Not All Quiet on the Western suburban front
Nobody really cares what the building looks like before it's finished. It's why when talking about a building in progress, they tend to show the renders of the finished project vs. the gaping hole in the ground. It's why we don't tour construction sites, as there's debris everywhere and the site is certifiably dangerous to be around even when you know what you're doing.
Immediately after launching this website I felt like the momentum of all the activity at Native Stranger was going to pick up. I just re-upped on shirts, I had a platform to promote. It was going to be amazing! And it has been. It was awesome being able to share my craft in public this summer. It has been validating and clarified my need to continue creating music regardless of how my path unfolds. And it has been a wild ride!
But it has also been slow going. I still have shirts to sell (Peep the STORE to purchase!!), I have several half-finished projects I need to complete. I love the Daywalkerz project but I am already looking forward to new and different collaborations and projects. It can all feel very overwhelming at times, and the motivation and vision can only sustain you so long.
It's important during both times of high AND low productivity to exercise gratitude. I acknowledge i can occasionally get bogged down, but when I truly reflect on the progress I made in producing/engineering just in one year, I can only imagine how much I can improve in the next year. When I hear songs I wrote fifteen years ago, I can only reflect positively on how much better an emcee and writer I have become. Gratitude is an important gut check, and can definitely reduce feelings of discouragement when looking forward.
This month I reflect on ten years since the namesake of the label, The Native Stranger EP, first saw the light of day. By luck I met Chris Visto at an open mic near UIC, and I was immediately taken by the kid's hustle. He was hosting an open mic at a wine bar, and by chance I decided to show up and check it out. I spit at the open mic, we exchanged info, he sent me some beat tapes he'd been working on, and almost immediately I came across the beat that would become the intro to the record... My first reaction was "Aahhhhh, I'm home now", and that launched a 12 month creative process that culminated in the 8-track EP. Songs like Bread Crumbs and Ode to Alcohol I still perform live, and the other tracks with only a few exceptions still hold up, all behind classic hip-hop production.
Building is a slow process, and sometimes the progress can seem frustrating. But if you step back and reflect on your work every so often, you can see the structure solidifying, the foundation looking stronger and stronger, and the tower beginning to peek through the cloud line. Onward and upward we go!