A review of myself – sounds fitting, given the year that I had. It’s not the first year of my reviews, but it’s the first year of my blog – my personal gift to myself and others to share the words filled in my head, and my opinion on music and movies. This is was an interesting year; a life changing one, and one that will define more years to come because of what happened this year.
Starting in January (4th to be exact), I woke up on a Wednesday morning, went to WordPress, and started this blog. I’d been working holiday hours at Kitchen Stuff Plus and it was wearing me out thin. The cold winter, mixed in with annoying travel back and forth there wasn’t stressful, but it was an annoyance – the work wasn’t difficult. It was all that I’d known since I was 16 years old. Retail is something I’ve always compared to modern day 1st world slavery. Harsh, but I didn’t want to grow more comfortable in working retail because it was ‘easy money’ (nothing in the world is easy, but let’s just be real – retail isn’t difficult). Having graduated college in 2010 and not working in your field to show for it you become to grow impatient, but also have to realize that not everything comes right out of the front doors of college. For some, yes, but for a majority, no (I had a small gig, but it was too daunting when it came to travelling great distances for work with no car). I had to learn that work couldn’t be the only reason why I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do in life. It wasn’t fair to myself.
Taking a trip out to Montreal for the weekend in March was a great experience. After going through a bit of a scare because I had forgotten my nice camera, I got over it and just wanted to bask in the culture that was Montreal’s. The French dynamic of the culture and the people were everywhere in the architecture, the food, and the language. There was a big barrier when it came down to me actually trying to speak the language, but I got over that and just decided to do as minimal speaking as possible. I did a lot of walking – went to a couple of museums and galleries, looked at some cool architecture, saw what was there to offer, and overall just experienced life in a world away from home. It’s only 6 hours away from Toronto, but it felt like I was in another country, so that was cool.
Fast forwarding to May, it was a conversation that I had with a family friend that changed my perspective on my own life from that point onwards. I didn’t have enough fun and I didn’t travel often. She (family friend) told me that I didn’t have enough ‘remember the times’, like “you remember the time when we…” moments. She was right – I was too reserved in working and saving money and doing everything that I could to not be enjoying myself. I couldn’t be bothered with it, so after that enlightening conversation, boom – a $15 show in Buffalo for ScHoolboy Q & Ab-Soul (two rappers I listen to a lot), and then boom – Soundset, a hip hop festival in Shakopee, Minnesota that had a host of rappers that I listen to. Without a hint of hesitation, I was going – period. Nothing was going to prevent me either, and the fact that I went to both events in the same month with the same person, made it sweeter. Devon is a great friend – I still feel bad that she had to drive 17 hours herself to Minnesota (NTS: get license), but she’s great to be around, and I was fortunate to have went with her. Meeting Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, Chuuwee, and Big K.R.I.T was pretty surreal because these are guys I listen to repeatedly on my iPod, but then meeting them is just like ‘did that really just happen?’ It was crazy, and it was pretty much the best month I had in 2012.
The summer of 2012 was filled with confusion, high hopes that dwindled down, a bunch of concerts, and random events. Having met a lot of people (the joys of social networking), anytime I was out and about, I could always expect to bump into someone. I tried to get more involved in the music scene in Toronto, particularly in Hip Hop. I wanted to mingle with the crowd and get a sense of what the atmosphere was like, given the fact that I was now in a ‘role’ when it came to my writing and labeled as a ‘blogger’. Honestly, I just write and voice my opinion, so if that’s all that takes, then cool. There’s a lot of talent in Toronto to flourish (word of 2012) and go forth for next year and many years to come. Do I listen to everything? No. Am I trying? I’m getting there, but I’m really just all over the place. We have an identity, but it’s just getting it shown to the world outside of Toronto that will be the task at hand.
