When the courts are involved, emotion never wins over reason and logic. When justice takes course, it needs to be excepted. When injustice is expected, as a democratic society - we have the opportunity and power to change things that may seem wrong, either with society itself, or with the process used in reaching a verdict. We can change course by using reason and logic, not emotion. Emotion can be the enemy of logical progression.
After a tense ruling and scrutiny by the national media, I decided to do some thinking about cases that get put under the public microscope. I asked myself, "What opportunities do these tense outcomes give us to band together and move forward as a Country - how do we start the critical discussions that allow us to progress from here".
The final ruling really shook things up. I see all sorts of people reacting strongly to this case online, and its very tense - people of all background have something to say about the outcome. I'm not here to argue in favor of the ruling, or against it - simply, I want to spark a discussion.
It has everyone talking about where we are as a country. In a way, its made a few of us wake up. You can see this in the way that people are talking about more than just the case itself - they're talking about American culture as a whole. The people of our country are assessing the way we feel about the roots of this society itself.We Ask
- Are we on the right course?- How can we work to improve things so that they work out differently and more favorably in the future?
The Trayvon Martin case is bringing a lot of charged emotion to the surface from people of all different ethnic backgrounds. If you've been on any social media outlet over the past few months, you've felt it leading up this cases verdict and after the ruling. The final outcome, reached this past weekend, points to elements of reason
that need to be addressed and considered as a united people of such a demographically diverse country. The people of the United States need start working together, not against each other.
This is a framework that I thought of that may allow us to do just that; to start working together. These issues are serious, and they need to be addressed through reason, not emotion. Reason
points to four main root causes of senseless violent crimes and emotional despair in our culture. They are1.) Income inequality - and how it impacts a school districts ability to deliver quality education and keep our youths engaged and active in school
2.) Outdated drug laws that are overly harsh on first time offenders for things like Marijuana and underage drinking
3.) "Fact passing" on National TV - where people speak as if their opinions are facts, and then get emotional when their opinions are challenged by others - as if what they're saying is gods gift to planet earth, the ultimate reality (It isn't) - This behavior and "Talking Head" syndrome distorts the
credibility behind media outlets covering already bad and
distorted situations. We hear what they want us to hear, unfortunately. 4.) Closings of community initiatives focused on alternative vocation training, and peer to peer mentoring for youths.So... I'm just putting it out there. Four things that need serious reform as a United States1. Schools2. Prisons3. Media4. Communities -Ryan McKenna
In life, we do the best that we can to achieve better outcomes for ourselves and those around us that we care deeply about. If you're the rare Mother Teresa type, your level of concern and commitment to others may go far beyond that - spanning to those who aren't immediately next to you, or even to the people that you don't know personally.Connection is Key
One day, you may have the opportunity to have a discussion with one of those people. In passing, as you sit on a train, while you bowl at a bowling alley, or maybe when you're picking a late night 7-Eleven snack after a long night of partying. Really, you never know when you will have the opportunity to be able to positively impact someones life, by showing them who you really are, and why what you believe in and care about matters to them.
In this day and age, we hear people on TV talking about what they feel should be done in situation X, Y, and Z. The online community coasting through your consciousness, telling you how much of an expert they are in this situation, or that situation. You hear the preacher preaching on the corner in Philadelphia as you rush home to your couch for a cold beer after a long day of work - preaching mindless material that's unrelated to your way of thinking at that time.
Finding someone who genuinely connects to your views on progress and what strikes you as common ground in doing a useful deed, is definitely rare. As a friend of mine told me when we were grabbing drinks the other night - if we were all Mother Teresa's, no one would have remembered her.Lets talk about:
Improving your ability to connect.
So - what can you do to show someone that you're serious and committed to what you believe in; to what you're trying to connect with them about? What do you do when you encounter someone who really seems to have that "it" factor - the right make up in their energy, combined with a sense of drive, authenticity and commitment that makes what they seem to believe in real, and just?
