Written by Uncle Tairy
So, you’re an aspiring rapper. You caught the bug and have decided to let this become your identity. The world is wide open and the opportunities are endless. You got bars. BARS.
If you’re this dope now, just imagine how dope you’re going to be in a few years. With a couple years’ hard work and networking, you’ll be touring the country and hooking up with all sorts of moody, pierced twenty-somethings. By the time you’re 30 the world will scream your name and you’ll be all like whatever, this city sucks, where’s my fucking Bugatti, TINA
What’s that? You’re now 30 and your boss doesn’t know your last name? You spend 60 hours a week at the office and can barely muster the energy to clean your cat box, let alone write a banger for those moody, pierced twenty-somethings that now remind you of your failed dreams? Congratulations, you’re an adult rapper with a busy, adult rapper life. Maybe it hurts that you haven’t accomplished any notoriety from the only thing you care about (it does), but don’t be upset. You’re a rare breed. You’re the type of human that will forever make music, fueled by a desire to share your deepest thoughts with an internet that will either meme or ignore you. You have the soul of an artist and the work ethic to improve your craft while nobody is listening. That counts for something.
It does not count for money, so you spend your days behind a computer, disengaged and wondering why it’s always so goddamn hot in this office don’t touch that fucking thermostat TINA. You leave for work in the dark and arrive home without seeing the sun. You open the door to your apartment, walk past your makeshift studio, and eat a Hot Pocket before passing out and starting it all over. You’re an adult, and you’re not even very good at it.
This is around the time that most people quit making music for good. They sell their equipment, marry someone with a foot tattoo (probably a butterfly), and eventually tell their kids about how they used to rap. But not you, you are too goddamn stubborn. You’re a real musician. Over the next several years you will spend 95% of your time tending to non-negligible responsibilities and wondering why your eyes burn when you close them. Given that 3% of your time will be spent questioning the value of existence, I am here to advise you on how to maximize that last 2% of time you will have to dedicate to music.
1. Schedule everything
As I eluded to, you’re probably really busy. If you’re anything like me, you will always have those nights when you snap awake, sweating buckets of cold stench and shaking like Muhammad Ali. This is when I get my best writing done. If you’re a fucking nerd you will have to make up for the production of manic episodes. Sucks for you, you fucking nerd. Since you’re so well adjusted and totally better than everybody, you will want to schedule everything. I have found it useful to text myself ideas and lyrics as they happen, and then spend an evening having a few beers and putting the thoughts together into a song. When I first started rap, I would force myself to write everything in one sitting. Don’t do that. That is how you end up with songs like this:
Scheduling recording sessions is a bit more difficult. You will have to plan – sometimes weeks in advance – every recording session that you can. In your younger years it will be common to get some fellow rappers together and record music while you [retracted by legal department] and boy will your nose and kidneys hurt the next day, but goddamn will it be fun. Thanks to your youth and lack of responsibilities, you can plan these nights on a whim. No class tomorrow? Record some music. Mom went to Atlantic City with her new friend Billy and left you home alone? Record some music. That moody, pierced, cheating bitch Leanne didn’t show up to Norbit? Go see Norbit and then record some music. But now you’re 30 and you don’t have time for any of that - especially not Leanne (even though you sometimes still think about her but it’s not weird). You’re going to have to plan every recording session and get the most out of each one.
2. Don’t be obnoxious about being an artist (and don’t get a huge microphone tattoo on your forearm while drunk in Colorado)
I started rap when I was 23, and holy shit did I love to tell people. I was way too green to shoehorn my amateur musicianship into conversation. I was also way too excited to let that dissuade me. I have a distinct memory of putting headphones over my friend Bowman’s ears to play a song that I had made in my studio (see: Navy barracks closet). He cared so little to hear it that he wouldn’t even raise his hands over his head to put the headphones on. Think about that. This dude was so annoyed with my self-promotion that he let another man put something sweaty on his head. He protested my music by forfeiting the use of his arms. Then he pretended to get a phone call 90 seconds in, stood up, and walked away. That memory stays with me like a burn on my dick. I made the mistake that many young artists make: I assumed that random people would be stoked to know that I made music. They weren’t. They still aren’t. Nobody wants to be forced to listen to music. You know that friend back home that gets too drunk and begs you to just listen to the words on this one Hinder song? It looks like that, but only if your friend is the whole band of Hinder.
Similarly, don’t get a tattoo of anything musically related unless you’re willing to answer questions about it with everyone you meet. Everyone. Not just that moody, now-has-gaping-holes-in-her-ears-but-is-still-pretty-cute thirty-something in the cubicle next to you. No, she won’t ask. She doesn’t like you because you laugh uncomfortably when your boss tells that joke about the Chinamen. Do you know who will ask? Fucking Tina. And she will ask loudly. And she will make sure to narrow down the vague answers about what instrument you play until the entire office knows that no you don’t play a fucking instrument GODDAMNIT TINA JUST FILE THE AUDIT THANK YOU.
3. Be prepared to self-fund everything you do
There’s a good chance that you’ll get noticed and never have to fund your projects ever again - if you were 20. You’re fucking 30. Just remember, Daniel Johnston will die relatively unknown and Hinder is playing an arena next weekend.
You’re going to have to dedicate some of those wage-slave earnings towards your projects. It’s either that, or stop rapping and dedicate more time to your other hobbies. What’s that? You never developed any other hobbies? Of course not, that’s why you started rapping in the first place. Now quit being a cheap fuck and fund your music.
You will have to fund everything you make, figure out how to use your funds to promote your music, and, in all likelihood, still not get your music to the right people. You will have to do it for the love of your craft, which will bring you a personal satisfaction that you won’t be able to share with anyone in that office you spend your life in. You will make money at a job you hate and then use that money to learn about just how few people care about your craft. You can even complain about it, but you will find that even less people care about your complaints.
But hey, you’re an artist, and that is now your identity. View your music as something that defines who you are during that particular period in your life. That way you will at least be able to look back on all of those periods through music while you lie on your deathbed. Unless you get hit by a bus. You could always get hit by a bus.
You’ll probably get hit by a bus.