers over the next couple months, make that happen. They’re great as individual performers but together, they are unbelievable.

 

Make exploring the world a priority.

Every Look Isn’t For Everyone

Yesterday, I went to get a haircut and, last night, I decided I needed to clean up my beard (ok, what really happened is Desirée told me I looked like I was a person without a home). I remember in high school when I wanted for my sideburns to connect to my goatee so badly. It took a while. Then I wanted a thick beard. That took a while too. Finally, I was hoping for a thick and full beard. That started to come in… but only on one side. But I was praying hard for that second side so I took my little mustard seed and planted it, only to have Desirée and my go-to grooming specialist Vince Jamael tell me after three or four months of waiting that the sides just weren’t going to even out.

There is a lesson in this: when it comes to style, be it grooming or dress, every look isn’t for everyone. Just because something looks cool on someone doesn’t mean it will on me. Prince made millions with holes in the back of his trousers. If I walk into work like that, I will likely walk out in handcuffs. Sometimes, it’s your body type that’s not made for a certain look. Other times it’s your profession or workplace culture. And, still, other times, it’s your personality. I’ll be the first to admit that, though I love tailored clothes, there are some that I’ll step into and say “These slacks are too tight and, even though they ‘fit’ I’ll feel and look awkward wearing them out of my front door.”

Find looks that work for you and complement your features. Everyone can look decent (at worst) once they spend some time learning what colors, cuts, and angles accent their natural physical gifts. The problem is many of us want to look like Jay Z or Beyoncé in their clothes when we were made to look like Jack and Jill in our own. Let them inspire you but never try to be them. You’re doing yourself and the rest of the world a disservice.

And, shoot, who knows? Maybe if we try to be and look more like ourselves, we could be as successful, if not more. You’ll never know how great you could be until you embrace who you are.

 

Make finding your style a priority.

Why Going Viral is Not a Marketing Strategy

“I’m just going to create this one piece of dope content and it’s going to go viral and I’ll be on front street.”

How many bloggers think this is how it works?  Because those bloggers are wrong.  People post dope/motivational/thought-provoking content every single day and most are never recognized for it beyond one or two retweets, at best.  I like to think that I create quality content 4-5 days a week (I try to go for 5 but some weeks, I just don’t have a Fitness Friday in me).

Don’t get me wrong: plenty of people go viral by mistake.  Well, they plan to go viral and then get lucky.  Most people who plan to go viral never do.

It has taken me nearly 4 years to get 200+ followers on The Reader.  I have had one post go semi-viral and that is because I was retweeted by an executive at Black Enterprise.  Pretty cool day for my stats.  But that was it.

Now, I average a steady flow of 50-100 hits per day, with some days doing 200+ when I get enough retweets and my hashtags hit a trend.  And that is fine with me.  Because, that’s likely 40 people who come to my website every day to see what I’m talking about and get my input on professional development, leadership, millennials, lifestyle, and all other sorts of topics.  Might not gain me thousands of likes but I know that I’m making some people’s lives better on a consistent basis.

I create great content 5 days a week because I know that, one day, I won’t go viral.  I will slowly gain enough readers that I won’t need to.  And, in the event that I get lucky and have Beyoncé retweet me or have Diddy repost one of my Instagram graphics, I will have created enough great content to gain a consistent following.  The problem with one viral photo and no solid strategy to keep the momentum going is that you will lose that momentum very quickly.  For example, my place of employment just had a couple of photos go viral on Instagram and Twitter last week.  They needed someone dedicated to picking up the ball and running with it.  But, not having that led to a missed opportunity.  And, after that wave is gone, it’s gone with no guarantee of returning again.

So stop trying to make a picture go viral.  Just take the picture.  Or write the post.  And make it great.  The rest will take care of itself.  Or it won’t.  But at least you did your best.

 

Make professional development a priority.