You may even wonder - "How did that person start this whole thing off - how did they get there?". At some point in time, they had to take a leap of faith - they had to put themselves out there. They had to get smart with how they engaged others in an attempt to connect that which wasn't previously connected.
These are four steps that I pick up on when someone tries to sell me their vision on things. When someone I talk to acts within this context I know that they mean business. 1. Kick off your commitment to connect with an Action - Most people don't do this. Most people constantly talk about how hard they're "Grinding", or try to validate themselves via the many social media outlets that ANYONE has access to. Seeking
validation isn't a very strong strategy if you want credibility. You need to eventually back up this talk with action. A professor of mine once told me, "Show, don't tell". I would argue that it will set you up for long-term problems with personal brand image if you're always talking about what you're doing, and never actually doing anything. So when in doubt, initiate a positive action that allows other people to engage in the conversation for you.
"We're coming off our third successful year of this initiative, and the entirely company is hear to help improve this years event - It means the world to us and those impacted by our program that all of you are here to support us with great ideas to grow and reach more communities across the United States."2. Stimulate and endure criticism, without ego
- nothing is more important to long-term success than being able to stimulate healthy levels of criticism. What really shows people that your serious is the way that you handle what someone says. You show them through your follow-on words and body language.
The smart leader views direct criticism as a marketing opportunity, not a potential problem. Every time someone challenges them, they gracefully tell the person why they love what they do and why its important. If you don't have something figured out, an honest response could be - "I'm still trying to identify what makes this idea powerful, and how I feel about it. When I have more figured out, I'd love to reconnect and let you know where we are with everything"
. There's nothing wrong with getting into the game through experimentation and trial and error - heck, that may be the best way.
That being said - there's something wrong with acting like you have it all figured out when you don't. That's when animosity and negativity buildup and you lose credibility. Getting direct criticism can be just as good as asking a direct question. Try to stimulate this process.
When you let someone know that you don't have all the answers - it can help defuse hostility towards something that many people may not fully understand yet, including yourself. We're humans and we don't have everything figured out... That's okay!!
Criticism is an opportunity. If you're not prepared to sell yourself and your vision in response to it, choose another ambition.
A. "I don't get your product, it seems like a scam."
B. "I understand that things may be unclear right now, and we're working as hard as we can to find the best way to show our customers who we are. With feedback from people that are confused, and hard work from our dedicated team, we will get to a place where we have our best and most needed products out there for those who benefit from them."3. When in doubt, become a good listener
- Everyone wants to talk about their side of the story, to state their views on whatever is being discussed. "I think this" - "I think that" - "Yatta, Yatta" - but if you want to show someone how serious you are about something, try the opposite approach. Listen to what's being said, endure multiple opinions, and try to understand why someone believes what they're saying to you. The key here is to be someone who facilitates critical reasoning by asking good questions; questions that show that you were listening - not by forcing it on someone by telling them that you feel this, or that you feel that. The best way to do this is by stimulating critical response through listening and conversation.4. While talking about "It" - avoid "I feel"
- I feel is a loaded statement. It can be good when your feelings need to be sorted out with a lover, a close friend, or a boss that needs a quick reality check. It isn't a good statement when you're trying to speak like a leader and show someone your vision.
When you get to the bottom of an emotion that will travel beyond your own personal walls, one that has the opportunity to be received by another party in various ways, sometimes the way you present your idea will show someone that you're serious, or that bluffing. Humans have deep emotional senses that can tell if you're bluffing pretty quickly. "I feel" doesn't do you much justice when you're trying to show someone how serious you are about reaching them with what you're saying. If you replace the "I feel" with a very short story, without the wishy-washy details - it becomes more powerful and sincere. It becomes real to the other person.Example: Bad:
I feel that my way of looking at CO2 emissions is best because I have a PhD in biology from an Ivy League school.Good:
When I studied biology at Pittsburgh, I was interested in how CO2 emissions would effect our planet over the long haul. During my senior year, I can remember reading anything I could get my hands on about how they were being produced!
