To Whom It May Concern: I’m a Brooklyn Based Music Journalist…
It was June of 2007. I’d been living in Brooklyn USA for over three and a half years. I was breathtaken by the magic of its brownstones, pizza shops and diversity. The neighborhood I resided, Bed-Stuy, was beautiful despite the unsightly mask it often wears on the Brooklyn 12 evening news. I was falling in love with the borough, but my relationship with myself was reaching irreconciable differences.
My dreams to work as a anchor on Sportscenter had been engulfed by the overwhelming tsunami of reality. By this time, I was in the midst of a stint as a customer service representative for a Williamsburg file storage company called CitiStorage. Considering I was three years removed from receiving my BA in electronic broadcasting from Long Island University, this wasn’t exactly the ideal position to be in. I was just trying to pay my rent and keep from returning to my native Syracuse, NY, as a prodigal son living in my parents basement. I’d grown into a expert in customer service by adopting an overtly cordial, professional and attentive disposition and enthusiastic work ethic, but underneath my seemingly positive aura was someone stuck on the fence that separated boyhood from manhood. The voices in my mind were determined to create a jaded, indifferent being whose greatest achievement was that I never failed at anything thanks to never trying anything. My only salvation was music. When I put my headphones on and placed my fore finger on the play button, I was happy. I took my vacations as I walked down Nostrand Avenue with Marvin Gaye as my tourguide. As The Beatles said, I was fixing a hole where the rain gets in. Outside of my immediate family, there wasn’t a person on the planet that I spoke of in as high reverence as much as I did Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and so on. So on this day in June of 2007, God decided to reward me for my devotion to music as a form on spiritual enlightenment and evolution.
I entered Academy Records Annex during a lunch break. Without any money to nourish by body, I figured I’d feed my soul with some Coltrane or Lakeside. Upon my departure, I caught something out the corner of my eye that changed the course of my life: It was the face of Rick James. The Motown Punk-Funk pioneer was adourned on a magazine called Wax Poetics: Hip-Hop, Jazz, Funk & Soul. Wow! It held my attention with a vice grip. The cover story was a chronicle of James’ breakthrough 1981 LP, Street Songs, which featured his hits “Super Freak,” “Give It To Me Baby,” and “Fire and Desire.” I picked it up to examine it. I looked like a law journal for music lovers. On payday, I promptly returned to purchase a copy. Inside I found articles on James, Brooklyn based DJ Spinna, jazz drummer Chico Hamilton and the imfamous Latin Quarter, early hip-hop’s answer for the Copa. I was taken aback by not only the topics and subjects, but also with virtuousity of the writers and diversity of their styles. It was a manifestation of everything I loved about music. And as icing on the cake, the magazine was published in Brooklyn!
Now, in high school I had wrestled with the choice of pursuing journalism, and took creative writing as a means to sharpen those skills. Once I dediced that television was to be my career path, writing became my method to harness my madness. I was too black for the white kids at my school and too white for all my relatives. I was awkward around beautiful girls and felt intellectually inferior to my peers. I constantly composed short stories, poetry and essays that addressed my plight with not fitting in. Expressing these emotions on paper put me at ease in a way that few activities have been able to duplicate, except of course for music. I didn’t write in college since my life had turned a positive corner socially, so by the time I picked up that 23rd issue of Wax Poetics, I was grossly out of practice. I began to take it up again soon after. Combining writing with music never occured to me before for some strange reason, but it made perfect sense. I told my CitiStorage co-workers, “I’m going to write for these guys one day.” Well, May 27, 2010 was that day.
My new found determination and honing of my craft helped me become a published music critic in August 2008, contributing CD reviews for Elmore Magazine, based out of Manhattan. I loved writing my observations about music and seeing my name in print. I felt like Christmas every two months. I didn’t make any money sending the reviews, however. I had to pitch an feature article to make some coin. After pitching a plethora of ideas to Elmore and Wax Poetics respectively nearly two years, each magazine finally bit! Elmore accepted my pitch to compose a feature about music documentaries and even provided relevant directors and artists for me to interview. One of those interviews was with Clint Eastwood! I can’t lie, a small part of me inside I expected to hear Dirry Harry on the other end of the phone, but I spoke to the man who executive produced Thelonious Monk Straight: No Chaser and directed “Bird.” At the same time that my 25 minute interview with Clint was wrapping up, Wax Poetics asked my send them 420 words of an overview of a rare record I pitched them for their re:discovery section! The article was about the first rap I ever heard, which I heard at each end of Michael Jackson’s Thriller cassette (to find out more, please pick up Wax Poetics’s 41 issue, available at Barnes and Noble Bookstores today).
Now, I’ve been rejected by each magazine numerous times before this moment, but I see every rejection as a step closer to success. Why? Because many magazines that I’ve contacted have neglected to respond all together. If they tell me it’s not quite right, that means they read it, and they something in my writing that warranted them to react. Therefore, I must be getting better. But each article is the first, so for now, I just got lucky. When I get another feature published, then I’m on to something. Which means I have to work harder the more successful I become. Hey! I think I’m starting to get that Brooklyn hustler’s mentality.