Patrice O’Neal is my spirit animal. He really is. I’m not saying I have anywhere near his level of talent or skill but gosh darn there is an immense resonance in not being willing to bend over and take it in the name of playing the game where big bank takes no bank and doesn’t call it rape because that is the way the inroads to the industry are paved. As long as you can waive your conscience, demagnetize your moral compass and misplace your scruples on the way in you’ll do fine in the land of big business where the gangster pimps do what they do best:
Package up, present and profit off the talent.
Without us they couldn’t do a thing. Just a bunch of bitter and twisted men that enjoy seeing others dance on their fingertips because of the whole power trip this brings hence why they carved an empire for themselves which is invisible, ever present and currently exerts an immense influence in the minds of the ignorant who can’t wait to be suspended and daintily nibbled at by the beast itself before joining the rest of the famous, hoping to be rich and various other psychological scratches and previous damage that need a good itch (and is readily exploited by said purveyors of flesh) and are then excreted only to dust themselves off and get in line again.
Thats what playing the game is, you know? Like Patrice I saw it from a distance and simply wasn’t willing to do its bidding because its a bridge too far that I’m not willing to cross and thus languish at the moment. Not quite penniless but not worth anywhere near what I bring but then no material measures can equate my Souls worth and thus we sit, thinking. The unbearable weight of massive talent can sound like an arrogant statement until you realize the one saying this actually possess the skills that are equal to this claim and then things get interesting.
One of my fondest skills is you can bring me anything, absolutely anything you wish ranging from a script unpolished to a song that almost sounds like a hit as well as a pencil outline sketched on the back of a napkin after a few drinks and I can strip it into its components and put it back together again to generate an effect way more than the sum of its parts. For me its quite a pleasurable experience as my wiring finds this whole process natural but there are caveats in that I have to find it interesting. If its boring I won’t attempt forcing it hence its never done for a cheque but I’ve poured insane amounts of resources in to the most inane things just for the satisfaction of saying “I did it” as well as walking into a situation where they had an overly complicated system to stitch together the old old and new old way of doing things that was stupidly labor intensive so I redesigned the piece in the middle in five minutes and left their mouths gaping. “How did you do that?” he said “We’ve had experts, consultants, programmers and all kinds of people come in and they said its fundamentally impossible without upgrading our whole infrastructure and the costings…”. “Let me stop you right there” I interjected “That was what they wanted to sell you hence they didn’t tell you what I did and thats why they’re called trade secrets because that is how you get paid”.
What followed next was quite interesting as the guy estimated that tweak alone would save them an easy four hundred K a year and seeing as I was just there for the day on unrelated business but annoyed by what I seen, hence my tinkering, I said “Cool, give me ten percent of that right now. Sound like a fair exchange?”. They baulked at the thought of this which proves exactly why the dealer prefers you pay before you get the hit because who wants to pony up on a comedown when the fun was had the previous day? To me the money was irrelevant, the challenge was everything and one time I was sitting in on a studio session with a really talented artist as I was just kicking it. Someone who was hot in the streets had been pulled in to do a remix and when they arrived and gave their cuts a spin everyone else was gassed and to me it sounded a hot mess.
“Whose man is this?” he said “Listen, I’m like a hammer. I make hits. What are your credits?”. “None. This isn’t my business but I have ears and you’ve got the right bits but in the wrong order. Watch this”. I picked apart the stems, rearranged the samples, told the session guy to add in this lick and tweak these levels and bounced the mix to everyone listening.
“Nah, that ain’t it” he said. A sentiment echoed by his yes men and the dude who was cutting him a cheque for his apparent talents. “Cool” was heard as I bounced to the exit because it was getting boring but then imagine the grin I sported in months dating six when I heard my vision getting spins via the radio on FM.
See why I say Patrice is my spirit animal? He could do the exact same thing and that is take something you view as a problem (or maybe you didn’t as that was just how you did it) and he’d break it down into its components then rearrange your perspective in a way that made you think “That makes perfect sense! How the hell did I not see this?”. There is something within us, an intrinsic process that knows when the spot has been hit and this is as good as it gets. Its a state of intuitive equilibrium that is simultaneously raw and delicate. Its why you can over complicate things as well as strip out the essence if you’re too critical. Its also why I dislike editing and usually do things in one take because its not a bug, thats a feature so leave it alone and go on your way.
The industry drools about people like this because they’re so flexible and drop gems with their presence. You throw them in any mix and they’ll turn it up a few notches because thats just what they do best and people either really dig them or hate them with a vengeance for their effortless nonchalance. Patrice, by all accounts, was like this because he’d rip you to shreds whilst playing the dozens but was actually testing your mettle to see if you really possessed the skills you thought you did whilst sharpening his own arsenal because only steel cuts steel but we live in times so soft that people whip wet noodles around and think they’re dueling.
Just like Patrice I doled out my gifts for free because I wouldn’t play nicely with the gangster pimps that want their bit. No, I openly challenged them and no doubt that had a little something to do with my brush with death but hey, I’m still here so lets see what happens. Mr P dropped his philosophies on all and anyone who’d listen and we collectively missed an uncut diamond in the flesh but he left behind a consistent trail filled with flashes of brilliance that you can access via the net because he was a man ahead of his time as he would’ve dominated the socials with his witty observations that hit several nails on the head at once with a well thrown hammer whilst sitting in the back of the audience. Or was that a phonebook?
His peers will tell you themselves that they are in no way, shape or form his equals because what he possessed far outclassed them at their rehearsed best because he could kill by just freestyling. That really takes a level of skill that is so immense and yet those will less talent who were willing to do what is expected by the man behind the curtain are now the types of stars that are blazing but the uncrowned peoples champion remains unchallenged, undefeated and changing lives even in death and that is a type of immortality the gangster pimps wish they could bottle and sell. No Hendrix drowning when he doesn’t drink or Sam getting Cooked with a slipper missing to send the signal about who did it.
You are welcome to put me to the test. I’m genuinely that confident as anyone who has experienced me in the flesh can attest because its all about the fun I’m having as I dance in the light whilst leaping into the shadows depth then sharing freely what I bring for what is the point in having gifts and keeping them hidden?
Till we meet again