I often struggle to have faith in myself. I’d argue that it’s one of my most prominent faults. My career choices have been risky. Sometimes it feels like the risk is worth it and that my passion will be enough to make everything work out. But most times, I’m overly anxious, wondering if I’m really doing something practical to have a stable life. Lately, I’ve been preparing myself for even bigger chances and even more precarious life changes. And truth be told, I’m terrified. I know that I can do it because, at this point, I have to. I don’t think I’d ever face a bigger heartbreak than watching myself fail. Trust me, I’ve seen myself mess up. But at some point, this will all work out, or I’ll have to settle and change my career path. And that’s terrifying. Now combine that with the pressure I put on myself while also constantly doubting my decisions. It creates a lot of fear, and my hesitations do nothing but hold me back. So I decided to compile this post for reassurance; to remind myself that there’s courage and strength in facing my fears. I have the support and the love around me that I need when times get challenging, and even if I make mistakes, I still deserve to feel pride in what I’ve done. These artists took the plunge and put their whole life into sharing their music with the world. And if it doesn’t motivate me enough to know that I’m taking similar chances to help make that happen even more, then I don’t know what will. Keep an eye out in the next week. Exciting things are happening at Spice on the Beat. Just have faith in me.
When the going gets tough, the most important thing to do is to remind yourself that you can and you will. You are willing and able to make your dreams come true, and as long as you put in the work, those cards are in your future. Nas’s “I Can” is the perfect manifestation of meeting your objectives. When I need to, I remind myself that “I know I can be what I wanna be. If I work hard at it, I’ll be where I wanna be.” The song is full of wisdom that guides you on staying focused and not getting swayed by life’s distractions that can deter you from your endgame. And trust me, as a young 25-year-old, I have lots of growing and learning to do. I still get enticed by superficial things like being seen at upscale parties with the latest fashions. But, at the end of the day, that won’t bring me the long-term happiness that success can bring me. With that being said, I’m also learning the importance of balance. For me, success means happiness. But so do friendship, family, love, and personal satisfaction. Making room for all of these things while finding fulfillment in my career is what being successful truly means in my eyes, and sometimes, you need to be able to do a little bit of everything.
Similarly, Nas’s “If I Ruled The World” is a gentle reminder that life won’t always go my way. I have to adapt. I can’t change this industry and the way people do business, but I can remain true to myself and dictate my own choices. I don’t need to bow down to others. I just need to be genuine, with my head held high. In an ideal world, things would be easier. I wouldn’t have to suffer through micro-aggressions and sexist remarks. I wouldn’t have to be fearful of a man’s touch or his intentions during a business negotiation. It could be so much simpler. And yet, those obstacles are what teach me to fight and remain strong. If I hadn’t suffered, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And that’s why I have to take control of my own life and take accountability for my decisions while understanding that the outcomes happen for a reason. While the song is a beautiful outline of Nas’s utopia, it also helps us focus on what we can control.
I think Adeline’s “Stages” is the song that I most closely relate to. She captures the passive-aggressiveness women face when it comes to decision-making, especially in the music industry. She mentions that she “don’t need nobody to tell [her] how to lay [her] bass down,” trusting her musical intuition. However, she also sings that she “don’t need nobody, [she’s] got [her] A team,” putting her faith not only in herself but the company she keeps. Even when others try to plant seeds of doubt, especially in a business where people will put you down if they don’t get what they want, the one person who will always have your back at the end of the day is yourself. After Kamauu’s beautiful part reiterating that Adeline will take nothing short of respect (because for some reason a lot of people only listen when a man says this,) Adeline comes back with fire. She’s going to do her own thing whether you like it or not. My absolute favorite line is when she commands, “go tell somebody, you can’t have this body. Ain’t gon’ fuck nobody.” Whether a woman chooses to have sex is completely up to her. However, some people in this industry expect a woman to have sex to further her career, or have no issues spreading rumors that that’s how a woman got to her position. When I say that I sing this line with all the power I have, it’s because it comes from a place of experience. Sure, I’ll turn up the charm if need be. But let me get one thing clear. We’re doing things my way. I’m where I am because of my hard work, and no one else will get credit for that. And the minute a man tries to make a business interaction into something it’s not based on ego and his impure intentions, that’s when the lion emerges.
If there’s one artist who understands the difficulties that come with fame it’s Russ. And while he does tend to give people the ammo, he also knows when life gives him lemons. As a result, he uses criticism to inspire a lot of his music, as shown with his song, “Back to Life.” In the song, he talks about how people, especially on the internet, try to break him down by attacking him. Instead, he uses the negativity, “channelling [his] aggression into hits, plaques, shows.” Whenever I get beat down by negative criticism, I feel defeated. It makes me second guess myself, and I take it to heart. However, I’ve found that when I use criticism, either as a learning experience or even just as motivation to prove others wrong, I work my hardest. I treat it as though my reputation is on the line, and even though I need to do better about disregarding irrelevant opinions, it fuels me to show just what I can do. I know what I’m capable of, and I want to make sure others know as well.
Gunna’s “Don’t Give Up” is another reminder to keep the end goal in focus. He talks about how his low points help motivate him to stay on his grind, wanting to be in a better place than he once was. At times it can get difficult, and it’s easy to lose hope. But at the end of the day, the one thing you have to tell yourself is “don’t give up.” In his case, he looks to his religion to keep himself going. That faith can come in any form. For me, it’s my family. It’s my desire to give back to them for their constant love and support and to show them that they have nothing to worry about. It’s to live up to their expectations because I know they know that I can do it. The only thing getting in the way is me.
