Why I Need to Live Like a Rap Star

How I carry my thug (via vermegrigio on Flickr)

How I carry my thug (via vermegrigio on Flickr)

I fully admit to being inordinately amused by the exploits of most rappers, especially in the antics and lifestyle outlined in their lyrics. I figure if an artist is truly about their business, they’re likely are not doing all of the extra activities they list. There are only so many hours in the day.

So, in the spirit of my ratchet music appreciation, and thinking of the conversation I had with one of my coaches, Dawn, I’ve decided that incorporating some aspects of the rapper lifestyle may not be a bad thing.

Fake It Until You Make It

Going back to my earlier statement, rappers are some of the bombastic creative people in the nation. A local star who still lives at home with his mother, works the stock room at Best Buy and records in his third cousin’s basement will have you believe he was just signed to the most well-known label with a million-dollar advance and has the hottest chick the game on his arm at all times. To use an overused term, it’s “swag.” Applying this to me, I have to be more prepared to talk about my ambitions for freelance work. No one wants to hear the hem and haw of tentatively describing aspirations for excellence. Claim it, declare it, own it. Rappers have this spirit in spades, even the ones who record in their closets. Why not adopt that in your business?

Roll With a Supportive Crew

What performer do you know that goes on stage with less than one hype man? I’ll wait…Exactly. Having a passel means rappers are never alone, bored, hungry and without entertainment. And they always have a fall guy, who doesn’t want that! For my needs, my crew  consists of my sorority sisters, family, my career coaches, former supervisors and various social media accounts for inspiration, laughs and thought-provoking commentary. Since I tend to avoid any kind of legal snafus, I never have to ask any of them to take the rap for me, which I’m sure they appreciate. Instead, this assorted group provides me with feedback and guidance, as well as accountability to do even better than I think I can.

Make An Investment

As Jay-Z said years ago in a line that epitomizes the rap life mentality, “Money ain’t a thang.” Cars, jewelry, houses – but I mean, who really looks at the price tag (thanks for that one, Nicki Minaj). Since it’s all about appearances, and I don’t have to impress the masses, my investments are a bit different. For example, one of the first things I did upon realizing that I have to build my brand outside of any company affiliation was purchase business cards and rent a P.O. box. Though my initial reaction was “Why am I spending money when I don’t have any coming in?” I knew it was the right thing to do to show that I was serious about my aspirations. Now when I go to networking events, I have my own card to hand out. And should I need to receive payments or contracts, I can have them sent to a location that is independent of my home address. As I go even further down the road of independent ownership of my work, I know additional investments will be necessary, though likely not dipped in gold like a Jesus piece. Mentally, this is part of the process for which I have to prepare myself (and my bank account). Thankfully, my momma didn’t raise a fool when it comes to saving and spending wisely.

So, that’s how I plan to adopt a limited scope of the rap star lifestyle. How are you embracing your inner rock and roll star: what would you add to this list?

Also, just for fun: my 90s rap name is Smoove V Tha Magnificent Thief. I will take that, expect T-shirts soon!

A Skeptic Builds an Inspiration Board

As part of my continued practice of bringing positivity into my life by exhibiting positive attitudes, I began working with personal coach Mia Redrick. I’m not a mother in need of finding balance between home and work life, which is one of Mia’s areas of expertise, but the recommendations for her business coaching from associates said it wouldn’t matter. So, stepping out on faith on this one. The first group call demonstrated that there is a variety of women who are looking for the same thing I’m seeking, which reassured me. However, as we wrapped up the call, Mia gave us the first assignments: a vision board.

*insert record scratch*

Let it be stated that until this point in my life, I’ve never believed in vision boards. I believe in positivity, I believe in prayer and I believe in writing down your goals/objectives/wishes. It just went beyond my limitations that poster board, glue stick, images and some aspirational phrases would get me any closer to what I want in life. It’s all too Oprah-Real Simple magazine for me. Also, please remember I’m from Southwest Houston, we didn’t do things like make vision boards.

