My Retirement Speech

My Retirement Speech

I'm retiring from being a rapper...

It was a great idea when it was conceived at the beginning of the year: Fly down to Austin for South By Southwest and on the way home, hit some cities where I know some people and play some shows. I took 13 Megabus trips and did 10 shows in 9 cities over the span of 27(ish) days. I was already in such a good place before I left that I didn't think the "find yourself" cliche that comes with traveling by yourself would happen to me. I was wrong. I learned a lot, the most important being…

I don't want to be a rapper anymore.

I played in a variety of different settings with some very diverse line-ups while I was on the road. I played an open mic with a woman who sang and played upright bass. I played inside of a cave with the folkiest of folk. I played with a guy who re-invented the banjo, possibly two or three times. I also played rap shows. So. Many. Rap. Shows. The type of rap shows where there's a plethora of rappers on the bill and your set is only eight minutes long. The type of rap show where if someone goes to get a drink at the bar or uses the bathroom they'll miss half of your set. 

I've done these types of shows at home, more than I can count. I kinda knew what I was getting into when I walked into the doors of a venue in a city I've never performed in before. But after seeing some of the acts I performed with earlier in the tour (there was a rock opera on one of the bills) there was a different mindset walking into 5th show. Something about being the only person rapping on a bill one day and being in a heap of rappers the next forced something to click: How do I differentiate myself?

I've spent so much of my (very short-lived) music career worrying about whether or not I'd ever be accepted by the rap community. I grew up in the definition of the suburbs, I studied classical music in college, and the majority of my performance time in my life has been in an a cappella group. The past definitely doesn't lend to it. I talk about it A LOT on my first albu… mixta… series of songs with the same cover art. I never doubted my ability, rather, I doubted the audiences ears. Contextually, my past was never in line with a stereotypical rapper's past and my present is probably even further off base than the modern day emcee.

Even with all these musical influences, I still spent a lot of 2014 trying to assert myself as a rapper. To some extent I made some strides but I didn't realize until I was on the road by myself that it didn't really matter. It never needed to matter. In fact, I had written an ironically titled song talking about exactly why it didn't matter. There's SO MUCH MORE to me musically than being a rapper that I was taking for granted. I had been told this before after playing some of my non-rap tunes to my more rap-oriented colleagues but I had always taken it as a slight at my rap skills. Every rapper (I think) wants to be the best rapper ever at least once in their rap career. I didn't want to settle for anything less until I noticed I was looking at it incorrectly. What they were telling me was, "On top of your ability to rap you have this unique set of musical skills that make you special." I didn't realize just how special that could be until recently.

I've decided to forego the quest to be the best rapper in order to achieve something greater. I want to make music that makes people feel. Music that makes people move. That makes you want to tell someone else about it. I want to do all of that and more. Don't get me wrong, rapping is still one of my favorite things to do and I'm going to continue to do it. There's more in store from me though. So much more. Here's to hoping that there's also more in store FOR me too.
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