A little while back after releasing the Mask Off Freestyle, a friend/supporter said to me “Man you always come and go like a special character in comic books. Is this your own comic this time?”. This was a hint about me releasing music and then disappearing.
Over the years I have stopped and started music several times. Well I never really stopped, I have just had gaps in outward activity. There has been various reasons as to why this has happened. It could have been a life event, a fire I was fighting, a lack of resources, or a lack of time. However, a common thread in all of this has been that my priorities had changed. It could have been for a moment, but nevertheless it reduced my output.
Last year, I wrote more songs than I have ever wrote before. I was geared up and prepared to continuously release music. This year, I was planning to be super active, month after month, releasing a new banger for your ear drums! Somewhere down the line things changed. Life events happened. I got married, I moved out, I started a new job etc etc and it meant that music got put on a momentary pause.
Despite this, I refused to give up on the dream. But what was the dream? A month or so ago I sat down and tried to paint a picture of what it was that I really wanted from music. Did I want to do music full time? Did I want to be touring all over the world? Did I want to live in the studio? Did I want to perform week in and week out? Did I want the acclaim from the industry and my musical peers?
During all of this thinking I was really struggling to come up with an answer, but after a little while I managed to note down something that felt right to me. This is what I wrote:
“My goal is to be the best artist/writer that I can be and to continue to use writing and musical expression as therapy and a platform to inspire”
That said it all to me. Every time I read it I can feel the alignment. It wasn’t about being the next Kano or Wretch 32. It was simply about being the best artist/writer that I can be and using music as an outlet and a platform for those who enjoy it.
To truly be the best that I can be, requires me to dedicate a lot of my time to music, but what I mean by this goal is to be the best that I can be considering the other aspects of my life.
It’s funny, we all have dreams, but do we ever sit down to really think about what that dream truly means to us. What that picture really looks like on a day to day basis? Is it the picture that you really want? Is there something else that you are not willing to sacrifice that will continuously compete with that dream?
Sometimes we don’t know the answer. Sometimes we don’t know until we understand ourselves a little bit better. Sometimes we don’t know until we take that risk and give it a try. Sometimes we can only see one side of that equation but miss the conflicting parts.
Over time I feel that I have found greater clarity on these things. Of course I am still figuring it out. However, I am pretty sure of this decision. The decision that music will no longer be the main thing but the side thing.
I want success on my own terms. I create music for the love of it and I really don’t do it for the fame. I just wanted the fortune and to inspire lots of people as a part of it.
Prior to releasing my latest song, D.I.Y, I was listening to my mixtape, Birthed by Hip Hop. If I am to be completely honest with you, I was not happy with it. Furthermore, I was not happy with how long things were taking in between that. I was relying on people and was feeling let down. I was frustrated that my voice wasn’t being heard. I wanted to be further in my musical career and I did not want to wait so long to make moves. This amongst many other things birthed the song D.I.Y.
The response to that song was amazing. Family and friends reached out to me to say how great they thought it was. One family member even told me it was the first song that they could really feel. They could hear the passion in my words. I was chuffed. It also was a diversion from the other types of songs that I was making at the time. Songs that maybe sounded a bit more “current”.
It made me reflect on the music that I’ve received the best responses for. After thinking about it, I realised that it was the soulful music. Whether this was Contradiction, My Love, One Chance, Say What’s Real, I Have A Dream and the list goes on.
Now, if you have been following closely, you would know that I was planning to release a mixtape series called Birthed by Hip Hop, Adopted by Grime and Raised by Soul. This tagline is still very much a part of me, but I honestly was doing this project to maximise listeners. I wanted to reach out to different crowds and make a statement. In essence I was spreading myself too thin. I was trying to be a jack of all trades and you already know what they say about those.
Now this is not to say that I cannot create music in all of those genres, but I was trying to play the game. I knew that I had the potential and the talent so I wanted to showcase the different sides of myself and win those genres over.
But, after the release of D.I.Y, I realised a few key things. This was that I should:
1) Focus on Quality not Quantity
2) Not try to please all crowds and ages
3) Appreciate that I do not make popular music
These three things jumped out at me. At one point I even said to myself that I need to be happy being Solange rather than Beyonce. That is maybe not the best comparison, but what I meant was that I don’t need to be the one in the spotlight.
During this time I also read a couple of books that made me realise where some of my strengths lie. For example, I am an introvert and have never been super popular because of my personality. This is not to say that I have a boring personality, it’s just that my actions are what has usually made me the most popular. This was the case whether it was being one of the best footballers, rappers or students. Whatever it was, my actions, not my popular personality, caused the greatest intrigue.
I had to ask myself, “Why am I fighting to be heard in a world where personality is king?”
I know that music alone is not enough. There are many great musicians that are never heard, but I was burning myself out trying to be heard amongst all the noise. This is something that’s not natural to me. In fact, one of the books that I read was called Quiet: The power of the introvert in a world that can’t stop talking. I needed to step back and tap into my power. The combination of reading Quiet and another book called Deep Work blew my mind away. So many of the points in these two books resonated with me and inspired me to changed.
I ended up deleting my Twitter and my Instragram. I was done with trying to be heard in ways that were not natural to me. I also had to assess the value that I was getting from these social networks. After reviewing it, I knew it was not enough. No one cared if I was not on there and most people listen to my music or check out my blog posts via Facebook. Even when I ran the Kickstarter for my debut EP, most of the support came via Facebook. Yes I could “network” using Twitter, but it was mostly wasting my time and my energy.
I have decided that the best place for all things Christopha Gordon is my website. This site will be an outlet for my music, the things that I have learned, plus my book reviews and other observations. I also don’t plan to blog as often as I was. This is back to me producing quality over quantity.
I do have other big dreams, in fact, music was part of me reaching a much larger dream. The dream of achieving financial freedom and elevating the next generation. I always saw music as a gift and a curse. It was a gift that I loved, but it was also the very very hard way to achieve my dream. Now that I have decided to put music to the side, I plan to use my skills in other ways to reach my dreams. A new journey begins!
If you would like to stay connected, you can sign up to my mailing list here.
Don’t worry you won’t get bombarded with emails. Quality over quantity remember 😉
On the flip side of things, I have no plans of stopping music anytime soon. In fact, I am very happy to announce that I will be releasing a new mixtape!! And there’s more! *drum roll*….
Here is a new song from the mixtape called Honeymoon Phase!!!
I know this has been a lot to take in and to some it may be a big shock, to others it may not. However, although I might be extremely quiet along the way, I am working on some big actions to make up for it.
Keep relentless dreaming my friends. The journey never stops!