Why I Feel Like Eminem

A fellow blogger, Joe Pineda, (a.k.a. The Bard of Steel) wrote an insightful article about walking the tightrope between creating shallow, meaningless art, and being egotistical and preachy. In writing this blog, I feel like I am constantly walking this tight rope, and chances are I often fall on the side of the latter extreme, not intentionally, but in my quest to make a difference with my art.

In today’s world where we all have access to publishing our work worldwide instantaneously, we have to somehow deliver our message without looking like we are shouting “Hey! Look at me! I’m so cool, so I deserve your attention!” I think if our intentions are right, however, over time our work will speak for itself. So we have to learn to just ignore what people think of us.

eminem

Image: copyblogger.com

I’ve recently been studying the life of Eminem. That’s right, I am inspired by the lives and work all sorts of people, from Plato to Kierkegaard to George Lucas to Vin Diesel. And even Slim Shady. At first, he wasn’t accepted in the hip-hop community because of the color of his skin. But eventually, the quality of his work stood out, and of course now he is internationally recognized as one of the greatest rappers of all time. That story is a good parable for the work of an emerging artist. At first, people question us. Then, they get comfortable with us. Then they realize “Hey, this guy’s work is good.” It’s a gradual process. It takes time. There is no such thing as overnight success.

Of course, it’s not just people’s perception of us that changes, but we also become better at what we do. When Eminem started out, he was a work-in-progress. A diamond in the rough. He had a few friends who believed in him and supported him, but probably everyone else thought he just some weirdo idiot with a big ego and foul mouth. What, a white rapper? Come on, Vanilla Ice already tried that, fool. It didn’t work.

In studying the lives of truly successful people, I’ve found a common thread: they were all weird. That’s right, everyone who has succeeded and changed the world started out as a weirdo heretic. At least, in the eyes of the world. But the truth was that they weren’t really weird at all. Instead, they had a vision that the rest of us couldn’t see. If the people who treated Marshall Mathers like an outcast in the beginning could magically peep a few years into the future at what he would become, they would have viewed him in a completely different light.

Most people don’t have the courage to be seen as weird. They care too much about what others think of them. This lack of courage is exactly what precludes such people from realizing their potential and changing the world.

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8 comments

  1. The Eminem comparison is really clever. Not only did people not take him seriously because of the color of his skin; there was also the matter of those goofy singles of his that were close to branding him forever as a joke. You know the ones. Back then I thought they were the funniest shit ever, but now that I listen to them it’s obvious they were night club songs he did strictly to sell records.

    You could take that point and elaborate on your example, particularly on the issue of how artists don’t find their direction immediately, and that they can recover from setbacks if they try.

    1. I totally agree. It seems like there are so many examples of artists who struggled, or had failures and later had huge successes. We learn by making mistakes. We keep gaining experience and honing our skills. I like in the 8 Mile movie how B Rabbit goes from choking at the rap battle in the beginning to totally owning it in the end.

  2. That is an interesting point. Another famous person that came to mind is Lady Gaga. I don’t know if you like her stuff, but she comes across as weird. I like some of her songs. I wouldn’t say I’m a die hard fan, but I have to admire a woman who knows her dream and achieves it. And her following is massive.

    1. Good point. Lady Gaga is a good example of a “weird” artist. Haha. But what was weird becomes normal and mainstream. I guess it just goes to show how relative everything is.

      1. True. For me she is still odd, but I would never wear seven inch heels. I struggle in flip flops. I’m seeing her live in London next month. I’m really curious what the crowd will be like.

      2. That’s a good point. Some artists are strange simply because we haven’t “gotten it” yet, and other artists are strange because they want to be. Both have merit. Some people out there love Lady Gaga. I like a few of her songs but I never really got into the rest of her stuff.

        Sounds like it’ll be a fun concert!

  3. Daniel,
    This blog is spot on. Those of us who worry too much about what others will think, about being that loner black sheep, about being counted as a weirdo hardly ever muster courage to do what our deepest desire is, what our innermost voice says. At one point, our inner voice shouts. But we try to drown out that voice. Coz, we lack courage.

    It takes a lot of courage and a lot of conviction to take on the unconventional path.

    Your blogs are very inspiring. BTW, do you believe in ‘The Secret’?

    1. Thanks for your reply Zinal. I definitely believe in taking the unconventional path. One of my favorite blogs about the subject is The Art of Nonconformity.

      I have watched the Secret. I believe that a lot of the principles they talk about in that movie are true. I focus my efforts less on riches and more on self-fulfillment and service to the world by following your passions. But there is a lot in there that you can learn from.

      Thanks again for following. Great comments!

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