Best Shows/Festivals I went to this year:
- Soundset 2012 (Minnesota)
- Made In America (Philadelphia)
- The Groovy Tour (Buffalo) – Ab-Soul & ScHoolboy Q
- Big K.R.I.T (Toronto)
- Frank Ocean (Toronto)
- Logic & Tayib Ali (Toronto)
- Kendrick Lamar (Toronto)
- NXNE [North By Northeast] (Toronto)
- ManifesTO (Toronto)
Another defining moment of my life and my year came on August 26th. That was the day I quit my job at Kitchen Stuff Plus for good. It was a tough decision, and I had nothing as far as a job lined up after it because I didn’t want just ‘another job.’ I was tired of just living to live, but not progressing. Many people appreciate the fact that they life at home with their parent(s) and that they don’t have to have a lot of responsibilities. Going away for school for 3 years forces you to grow up and develop responsibilities: Manage your money, pay rent, pay bills, buy groceries, cook, clean, and live. I learned that, and I handled it. My mom raised me to be independent, and my plan was to be out by the time I was 23. Well, I turned 23 in July, I still had a job, and yet I wasn’t anywhere close to being able to move. I couldn’t afford it, and staying at KSP wasn’t going to help me get anywhere, anytime fast, so I made a decision for myself. Would you call it stupid? Maybe, but I did it because I don’t want to lead the same life I’ve been having thus far. If I want to have better things in life, I need to at least take a shot and go after what I want and not sit around and wait for it. Applying left, right, and centre for jobs and internships was a pain, but it was for the best.
I got an internship at a post production company in Toronto, and it’s funny, because it’s down the street from where I did a placement in high school – talk about full circle. To get the experience and learn from actually doing something related to what I went to school for was just an adage to what I wanted. I had an opportunity with Complex Magazine that didn’t go through, and also The Source Magazine (it’s more difficult when you’re applying as a Canadian), but I didn’t make excuses. If you want something, no matter how big it is, you have to try, because then all you’re going to be subjected to is “what if? What if?” Sometimes, you have to get a little crazy, and I did. I don’t regret it.
I listened to a lot of music, and I watched a lot of movies. I wrote a lot of reviews, and had a bunch of people read them. I’m happy about that, but I’m far from where I want to be. I’m a difficult person to be satisfied. I hate doing lists, because in order to do a list, I would have had to listen to every album of every genre, and watch every movie in order to have a ‘fair’ list, so I’ll just provide my favourites of this year.
Favourite Albums and Mixtapes of 2012 (No particular order; just numbered)
1. good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar
2. Live From The Underground – Big K.R.I.T
3. channel ORANGE – Frank Ocean
4. Baby Face Killa – Freddie Gibbs
5. Crown Me King – Chuuwee
6. This Time Tomorrow – Luu Breeze
7. Habits & Contradictions – ScHoolboy Q
8. Control System – Ab-Soul
9. 1999 – Joey Bada$$
10. West1996 – Lute
11. Life is Good – Nas
12. Food & Liquor 2 – Lupe Fiasco
13. UCLA – Blu
14. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Smell Them – Blu & Exile
15. No Idols – Domo Genesis
16. Untitled EP – Hodgy Beats
17. A Dream Deferred – Skyzoo
18. Theo vs. JJ: Dreams vs. Reality – Skyzoo
19. Detroit – Big Sean
20. Blak & Blu – Gary Clark Jr.
Favourite Movies of 2012 (No particular order; just numbered)
1. Project X
3. The Dark Knight Rises
5. Seven Psychopaths
7. End of Watch
9. Silver Linings Playbook
10. Django: Unchained
I had a good year – it was one that was defining and it’s a year that I’ll look at down the road in being one of the pivotal years to shape who I am as a man. This is pretty much a continuation of who I wanted to be, but a beginning to a new lifestyle. It’s scary, but if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. I’m glad that there were people that appreciated the words that I was able to put out in front of them to read. I can only do better in 2013 and onwards, so hopefully you’ll stick around. Thank you for a great year.
That’s My Word & It STiXX