Buenas tardes bebecitos,
How did you get to where you are in your creative career? Whether you’re a photographer, model, actress, singer, dancer, etc. how did you get there? Who inspired you and motivated you to reach your goals? What did you learn to get to where you are now?
I’m sure the story behind how you got where you are is a long one. I’m sure there was turmoil; I’m sure there were tears; I’m sure there was frustration; and I’m more than sure that there was doubt.
Here’s my story, including everything you’ve wanted to know about that influential rappers list.
So this all started way back when I was in my second year of university while I was enrolled in the Conflict Studies and Human Rights program at the University of Ottawa. I had landed a pretty sick job working as a promotions officer for the SFUO and to be quite frank, I did a whole lot of nothing. Every now and then, I’d put up posters, host class talks, and hand out flyers but I’d usually just kick it because I was never really supervised (such a slacker, I know).
With that being said, I remember going into the office one day and complaining to my coworker, who is now one of my really good friends, Deborah, about how much I hated my program. Who would’ve thought that at that moment, my life would change forever? Not to be dramatic. Essentially, I started telling Deborah about how I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life but that dropping out was most definitely not an option. And that’s when I guess Deborah had a Eureka moment because she suggested I look into communications as a field of study. She had said that since I love everything social media, talking, and technology, it’d probably be a good fit.
That same night, I looked into it and I applied.
This, of course, was to the demise of my mom and family who thought I’d be throwing away 2 years of tuition, school work, and time. Not only that, but they thought going from uOttawa to Carleton would be a downgrade. Right, I forgot to mention, in addition to switching programs, I was also switching schools entirely. I felt unfocused and as though I was surrounded by too many of my friends at uOttawa so thanks to my Scorpio-ness and only child mentality, I decided to isolate myself at a school where I literally knew no one.
Regardless, I ended up getting accepted and I absolutely adored it. I’m super social and will legit talk to anyone, so I ended up making friends in no time. I also LOVED the program; I found all the courses interesting and most of my professors were really engaging. They were also supportive and I felt like I could really be myself there.
Anyway, one day, I was on campus just browsing Twitter, and I came across this media site dragging James Charles for being racist. I loved the site and saw that they were hiring writers which sparked an interested. Now, before then, I had never really had much experience in writing non-academic papers however, that said, my academic papers were always on point. There’s just something about writing that I really enjoy so boom, I decided to apply. They asked for a writing sample so I submitted some lame academic paper I had written, as well as 3 topics for potential future articles.
A few weeks later, I had forgotten about my application until one day, I got an email telling me they wanted to offer me a position! I was super stoked and I still remember my first article – it was one about Kanye West, obviously. My time with Affinity Magazine lasted around a year and thanks to the editor in chief, Evelyn, I learned everything I know today about online publications, WordPress, and digital media. I also met some of my favorite girlies (Fernie, Macx, Emilia, Moyough, & Samjeet, das you)!
Ok so from there, I landed some gigs with Narcity Media and Mogul, as well as positions with random private sector businesses where I would draft up newsletters, articles, and other forms of communications products that required my writing. It wasn’t until my contract with Narcity had ended that I realized I hated writing for someone else. My time with Narcity was great, don’t get me wrong. I loved my boss, the work was fun, and it was cool to be able to say that I worked there but, I just hated feeling restricted in terms of what I could write about.
So I started my own website.
CityinThree was a fun project. I think I built a lot of hype by branding it as by Ottawa, for Ottawa. I actually got a lot of positive feedback and people were interested in what I was doing. But one day, I decided to shake things up and so, I wrote an article entitled “11 Of The Most Influential Ottawa Rappers” (the title has since been changed).
Now let me tell you, if I had known how viral that article was going to go, I probably would’ve put ads on my site sooner. All jokes aside, that one article had received thousands of views in mere days. I had people responding with their own version of the list, people sending us hate mail, people reaching out for future lists, people asking me to work with them, and a whole bunch of unasked for opinions.