Above, "the bad"
is emotionally charged and it has to rely on an absolute detail, and a sense of entitlement - like a PhD from an Ivy League school. It shows that that person believes they're separate from anyone else who may lack those exact qualifications. Logically, this is flawed and assumes too much about others who may be listening to them speak. I feel makes this person lose credibility.
However, "the good"
, shows empathy and allows this person to form a connection with those who may have been questioning their qualifications about CO2 emissions. It shows that they're serious about forming a connection, without displaying entitlement. Although not everyone in the circle may have studied biology, many of them may remember finding something that they enjoyed and hungered for knowledge with, and remember trying to read everything they could about that subject. Perhaps they did the same thing with classical guitar, and would consider themselves to be an expert in that specific subject. It shows someone that they respect their position, even if they're not a biology wizz kid.
- Ryan McKenna
Good question - a question that many people are trying to figure out right now. I don't think there's any clear cut answers, but everyone has their suspicions. This map is definitely interesting if you're interested in this question, and it puts things into a realistic perspective. The colors on the map below represent the following:
One thing is clear here, poverty is definitely on the rise in the United States. Take the center divider - pull it all the way to the far right of the picture. Then, drag it across the map. Watch the map change. When you get to your city, or other cities, zoom in and out if you'd like.
Read more: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/07/poverty-maps-1980-look-astonishingly-different-compared-2010/6084/#ixzz2YTP3iSQg
It's critically important for the US to maintain stability within Egypt for two main reasons - beyond the obvious humanitarian context that I will describe in brief detail later. From what you hear in the news about this situation, and for those praising the passing of an overthrown government, especially those in mainstream liberal-media, you should really get your facts straight and be careful on how you rejoice in this developing
situation. Mainstream media continues to focus on the celebration of people overthrowing a government that they didn't approve of - realistically, there are many other pressing matters to discuss that have the potential to turn very bad, very quickly if certain conditions unfold. The two main-conditions are:1.)
Refugee Fallout 2.)
Disrupted shipping routes through the Suez Canal
Both of these are described below. 1.)
With the possibility of violent conflict now an afterthought (See video below), refugee fallout towards Israel and other surrounding countries is inevitable, and it will continue to rise over the coming months if the clash between pro-Morsi supporters and the new regime continues. Particularly - I'm worried about Israel and how they will view this type of situation from a defensive strategy mindset. Instability in that region has lots of lasting downside for them if things turn ugly- and the situation spinning out of control isn't really a viable option for anyone.
Being that Israel is our most strategic and important alley in this region (We give the most money to Israel for aid, followed by Egypt), we once again find our self at the center of a hot zone for middle eastern conflict spurred by ideology tension. Now that pro-Morsi supporters are beginning to be eliminated by mobs of people and military agents, this creates a desperate fall out/border protection situation for everyone in this region. When you have mobs of people and military officials killing people of a certain ideology, you have some elements that make it a similar situation to that of Germany, pre-WW2. It definitely has the elements of a mass elimination building if the mob and the military gets out of control. Either way, clashes are expected to continue. 2.)
The Suez canal is a major global trading hub, critically important to maintaining stable commodity prices in Europe, and ultimately, maintaining overall economic stability in the USA. If there was an incentive to intervene, economic downside always presents itself highly on the international agenda.
This is a complicated situation to deal with from a humanitarian view. I don't think it's a coincidence that both President Obama and former President Bush were in Tanzania last week. If the USA wants to be smart with this one, they would've already started building a direct-intervention strategy when democracy was installed two years ago.
Again, the big factor here ends up being economic downside and its impact on the USA and it's allies. If things were to continue to spin out of control, and this downside was realized, or in question, you could see direct intervention soon. It's critical that the Suez canal continues operating at full capacity for the sake of global supply chain integrity. In 2009, over 35,000 ships passed through the canal - or 7% of the international sea trade by volume. Accounting for a large portion of global oil supply traffic
, the number one most important port to keep secure in this region - one that is now at risk, is the Suez canal.
