SONGWRITING/RECORDING: Get to work. Now.
Every week or so, I talk to my cousin on the phone. He lives on the Jersey shore, and I live just outside of Philadelphia, PA. I’m about an 80-minute drive from him, and vice-versa. We see each other about once every two years. That’s not enough.
Let me tell you a little about my cousin.
He’s a genius. He can play guitar decently, can sing anything, can freestyle rap and make anyone piss their pants who’s within earshot, and he can write great lyrics that actually say something (or nonsense) and it always grabs everyone’s attention. That’s just the kind of guy he is. Everyone says he’s got the gift of gab, and he does. I’d kill to be as insane, and magnetic as he is.
But he talks shit all the time. “I’m gonna be the best damn producer ever” or “oh yeah man, when I make that first million….”
He’s 38 years old. I’m 37. I don’t think anyone gives much of a damn about our artistic endeavors anymore (or if they ever did). But…. my cousin’s the type of guy that if he really put in the work, he COULD be a millionaire. He could be the next ANYTHING…. Eminem, Ray William Johnson (the YouTube personality), ANYTHING…. he’s just got that “IT FACTOR.” I don’t have that It Factor.
I can’t count how many times we talk on the phone and say the same crap all the time… “let’s do this… seriously, we’ve got to do this… man, I’ll visit you… you visit me, we’ll really grind stuff out… put these wheels into motion.”
And yet… it never happens.
A year and a half ago, I made the drive (and I HATE driving, believe me)… and set up his computer, tweaked it, let him borrow some great recording equipment, a great mic, a MIDI drum pad, you name it… tons of sample loops, etc. We played guitar and sang songs and he showed me some ideas he had, which I thought were genius… Johnny Cash-ish country underdog tunes, and Social Distortion-ish rockabilly awesomeness.
Almost ten years ago, my cousin recorded 7 rap songs (produced fully by him, after training from me) and they are STILL the coolest things I’ve heard in a while. They’re cocky, confident, original, and completely my cousin. And if he re-recorded/tweaked them a bit, and put them on YouTube, the world would be at his feet. No shit.
But he hasn’t done anything yet.
Our conversation tonight began.. “well, I gotta upgrade my computer… I think it’s slowin’ me down…” (it’s a quad-core with like 12GB of ram, but yes… it’s only running XP, but that doesn’t matter, because all of my recording programs and stuff are still 32-bit, so they don’t use anything more than 3GB of ram, and I’ve never run into problems when tracking… even after 24 or 25 tracks with a lot of effects plugins like reverb/compression, etc). But this is kind of how he operates. There’s always an excuse or something holding him back.
But nothing should be holding him back. He’s got a gift from God or whatever you believe these gifts come from… he needs to be “out there” and making at least tens of thousands of dollars from his amazing ideas.
There’s one thing I never want to see (but I’m afraid it’s inevitable)… it’s turning 60, and my cousin turning 61, and him saying the same damn shit he’s always said since his mid-20s…. “yo, man, when I make my first million…. shit man, I just need a Mac with 64 gigabytes of ram, and a double-octacore Intel i700 processor… and I gotta have that EXACT bass sound that Rhianna used in her song from way back when in 2014….”
All of you reading this— get the fuck to work. NOW. Before you know it, we’re worm food. What do YOU want to accomplish as an artist? Whatever it is, get the fuck to work.
And no one needs this advice more than ME right now, too. Thankfully I have some people who love me and always encourage me to keep going and get shit done. Laziness, fear of rejection, and bullshit excuses always hold me back. Don’t let that shit hold YOU back. Get the fuck to work.
Much love to all of you,