Also known as “not my cup of tea.”

After much harumphing and sighing, my sense of “why not” (and also my knowledge that this was part of a process of self-betterment that I’m paying for) overrode my long-held stance. I made my way to Target and got a nice black poster, started ripping through old issues of Inc.ForbesLucky and Women’s Health Magazine and next I’ll break out the glue stick to start organizing my thoughts into the most spectacular vision board ever made. I’ll make a note to share the final version on here.

What are your thoughts on vision boards? Do you think they were part of your success plan? Even better, share yours with me if you’ve done one before.

Are You Seeing This: Shifting Makeup of Media Production

In keeping up with the latest news on entertainment, I’ve noticed some trends that are exciting for more non-traditional media ownership.

I’ll kick it off with the latest news, the upfront season for television networks. I usually skim the news about what shows got the can, what shows are returning and what mid-summer drivel the networks will serve us. This year, as the Times outlined, there is a new crop of entertainment that made me sit up and take notice. Media companies that have not traditionally delved into video content are making waves – Microsoft, Yahoo, the Weather Channel (I know, right?) and the Wall Street Journal. The bottom line, as the article rightfully notes, is that media agency buyers are buying nearly as much in digital advertising as they are in traditional ads, and these networks have to show they have the content that will draw eyeballs. So if you are interested in a WSJ-produced reality show where “entrepreneurs will work with more than two dozen mentors like Richard Branson, Tory Burch and MC Hammer,” your time is now.

Next big thing is the amount of content coming from Netflix. Previously, when I thought of the company, I thought of airport layover entertainment and their pricing debacle with Qwikster. These days, Netflix has hit a nice stride with original content like House of Cards and the debut of a long-anticipated return season of Arrested Development (scheduled for May 26, do not miss it!). It’s a series of brilliant moves on the part of Netflix leadership, who were beaten down in the press and by customers after a mislaunch of a new pricing structure. By recognizing and, most importantly, providing on their own the content their customers were craving, Netflix diversified their value and output and likely at a low cost.

How can you not be excited about this? *starts singing “The Final Countdown”*


Finally, one of my favorite writers/producers/directors/generally hilarious people, Issa Rae, is one of five hosts of a new talkshow in the vein of “The View.” The show, which will be on the Magic Johnson-owned Aspire Network, is guaranteed to be awesome and much more relatable to women “like me.” There are a two things that excite me about this news: Issa Rae’s online origin and Aspire Network. If you’re not familiar with The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, seriously, crawl out from under a rock and watch seasons 1 and 2. You’ll laugh, you’ll feel some emotions and you’ll thank me, I just know it. ABG, as I will call it from here, began as a short episode, produced by Rae and posted to YouTube. Niche websites like Clutch Magazine promoted a Kickstarter account for the show, prompting people who were tired of not seeing themselves presented in such a positive and comedic light to donate enough for Rae to produce a full season. Enter Pharrell Williams and his production company, i am OTHER. With his backing, season 2 was even better and Issa’s name became more regularly known. Then came a television show with Shonda Rhimes and ABC. And we all know the power of Shonda when it comes to good drama, so imagine what she can do with Issa and comedy? Basically, started from the Internets, now she’s here, to borrow from Drake. Oh, and she has her own production company that is putting out new content regularly. Can I just say, my she-ro!

I want that bubble gun!

Lastly, the Aspire Network excites me because I can’t stand the majority of the programming that is supposed to be targeted to my “demographic.” Aspire is a partnership between Magic Johnson, Comcast and NBC Universal, and I’m quite upset I don’t get it with my AT&T Uverse. While it’s nice to see that some media companies recognize the influence of the Aspire target audience; just wish it wasn’t limited to one provider.

What are your thoughts about the explosion of original content? Does this pose a threat to traditional television channels?