This song will avert your attention to a mindset of self-reliance. I hope this song will make you want to turn your back on the negativity of envy, and a life of imitation. Your life and its path are your own & you do not need to copy others.
With the advent of social media, its quite easy to envy others’ lives and begin to seek approval and validation from those following you. You may feel like you are misunderstood & feel like you’re not getting the love you deserve in your line of work. This is normal. Even the greats from generations before felt they were misunderstood. Some people’s work only gets acknowledged when they are dead. To take an Emerson quote from the song – “greatness must be possessed long before it is acknowledged”. So when you’re worried about your photo, song, clothing line, whatever it is getting less likes that you want, then you’re thinking all wrong.
Self-Reliance is when you truly know yourself, your work, your limits, what you like & what you don’t like, even your boundaries if you will. You are present & apply your efforts to doing what you want to do. You do your work without permission & regardless of the approval of others. You do what you need to do to survive. You don’t leave your life to the power of others. I’m not saying we can only do what we like, that is just entitlement and being inactive waiting for approval is counterproductive. A living made off of your art alone for instance, does not happen without many years of hard work, adversity and effort. Its in your power to put in the hours, juggle side jobs & eventually it is something you can achieve. Self-Reliance is knowing that you are an independent person with the power to effect your life & its direction.
The song opens with me quoting “Envy Is Ignorance, Imitation is Suicide” over the beat and continues with many quotes taken from Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s “Self-Reliance” essay. It is one of the many brilliant texts I read last year when I was going through what I recognise as my self actualisation. Ralph’s words encouraged me to keep going in my independence. That along with my own dad’s independence made me take a leap of faith. Me putting the words atop music is just something I wanted to do in order to spread what I have learned.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a writer, philosopher, poet, lecturer & part of the Transcendentalism movement. Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent.
You see between 2010 and 2016 I had management, booking agents & people interested in my commercial success. They would seek record deals & book shows all over the world for them to take a percentage of my earnings. Booking agents take 10% of each show’s fee and managers take 20% of everything (except independent release royalties, thankfully). I am truly thankful for them aligning with me, but the reality is – I did the work. I remember one day I thanked my Manager for getting me lots of extra Remix work. His response was kind of uneasy “don’t thank me man, you do the work”. It felt weird because he was right. However, I was thankful that he had aligned himself with me, and put in some work in order to get me more extra work. Thats the ideal of the manager/artist relationship. Part of me, however – has always been independent. Thankfully so, because if I didn’t have independent releases stacked up in my discography, I wouldn’t have survived since 2016. During that time I released an album that took 2 years to come out. The label couldn’t sign off on some credits, and had to reallocate different singers. They also had a backed up released schedule of many other artists’ releases & when it did finally come out it didn’t sound or feel as fresh as I thought it did two years prior. So my management decided to part ways with me. So did both booking agents. Now you see why they were beside me.
You see they were around me simply because they had invested time into my profile & wanted to see if my next record deal would be successful. In the time it took for that EP to come out (2 Years) I had released 1 x LP and 1 x EP independently. I’d also made merchandise myself & without the aid of management. It was very important for me to work hard on my work regardless of waiting for the other high-profile label release to come out. Many people would have waited on management thinking “oh they know what they are doing. This will be worth it” but this is wrong. You have to continue to work without their approval. They will not do your work for you. I am self-reliant & sometimes that will make people’s commercial interest in me wane a little. Truth is, thats what I wanted. The real me is independent.
When I was 12, my dad left his job at an Engineering firm. He took a small business loan & converted his garage into a workshop & started an engineering business in 1997. Its still running in 2019. He built the garage its in too. He is a self-reliant man, and as a son of a self-reliant man, I see the value in building my own ship. When I do collaborate with people, I complement the other. I am my own man & we are joining forces to make something collectively independent. I am aiding other people in their self-reliance & so this song is just an extension of that.
Thank you to Ralph Waldo Emerson (RIP) you helped me realise that I am a self-reliant individual & I subscribe to your mindset.
Video is by Ani Acopian. Ani is amazing! Thank you Ani.