When the first Diamond District record came out in 2009 we were blown away by the rawness of the sound, specifically the way they recorded the raps. My friend emailed the producer Oddisee to see what kind of mic they used. We imagined it was being some amazing old tube mic running through a set of compressors probably used on the first Wu-Tang. He gracefully responded that it was a cheap condenser mic. Probably $100 or less, and that the mic doesn’t matter, it matters what you do with it.
I can be so guilty of this sometimes — thinking the gear an artist I love reps is a magic ticket to their quality of work when the only ticket is work itself. We’re trained to BUY! BUY!! BUY!!!! — so breaking this habit is hard, and feeding into it just enough to get what we need without going gadget-overboard can be tough to balance.
Hugh Macleod asks us to spot our “pillars” in the book Ignore Everyone. He describes them as the tools that we’re hiding behind that aren’t helping us create. Like when we tell ourselves we’ll totally make stuff once we get a new _______ .
When I first read Hugh’s piece a couple of weeks ago I made a list of my pillars which included thinking I need a new mic. I finally plugged in the mic DJ Roane gave me years ago and abso love it. I didn’t need a new mic, I needed to write raps and record them.
Also on my list is a habit of nerding out too much on this website. Thinking I need a proper logo or a better WordPress theme. It comes in waves and I always feel so much better in the times I don’t worry about it and just write.
In Some Thoughts About Writing, Patrick Rhone goes as far as to call out this type of “personal branding” as having “ZERO to do with success.” He labels it as an excuse we hide behind to stay scared of creating and a way for others to make money off this fear by exploiting our self-induced need to pay for branding. (SO highly recommended this quick $5 read. No creativity-blocking BS is left unchecked!)
A couple of years ago Kenny Fresh tweeted about his laptop keyboard missing a letter. Same comp helping him run a label, playlist, and incredible weekly radio show.
What new gear is becoming an excuse that’s holding you back?
I hope this helps you see the barriers in your hype path and push them to the side, recognizing what is only blocking us from jumping in and getting started.
Peep part 1 of this post here, on the more $pend what you need to get the stuff you want tip