If a country were going to intervene in Egypt to ensure that this risk doesn't escalate into a realized economic downside, there would have many potential tactical elements associated with this step. My guess would be that we could see special forces and related units on the ground there if things continue to heat up. Their immediate goal would be reestablishing the order of functional shipping in the area, thus contributing to stable prices within the Euro zone and beyond. I'm sure that a strategic plan has already been executed to put the international community into a position for that decision to happen if its needed.
Most talking heads would say that you could be easily secure such a port from the North, by utilizing Mediterranean Sea resources, but this isn't entirely true, or possible considering the canal is around 120 miles long when you factor in the Northern and Southern access channels. Anyway you look at it, the port would have to be secured from north and the south east. This type of option would make any military leader nervous because of how closely Saudi Arabia monitors military presence in the Red Sea.
Violence and Anarchy in Egypt
Again, you see lots of talking heads in popular-media focusing on the wrong elements of the situation. The real downside of this situation for you and I is that price instability could arise as a result of continued conflict. The real unfortunate thing for the citizens of Egypt and beyond is that democracy has been rejected again in the region and continued violent persecution of those who believe in it remains. -Ryan McKenna
I'm a huge fan of Pretty Lights - I have been ever since I first heard them many years ago.
Beyond the music that makes up this skillfully crafted genre that has become
synonymous with the Pretty Lights brand, I've always admired the way that they distribute their music; it's definitely good enough to charge people top dollar for it. However, in my opinion, the sound has gained so much popularity over the years because of how the releases have been handled. The donation model definitely makes your fans happy and allows for great access to new listeners.
The free model has definitely worked for them in the past too, and I see it working for Derek (the lead creator of Pretty Lights) again in the future. By adding that extra donation piece, it entices the most loyal fans to occasionally feel generous, and give way more than the standard $7-10.00 you'd be able to charge elsewhere online. If you have a loyal fan base, it's a no brainer to at least incorporate some level of "free" into your release... I mean, it's 2013 - music is pretty accessible.
Pretty Lights used to give music away for free a few years back, but now
there's a little bit more of an influence on donating and buying the "product". Really though, Derek just wants you to listen, and to invite him into your city to rock out. That's definitely where the big money comes into play these days. Look at the tour that someone like Drake just set up, he's
literally performing almost every day for two months. People want to tour! People want to sell tickets! Overall, the work that Derek Smith creates is truly inspiring and unique; the work of a total and complete musical genius.
With so much noise out there created by the lower echelon of electronic music superstars like Avicii, he's been able to keep his music untainted by their mass consumer approaches to the overall genre. It's definitely cool to see someone staying true to their attempt to create unique and awesome music that helps the souls of almost everyone who listens. A lot of these creators end up missing the mark in their attempt to gain consumer appeal. It can feel fake and a little lame.
Now... if hip-hop and electronic music were to merge, who would you rather have it merge with? Avicii, or someone like Pretty Lights?
My pick - Pretty Lights... if you disagree let us know why, or who you would choose instead.
Pretty Lights hasn't put out an album in a few years, but their newest addition - A Color Map of the Sun, definitely puts things right back to where they were before. High quality music with a flare of originality. I just got done listening to the album, and can't say that there are any major disappointments. I got the same feeling when I listened to the newest Daft Punk album, made by another set of classic creators, but the sound is much different so its hard to fully compare the two. Both of these albums allowed the music to creep into my soul and make me think about more than the music - something a lot of the current popular music creators have lost the ability to do. They're so busy trying to tell you to "FEEL THIS WAY" that they don't leave you to develop your own conclusion. Pretty Lights is such a special group because Derek has been able to cultivate the action of making you do one thing really well: Form conclusion; ask a question. I enjoyed hearing elements of live instruments and vocal groups within this album. The production team skillfully incorporates them into the final product. A great touch and another reason why I think it's definitely another special piece. My thoughts:
Listening to the album got me thinking. It inspired a train of thought about the future of electronic music, and how it meets something like hip-hop. Hip-hop focuses on storytelling and expression through rhythm - something that naturally connects with beats of all sorts, so it was an interesting thought to dive into.
