Proud soldier 🙋🏻‍♂️

ICE T’s Twitter is a pretty unique space on the internet. It’s unapologetically inspiring and shoutout to celebs with avant-garde user names like @FINALLEVEL. More hype to ignore the rules.

He uses his voice to speak truth to working hard and doing you (+ a bit of hater trashing). He even has a ‘FOR MATURE AUDIENCES’ disclaimer which feels reminiscent of back when parental advisory stickers were taking up more and more space on the covers of rap CDs in the early 90s.

This ICE Cold Fact™️ hit hard for me.

Motivation to crush is forever dope, but we can’t hide from being a soldier on the path and letting the hustle be its own recognition. It’s less comparing and more grinding. Less feeling defeated by what we aren’t or faking what we are, more recognizing our process and growth as equally valuable to any forever-changing final destination.

If you rap and aren’t Black Thought or Kendrick, you won’t ever be Black Thought or Kendrick. It’s still ok to follow your heart, have fun, and rap. Look at the thousands of rappers creating new work and adding to the culture. These are the soldiers.

ICE T is giving us permission to worry less about the end goal and just do us. This probably means having a day job and soldiering on the side. When creative work isn’t your only source of income deadlines are personal. You can take the time to make what you want and share it when you want. It’s beautiful in this way, free from external forces, with the only pressures being self-discipline and the courage to rock.

N.K. Jemisin thanked her employer in the first 2 books of the Broken Earth Trilogy, working as a psychologist while writing them. In the acknowledgments of the 3rd in the series, she says the book was written in “A time of tremendous change,” as she was able to quit her day job to write full time. She writes about missing parts of the work she did helping people through difficult times but acknowledges she still helps people, in different ways, as an author of multiple unreal-dope books. (Highly recommend her stuff! How Long ‘Til Black Future Month got me started.)

Her books are award-winning and prolific. They are written by a soldier.

ICE T gives us the ok to start. We can’t skip to being a Queen or King of our craft. And why would we even want to? Our creative work or life or whatever we love deserves nourishment.

I’ve seen this with local rappers over and over. Feeling the need to front skill and popularity and caught in a trap of fear. I’ve been this rapper. Overthinking and declining a show opportunity in Austin in 2011 instead of just showing up and rocking. It took 5 years and dozens and dozens of shows for crowds from 0* to 100 or so to reach a point where anyone beyond immediate friends cared about my raps. (*Thank you, Ashland!)

And to be honest, these shows were years ago so I’m fully back soldiering. My next show will likely be really small and I’ll need to grow from there if I want to keep performing. Coming for you Ashland!

Being a soldier is permission to rep what we rep at our level. Doing so will inevitably make us better. We can work/create/be ourselves in ways that aren’t clouded by reaching some imagined top tier. F the monarchy and let’s do us gang.