My Writing is Largely Inspired By a Wide Variety of Other Art Forms
Here’s What They Are and How They’ve Helped and Influenced Me
I’ve noted this before but when I was eight years old, an older cousin played 2Pac’s Hit Em’ Up for me — and my mind was absolutely blown.
It’d be four more years or so until I bought an album of his on my own but I definitely became a fan from the very first time I heard that song.
Though I had no idea who he was talking to or why he was so angry at them, it struck a cord deep within me and I slowly but surely became a voracious fan of rap music, by say age eleven. Inappropriate? Probably. Inspiring, definitely.
Right around the same time I bought my first 2Pac album, a man by the name of Marshall Mathers — who the world would come to know as Eminem — released The Slim Shady LP. Though it was 2PAC who first turned me into a rap fan, Eminem made me feel like it was okay to write rap lyrics, despite the fact I was a white kid from a middle class neighborhood.
I literally studied both of their lyrics growing up. I wanted to write like they did. 2Pac had a way of telling the world exactly what he thought about it. Eminem, who in my opinion is the best lyricist rap has ever seen, blew my mind with the things he was willing to talk about in his music. I respected how open both artists were in their writing. Nothing was off limits. They said exactly what they felt and they didn’t care who thought what about it.
By the time I was thirteen, I was obsessively writing rap lyrics in every notebook I bought for school. While other kids were taking notes, I was writing lyrics. I wrote lyrics on an almost compulsive level. When I wasn’t, I was coming up with different rhyme schemes in my head or reading the lyrics of other rappers I liked. The odd part though, I kind of always knew I’d never actually rap. I just wanted to write lyrics, I had no desire to record or become a rapper.
However, I’m almost certain if it wasn’t for rap, I wouldn’t be writing this or anything else today. It’s an art form that will always hold a special place in my heart.
Stand Up Comedy
I’ve been a huge stand-up comedy fan from the time I was ten years old or so. It started with George Carlin, Andrew Dice Clay and Eddie Murphy. Then Dave Chappelle, Louis Ck, Bill Burr and Katt Williams. I was lucky enough to have seen the first three of those last four I named live in person and none of them disappointed.
There is such an art to stand up and it involves a lot more than just comedy. For starters, to be willing to get up on stage in front of a group of strangers who paid to see you and try to make them laugh takes a brand of courage only certain people possess.”Bombing” as a comic, has always looked excruciatingly painful to me. With writing, if nobody likes what you wrote, there’s just a deafening silence. Sure it sucks — but at least people aren’t actively booing you off your literal platform, in real time.
From as early on as I can remember, I’ve liked to make people laugh. It’s something that has always come pretty natural to me. However, rather than take a full act to stage, I just utilize it in my writing and daily conversations. I’m still a huge fan of stand up comedy and consume the Netflix specials of my favorite comedians like it’s my job. It’s an art form that has had a profound and positive effect on both my writing and life as a whole and I’m forever grateful. Life’s better when you’re laughing.
What I love about this much younger art form — and yes podcasting is very much an art form— is how many of my favorite people have started one.
Not to mention, half of those people are stand up comics, so I get another one of my favorite forms of art sprinkled in with them.
My current favorite podcast, if I was forced to choose, would probably be Joe Rogan’s. What I find so fascinating about not just Joe’s but podcasts in general, is the host is essentially just talking to people they’re interested in. Those who have the same interests they do, or are experts in fields they want to learn more about. Joe and fellow comedian Marc Maron were two of the first people to start one and both have found extraordinary amounts of success through doing so. Through simply talking to interesting people, for hours at a time. Joe recently had Elon Musk on his and convinced him to take a puff of marijuana, which apparently upset shareholders of Tesla (ridiculous). I’ve learned a ton of stuff I never would have had the faintest idea about from watching and listening to Joe’s podcast.
Today, podcasting is beyond popular and it seems like everyone has one. I say more power to them, because I believe in the magic of doing. It takes bravery to start a podcast and put yourself out there like that, much like it does to get up on a stage for a comedy set or freestyle rap battle. Practicing any of these art forms involves overcoming fear. So does hitting publish on a piece of writing and it was through these other art forms and the greats who mastered them that I developed my willingness to do so, day after day.