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Diary of a Mad Black DJ 111: Keep Doing What Got You Here...


Unless, you are Outkast, Slack, Tiffany & Co or Amazon, whatever got you to that "ah-ha" moment in your career- continue to do that, even if it's only as a passion.

cue the thinking music for our journal today:

Most people don't know that I started out as an emcee, before becoming a DJ. My love for hip hop, and more specifically music, made me become a bit of a crate digger and avid explorer of tunes for samples, lyrical inspiration- all things melody, tempo and cadence.

That coupled with me being the percussion captain at Columbia High for 2 years...which to be honest, that's only because my boy (Les Cleveland with Selena Johnson)ended up going to Keenan High School... lead to me being a student of music for life.

As a drummer- like with ?uestlove and DJ Evil Dee- we can naturally grow into djs- it's essentially math (tempo, pulse, bpms, etc) and (key/vibe/love language if you want to get more granular). But djing opened so many more doors for my musical and cultural growth as well as career expansion. Ive been able to get meetings, play events and see creating art from an entirely different scope than before as an emcee.

It's still fun to make music- but ultimately, as my career grew as a dj, I very soon learned that my "work" as and emcee was actually a passion- not a career.

No shade, no tea- I was signed, went on tours nationally and internationally, but still the business model didn't compare. But that didn't stop me from creating music. I even did an afrofuturistic musical performance piece that incorporated hip hop. All in all- that passion never went away and in fact cyclically made me a better DJ...better artist.

I became reminded of this yesterday after attending the Spotify for Artist discussion with Justin Duran, Sr. Director of Marketing at Def Jam.

Duran candidly hit all the good points of good music business practice... don't overthink the data, focus on what works, consider your artist angle- are you a touring artist or an artist that just pumps out songs online, how are you utilizing social media, which is now the new "street team"; and always place focus on the product itself and not the noise.

The point that stuck with me most was a tip that he got from his mentor. Once you do "crack the code" and figure out that model for success- never stop doing what got you to that point. Even if it's as a passion...continue to do that work as well- in addition to the success model.

That advice resonated so much because it shows that every artist, every brand, every experience does in fact have a different business model- not different in the basics of the business, these are necessary and standard across the board, but more so in the HOW the magic occurs and less of the SET UP for the magic to happen.

Maybe it's more than just a dope rap group- it's one that reinvents itself every time but you always get the gangster and the galaxy climbing gemini.

Or it's a fun cool app that's no longer a game but just as useful because it meets somewhere between a text message and an email.

Or instead of cool stationary- it's cool stationary with jewelry in it!!!

Lastly why just sell you books when you can sell books, the lamps, chairs and a tasty beverage to sip while you read.

Ultimately keep the work and keep the passion.

- Fay <3

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