In Chevy Woods’ “Keep On,” he also talks about remaining resilient when the going gets tough. However, this song deals with all of those who doubt you and the changing relationships with those in your life during your path to success. I’ve definitely found that some people in my life are more understanding and patient with my journey, whereas others only see how it impacts my presence in their lives. It helps me be compassionate in my friendships with those who may have similar challenges, but also shows me who is truly in my corner. I love the hook because Chevy repeats the lines, “gotta keep on moving, keep on shining, don’t stop trying, it’s all timing.” Timing is extremely crucial, and that can make or break one’s success. But at the end of the day, you can’t give up. There’s a multitude of factors that come into play when determining a person’s progress, and while it would be blissful to rely solely on divine intervention, you also have to be willing to put in the work.
Biggie’s “Sky’s The Limit” teaches us one important lesson: when things get difficult, the only way to go is up. And while there’s a rock bottom, there’s no ceiling that you have to worry about putting limitations on how high you aim. He divides his song into three segments, each telling a section of his life and the tribulations he faced. At each moment, he felt as though life couldn’t get worse. He was barely living. But that pushed him to dream of a life larger than that, one that seemed unattainable but proved to be perfectly possible. All it took was hard work and dedication while shaking the bad habits that only contributed to his demise. Rather than taking pity on himself because of the cards he was dealt, he used the difficulties to think of a better life for himself and his loved ones, putting no restrictions on just how successful he could be. I oftentimes think about my career on a larger scale, and then feel as though I need to knock myself down a few notches to remain humble and realistic. Maybe if I think on a smaller scale, I won’t get so broken by failure. But the truth is, failure is inevitable. And to allow that to limit your dreaming is a disservice to yourself. Even if they seem far-fetched, if you’re thinking of such incredible accomplishments for yourself, it’s because you know you can do it. Don’t stop yourself from thinking of the best-case scenario.
August Alsina created a modern-day version of the phrase “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” in his song, “Benediction.” In the track, he reminisces on the hardships that have brought him to where he is today. But he also pays homage to those moments as he embraces the humility that went into his journey. As much as we may dislike the experiences that brought us pain and the life we had before the one we always dreamed of, it’s important to recognize them. Those times give us the strength we need to move past them, and also serve as a reminder that when the going gets tough, we can make it through. The line “I did what I could, didn’t always do what I should and I was misunderstood” demonstrates that we can always grow. It’s a reminder that no matter what stage we’re at in life, what mistakes we make, or even what we’ve achieved, we’re human. Even when you do what is necessary to survive, beating yourself up does nothing to help you develop. I tend to harp on everything I do wrong, and rather than learning from it, I put myself down. Instead, the more productive approach would be to note how I could improve my judgment, and take that with me into the future. There’s no point in dwelling on the past when the only way we can move is forward.
If there’s ever a woman in the industry that I aspire to be, it’s the unapologetic Rihanna. Hell, I think we all want to be her in any situation. But Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” is the boss bitch confidence that I hope to embrace, whether I’m truly feeling it or not. It’s true that this industry gives no room for fear. It’s all I’ve been feeling this past month, and yet it does nothing but hinders me. The more frazzled I get, the more my facade comes crumbling down. The key is to fake it till you make it, and you may even get to the point of believing it. You have to think enough of yourself to consider yourself a key player; no one else can put you in that mindset. So when you show others that you run shit, and you’re the person in charge, they’ll respect it. Just never forget your roots and reasoning. You can be the head bitch while remaining kind.
I know this is Philadelphia blasphemy, but this is probably one of the few times I’ll write about Meek Mill. But when it comes to chasing one’s dreams, you have to include the Philly anthem, “Dreams and Nightmares.” I mean, come on. If there is anything that embodies grinding and chasing your goals, it’s the lines, “I used to pray for times like this, to rhyme like this. So I had to grind like that to shine like this.” But it’s not just the words. It’s the energy that goes into it every time you rap along. Maybe it’s a Philly thing, but you put all of that same energy you put into chasing your dreams into singing those lyrics. Those lines sum up how magical it feels to see your far-away dreams start to manifest before your very eyes. The things that you hoped for, the life that you thought was only a fantasy. When you start seeing it slowly piece itself together, it makes all of the exhaustion and uncertainty worth it. It fills you with adrenaline to keep on going and to never slow down. Every time I feel defeated, I think about the moments of bliss from each small victory. Each accomplishment, especially concerning your passions, deserves to be celebrated. They deserve to overpower the obstacles and hardships. You deserve to feel proud.
And that’s why we’re ending this with Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life.” In this situation, all of my anxieties are leading to one event. Sure, it’s an ongoing thing. Whether it succeeds or fails will be a long-term result, but I can’t help but put a lot of expectations on this one moment. And yet, I know if it goes according to plan, it’ll be a moment I won’t forget. A lot of my career has been this way. The entertainment industry has a lot of cool and lavish functions, but those really are about 20% of the job. The rest of the job includes dealing with frustration, egos, minimal pay, and so many other factors that make it incredibly tiresome. But those times where you get to show off all of your hard work and flex a bit? Or even just receive praise for all that you’ve done? Being thanked by artists for your help? It’s those small moments of acknowledgment, of telling you that you’re doing a good job even when you may not feel like it, that means so much to me. That validation puts me on top of the world and solidifies the idea that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, especially when my conscience tries to tell me otherwise. Then, the importance of what I’m doing isn’t just something that I’ve built up in my head; others see the value too. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.
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