It went something like this...
People have attempted to fuse these two genre's together unsuccessfully for a while. Going back beyond the current generation of musicians, I can't really find anything notable, and if you can - please leave a comment and we'll look into your suggestion.
Even as musicians continue to miss this mark... it's inevitable that someone will eventually nail it. I think Pretty Lights presents a unique challenge to the creators out there in mixtape land. It's only a matter of time before someone gets the evolution of this conscious electronic style correctly integrated into a hip-hop setting. I sense that the time for this evolution is near: The movement where sounds like those presented by Pretty Lights, or even someone like Daft Punk, merge with budding lyricists like J.Cole, or even the legendary Nas.
I know Kanye tried to do this with his new album, Yeezus, but as he tried to show us how this fusion would work in the future - some people were left feeling lost in the translation. There's definitely massive potential there for someone like Kayne, but his last album just felt a little off to me for now - time will tell with it I guess, and you never know... it may end up growing on me later.
He's done that before.
So yeah, in a lot of ways, he missed the mark. I'm not hating on someone for taking an artistic gamble, but he fell short on the overall execution with it. He only outsold Born Sinner by J.Cole after the first week, by around 30,000
; I guess an optimist could say, J.Cole improved sales by 30% over his previous album - thus, catching up to Kanye after making a risky competitive release decision. For now, it looks to have been a good business decision on his end.
Anyways, the real point of this thought:
Personally, I've been big on this intersection of the two larger genres for a couple of years now, but I haven't seen anyone really get it yet - maybe on the underground, but not commercially. I want to see someone do this new potential sound some justice. My thoughts are that someone could definitely work with what Pretty Lights floated out there on this album and make a killllllller mixtape to kick things off.
Anyone out there to try?
A Color Map of the Sun Track List:
1. Color Of My Soul
2. Press Pause
3. Let's Get Busy
4. Around The Block feat. Talib Kweli
5. Yellow Bird
6. Go Down Sunshine
7. So Bright feat. Eligh
8. Vibe Vendetta
9. Done Wrong
11. One Day They'll Know
12. Always All Ways
13. My Only Hope
After being down in the championship series, the Miami Heat came back to take things down in game seven. So, how far were the odds stacked against Miami after game 5 - down 3-2? Well... things were about as bad as surviving an asteroid field in the icon Star Wars chase scene
. Han Solo would be proud of these guys. LeBron's demeanor during the final two games will truly elevate his presence into that of a champion, permanently. No more debating. He is officially one of the great players. Despite the incredible odds that were stacked against the team after trailing 3-2 in the finals, he had two monstrous games to bring his team back to their second consecutive championship. Champions don't think about the odds - they only think about getting the job done, and taking down the win.
The investment Forrest Gump made in Apple at the time period in the movie, would be worth ~$7Billion today
Mike Chianese is a painter and print maker, residing outside of Philadelphia. You can find his work below. MIKE'S WORK (Follow him on Tumblr)
Lately, we've explored the value of participating in "forum" based discussions about art, the creative process, society, and nature. The main point of these discussions is to allow thoughts to resonate within the circle of guests in a variety of environments and give everyone the opportunity to speak their minds about the various topics that might circulate. When allowing ones ideas and opinions to be heard and contemplated in an alternative landscape, one may be surprised by the depth of detail invoked by the participants.
When we allow our body and mind to reach levels of relaxation not typical in the usual environment, and by breaking the cycle of what is commonly discussed, there are some important opportunities to reach for new ideas and unique content that may have usually been overlooked or left unexplored. It's amazing the opportunity that one has to produce a heightened sense of awareness by simply taking a step outside of the ordinary.
This exposure may aid minds of any kind to experience an awareness that is integral to the creative process; spurring the beginning of a new creative cycle.
