so this weekend i was asked to come down and mentor some kids on the art of songwriting. the actual camp started mid week, but i guess they were saving the best (me) for last. at least that's the way the kids made me feel because from the second i walked up in there...they weren't trying to see nobody but me.
i don't know if yall realize this, but i'm actually a pretty shy person. i hate big crowds. i hate all eyes on me. i hate all of that shit. so it wasn't something i was overly looking forward to. but the one thing i do like is sharing & inspiring kids. so i bit the grown up bullet and decided to just go in with the attitude that "it's for the kids"..
so i got up at 5am...got on the road by 6. got there before 8am. and was just kinda getting caught up to what was going on the first few days of the camp. as soon as the kids (i keep calling them kids but i was dealing with 13-17 y/o's) got there, i was ready to go. i walked in, with my sunglasses on. with my jewelry on. looking like i just was in a music video. sat down at the desk and waited to be introduced. i avoided eye contact. looked at my phone a lot. got up, and said...
"how many of yall thought i was an asshole when i walked in the room?". they started laughing. then i took off my sunglasses, looked at them and said, "i'ma be real with you...what you're here for is not about being famous. it's not about flossing & it's not about recognition. you are choosing something that a lot of people may never know your name. you may never get the credit or fame you want. songwriting is not about selling your soul, it's about sharing your soul. and doing it because you love it, because sometimes that will be your only reward. now..how many of yall still want to do this? ".
a few of them were looking like, they wanted out. being in the industry is NOT how it seems on tv. it's NOT how it once was. my thing is not to sell a false reality, especially to kids who are at the age where their next choices are their best choices. i told them like my parents told me, life is about options. when i was their age, i would have LOVED to be in a program like that. i would have loved for that dream to be taken seriously. but i had parents who wanted me to be able to take care of myself. you think going to my parents and saying, "i want to major in music?" was an option? true, you should be free to do whatever when you go to college. after all it is YOUR life. but the pressure from then was what made me go get an computer engineering degree. it's what made me say..."right now my music isn't paying my bills..now i have to get a job". not to uninspire you, or to tell you to make your dream your plan b. my story is just to let you know that it doesn't happen overnight. you don't get a music degree and get a job in the industry when you graduate. at least not the kind of job, you're thinking. you also don't get names & numbers and become a studio rat..and think that's going to lead to fame & fortune. it takes work, just like everything else. it takes determination & patience. so what was the #1 question after that spill?
"do you have beyonce's number?"...
my reply. yes, now are yall ready to get serious? after i said that, there was an onslaught of very good, interesting questions. there was even a little know-it-all who had gotten a song placed on an album and was acting like he had made it. he was annoying as fuck. and i had to fight real hard not to bust him down, because afterall he's still a kid. but he was just being a little jerk know it all. and it's like dude. you got a song placed. you're still at this camp like everyone else. you are testament that one song, does NOT make you songwriter. and if i was a mean dude. if i was an asshole. i would have pointed that out for the class. but it's not about breaking folks down.
so i gave them an exercise. i put on a track i had made JUST for them and told them to write to it. told them if anyone wrote anything good to it, i'd submit it. then i walked out the room for 10 minutes. i came back in and said, "so who's done?". who do you think raised his hand?...of course mr. know-it-all. so i'm like, "come sing it..". he looks at me, like i asked him to come kiss a dude. "come sing it..". he gets up. and gives me a hook. and stops and looks at me. so i'm like, "keep going". and he's like "that's all i got..".
so um..why you raise your hand dude? <---my inside thought.
again i resisted. i turned the track back on, told them to try again. this time i stayed in the room. i gave them 30 minutes. after they were done. i told them to write their names on the paper & pass them up. one guy ask, "what if i didn't write anything down?". i looked at him, "write your name on a piece of paper and pass it up". after i got all the papers. i asked dude who didn't "write" anything to come up. i turned on the track and asked him to tell me his song. he started off..then stopped. then caught it again, then stopped.
i told him to go have a seat. then i told them the truth..all this, "i don't write my lyrics" shit does absolutely nothing for me. if you can't go in and deliver after you've wasted my time..i won't call you back. i've actually sat in sessions where an artist (note: not a songwriter) has wanted to freestyle for hours till something "sounded right..". annoying as fuck. if you're working with an artist, ok. if you're working with a songwriter, not ok. if your job is to deliver me a song, i want the damn song. none of the antics. when i work with a songwriter. i don't have a time limit. it's nice to have a song done fast. but it's nicer to have a song done right. now we're all gonna break down this track and do a song together...so we sit and i explain what it is i look for in a song. and i pass their papers back out to them. and i put on another track and tell them to try again.
that was the first day. and yanno after that these kids stayed on me like i was "the precious". they wouldn't even let me go to the bathroom alone. i found myself having urinal discussions. the girls waiting outside of the bathroom when i got out. i walked to my car to get something and they were following me there. i could not escape! they kept me there later than i expected. i had about an hour & half drive back home. but it was worth it. second day they were ready to work, serious, and focused as hell. so we beasted through the next day. when i left i gave them my email address, because i felt giving one person my number would mean i'd have to give everyone my number. do you know before i even got 30 minutes away i had 5 emails?....