Things I do. Try to do. & Wish I could do.
When you make classic albums, classic albums can make you. Be clear, I’m not talking about mixtapes, best of, or other random song compilations. When I say album, I mean a solid body of work where every song plays its position inside of the whole project. Here is a brief survey of some undisputed classic albums: Nas –Illmatic, Jay Z - Reasonable Doubt, Lauryn Hill – Miseducation, Eminem – The Slim Shady LP, Kanye West – College Dropout, The Game - The Documentary. These are classic albums AND all of these artists are still making music (though we are still waiting on Ms. Hill to drop her next project... so is Uncle Sam.) Revisit their firsts and feel the hunger in their art.
Hunger is an internal conflict so deep that it propels one to take physical action, and art is best done when it depicts a scenario in a way that the consumer can appreciate. So when you combine hunger with art (let’s call it artistic hunger), the results are obvious. Those artists were the hungriest at the start of their careers because they never ate (Kanye getting a Pelle Pelle off layaway doesn’t count). Their hunger propelled them to create art in such a way that caused listeners to appreciate it. Plain and simple, classic artwork is a result of this artistic hunger; artwork that fills the room so thick that you gotta can see it on the ceiling.
It's kinda funny to have M pictured next to Ms. Hill. He once admitted that he was dumb enough to ask her for a date… and I admire his honesty.
When you make your first album, you have your whole life behind you. This will be the first and only time you can release your never-before-heard story. Your first album will never come again, and every other album will come after that first one. In most cases, you've only dealt with moderate success at best. You are hungry. You've never eaten before and can only imagine what the success will taste like. It’s like losing your virginity, it’s like birthing your first-born, and it’s heaven-like because once it happens nothing will be the same. You have your whole life to make your first, so please take your time with it, but please hurry because you might not get to finish it.
Artwork naturally reflects the creator who crafted it. Real or fake, who the artist is and their content is a result of their personal character. This is why watered down lyrics have a shelf life shorter than the Whole Foods cheese section. This is why the real life struggle narratives stay relevant, and the candy rap, molly popin’ garbage is quickly forgotten. For example, notice how self-aware the old Kanye was verses the current “Yeezus” complaining about his Nike shoes that were never released. When you’re hungry, you're glad to just rap through the wire and the realness resonates.
With so much to gain, and so little to lose I’m aiming to make a classic debut album and I have a huge advantage: I have my whole life in front of me. Imagine a plastic bottle of Coke that was shaken up for years and never once released. The pressure builds; the bottle begins to look like it belongs on a launch pad in Houston. I'm about to twist off the cap and you can watch.
See Part 2: Between The Chronic and Detox