We call this cycle, The Path of Us - a journey everyone can take by removing themselves from their routine way of thinking. This way of thinking is symbolized in our logo. We will dive deeper into our logos meaning during a future post.Some Background
Mike and I caught up a few weeks back over coffee to talk about art and various other topics that stemmed from our conversations. We've done this periodically over the past year and I've always enjoyed his perspective, mostly because of how uninhibited his train of thoughts on life are. Last week, we met again over breakfast to continue our conversations. Afterwards, a few days later, we took those thoughts to the forest to conclude our discussion.
Mike is an artists, and I'm more of a branding guy who has some various modern art skills. Naturally, we have two different perspectives because of our backgrounds. To find alternative perspectives is important when trying to come to a higher level of understanding of any more general topic. Even though we have different perspectives, there's still a lot of common ground. We ended up seeing eye to eye on almost all the ways we were thinking about society and education, and a lot about the way we see creating art. The Concept of Controlled Chaos in Nature: How it helps us create
Everything originates from nature and how we interpret that which is happening around us.
The best way to create is by reflecting on your own state of being first. Then by looking around you to see how it relates to what you observe. At a glance, most of the things around us can be perceived as chaotic from the flora and fauna of a natural setting to the hustle and bustle of an cityscape. When we took the time to observe these things in depth, we observe patterns and order. This observation allows us a certain level of peace with our follies, knowing there is generally greater order and that these mistakes provide opportunities for change. This applies to art as much as it does to any life experience.When discussing the rise of social media and the influences that are readily available to you as an artist, Mike Said:
"Often one can lose the ability to reflect on their own life, instead you're drawn to always reflect on someone else's. It's becoming easier to immerse yourself in the output of others and to ignore your own"
We agree with this, and it seems natural, that as an artist, when this situation arises - one where you're overwhelmed by what other people are doing, to find yourself in a state of confusion about the true identity of your work. How do you differentiate? How do you remain you?
Mike suggested this: Exercise a meditation.
What does Mike mean by, Exercise a meditation? By finding a medium, or even simply a creative task to explore, you are not only exploring the medium, but yourself through this medium. Anyone stands to benefit from this kind of creative outlet or simple repetition. It will allow for an introspective state - uninhibited by the familiarities of ones every day life. He has gained a level of introspection over the years, allowing him to create within the context of himself.
The best way to do so is to find a creative outlet or medium, and simply practice it. This task can be essentially anything and is most likely something the average individual is already doing every day. By examining it more thoroughly it creates an opportunity to transform a everyday task into a meditative practice. We have identified this practice as "Becoming whole through art"
Mike and I talked a lot about why he creates art, and what inspires him to do what he does. There was some back and forth about what motivates people to do things - especially when money isn't the driving factor at first.
"You don't get into something to get paid, you get into it to send a message; to create an extension of yourself - to find your voice."
2. Extension of Self
This seems like an excellent framework to us - one that we identify with. It's similar to something like advertising, branding, or marketing - but with art it's less intrusive. With art, it's more inspired by the voice within and the things all around us.
The temperament of an Artist
Over the years of working with different creative minds, we've found that the process discussed has much to do with the quality of ones art and how its perceived by others. Though, this process is not etched in stone and comes differently to everyone. Its often difficult to find inspiration or to feel inspired by the things in front of us. Even with a change of setting and through practice we hit road blocks and have our creative energies driven away by numerous outside influences. With familiarity breeding contempt one must attempt to cleanse their means of perception from time to time. There is a wealth of inspiration around us even if we cannot see it.
One thing that seems to be killing the creative influence, is the standardization in school systems.
When Mike and I discussed education, he was passionate about how in the creative world and beyond, going to school should teach you how to live better, instead of trying to make you focus on how to make more money and quantify yourself through testing.
"Everyone has their process, sometimes it's driven by a psychedelic awakening, weed, sobriety, Bi-polar, etc. But it is what it is, and at the end of the day, the art either speaks, or not - and these things are driven by individuality."