This was my first time dealing with such an intense amount of feedback, both good and bad. I remember I would actually respond to everyone who came for me because #Scorpio, we’re a little crazy and really sensitive. I was so distraught that people were not only coming for me as a writer but for this site that I had put so much time, money, and energy into. It wasn’t until my friend Enock told me to just stop responding that I stepped back. He pretty much taught me that the best response is no response. Ever since then, I’ve taken the Kim Kardashian approach to responding to haters by just ignoring them. Thanks to Enock and his advice of wisdom , I am now a somewhat calmer person, at least in that regard.
Anyway, I wrote the article because I truly just wanted to highlight some of the fantastic and talented rappers we have in Ottawa. Specifically, those who I thought were creating a lot of noise for themselves, as well as creating their own lane within an already narrow lane of hip hop in Ottawa. Personally, rap isn’t my all-time favorite genre but I do enjoy listening to it and I do know a thing or two about its’ history. I’ve come to find that there’s a very common and repetitive sound within the hip-hop community in Ottawa. So, to put it simply, I wanted to find a way to highlight the few local rappers I actually enjoyed listening to and that I wouldn’t mind adding to my music library. In the end, I added a twist to the article by merging my favorite rappers with those who were influential in the city. That’s really all there was to it.
The people I chose to include on the list obviously weren’t the ONLY influential rappers in Ottawa but they were popular and they were getting a lot of attention at the time. And, even though I had stated time and time again that this list wasn’t the end all, be all, people seemed to have missed the memo. In fact, a lot of people were mad because I didn’t include them or their favourites and they would call me out for bias. But, like if you wanted me to include your favorite rapper, wouldn’t that be showing your bias? So, it was like okay? Go write your own article then, damn.
To be frank, it was extremely disappointing to see how negatively other creatives in the city responded and it was at that moment, that I realized this city would never become what Toronto, NYC, and LA are. Everyone here is just so bitter and angry; they’re so caught up in trying to become the next big thing before someone else does. If you’re not part of the “in” crowd, you won’t be accepted. People would rather hate on you as a person for sharing your opinion than sit down and discuss your thoughts with you.
I remember some girl compared me to DJ Akademiks and I sat there stunned. It was just so pathetic that people were so angry over my opinion. Another person took the time to tag me, as well as a dozen other Ottawa rappers, on a Facebook status, just so they could hate on me and my site. I got called a slut, stupid, ugly, dumb, and countless other names, as well as told that my site and I would never make it anywhere all because of an OPINION, meemaw! An OPINION!! Legit so annoying.
Honestly, all I could think was, “if this were XXL or Complex, would you really sit there and bitch and cry? Is that the professional route to take? Is this going to get you on the next list?” I mean, Nav dissed XXL on his track “Freshmen” after they didn’t include him in one of their Freshmen lists, and people just rolled their eyes because of how ridiculous it was to get that upset over something so mundane. I appreciate the passion but it’s embarrassing. For real, since that article, I’ve changed the direction I want to take CityinThree in because I can’t support a city that is too prideful to support my writers and I. As selfish as that may sound.
I still have love for the city, of course.
And I do still write about various things that are going on, I just don’t really see the potential or the point anymore. I’m proud of the people who want to put the city on and I’m still as involved as can be, just in other ways. For example, working with Breakout Squad has allowed me to contribute some fun and excitement into the city while remaining behind the scenes.
Now, I know that that ending might come off a little depressing or discouraging but I’m writing all this to say that, your story won’t be perfect. I know people like my articles and I know I love writing; people are tuned into me and I’m grateful. That one experience didn’t turn me off of sharing my opinion publicly, it just made me a little more cautious of who and what I choose to associate myself with.
One thing is for sure though, if it hadn’t been for the people I mentioned, and some of my closest friends, I don’t think I’d still be chasing this dream. My goals and plans have shifted countless times but I’m still here, I’m still trying, and I’m still grinding. I’m happy with where I am now but I’m hungry for more.
In the words of my fave, “I will go down as the voice of this generation, of this decade, I will be the loudest voice” – Kanye West