Can’t Knock the Hustle

The main reason this site exists stems from BET’s “Food for Thought” interview with Jay-Z in 2009. In the interview, Jay-Z talked about creating your own lane. The way things were going, I had to switch up and start clearing a path for this lane, but with what and how? During the interview he also said something to Harry Allen that had me thinking. I called my big bro, Seil and told him I had an idea, he said if you can do it, go for it…I looked to see what was out there. Nothing. From 2010-2011, I started reading and researching my idea. I showed my work to an expert and he said it was a bad idea. In all fairness, he’s not about that life, so I did what anyone who was following their heart did, I thanked him for his feedback and continued.  Little did he know, two weeks after our conversation, I was presenting a rendition of that bad idea at a pop culture conference.

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Clearing the path like…

For more feedback, I hit up Chalant with what I had, she was hyped and said I needed a website to show my work. OK, cool. Then I realized that I needed content for the site. Geez. So I would just write about stuff including my adoration for Michelle Obama, Black women hair and how Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life” reminded me of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. The Nicki write up was cool, but I felt like it would be better expressed visually and infographics were all the rage. So I created my first infographic. Like having beef with Cardi B, it took forever! I was never satisfied and every time I fixed one thing there was another hiccup (including her break up with SB). My research, writing and content production started to overlap and delay.

One night I came home and I was looking for my flash drive with my research on it and it was gone. Man, when I tell you I conducted a stop-on-frisk on myself for a good three minutes. NYPD had nothing on me that night. I hit Seil and Chalant up and I told them I was done.  Seil wasn’t hearing it and Chalant said, “Sometimes we lose things to get a better view of them.” I was like, girl, I’m going to bed. Tiffany, my cousin, was texting in the morning at the crack of dawn: You know you gotta write about Biggie!

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Ain’t nobody messing with my clique. To all those I named and didn’t: Thank you!

I really tried to abandon the project, but every time I heard certain songs from Kanye, Tupac, Common, Biggie, or Jay-Z, the project kept calling me back. One day after listening to “Everyday Struggle”, I sat down and with a half-finished excel file that I sent Seil, I started (half-way) over. I changed a few things around and I kid you not, things started to look differently. A lot differently. I was hyped, but it changed the original idea. I called my boy Rell (the plug) for access to different resources. While that was happening, the NBA lockout ended and Puff had Ciroc ads during the first game (The Knicks lost, surprise). I wanted to drink, but I don’t drink like that. So I tweeted that that was the Puffy Effect. My homeboy, Vern, cosigned and the idea was solidified. I finished it in 2014 because while I was doing that I had another idea to do Never Change (Jay-Z’s mentioning with criminal references), which I took down and redid as Never Change 2.1 because I knew I could do better. I had so much material that I wrote Encore after (and I can easily write another study based off that research). I asked my friends with legal degrees, Wendy and Reg about certain terms, for good measure. In between Never Change and Encore, I created Makaveli vs. Machiavelli because of a debate on how to approach a tattoo artist for a touch-up.

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The unexpected loss turned into an upgrade.

One day my mother said she found a bag and guess what was inside it…the flash drive. I laughed. I haven’t opened it, I just look at it as reminder of where I came from and where I’m going. This whole time, I am falling in love with hip-hop again, reading books and watching documentaries. When I say hip-hop, I mean the five elements (DJ-ing, MC-ing, Bboy-ing, Graffiti-ing and Knowledge of Self), their origins and how they impacted the lives of generations then and now (linguistically, socially, politically…the whole nine, B). Then my bestie, Tammy asked, what are you going to do with these? The million dollar question…

I’m going to leave it here for now because my life work has changed, but I created my own lane and I am still on my journey accomplishing one milestone at a time. My heart beats for this even though life can be a real Pain in da Ass. The silver linings are like the soul and realness of Mary J. Blige’s voice (La-de-da-da-da) that weaves through the words of a determined young rapper as he finds his way to success. You can’t knock the hustle.

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Oh by the way, happy birthday to Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

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