Earlier this week, I told Yoh and Lucas to write personal pieces that summed up the last year of their lives and of course they balked, because on its face that's a crushingly large and heavy topic to tackle. I remained heartless in the face of their complaints, though, because I knew what they were capable of and, lo and behold, they delivered. Creativity operates most powerfully when challenged.
But now that this blank page is looming before me and the year is quicky fleeing behind me, I'm regretting my promise to follow them down the path of annual summation. So one thing I learned this year is don't assign writers pieces you don't want to write yourself. Here's what else I learned:
When Ice Cube says, "Hey, go get my jacket" a very large gentleman does indeed go and get his jacket, because Ice Cube is sitting on a couch in his dressing room and the entire point of being Ice Cube is that you don't have to stand up when you don't want to. Ice Cube is my hero.
There are still some artists who embrace the idea of making great art. That art sounds something like To Pimp a Butterfly.
There's no blueprint to follow as I attempt to turn writing on the internet into a sustained career because I'm part of the first wave of people to attempt to write on the internet as a sustained career. (Maybe more accurately part of the second wave, depending on how big your waves are.) This is especially hard when you employ even younger people who are looking to you to provide a blueprint.
DJ Khaled is a national treasure.
Sometimes in life you will accidentally unplug your headphones and the entire office will learn that you've been listening to "Blase" at a deafening volume and you'll say "Sorry" and plug your headphones back in, but really you're not sorry at all because a world in which everyone has heard "Blase" is the world you want to live in.
When you completely ignore people on the internet who you don't know in real life, it's exactly like they don't exist at all.
The majority of people who are angry about something you wrote on the internet have not, in fact, actually read the actual thing you actually wrote. But what they assume you wrote? Oh man, they really hated it. [Related: See above regarding ignoring people.]
When people say, "The second kid is easier" it turns out they're right because at least you're not constantly freaking out, terrified you'll give your daugher baby-cancer because you didn't use the special baby laundry detergent. But what they neglect to mention is that it's not like the first kid disappears. IT'S STILL TWO KIDS, which isn't easier at all. In fact, it's exactly twice as much work as one kid.
Freddie Gibbs is very good at rapping. I knew that before 2015, but sometimes you need a reminder.
The truth can be a very powerful thing. Perhaps the most powerful thing.
Enjoying music because it will piss off narrow-minded people is the exact same thing as being narrow-minded. Loving music because you love it when you're alone is the only authentic reason to love music.
Big Sean really likes it when you write nice things about him. Big Sean really doesn't like it when you don't write nice things about him. Big Sean is an actual human. [Related: You might assume that Big Sean is too famous and too busy to read what people write about him. This is an incorrect assumption.]
When you're in need of inspiration, it's always a good idea to watch that old video of Eyedea and Slug freestyling.
Rappers come, rappers go. So it has always been and so it will always be, forever unto infinity amen glory glory hallelujah.
This year Drake hit that level of fame where even my mother-in-law and my five-year-old daughter know who he is, which is basically the highest level of fame possible. You'll realize this when your daughter sings "Hotline Bling" at the dinner table, incorrectly sings "call me when you need my luck" and your mother-in-law corrects her. This means that you'll need to have an awkward talk later with your mother-in-law to determine if she actually understands what that "Hotline Bling" is about.
When the Grammys reject your coverage request, you'll be like "What do the Grammys know anyway?" But when the Grammys invite you to cover the Grammys, you'll be like, "The Grammys, that paragon of musical excellence, I've always loved the Grammys." [Related: I learned that it drives DJ Z crazy when I spell it as "Grammy" without the all-caps, to the extent that he'll always go back into a piece and edit it to read GRAMMY. And so yes, this entire related tangent is essentially just an elaborate trap for Z.]
There is no finish line. You just keep going, trying to make a great thing and then another great thing until you die. Depending on the day, that knowledge will either be comforting or terrifying. Most days it feels comforting.
[By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth, a hip-hop writer and a maker of great things. This is his Twitter.]