Expressing oneself is paramount to a healthy life, regardless of the source of inspiration. This lesson should be applied to our daily lives in any way possible.
Etching, 6”x6” - 2012 -Michael Chianese
Perhaps we should start doing things because we love them, and even with a small chance, because there's a very real possibly of making a positive impact through doing that thing you love.
Maybe art is meant to show us that the creative process has value in everyones life - and in allowing people to remain individuals.
Perhaps, we should focus on continuing to improve our process of living.
Becoming hole through Art.
Written By: Ryan McKenna
Edited By: Mike Chianese
Phil Mickelson dunks it from 75 yards out. Sometimes you just have to dunk it like a boss.
He didn't end up taking it down, but he played a hell of a tournament.
"Use what you got"
We started following Ment Nelson, the artist from the music collective OXYMORON, a few years back (OXYxMoron on social media channels). The group is made up of three talented artists named Ment, Omar, and Tony - all South Carolina residents. When we first spoke to them, they were just starting to discuss getting together some sort of studio release. Since then, they've successfully released their first album, The Woods (Below).
When I first discovered them on Facebook, the raw talent was what impressed me the most - they were definitely creative enough for me to know that something would eventually happen for these three if they kept after it. In one shape, or another - these guys were going to get their story out there.
I've kept them on my radar over the years, and the story that I've seen develop is positive for music as a whole. The natural talent that they bring to the table as artists, and the approach they're taking to market themselves lately is unique, but relevant. It has me asking myself a lot of questions about the different creative communities forming across the country.
These questions are something that I'm trying to address almost daily at this point in my professional life.
Being from Philadelphia, close to New York City and Washington, DC. (Two major music HUBS that I've gotten to know well over the years) the obstacles I see facing creators, and the story of how most of these artists in the area have transitioned from traditional hustle/guerrilla marketing and street team promotion, to integrating themselves into the rising structure of social networks is interesting. Everyone needs to address these branding outlets, and figure out how they will impact the emphasis they have to put on their content release strategy. If you ask me, it's definitely a tipping point for creators. Among other intangibles like networks, management, and team, the creative process has definitely been in the midst of a major shift over the years.
What's happening now was expected by many technologists, but it's still hard to make sense of. More tools, more options, less clarity on a go-to promotion strategy. It's still a pretty confusing time in music and branding, and for those who survived the chaos by improvising, I can see positive things coming in the future for them.
That's where Ment really shines. He's done a great job improvising over the years with the greatest tool he has at his disposal - his mind. He's worked hard to train it, and to hone his skills in a time of great uncertainty.
This is what matters in art. When you decided to invest in yourself. When you decide to become more solid. It impacts what you create.
"We always wanted to try something different, but it's not like New York. You can't always find what you need, so you have to improvise."
The chaos that we saw back in the beginning stages of this content transition, put a heavy emphasis on improvising in order to achieve success. When there was no clear path on the tactical side, it was most effective to set a strategy, and get creative. As a company, the more that we talked to people and discovered what problems they were having with their creations and getting them out there, the more clear it was that we had to continue to understand this landscape.
For some artists, they just weren't any good. For others, it was an issue of tactics and strategy - of seeing the right parts of the field.
When you're under the universal restraints of time, and capital, the ones who are the most resourceful win. From what we found out, almost all early stage musicians are capable of creating the music they want with the set of tools that are required to do so (garage band, or a local recording studio), but when it came time to figure out how to position the product online and get it out to the right people, most of us are baffled by the complexity of understanding these road blocks.
The most important way you can overcome those roadblocks, is to start doing - to start chipping away the ice. This was another huge shift, where before, you had to create the perfect product, then pitch it. Now, it's about utilizing what you have, and getting it moving.
Now a days, the most important way to do this is though a well executed audio visual presentation. Essentially, the rise of visual music.
The new entertainment business, at least when we're talking about the process of becoming recognized, is all about resourcefulness. I haven't really met another guy like Ment. Someone who has continued to display these characteristics over the years. When I asked him about it, he told me "It's how I grew up. I always thought of it as using what you got. Making the best of what you have."
