Hip Hop is a hell of a drug; I was hooked. It was a hell of a trip. I went from sneaking to hear the latest gangster rap album to hosting and performing in packed night clubs. One day, I realized everything I had hoped, dreamed, and worked for didn’t really matter to me anymore. The hip-hop life was a natural high for me. Coming down from it didn’t feel good, but I knew a drastic change was necessary. I also was aware that I wasted years chasing a dream I didn’t really want anymore. I was playing the game for the sake of the chase, and my performance was suffering because of it. That’s when I realized I needed to reevaluate everything that brought me to this point of chasing my tail and calling it hustle. Something had to give.
One of the hardest things for a passionate person to do is to count a loss and redirect the effort on something else that could be a bigger win. Hip Hop artist put tons of effort into cultivating business, creating art, and portraying images for the world to enjoy. How could it be anything but hard to give up? Think about how hard it must be to spend years hustling away from normalcy only to not reach the goals you have set. It is a hard pill to swallow. Imaging knowing you should quit, but in a lot of cases your pride won’t let you. I wasn’t any different but I should have been.
I’m not special. Many entrepreneurs, artist, athletes, activist, committed people of all stripes have molded their dreams into a so called life. Many have sacrificed the balance of friendships and family for a chance to reach that goal. Many have always used the honorable excuse of working to justify not being a present friend, partner, or family member. And because our society honors sacrifice and hard work, we get that pass from society and more importantly the people we care about most. Everyone understands and/or accepts that in your life they are second to the chase, until you crash.
One of the hardest things to go through is talking to someone you put to the side while you were grinding after you’re not working on that project anymore. It sounds something like this: “Hey Odessa. How you doing man? I haven’t seen you out for minute. Are you still running that record label thing?” I respond in my best and fake humble tone, “No, I stopped doing music.” To which my distant friend replies in a matter of fact manner, “Well, at least you tried.” To which I with all the humility I can muster, shake my head in complete agreement. He is not fooling me though. I know exactly what he “means.” I gave up our friendship for nothing. When the dream doesn’t pan out nothing is ever the same. All the respect and understanding of what you are trying to pursue turns into a resentment of the things you didn’t work hard enough at maintaining. I get it. I understand it. But it still doesn’t change it. It actually makes it more important.
The most important thing you have to figure out in your life is the difference between a battle and a war. We all lose battles. That’s life. But we can win the war with the least amount of casualties. We all can do that. In my case, I realized the music label was the battle, I waived the white flag. As far as the war, I’m still fighting. And the dream goes on.