I’m still riding this jeen-yuhs train.
Here’s the story today:
When producer Kanye was still tryna break into the industry as a rapper, he had almost everything going against him.
* Producers produced beats. They weren’t rappers.
* He didn’t grow up in the “hood” or have a street presence (which was a crucial ingredient for rap success in the early 2000s)
* He didn’t have a “hard” image like some gangsta rap icons at the time
* He didn’t have any felonies on his record
* And, of course, he was a producer. And producers weren’t rappers
All these reasons stacked high against him and weighed heavy on his psyche.
Remember, at this time, he was signed to Rocafella. But they didn’t spend any money on marketing or studio time to produce his debut album.
They still didn't take him seriously as a rapper even after he landed a guest verse on a Jay-Z song.
And every time Kanye tried proving his worth as a rapper to Rocafella, they laughed it off.
Nothing he did worked.
Some executives at Rocafella even told Kanye to his face that he couldn’t be a rapper. He was a producer, not a rapper.
And he was down bad.
One night, while in the studio working on his album, he got personal with Coodie. Coodie was a Chicago comedian who gave up on his dreams to follow around and record footage for a documentary — years before anyone knew Kanye could rap. Years before Kanye won his first Grammy. And decades before Kanye became the cultural icon he is today.
(Lesson in there…)
And while Kanye was listing off all the reasons why people thought he “couldn’t” be a rapper, he said the following:
“You know what I do have though? The ability to learn. You think my beats sound like The Blueprint when I first started dawg? Nah, not even close, but I learned and improved. I’ve always had the ability to learn. And what you think goan happen if I’m with Jay-Z, Scarface, and Ludacris in the studio every day? How can I not be successful? I might not be the next DMX, but how could I lose?”
He went on to say that people don’t give you your respect. They wait until you start proving yourself.
These words aged quite well.
Besides Jay-Z, Kanye went on to have a much more lucrative career than Scarface, Ludacris, and the late DMX. It’s arguable Kanye had a better career than Jay-Z too.
Which reminds me of a recent email I wrote about how bad my copy 2+ years ago was in comparison to the emails I write today.
When you start something new, you suck. No way about it.
But from there?
You can either give up and try something else. Or you keep at it and make a beat for a Jay-Z song. Or slang millions worth of products through email. Or start a business that hits 10k months, 20k months, and eventually 100k months.
Don’t get discouraged. Just keep after it.
One of my favorite Kanye stories is from before he started filming this documentary.
It was back when he was in high school or college.
And he wanted to be a producer.
So what did he do?
During the summer, he locked himself in his bedroom in his apartment. And he wouldn’t let himself leave until he produced 5 new beats a day. He did this every single day. For 3 consecutive summers.
Anyone can respect the grind, even the biggest Kanye critics.
That’s how he made a beat for Jay-Z. That’s how he got featured as a rapper on a Jay-Z song before anyone knew he could rap. That’s why his debut album is considered a classic hip-hop album. That’s how he won his first Grammy. And that’s why he’s an icon today.
And you know what?
You can do that too. With your business and your skillset.
If you have the ability to learn, none of your shortcomings or flaws are powerful enough to stop you.
Sum thought for food.
Not too shabby, eh?
And keep practicing. Don’t give up. Your next major breakthrough is closer than you think.