Tag Archives: hip hop

Comfort Zone

 

Chess Life

One of the hardest things to do in life is to step outside your comfort zone. We all like to be around people that we know well and do things that we’re very comfortable with. Being comfortable is a great feeling and one that you should be sure to enjoy when you have it. If we never stray from always seeking comfort, however, our growth will stagnate and over time, you will be less likely to accept new challenges. You will find yourself being comfortable, but never reaching your true potential. For some that is OK…for others, that is not an easy truth to accept. I tend to fall in the latter group.

Take time to reflect on your life and what you’ve accomplished to this point. Is that enough for you? Do you think you can achieve more? If you think you can, then you can. One way to start down the path of continued growth is to find ways of taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Seek new challenges at work and in your personal life. Doing new things will surely bring about fear, anxiety and a general feeling of being uncomfortable. As you learn more about these new experiences, however ,you will find that there is nothing to be afraid of. Knowledge overcomes fear and will lead to strength. In time, you will look back and be grateful that you accepted new challenges. You will realize that stepping out of your comfort zone has made you a stronger person, one that has overcome fear and replaced it with an excitement for becoming a better person in life.

“By deliberately putting yourself in situations where you have to face fear, you familiarize yourself with it and your anxiety grows less acute. The sensation of overcoming a deep-rooted fear in turn gives you confidence and presence of mind. The more conflicts and difficult situations you put yourself through, the more battle-tested your mind will be.” (Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War)

Ain’t nobody been where I’ve been…

They’re at a standstill…

I know that I ain’t got much time here…

Nas – “Let There Be Light”

 


Break The Law

It’s so easy to get used to what we do everyday, to get used to a routine.

Wake up.

Get ready. Commute. Work. Commute. Eat. Relax.

Go to sleep.

Repeat.

Sometimes we need to push ourselves to do something out of the norm, something that’s out of our daily routine. After you wake up, go out for a run before you get ready for work. Write down some thoughts that come to you while you’re working out. What I’ve found is that this is usually when I do my best thinking. The mind is fresh and it hasn’t yet been polluted with the stresses of the day. It may lead you to thinking more about your life and the lives of the people you love.

Are you really treating yourself and others the way you want to? 

It’s doing different things, maybe things that are typically out of your comfort zone, that start to provoke thinking differently. Maybe the situation I mentioned above is something you do everyday anyway, maybe it’s something you never do. What you should really start to think about is how you approach life and the things you find yourself doing all the time. Growth comes from doing something new and different, and that can only start with you. Know that it’s OK to do something out of the norm and “break the law” every now and then. Not in a literal sense, of course, but you probably wouldn’t have kept reading this blog if you thought of everything in a literal sense anyway…

Mac Miller – “Break The Law”


Discipline

Life is filled with distractions and excuses.

Before going to bed at night, you tell yourself you’re going to get in a workout at the gym before going to work the following morning. When you wake up, the snooze button on your alarm looks so tempting and you tell yourself a few more minutes and then you’ll get up. After waking up to the second alarm, you remember the nightly news said it would be quite a chilly morning and to watch out for snow and ice. One more snooze couldn’t hurt. Finally, you realize you’ll be late for work if you don’t get up now and you mosey on to the shower…that whole workout idea just wasn’t meant to be…

Upon your arrival to work, the first thing you see is a stack of papers on your desk and the “to do” notes you left for yourself from a lazy Friday. Today is definitely the day you get yourself caught up, but rather than digging in, you decide to log into your personal email and have a quick chat session with some friends that happen to be online. After this, it’s off to the kitchen to brew up some coffee and make your breakfast. On your way to and from the kitchen, there of course is some small talk with your colleagues. Once you finish up your breakfast and realize your a few minutes late for your first meeting of the day. Next, it’s lunch time. Then running out for a quick errand. One more meeting for the day…getting to all you said you would just wasn’t meant to be…

With your day just about complete, it’s finally time for the hobby you’ve been telling yourself you’d get back into to keep your mind on point and attempt to earn some extra cash on the side. Right after dinner, of course. But wait, the newest episode of your favorite show is on tv tonight! You can’t miss it…getting back to that hobby just wasn’t meant to be…but tomorrow is the perfect day!

I do these same things all the time, but have tried to realize that without focus and discipline, nothing will ever get done. Discipline is essential for success and without it, you will not continue to grow and better your life and the lives of those around you. Train yourself.

People here’s something that you should be considerin’

Things could turn bitter when you don’t use discipline

You might wake up the next day upset and in fear

Buggin out, yappin’ bout “How the f!@# did I get here?”

Gang Starr – “Discipline”


Self Esteem

It’s not something that everyone has. I suppose whether a person has it or not is determined by the environment that person comes from. Maybe it comes from this environment, plus a collection of experiences, relationships and situations that result from living one’s life. It seems to me that it all has to start at home. We’re all born as a clean slate. From day 1, it’s the love that our parents, siblings and family show us that leads us to think something of ourselves. To think that we should be loved and that we deserve it. To think that how we feel, the things we do, the things we accomplish…it all matters.

