When I Write Rhymes, I Go Blind And Let The Lord Do His Thing

“I don’t do shit until I meditate.” – Russell Simmons

I was at a friends house one night when he turned off all the lights, set up a black light, and then put large pieces of paper on the wall and gave us markers. He was working for Revolt at the time and was always talking about creating and catching vibes. I immediately felt like a little kid and began drawing and writing. I wrote about all the things we have to be grateful for, how incredible it is that we get to create our lives and choose anything we would like, and included all my favorite song lyrics and quotes. This guy Rob had just gotten there and began admiring my work and remarking how dope it was. We were having drinks and every time we went to cheers, he asked me to make a toast. I expanded on what I was writing about, just publicly appreciating the moment and reflecting on how incredible it was to be surrounded by great people in Los Angeles who are all following their dreams. I pointed out some obvious blessings that we often take for granted. He kept asking me to give toasts and I could see his vibration rising as well the more grateful he felt, reflecting on the things I was speaking about. It’s so accepted for people to complain all day, but it’s rare to speak about all our blessings out loud. It’s funny how that works and you can see evidence of this everywhere, from the news to the workplace. I normally speak about these things around my friends, but to do it in a room full of strangers was something new to me. I realized that the confidence in that moment came from the encouragement of Rob.

We left my boys spot and headed to the studio. There were four of us, Rob, a girl he was dealing with, a friend of his, and me. Rob is a producer and was complaining that he had turned in five songs to Puffy, but that Puff had only like three of them. Feeding off our conversation earlier, I confidently stopped him in his tracks. I reminded him of how incredible it was that Puffy not only messes with his music, but that he believes in him so much to tell him the truth and expect the absolute best from him. Puffy has built his brand on excellence, and by being allowed into his world, you must consistently rise and exceed his expectations. It reminds me of his feature on Rick Ross’s song, “Nobody,”

“You wanted to fuckin’ walk around these roaches?These n***** is roaches. These n***** is mere motherfuckin’ mortals. I’m tryna push you to supreme being. You don’t wanna motherfuckin’, you don’t wanna embrace your destiny. You wanna get by. You don’t wanna go into the motherfuckin’ dark, where it’s lonely. You can’t handle the motherfuckin’, the pain of the motherfuckin’ not knowin’ when the shit is gonna stop. You fuckin’ wanna walk around with these n*****? What the fuck is their culture? Where the fuck is their souls at? What defines you? These n***** with these fuckin’ silly looks on their faces.You wanna walk around with them or you wanna walk with God, n****? Make up your got damn mind!” Continue reading

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The Greatest Blessing in the Whole World is Being a Blessing

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I had a realization somewhere in the last year. I took a pause from asking God for the things I wanted and started asking what (S)He wanted from me. I declared daily, “God, use me for Your highest purpose! Show me how I can use my unique gifts and talents to be of service to the world.” It was at this point that I became uber-aware of the miracles occurring all around me.

In the past, if I had an inkling to say or do something, oftentimes I would ignore it for fear of judgment. After I prayed this prayer, however, I acted on my intuition, knowing that God was answering my prayer. There have been so many instances since that day where God has used me to be a blessing, and has blessed me in return.

One day, I was walking to meet my friend Caitlin to go hiking. I confused the cross street we were meeting at, and ended up sitting and waiting for her on a stone wall outside of a popular plaza. After a few minutes, the parking attendant, an older Indian man, came over and began speaking with me. We made some small talk about his job before he blurted out to me that he didn’t like black people. I was shocked. Why would he think it was okay to say something like that to me? I remembered my prayer and decided that cursing him out would do no good and decided to try another method. I asked him why he disliked black people so much. He told me that all the people that park in his lot are respectful, except black people who often yell at him and try to physically assault him. I told him I was sorry to hear that he had had this experience, but reasoned with him that these were just a few people, and not reflective of the entire race. He wouldn’t listen. He had had so many bad experiences that nothing I could say would change his mind. I explained to him that he was having these experiences because he expected to have them and that my experiences were quite the opposite. I explained that he could change the way he experienced people and events by changing his thinking. I told him verbatim, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  At that moment my friend texted me clarifying the correct street she was on. As I went to get up to leave, a beautiful black family in an SUV slowly pulled into the parking space directly in front of us. The black man looked directly at the Indian man, bowed his head, and put his hands up in the prayer pose, respectfully thanking him for doing his job. The indian man looked at me with the widest eyes I’ve ever seen. Once again, I looked at him and repeated, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” and happily walked off. Continue reading

It’s Happening Penny Lane, Just Like You Said

When I was a senior in college, I used to download music all day, every day. I would click on an artist I liked and download hundreds of their songs, CD’s, and remixes. I was downloading Trey Songz one day when I stumbled upon “Replacement Girl.” I listened and heard an unfamiliar voice laying an incredible verse and I immediately needed to know who it was.I saw that it was Drake, and immediately found him on MySpace. I had never written to an artist, but I felt the need to encourage this kid to keep putting music out. I sent him a message telling him how incredible I thought he was and that he needed to keep following his dreams. Looks like he really needed that. LOL When he blew up with “So Far Gone,” I felt so happy and proud.

When “So Far Gone” dropped, I was living in Atlanta, doing Americorps, which is basically like the PeaceCorps, but in the states. I hated it and many things about my situation at the time, but the music was, as it always has been, an overwhelmingly enjoyable escape. We bumped that mixtape so hard the entire summer. I remember pulling up at QuickTrip, or “Club QT” as they called it, bumping the tape and having several bystanders giving me head nods and thumbs up. Everybody was rocking with it. I loved the whole mixtape but remember having a love/hate relationship with “Successful.” It evoked in me the desire to be successful, and not necessary in the terms he was referring to, but it also made me feel like maybe it would never happen.

After a tumultuous time in Atlanta and a brief stay in NYC, I headed home back to my Mom’s house, feeling depleted, defeated, and depressed. I had been through so much in the last year and I needed a safe place to rebuild. I couldn’t get out of bed for months and seriously doubted that I would ever make anything of myself, much less make the move I had always wanted to Los Angeles. Thank God for my little sister Julia, who was also living at home at the time while attending college. She is a workout fanatic and encouraged me in my depression to do the Insanity workout with her. I agreed, but only if I could choose the music. “Thank Me Later,” had just dropped, and I played it nonstop during our workouts. My jaw dropped the first time I heard “The Resistance,” when Drake rapped, “It’s happening Penny Lane, just like you said.” Penny Lane had been my nickname and in all my glory, I had run around yelling “It’s All Happening.” I used to say that quote from Almost Famous constantly, reminding myself that all my dreams are coming true and will continue to do so. When I heard Drake say it, who had such a special place in my heart from when I “discovered” him, I knew it was a sign that I had to keep going and pursue my dream. My Mom was being as supportive as possible and tried to sway me towards more “acceptable” pursuits than running off to California to work with rappers. I made up my mind that I would not get an acceptable 9-5 as she encouraged, but would waitress until I had enough money to make my dreams a reality. A year and a half and 35 grand in tips later, I was ready to make the move. Continue reading