(Left to right: Nathan, Lucas, K. Sparks, Z)
It was another dreary winter day in Bethesda, Maryland. I had just gotten lunch from the same place I had gotten lunch for the past three weeks, and as I was sitting at my desk, watching the clock seemingly go in reverse, I knew I couldn't do it anymore. I had to make a change; I hated my job. To put it simply, the nine-to-five grind was not for me. If you can do it, hats off to you, but I couldn't take it. I would go to work and for eight hours--honestly a little less as I started to come in later and later-- try as hard as i could not to scream at the top of my lungs...or watch Breaking Bad at my desk. It took listening to "Boobie Miles" or "Spaceship" to get me out of bed to go to work. The only difference was, where K.R.I.T and Kanye had their end goal, I, most definitely did not. It's a paralyzing, suffocating frustration when your side-hustle is your only hustle.
I don't know what it was about that day in particular, it was no more dreary or devoid of meaning than the ones before, but I knew I was done. That's when I sat down and sent out an email that changed my life forever.
Mr. Zisook, My name is Lucas Garrison, and I have been a Djbooth.net crew member since March 2011, writing under the name ltg2121. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing reviews, and, although the responsibilities of my current job have made it more difficult for me to write the volume of reviews that I had produced during college, I intend to remain a steady contributor. As I think about my professional future, I have determined that a career in the music business is something I would like to pursue. I am very passionate and knowledgeable about a variety of genres, specifically hip-hop, and believe that I have a discerning intuition regarding music and contemporary culture that would enable me to be a successful talent scout or A&R representative.
Music is a fundamental part of my daily life, and I am always on the lookout for songs, performers, or bands to add to my expanding music collection. My insatiable appetite for music and my knack for identifying lesser known talent would allow me to be a successful A&R representative. One of the main reasons I enjoy writing for DJbooth is because DJbooth provides lesser or unknown artists the ability to showcase their work. Finding these artists and giving them a venue to demonstrate their talent is something I value greatly and motivates me to explore career path as a talent scout and evaluator. I have a great amount of respect for your site and the quality of music Djbooth showcases, and I would be very interested in contributing to DJbooth's continued success.
In that context, I would like to know if DJbooth.net has any full time positions or internships available for which I might be appropriate. Additionally, if it is not too much of an imposition, I would appreciate it if you could spare some time from you busy schedule to speak with me about how you got started. I am very serious about working in the music business and would be interested in any guidance you could provide. I can make myself available at your convenience to speak with you by telephone or in person if that would be preferable. I would be happy to call you at a specific date/time if that would be the most efficient way to proceed. For your additional information, I am attaching my resume and posting it underneath this correspondence. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Literally 13 minutes later, Mr. Zisook (aka DJ Z), responded and offered to hop on a phone call the next day. One phone call, a few months, and several weekly reports later, I was penning my first ever blurb for DJBooth. Two years and two days later, July 15, 2014, I am getting paid to write about the most important and influential part of my life (next to my family, friends and Homer Simpson).
At times I freak out. Yes, I am getting paid for my work, but by no means am I hitting up Magic City popping bottles. There is no blueprint to making it in this business. Where other career paths have set landmarks and, more or less, a plan, in music your life is marred with uncertainty and indefinites. As much as I love this, I look to the future and sometimes I freak out. Would I be better off sucking it up and getting a stable 9-5 with benefits? What's going to happen when I'm 30? Love doesn't pay the bills. Still, for every "oh shit what the fuck am I doing with my life?" moment, there are 10, equally more powerful, moments where I know this is what I am supposed to be doing. I'd take the feeling when that special song gives you goosebumps and sends chill up my spine over a few zeros on my paycheck any day.
In two short years, I have gone from listening to DJBooth freestyles to helping to coordinate them. I have gone from worshiping the likes of !llmind and Rapsody, to interviewing them. I have never had a job or any sort of responsibility that's lasted a long time. I get bored and antsy quick, but now, two years in, (where i usually fade into apathy), I feel like I am just hitting my stride. I have learned industry rules - like never be certain something will happen unless it's actually happening at that moment, and concerts never, ever start on time - but more importantly I have learned what I can do when I put my mind to something and really bust my ass; it's great for both my career and my life. It's only been two years, and, though I am almost closer to thirty than twenty, and still live five miles form where I grew up, I have a sense of comfort waking up everyday and getting to write about the thing that makes me the happiest, and I don't know how many people can say that (even the ones who make a ton of money). The future makes me nervous, but when I look to the past, it also makes me excited. If I can do all this in just two years, what can I do in the next two years now that I'm better, smarter, and hungrier than that first day?
There are many people who have influenced my career these past two years, (Dave, Amir, Dharmic, Max, Kanye, Rapsody) but I especially need to thank Z, the man who gave me my start. When we were in New York for meetings a few weeks ago, Z showed me his inbox filled with e-mails from rappers, publicists, and bored, stuck white kids from Maryland looking for a chance. When I saw that his inbox was 85% bold letters, I thought back to that February day. He could have just as easily deleted it and moved on to the next rapper trying to freestyle over a Drake record. Not only did he respond, but he offered up his time to help me. There wasn't anything in it for him and yet he was so willing to take time out of his busy schedule to give me some advice. Luckily, it built into something more for me, and while I busted my ass to carve out my role, it was all because he gave me a shot. Z was, and still is, so willing to support anyone who has a genuine passion and interest, and for that I will be forever grateful. To this day, he continues to give me a chance to learn and grow with the music, and has had a large role in making my dreams a realty.
Equally as important, to my current life (of which I'm not always sure is, you know, real), is Nathan S. I talk to this man more than I talk to any of my family members or friends. Everyday, amongst the sea of Will Ferrell references and Doritos debates, Nathan challenges me to not only be a better writer, but a better advocate for myself. If it's not a reminder to proof my stuff one more time (attention to detail isn't my strong suit but I'm working it), it's him asking me, "what can you do that's better than that?" when I bring up an average article idea; or having me e-mail that emcee's manager instead of him just doing it or taking more responsibility behind the scenes. Interviews and quizzes are fun, but at the end of the day, its the grunt work that makes the site move. I don't know where I'll be in another two years, but I know the invaluable knowledge he has taught me about what goes on behind the scenes will be far more beneficial than any article. I'm Lil Wayne and he's Birdman (minus that whole kiss thing) and I couldn't ask for a better Birdman. Just gotta work on my beard...
To be honest, I didn't really have a plan for this article - I just kind of wrote it - so I'm not quite sure how to finish it. I guess I'll try to make it relatable to you so I don't feel guilty about writing 1,500 words all about me. At the start of high-school we are all supposed to be on this set plan: graduate, go to college, graduate, get a job, get married, start a family. We are rushed and herded like cattle through life without having time to stop and really think about it. Sure, it's important to keep an eye on the future, but I think time goes slower than we think. Maybe I'll be Kanye's manager in five years, or maybe I'll be a teacher or a bank teller; I have no way of knowing. What I can tell you is that here, in the present, at 1:31AM, I am up working, and I couldn't be happier. All the bills, rent, and worry is still there, but so is the passion and that outweighs everything. So take a shot at something you love, send an email you won't think will get read, or apply for that job. Life's short, yes, but life is also too long to go through it living by someone else's rules.
Here's to two (more?) years, DJBooth.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]