I have been blessed to come from a close-knit home with loving parents and a great older brother. This has led me to think something of myself, but it has also led me to be able to realize that not everyone out there is as fortunate. It’s easy to see the results of being raised in a loving home and also the results of being raised in a home that was not as loving. It may lead to doubts, may lead to stressful relationships, maybe even trust issues. It may lead to a lot of things…

But as long as you want to make yourself better, you can. No matter where you came from. No matter who your parents were or what your home was like. As you move through life, make a point to learn everything you can about the world and about yourself. Open your eyes to everything around you and turn the smallest things into lessons to improve yourself. This will hopefully lead to a high self esteem, and the realization that you matter. After you love yourself, it will be possible for others to love you as well.

One person we all know that does not have any self esteem issues is Kanye West. I’ve been a fan of Kanye since I first heard him back in college before College Dropout even came out. I always thought the amount of talent he has is amazing, and I always found that I felt good after listening to his music. It left me in a good mood, feeling positive and motivated…I recently watched a very cool interview with Kanye and Zane Lowe. Sure, he has his moments throughout the interview, but I always find a great message when he speaks. After watching this interview, something Kanye said made me realize why I enjoy his music so much…

watch.

listen.

learn.


Awareness

You will find in your life that success often comes with a price. People in your life that have always treated you one way may start to act differently around you once you begin to become more successful than they are. As Jay-Z said in “Lucky Me”…

Any type of success breeds envy.

As you live your life, continue to make progress. Get an education. Use this education to secure a well paying job, or create your own job. Keep your life balanced with hard work and relationships with loved ones. Keep your family and friends close. Keep that one person that means most even closer. Grow together.

All the while, know that there will be people around you that will not continue to grow. They will get stuck in their ways, become satisfied with the status quo and no longer have the desire to better themselves and their situation. Because of this, they will see your success and jealousy will begin to set in. Always be aware and take people as they are, knowing that the only person you can change is yourself.

“Every dollar you make comes with a set of eyes and a set of loose lips if ever you ever hide.”

Skyzoo – “Necessary Evils”


Priorities

top priority

peace before everything

The most important thing you can have in your life is peace. Peace can mean something different for everyone, it’s all about how you define it. It can literally mean a lack of violence, which for some, is everything. If you grew up in a home or neighborhood where violence was present, finding a way to escape that violence is key to improving your life. Peace can also mean an inner peace. An acceptance of what your life is and an acknowledgement that there is only so much you can change. Find the peace you need to lay the groundwork for moving ahead in life.

god before anything

I’m not a very religious dude, at least in the church going sense. I do believe in something, however, which I think is very important. In no way will I preach anything on this point, but I do feel it’s a good idea to think about the possibility of something bigger out there. If maybe there was something, and maybe someday you had to look back on how you lived your life, would you be happy with how you did? Always think about this question as you encounter different situations, problems, relationships, people, jobs etc.

love before anything

When you find peace in your life, it allows you to find love. Without peace, you’ll never truly be able to love anything or anyone and feel that love in return. As you move through different stages of life, love can mean drastically different things. When you’re a kid, you (hopefully) love your parents. You might love a sport, you might even love a new toy you got for Christmas. As you mature, you’ll find that love is a much bigger thing than you ever thought, and it relates to not only yourself but to others. Love shifts from being about things that make you happy to being about things that make others happy. Never force love, just let it enter your life when it’s ready and when you’re ready. It’ll hit you someday and that will be a good day.

real before everything

It’s important to always remain true to yourself. Never fall victim to doing something because it’s cool or because you’re friends are doing it. Everything you do should genuinely interest you and everyone you associate with should be a part of your life because you truly want them to be. If you don’t remain true to yourself, you’ll never find peace in your life and never find the love that peace allows.

home before anyplace

I’m fortunate to have grown up in a very loving home. Family is one of the most important things you can have in life because the support of a loving family is necessary to deal with everything life is going to throw at you. You may not have grown up in an ideal home, but that does not mean you’re a lost cause. Family can mean many different things. Friends, partners, co-workers, mentors, anything. You do have family in your life, you just have to realize who that family is and that they will be there for you as you come across different hardships throughout your life.

life is good…as is mos def…

Mos Def – “Priority”


Tomorrow

At a friend’s party not too long ago, I met the dude Jay Humble. We got to chatting and found that we were both huge hip-hop heads and beat junkies with similar styles and taste in music. I recommend you click on that name and give his music a listen.

While browsing on Facebook one day, I noticed Jay had posted a link to a mixtape by Mike Be called “..From DAT to This..” I got to listening and loved the vibe of the mixtape. Classic hip-hop, beats and chops. One track stood out for me called “Excuse Me.”

“I know today ain’t what it should be, but we can change what tomorrow will bring. Fast pace cause the waste is a horrible thing, excuse me while I follow my dreams.”

