The Two X-Factors That Took Me From My Mom's Basement to Boatloads of Money

Along with GRAMMY nominations, Platinum plaques, and ultimate happiness, of course.
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My name is !llmind. I'm a music producer and I'm passionate about sharing my experiences. Things that worked, things that I f*cked up and what I learned from it all. No guidance and no mentor. I know what it's like to want to create music but not know how to start, where to go or how to turn it into a living. I don't have ALL the answers, but what I can promise is that I will always touch on topics that I have personally experienced. At the end of the day, I hope to empower you to be your best self, regardless of what industry you're trying to pursue.

For more inspiration, subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel and my PODCAST "BlapChat."

I want to talk about the early days of my career.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently about what life was like before turning “music production” into a full-blown lucrative career. During our conversation, I noticed something about myself that I had never noticed before. Back then, I was reckless as f*ck! Not in a dangerous or completely irresponsible way, but in a way where I really just let life unfold with NO regard for how things would play out in the future.

I was in my late teens/early twenties and living in my mom’s basement. I was enrolled in college, but basically never went. I skipped class. I flunked most of my classes. I eventually dropped out. Oh, and I also quit my job. Money started to run out. Pressure from my parents became more real and more serious. But in my mind, it kind of didn’t matter.

Throughout all of the f*ckery, I was making beats. Lots of them. All day, every day. I’m talking about waking up at 7 a.m. and going straight to my computer to make beats until 1 a.m. The only time I would take a break would be to eat lunch and dinner. I didn’t really have much of a personal life. All I wanted to do was just make beats all day. Back then my beats sucked, but I kept making more and I got better and better at it. I would take trips from New York to Philly to network with different artists, and I also knew a few independent rappers from around the way who liked my beats enough to rap over them. These were the early days. I was getting my feet wet. I sucked, but I was getting better. I was relentless.

For the most part, I gave away beats for free to any rapper who was interested. At the time I was stoked that anyone even liked my beats in the first place. I was fascinated by the recording process. I learned about Pro Tools, compression and how to make an actual song. All of this stuff was new to me, but I was learning as I went along. Over time, more and more rappers wanted to rap over my beats. Again, I gave most of my beats away for free, but here and there I was able to scratch out some bread.

Looking back, I noticed that there were two qualities I started to develop: ABSOLUTE LOVE and TRUSTING THE PROCESS

I didn’t love school and I didn’t love work, so I dropped out. I absolutely loved making music, so I did that as often as possible. Reckless, I know. I absolutely loved it when rappers rapped over my beats, so I did what I could to make sure that happened as often as possible. I absolutely loved meeting like-minded people (rappers, producers, DJs, etc.), so I went out of my way to try to meet as many as possible. While doing all of these things that I absolutely loved, I did one crucial thing to help me keep going—I trusted the process. Always. I never had any expectations for anything to happen or for anyone to give me anything. I had no expectations to make any money, or to turn making beats into a real career. All I focused on was love and trusting the process.

When I eventually made enough money to move out of my mom’s basement, shit got real. On the 1st of every month, I knew I had 30 days to come up with enough money to pay my rent for that month. By the 28th or 29th day, I always managed to make almost exactly enough to make the payment. For almost four years, this was my life every single month.

Now, I’m not telling this story to make you believe that somehow, if you follow my exact steps, you can do it too. And I’m not saying that you should be “reckless” like I was. I’m telling you this story because I think that it’s important to dissect how I was able to weather that storm for so many years, making “reckless” financial decisions but eventually becoming a successful, self-sufficient music producer.

What I’m fascinated by is the fact that, still to this day, the two qualities I developed so long ago when I first started are still very much present today and more powerful than ever before: ABSOLUTE LOVE and TRUSTING THE PROCESS. My mindset has never changed. It grew, but it was always the same. I only do things that I absolutely love and I always trust the process. I have full trust in the future, with no expectations. 

Are “absolute love” and “trusting the process” the most important “X” factors for success?

I cannot say for certain since no two careers are the same, but for me, these two motivating forces have delivered boatloads of money, four GRAMMY nominations, and multiple Platinum records. They have led to making memories with some of the most amazing people—memories that I’ll never forget. It’s given me a chance to see the world. It’s given me freedom, stability, and ultimate happiness. And there’s still so much more to learn, see, and do.

Absolute love and trusting the process. I know we’re conditioned to believe otherwise, but it seems to me that the “otherwise” part just isn’t working for most people. Maybe love and trust are worth exploring. They worked for me. Maybe they’ll work for you too.

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