I Really Do Feel Like Pablo

I’ve been trying to work on something for a couple of weeks. Admittedly, I’m struggling with it. Something about getting into the right head space, having the right temperament — feeling it, so to speak — isn’t really coming to me.

It’s made me think a lot about timing, and how sometimes that old adage really is true: timing is everything. When the moment is right for you, internally, to do something, when you feel it in your soul, when the expression pours out like diarrhea, it’s not always the right time. Here, you’ve got this thing, but nobody’s interested.

Time passes by, and later, for whatever reason, the interest is there — I mean, professionally, it’s at your doorstep. You’ve got a find a way to tap into that emotion, that thing you originally felt, those years ago. Because now’s the time, for real. This is life-altering stuff.

But it’s like, that train has already left the station. You can’t get back there, because you’re halfway around the country by that point. More importantly, even if you wanted to get back there, you just don’t feel it. You don’t feel it because you’re not living it anymore. It’s not your world these days. Yours is something else. This new place you’re in. You kinda like it. It’s comfortable.

All of this makes me think, in some ways, that growth is not always good. Or, at the very least, not good for your career. For whatever reason, it makes me think of Kanye West. Not because I’m even remotely like Kanye West, but because I tend to feel like even though Yeezus was good and Life of Pablo is okay, Kanye’s last truly great piece of solo work was My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Kanye’s new stuff is certainly better than most things these days, but sonically, there’s a noticeable change from 2011 to now. Some might call it a maturity — he’s married with children now — but it could also be that he’s just not as interested in music as he once was. Not that he’s not interested in music, but like, he’s interested in it in a way that wouldn’t manifest itself in songs best suited for traditional Kanye West albums.

Also, as he’s said many times, he conquered music. He’s moved on to fashion, design, other things. It’s all art and it’s all ideas, and great artists, they can move into other mediums, express themselves in ways that are not normally expected of them. I think that’s cool, personally. That’s what it means to grow up. To progress.

And so this thing, I feel like Pablo with it. Like Kanye with it. Like I’m ready to make Yeezus, but people are asking me for The College Dropout. And once I drop Yeezus, I want to move on to the next medium, because see, even though I don’t have the acclaim, and I definitely don’t have the money, I’m just fucking bored operating here, in this space. Whether you work in the light or you work in the dark, the work is the work. And it adds up, whether anyone’s paying attention to it or not.

I’m aware this sounds silly and probably even immature, that inspiration is for amateurs — and maybe that proves I am an amateur, I don’t know. I’d like to think we’re all amateurs, ultimately. What I do know is that it’s hard to do anything if your heart isn’t in it, if you don’t fall asleep at night thinking about it, wake up in the morning ready to get to work on it. If you think of it as a ball and chain around your leg, as a commitment, as work — that’s not good.

I am starting to feel that way about this thing, but hopefully I can make a breakthrough and somehow reignite a passion inside me, a desire to express something that I don’t know it’s in me to express anymore. It’s a weird feeling, really, because you never feel that your feelings will one day be gone, that they’ll be replaced by new feelings, new thoughts, and that it won’t be so easy to get them back.

I suppose, like I said, it’s a thing musicians go through. I use the Kanye West example, but really, any artist who has ever released a truly landmark LP knows what that feels like. Your fans just want you to keep making the same damn album all over again, but you can’t do it, because ten years have gone by, and you’re not the same person anymore.

What do you do? I don’t know. I guess you just do what you do and live with the results. Maybe that’s what will happen here. Or, maybe I will man the fuck up and get my shit together.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.