Many people don't have access to high quality production equipment, so in order to stand out and make due, creative teams have started forming around the country to take care of these issues. Simple and budgeted, these quality "concept first" videos are becoming the right of passage into the business. They don't have to be flashy, just well thought out - well executed.
I really like this video Ment put out last week, and it's a good example of what I'm talking about.
MENT Nelson - Ain't Much Going On
I've seen tons of musicians go about the creative process incorrectly. You know how I know they did things wrong? Because they're not here in the creative world still to prove me wrong. And that's a shame. The worst, are the ones who borrowed everything from everyone in order to get somewhere, and in the end, they ended up getting nowhere fast and burning bridges. It would have been better to just slow down, focus on consistency and quality - but not perfection.
Within the context of these natural roadblocks, you always here people complaining that they don't have this, or making an excuse because they don't have access to that - or, trying to blame other people when their music doesn't hit the ground running. To be clear, these roadblocks are not other peoples problems. If the artist is determined, realistic, talented, and resourceful enough, they'll gain a loyal following that will work for them overtime as they grow as people, and as their audience grows as people too.
I get that vibe from Ment. Meaning, he has the right make up to persevere - to last out there.
When I spoke to him this past week, we talked a lot about his last project, The Woods (below), his creative process and how it's changed over the years, and a little bit about his thoughts on the state of South Carolina as a creative community.
Being a true artist in every sense of the word (He's a very talented visual artist too - specializing in drawling with colored pencil) he has moved the bar forward over the years on a shoe string budget and by surrounding himself with other passionate musicians. He hasn't made excuses, and neither have other members of his group. Another member of the OXYMORON crew, Omar, is set to release his first solo project later this summer, entitled Sail Fast Live Slow.
You can find a sample of Omar's music below.
So, why do I think Ment is such a great example of what creating music within the confines of reality means, and why "The Low Country" is such an appropriate place for an artist to come out of as a creator? It's a good example because he's not doing this through some secret ingredient, or powerful form of voodoo. He's doing it through trusting his gut, being intuitive with his creative process, and surrounding himself with other talented creators. All of this is helping him grow.
We talked a little bit about the "Low Country", and both of us agreed that it has something special cooking. He feels it, and so do I. After all, it did produce Candice Glover, the winner of the 2013 American Idol competition.
Maybe the notion of creating within reality is something people can relate to - a story that people want to hear. Maybe this is the start of something new. Something that's rooted in resourcefulness. Something that feels authentic.
Omar's project - (Omar will release a solo project entitled Sail Fast Live Slow this summer: Preview)
One of the best parts of our discussion involved self discovery and how it will aid in finding your voice. This was something that I identified with a lot, and thought it would be appropriate to share a part of our conversation with you.
When we first started out in the creative fields, we expected a lot. Both of us had been disappointed by the way things had panned out on numerous occasions - broken down sets of promises and other let downs. As a new creator, when you first start out, you want to blame other people when this type of thing happens, but overtime you learn to realize that it's not actually about other people doing things wrong.
It's more about finding out who you are, and turning it into the right thing. Sharing the true you with other people. This takes time and perseverance to get there.
Ment Said, "We discovered what we were about personally. As young adults and as people. That's helped us with our music"
To me, there's nothing more important. If you want to create some sort of positive impact, you have to know yourself. I've been there - questioning who I am, what I have to offer. Everyone has been there at some point, but it takes a lot of heartache sometimes to move things forward. A lot of let downs. A lot of detours.
In the end, it's important to get there - to understand what you're made of.
One of MENTS drawlings - (Pulling directly from Instagram)
I'm excited to see what these guys can do in the future. When you see genuinely good people creating for the right reasons, making this much progress, you can't help but root for more success over the coming years.
Their story has so much depth that I can't tell the whole thing in one post - I can't wait to continue writing about these guys in the future.
OXYxMoron - The Woods