The past few months, I’ve spent a significant amount of time studying music artists. Since they’re creators and are always working on their craft, I figure why not study them and how they operate and think. I needed to get inside of their minds and how they create the amazing music they do.
YouTube has been my friend and I decided to study the artists I listen to the most, J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Kid Cudi. They’re all great at what they do and I do listen to a lot of hip-hop music so it’s only fitting that I study these greats. They all contribute a special gift to music and are great storytellers.
I know as you’re reading this, you’re wondering, “Why are you studying music artists when you’re an author?” Well, if you really think about it, they’re authors and storytellers themselves. They are talking about their lives, their life experiences and their truth when they step into the booth.
To be able to study them and how they make their albums, the process it takes, the note taking, beat making, having the right people around them to create the music they want, it all takes a lot and it’s nowhere near easy. This all correlates to how I create in so many ways and I’ll explain.
While I don’t have a ton of people around me to help me create content, the world is constantly inspiring me to write stories and push my limits. In regards to pushing my limits, I can definitely relate to Kanye West. He’s always looking to see how far he can go with beats, production and lyrical foreplay.
When I look at his albums 808s and Heartbreak and Yeezus, those albums I feel changed the way music production is done and it impacted the music industry immensely. I can say that my projects, The World In Ruins and I Woke Up A Black Man will eventually change how writing is conveyed, written and spoken about. Those are two controversial projects that I knew the world wasn’t ready for but those books had to be written.
Kid Cudi brings out the struggles aspect of my storytelling. He tells his stories about life, his struggles with depression (something I struggle with myself) and drug addiction which contributed to me writing, The World We Live In series and The Struggles and Growth of a Man series. He has a certain sound and stood out from the rest of the pack when he came onto the scene and he never wavered or felt like he had to change his style to accommodate the music industry. That’s how I am when it comes to my writing. I never felt I needed to change my prose writing to make others happy.
Jay-Z has always said he doesn’t give everything in his songs and albums and he slowly and progressively does things. He says that he has to feed people slowly to get people to process and understand what he’s saying. That’s something I do which is why a lot of my books are written in a series. I have to work my way through books and each book has to have certain messages and eventually once you finish a series, you have fully grasped how I formulated my words to make you understand certain things.
Kendrick Lamar studies words and finds ways to utilize them to get his message across. The way he rhymes and can change his voice, flow, it’s something I’ve learned to incorporate with my writing. I tend to do that with my writing to where I can prose two sentences together and it makes you raise your eyebrows. Whether it’s setting a scene or utilizing a character to get a message across. He processes a lot in his mind before he rhymes and it’s something I tend to do but sometimes he lets it flow and I can do that too.
J.Cole’s way with words and the way he conveys his messages have always resonated with me. He’s deep, thought-provoking and calculated with his thoughts and how he speaks. He’s the most relatable out of all the artists I studied because he’s an Aquarian like me and his interviews with Angie Martinez (one of the best to ever do it in radio) are nothing short of amazing and classics. When he talks about world issues, it’s something that concerns me and a lot of his thoughts are written in books and he’s someone I definitely want to meet and talk with one day.
This studying of these artists was more to get inside of their minds. They’re all great at what they do and I realized I have a little of each of them in me when it comes to my storytelling. I’m thankful I was able to learn about them a little more not only from a musical perspective, but from a personal standpoint.
One thing I can say is they all inspire me in many ways. With Kanye, 808s and Heartbreak is my favorite album, Kid Cudi it would be Man On The Moon Vol 1, Jay-Z it is The Blueprint 1, Kendrick Lamar is Good Kid, Maad City, J.Cole is definitely KOD. There are all close seconds with these artists. Over the years, they’ve all improved and honed their crafts and that’s why I continue to improve and create stories that no one has seen, heard or read.
Well, that’s my deep dig into my study of music artists! I hope you enjoyed reading this.
Be good everyone and go accomplish your goals!