Think about that line. Everyone has their own dreams and goals. Unfortunately, everyone also has their own problems and has to face the reality that’s given to them. It takes understanding that you’re not alone when you face some hardship to get you through it. Everyone is going through the same struggle, and for most of us, we’re not totally happy with some aspect of our lives. The best way to deal with that is to focus on the things you can change and do something about it.

Today paints a picture of everything you’ve done in the past. If there are certain aspects of your life you’re not necessarily happy with, there may have been something different you could have done that would have made today a bit different. If you’re still at a job you’re not happy with, you could have worked a bit harder to move to a position you would like, or you could have put in some effort searching for a new job. If you’re not in an ideal physical or mental shape, you probably could have found some time to hit the gym or read a bit more to get you to that place you want to be.

Tomorrow paints a picture of where you want to be, a picture of those dreams and goals. “We can change what tomorrow will bring” so stay hungry and shift to “fast pace cause the waste is a horrible thing.” Follow your dreams and paint the picture that you will look back on and be proud of.

tomorrow


Honesty

I’ve found that one of the most important traits of highly successful people is honesty. Honesty in every facet of your life, whether it be personal relationships, work relationships or the relationship with yourself.

It all starts with the relationship you have with yourself. In order to find happiness in life, you have to be honest. Be honest about what makes you happy and who makes you happy. Never live your life according to what other people tell you because at the end of the day, you’re the one that has to deal with the situation. Try and weed out the things in your life that don’t truly make you happy. Once you can be honest with yourself, the rest will fall into place.

The boys at Jamla know what’s up…

Sean Boog – “One, Two, Three”

“I’m on my for real, like ’til I hold a mil, I don’t tell em what they wanna hear, I tell em what I feel.”


Back When

Alpha.

Genesis.

Beginning.

A clean slate.

Endless possibilities.

The start of something is always exciting. It could be anything from a new hobby to a new job to a new relationship. If you’re an artist, it may be a new song, new photograph or new painting. Any way you look at it, the start represents a whole new beginning. The past can be overlooked, the present is in focus and the future is bright.

Witnessing the creation of art or hearing the story of how a particular artist got their start is something I’ve always found motivating and inspiring. There’s something about hearing artists tell their story that makes me feel like I have the chance to do something important, regardless of where I am in my own life.

Look to different art forms as possibilities for you to start your own life, your own journey. Listen to a song and realize that an artist telling their story might as well represent you telling yours. Look to a photograph and see a sunrise as the sun rising on the next chapter of your life.

As it’s said in Nas’s “Back When,” “They love to hear the story how it all got started.” Tell the world your story.


Simplicity

Keep it simple.

It seems like something so obvious that it just can’t be right, but experience has shown me time and again that it’s true. Take a look at any part of your life and you’ll find some good examples of this advice coming into play.

Family.

When it comes to family, one of the worst things you can do is to complicate things by over-thinking meaningless problems. I’m sure you’ve seen many times when fights have somehow seemed to manifest themselves out of nowhere. Things can turn from nothing into something major pretty quickly. The next time you have a little squabble with a family member, or you see others you love squabbling over something silly, take a step back. Take a deep breathe and think about all the time and energy being wasted when there’s a good chance it means nothing in the whole scheme of things. Keep things simple and realize that at the end of the day, family is one of the most important parts of your life. They’re there to love and support you, so don’t waste that valuable asset on something meaningless.

Work.

Many careers require you to think deeply and spend a great deal of time preparing spreadsheets, presentations or documentation. I would never advise against any of this, but be sure to use your time wisely. Many times I’ve found myself wasting hours and hours thinking about a possible solution to a problem while the answer was staring right at me the whole time. It’s natural to think that some problems must have a complicated solution or else they would have been solved already, but I’ve learned that this usually isn’t the case. All it takes is some clear thinking to realize that the problem you’re dealing with isn’t as big as it seemed at first. Keep things simple, break down the problem at hand and apply some logic to resolve it. People will take notice and soon you’ll start to hear, “Oh that was easy, I should have thought of that!”

Creativity.

Different people are interested in different types of art. Some like the more complicated and really deep types of music, literature and photography. I’m sure a music theorist and fan of classical would argue with a fan of hip-hop all day about what constitutes music and how something more complex is simply just better than something more simple. It really comes down to taste with art and what people can feel a connection with. Personally, I’ve always gravitated to the simpler forms of art. I can appreciate all forms, but I can really understand and feel a simple kick and snare with a chopped sample. Too many synthesized noises or layers upon layers of instruments and I’m lost. Not to say there is anything wrong with more complex forms, but when it comes to art, I’d always use the same advice, keep it simple and people will be feeling it. If you hit a drought of creativity, keep it simple. Go back to your roots and you’ll always find that inspiration and creativity coming back when you need them most.

In his jam “Poe Mans Dreams (His Vice),” Kendrick Lamar puts it oh so eloquently…”Some rappers using big words to make their similes heard, my simplest shit be more pivotal.”