Tuesday, January 10, 2006

behold there is some thing greater than yourself

i've been in a few conversations with others lately about how artists should approach their art. i don't find the concepts to be much different from how people approach their careers, relationships, and other important aspects of life.

i've found that too many artists are selfish. they are making the art without regard for its merit and without regard for the other artists whose reputation is affected by their actions. they are not taking the time to develop their craft fully before exposing it to an audience. they are not taking the time to learn the ropes of what's going on around them in their craft - not learning etiquette, not learning terminology, not studying trends, not thinking of their audience... they are thinking short term, not long term. they are thinking either too commercially, so that their artistry is overshadowed by bad motives, or they are thinking too egotistically, so that their talent is overshadowed - or worse, outstripped - by their zeal to be their own untalented version of muha.mmad a.li's "greatest of all time."

humility and pride have their place. one should have enough humility to recognize that they don't know everything and that it's okay, in fact, highly recommended, that you ask for help. people should humble themselves in the face of a term like "artist." that word conveys more responsibility than too many "artists" recognize. an artist's responsibilities include having enough pride in your craft and in your particular expressions within that craft to care about the quality and purpose of anything you produce. problem with that is, some people are so high on confidence, busy going off of the inflated praise of their mama and their friends, that they have delusions of grandeur about their art's quality. mess around and create some mess that embarrasses everyone involved.

i think it's a matter of respect. do you respect what you do? do respect your audience, photographers, musicians, writers, emcees? do you respect the men/women you deal with, lovers? do you respect your position, career folks (consider the fact that you may be reading this blog from work before answering)? do you respect your marriage? your hobbies? your faith? i think if you have respect for everything you put your mind to, you'll come out better off. the humility will be there, the pride will be evident, the confidence will be justified, and you may even inspire your friends to have high enough expectations of you so that they won't feed you anything but the truth you deserve, because they know you're humble enough to put your personal pride and confidence in its proper perspective vis-a-vis your endeavor.

i have lately been giving much thought to my own aspirations when it comes to writing. i'm good at moving people with my words. but i continually come to the conclusion that anything i do with my talent will be done in its good time, after i have invested enough time and paid enough dues to put out quality work. no poems hastily thrown together, unedited, will be distributed under a cover with my name on it. no spoken word cd with a lack of technical quality will get sold on some nickel-and-diming hustle, "just to get my name out there." no bootleg short stories with lackluster character and plot development - no abuse of the versatility of the english language - no book that doesn't deserve to lean proud and tall on the same shelf as toni mo.rrison or wil.liam faulkner will bear my name, my father's name, or the description of me on the inside flap or back cover as an "author." my words are the work of my heart, the passion of my life. its production and distribution are as important as kun.ta's naming of his daughter - it will follow the work from birth to success/infamy/obscurity and will signify the destiny that i hope for it. it is due the proper honor in tribute to those who have come before and those who, hopefully, will find enough value, merit, and inspiration to follow behind.

may God guide my talent.