I figured out what my passion was at 16 when I realized it was too late to pursue a career in basketball. I never thought I'd take being an artist seriously, but one thing I couldn't deny was how much I absolutely loved expressing myself and what I see through the art form. It was the first time I felt free to be transparent and gain respect while doing so. These epiphanies are what would lead me to stay up all night writing, visiting open mics every day, no matter how many were in attendance, and becoming a scholar of Hip-Hop Culture.
So far, the most rewarding part of my journey is being used by GOD to awaken the souls of those suffering from toxic isolation, depression and brokenness. When I get stopped by people of many races, social classes and cultures to be complimented as an artist, it fills my heart to know that the openness and levity Jesus instills into my pen provides the strength to help others go on.
Many Black role models have come and go, but one who's had a major impact on my life as a Black mentor is Kyle Morris aka J.R. Morris. Through hiring me to be an educator within schools, summer camps and afterschool programs, educating me on entrepreneurship and the purest form of support, made me a better man, and an artist as a whole. I'm truly grateful for him as a Big Brother figure.
Being a part of Church Culture has enriched my life to the fullest. There's many misconceptions about Christianity and most are valid. There are churches that shackle people to ministry, tell people to attend but won't build meaningful relationships and won't nurture their true calling from GOD if it doesn't involved being glued to a pulpit or choir. In my church body one of the things I've been inspired to do is to be strong within the community and fellowship like Jesus did. If you notice, Jesus was never alone, he had community with him everywhere he went. And each time fame tried to be spread about his miraculous works in a town he left to continue his mission.
And that's something that's lost in Black/Brown communities which is why many Black artists get swindled or fall short of integrity and humility because they enter into an industry alone without any genuine people and fall for praise and egoism. Although the industry can be considered dangerous, I'm very confident in prevailing because I have a circle of people who keep me grounded as a Black man who's centered in Christ.
I'd advise them to learn the importance of support in the most genuine sense. Giving out the energy you'd like to receive, regardless if the person you're supporting is reciprocating or not, is highly important for the soul of an artist. We're in the age of technology where people with real life experiences are seen as likes, comments, views, shares and mentions. And Artists see fellow Artists as a "follow for follow" or "shout out for shout out." When you truly support an artist you receive education, inspiration and a business/personal relationship that connects you to many great opportunities. When you support a listener of your music by greeting them with open arms, asking how their day has been instead of spamming your latest single, you'll gain an understanding of how your music impacts them in a way that'll encourage you in your darkest days.
6 What The African Diaspora means to me is clarity. Clarity on things that are taken out of context, false and perverted within pop culture. I feel empowered when I show my students a dark skin child with naturally blonde hair and blue eyes in Africa as they're educated that their appearance is limited to a few features. Learning why I love drums so much. Learning why I'm so empowered when engaging in communal activities. Even learning that the first Christian church was founded in Ethiopia is part of the African Diaspora.