Don’t Walk Away From Art For Good

(This piece was originally published through TeamBackPack.net.  It is republished here in it’s original form. TeamBackPack, the Truest Platform.)

For my whole life, I have been walking away from art.  My parents told me I’d grow up to be a rockstar; somewhere in my adolescent rebellion, I crafted a version of myself that was anything but.  In highschool, I played a mean horn and sang often, but never took my music seriously or thought it could be a “career” or future.  For my whole life, I have been running away from art: towards something more tangible, less terrifying, easier to understand and explain.  I am an artist deep down, or I could have been if I spent less time running in the opposite direction.

Not that my story is unique.  Far from it.  The creative’s dilemma defines my generation: we have the heart and mind and circumstance to create the greatest art, but perhaps lack the initiative; perhaps doubt our purpose or lack the courage.  I know that I do.

Creating Great Art Takes Courage.  

Or perhaps our world is too cruel.  Many of my most talented friends have left art behind when the power and push of the “real world” gets too heavy.  And perhaps they are right to do so.  It can be hard to justify sacrifice, even in the pursuit of true art, if that struggle keeps food out of your children’s mouths or puts you on the street.  Perhaps we were all born sellouts; or perhaps something about our time and place, something about our struggle, breathes a sense of hopelessness in us: perhaps we face too great of odds to pursue great art greatly.  I always thought that I did.

Not that my story is unique: far from it.  Plenty of “artists” quit making “art.”  Plenty of creative spirits with something to say find themselves silent too often.  Plenty of the most talented and creative people I have ever met take long sabbaticals from the pursuit of creating great art, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.  When I need sleep I sleep; when I need money, I work.  Hibernation is a part of living, and stepping away from art for a moment can refresh our eyes and stimulate our imagination.

Many of hip-hop’s greatest artists have feigned retirement, coming back to art in time.  What would the art form look like if Jay-Z really faded to black?

All I beg, from each and every struggling artist that takes that break from creating, is this.  Come back.  Don’t walk away from art for good.  Come back someday.  Creating is part of you; so create.  No matter how far you stray, or how long you rest, you can walk back to art.  Don’t let anyone or anything break you, and don’t let the world shape you when you have the power to shape the world.  Art is a calling; creating is a calling.  So create.  And don’t walk away from art for good, else you walk away from who you are, and stare back some day at two paths in a lonely desert, and trace your footsteps back for years to a moment when you decided who you wanted to be and decided to leave that spark of passion to starve, when it could have roared in a brilliant flame that sparked others and kept you warm, and looking back ask yourself quietly, “what might have happened if I never gave up?”

Don’t walk away from art for good.  As a fan, I beg you.  As an “Artist,” I warn you.  There is something here, in creating, that you can not and will not find again if you leave; something about who you could be that you will never become.  I’ll walk back with you, towards Art, and when I see you there I’ll smile.

Thank You, Artists.

Thank you for “Through the Wire.” The first time I heard that goofy sizzurp/bizerk line, I knew we’d get along just fine for a good long while. Thank you for “Late Orchestration;” thank you for the heart and soul in “Roses,” in Heartbreaks. For that deeply perfect, perfectly flawed modern psycho-analytic masterpiece that is “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” I thank you again on the weekly with every listen-through. And for what it took out of you to make all that, to deliver again and again on the highest level, to push your limits and constantly influence the aesthetic of an entire generation of artists and innovators, to create deeply and truly from your unique and damaged genius; deeply, truly, thank you.

The Masses have been quick to crucify you, but I’ve seen pain in your eyes for a long time now. It can’t be easy to be God famous all day every day. It can’t be easy to carry the weight of expectations, heaviest your own, through the sea of depression and paparazzi and power-lust fulfilled and ambitious self-destruction and drugs and money. It wasn’t easy for Kurt Cobain, either. So, uh, thanks. I know it hasn’t been easy. I know you’ve given a lot.

We’ve seen pain in your eyes for a long time now. Thank you for creating in defiance of that pain.

Sometimes we just need to slow down, take it easy, light up, ease off. Breath deep. Remember what we are grateful for. Today, I’m grateful for Kanye and all his music has given me. Can’t wait for the comeback, ‘Ye. I’m thankful for what 7 fuckin classics took out of Yeezy, for all he had to give, and for his tireless devotion to creating that always meant there wasn’t any other option. To every other artist, following their dreams and inspiring my own through the revolutionary act of creating, I owe you the same thanks.

Thanks for making art this raw.

Thank you for the music. The REAL fuckin music you make, the from the heart and in the streets and authentic to you grimy political boundary-pushing passion-crafted art you make, that shit deserves gratitude. Thank you for holding your head high and doing what you feel you were born to do. Thanks for not giving up when it’s always easier to give up. Thanks for creating, inspiring, thinking, feeling, seeing, making, crafting, speaking, raising your voice, organizing, art-ing.

Thanks for everything you do.

Whatever you are making, whatever you make it for, WHEREver you are making, know your art has value and that you change the world every time you bring a part of yourself into existence. Thank you.

And for all it takes out of you, Jesus Christ, thank you. I know rent ain’t cheap. I know that you don’t sleep enough, that you struggle with demons, that you just want to drink or watch T.V. or run-away some times. And I know that you create anyways because that’s what makes the darkest parts of your heart lighter. Thank you for giving us a part of yourself. Thank your for loving your art first and always.

Thank you for songs this important.

It’s discouraging sometimes, I know, when you like you’ve given everything and nobody gives a fuck. Trust me, we care. We’re grateful.

From Yeezy to the dude down your street rapping in his microphone in Mama’s basement, I’m grateful for everything that every artists gives me. This world makes more sense thanks to the things that you make. This world is less gray because you speak from your soul and create from your heart. Thank you. Keep ya head up, champ. We’re all grateful.

Agree with anything in this post?  Share this article with an artist that you are thankful for today.

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ARTISTS:  I’m offering 50% off on all of my “Artists Services” through 1/1/2017.  My way of saying “thanks” for all you do.