This year, 2015 Year of the Wood Goat/Sheep was not terribly eventful for me, but it was productive. And restful. And reassuring. I’ll take this opportunity to clear up a little confusion from an email I sent earlier this year. Yes, I was named Music Director for IndieCade, but that is not my job. IndieCade is a volunteer operation and only a few days of work. An incredibly big deal to me that hopefully I can continue with the IndieCade team and others, but it is not my line of work.
For those who don’t know my line of work, since mid-2014 I have been the head of brand and strategic partnerships at Stampede Management. We manage Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, RiFF RAFF, Far East Movement and a number of other developing acts. It’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life, I’ve learned so much from the artists and teams…. to gain insight and wisdom from some of the most influential brands and players, as well as the teams behind two of the most influential hip-hop artists ever (Snoop & Busta) has literally changed my life. I am forever indebted to the Stampede Management and Cashmere Agency teams for seeing value in my skill set and giving it focus and tutelage. Specifically thanks to Jesse Nicely, who is always looking out and has believed in me since day one. Shouts also to Russell Redeaux, Ted Chung, Seung Chung, Rahael Asfaw and other colleagues who have been godsends in different ways since this chapter in my life has opened.
That said, I kept my music endeavors mostly artistic and didn’t push the business too hard, in the spirit of the Goat…I laid groundwork for 2016. With some help from friends, collaborators and partners, this year I did things like the Drake parody Batline Bling, a visual verse gallery called Road To Rebellion that I conceptualized, wrote and edited entirely myself…. a new immersive mobile app available in the iTunes store in collaboration with Buzznog, got my merchandise together for next year (coming soon) … a Milky Way compilation called V4P0R TR4ILS (available on CD only for now), a psych rockish single in “Love Kills”, and newly launched blog/brand in Built on Stilts….. did a bunch of other stuff too that was fun, and I even got a little love and attention. And this was a slow year! My biggest challenges have come from having a ton on my plate and the scatteredness that results. But 2016 will see a laserlight focus from me that I’ve never had. A focused Sum should yield some great results…if I can just get people’s attention 😉
In the meantime, here are 16 lessons and observations I gleaned from 2015… maybe there’s something in here for you.
1- People’s opinions are passionate and fickle. Be slow to base long term decisions on outside opinions. Someone giving you a passionate opinion may not even remember how they feel on the subject in a year, but you’ll still be living with the decision you made.
2- Don’t take too seriously artistic / artistic career advice from people who haven’t accomplished anything artistically and have no visible body of work. If you want to pioneer, keep advisement from worker bees to a minimum. Additionally, don’t take advice on daring endeavors from people who have no daring deeds to speak of, or no glaring failures in their wake. A person with no royal fuck ups in their history hasn’t been trying things out.
3- Finding as much as possible to give gratitude for at the top of each day is key to perseverance and good mental ecology. It also attracts blessings and ideas.
4- The people I look up to the most are not very active on social media. The powerful don’t live in the peanut gallery.
5- After 2015, if we know each other, and you’re sleeping on me/us and all the interesting things my tribe and I are doing… but you publicly lament the lack of people doing interesting and creative things, and the dearth of amazing artists, musicians, writers, performers, and thinkers …but still don’t support our movements through action, (1) you’re no longer sleeping, you’re making a willing choice, (2) you’re full of s*&t and (3) IDFWU. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. You should enact the same policy in your life if you haven’t already.
6- The further you venture out, the less people will be able to relate to you, even though you may have more offer… friends will begin to drop off like flies. Over time, it affects you less, but it still stings.
7- You cannot convince thirsty people in the desert that a thunderstorm is not magic or a miracle. This is directed at good music being lauded as classic and/or revolutionary within days of it coming out. Sign of the times.
8- Everyone can spot what’s going wrong, very few can detail what’s going right. This is a function of our cultural priorities.
9- Work with those who are genuinely excited to work with you if you want to avoid any incarnation of Sisyphus in your life.
10- I cannot be infuriated by the injustices of the police and judiciary system AND ignore the mechanics of local politics moving forward. If I do, by my own standards, I’m a hypocrite.
11- People will rarely assume that you’re smarter than them. Check your ego and use that to your advantage.
12- Assume that people are smarter than you and then work from there. If you’re wrong, it won’t take long to find out, and the consequences are less severe than if you assume the opposite.
13- Millennials are awesome, and I’m thankful for all the millennial friends I have under 30 and under 25, I’ve learned a lot from you. You’re tragically misunderstood and overexposed, but I think history will smile kindly on you. On the flip side, I’m tired of hearing and talking about you, I’m ready to learn more about the kids up next…. the little ones are fascinating and wise, let’s start turning the lens on them.
14- How boring life would be if time didn’t fly.
15- It is still a blessing to be an artist with the power to lift people’s spirits and open their minds. Maybe now more than ever.
16- Happiness is an option, productivity is not.
Peace and Blessings to you all, I look forward to an action packed 2016 Year of the Fire Monkey with you. May the great spirit guide you, and all the doors that you need open wide soon, leave no trace.