From Dope to Hope, From Hopeless to Hopeful
Are you frustrated, constantly struggling to feel connected with those around you? A club, an organization, a church, a support group, your relationships, God, or Society? Then just when you think you are onto something you realize you aren’t only to once again to be confronted with that familiar event/or feeling we call failure, un aware of where we belong in this world of heartache, distraction and constant change feeling damaged broken and alone.
You aren’t alone in this one. That was me way too often than not. Finding success wouldn’t last in my early twenties as a para-professional in education, as an emergency room technician and as a medical assistant instructor the hours were exhausting to say the least still there I was every shift every awarded overtime hour. Then the economic recession of 2009 hit education and healthcare. Survival mode for me kicked in and it wasn’t any different for me in my life than to survive by any means necessary. Giving up was expected so that wasn’t even a thought that crossed my mind as I listened to conversations of co-workers, family, friends, strangers, acquaintances who struggled to find a positive in the times we were facing.
My optimism and open mind eventually lead me to the streets in attempts of finding another mean of income as I found myself distributing and transporting narcotics in order to survive all awhile only coping with my situation. Those choices and decisions lead me to a notebook and soon after came a pen as I jotted down my thoughts, feelings and emotions in a journal. It wasn’t long after that those thoughts, feelings, and emotions became songs. The songs became a demo. The demo brought me to my feet on a three state crusade on foot. I progressed as an artist and created an album and that album became a lifestyle that was derived out of creation. But that lifestyle didn’t come without its struggles, challenges or adversaries. Somehow, someway I found myself committed yearning to live a life on purpose.
Now, before the rhythm and music came into my heart. I was in and out of relationships and in and out of jail. I couldn’t hold a job longer than a tank of gas in the city. Transporting narcotics across county and state lines really was the only skill I had. Nobody knew me. I didn’t have any friends left. Selling drugs to the homeless and anyone who didn’t readily appear to be a threat was the only thing looking up while I was constantly looking over my shoulder. I was psychologically, emotionally, morally, bankrupt. The more often I found myself looking over my shoulder, the more paranoid I became. When at once I felt like my life went down a drain. It was increasingly faster slipping through each nostril with the use of cocaine. The longer the lines were the shorter my sense was. Then as any decent pot distributor is a witness of when you sale a sack of weed in the streets it is tradition for the buyer to roll a blunt and smoke with the dealer. I sat there on a rock as I smoked the blunt that lead me to begin thinking after a Tempe Police Officer rolled up on a bicycle on those rugged back trails North of the infamous Arizona State University. Placing me under arrest for the final time as I found myself lost, alone, and afraid as a cavity check during the booking process sent me near the edge with one foot over the cliff. Taking me nearly 4 years to recover from and ultimately overcome as the feelings were way to familiar bringing back memories and demons I learned to survive with by denial and masking techniques.
When we feel disconnected, out of tune and out of place our vulnerability kicks in. We are easily tempted and seduced by a crutch in the form of drugs, alcohol and tobacco derived out of anger, hatred and fear rooted by emotional, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse in order to temporarily lift us up and to bring us to our feet. Only to find that our own diagnosis and “quick fix” techniques have become long-term damage in which we live in denial of and are un-aware of their consequences.
Now, admittedly as my life has had its fair share of both pleasant and unfortunate events and my journey has had its memorable twists and turns, nothing has been more gratifying or rewarding then learning I am 100% responsible for each of them. I own them. I also realize they do not define me. I do. By the choices and decisions I continue to make, today, tomorrow, the next day and so on. Another thing I have came to realize is I am connected to everything living and un living and everything we require to feel connected with/or to God, our country, support groups, family, relationships, clubs and organizations, are right inside of me, right inside of us.
With this realization I had to do something so I took my circumstances and began breathing life into them with the creation of music. Currently I am developing the greatest rapper of all time. I know, I know. Yes its cliché. Cliché as it may sound that has been the goal since I first picked up the pen and paper and began brainstorming in 2009. Greatness was a stretch from where I was at but I knew I would do whatever it took to be great in every sense of the word. Then that was all that matter. Each verse more important than the last. Each chorus more important than the first. Each song more purpose than the moment. Now I am mastering my craft into the vibe of emotions that is driving the world forward. Committed to change? Change is our only guarantee and I am the guarantor. Eliminate the guess work. Music Heals. Let it.
Now I realize that this might love what sound so absolutely small time in the grand scheme of things, but I am floored. I absolutely music has done for me, the way I look at the world and the difference I can see that my optimism and my commitment to bring forth change in the form of peace, healing, and justice throughout the world with the music that I create with your help.
Fast forward 6 years, several promotional tours, and hundreds of other musical experiences along the way and it’s still that feeling that I crave when I think about my life and career as a musician.
I don’t mean to sell the creative process short. Needless to say, it’s essential. For the listener it’s everything. But to some extent almost anyone can make music.
But when it comes to BEING a musician, it’s that muscle memory. It is knowing the rest stops between California and Arizona by memory because you’ve toured that stretch multiple times. It’s the ability to continue the musical journey and process of change with faith understanding the future is certainly uncertain but I do have the power through creation to change it with music. It’s the feeling I receive getting to my feet without much rest understanding I am living my life for a solid purpose and the legacy I look forward to leaving behind. It’s hanging out in the laundry matte across the street from the show while you wash your close and wait for the headliner to finish their set so you can get paid and split for the hotel. It’s the familiar weight on your shoulders knowing you are bringing forth such change and healing for others by healing yourself. It’s the comradery you feel with your support group as all things work together realizing the results. And it’s a million other little subtle experiences that define what it means to be a musician. At least that’s the way it’s been for me. It’s not the beats, or the number of albums sold, but rather it’s knowing those things first hand that makes me a musician, a veteran. And it’s knowing that you are one of a small percentage of the population to not only have seen, but to have lived behind the curtain that makes this whole crazy thing worthwhile.
But perhaps even more importantly than all of that, it’s YOU, the listener, that makes all of it matter.
I look forward to many more sometimes hard, sometimes ugly yet beautiful and always worthwhile experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hopping that you are part of that journey.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey, click here to listen to my most recent album, ‘I Am That, I Am: For The People By The People”.
Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.