What It's Like To Be An Up n' Coming Artist & Indie Rapper Without a "9 to 5" In LA.

From Philadelphia, I came to Los Angeles for no reason other than to get out of Philly. A month after landing, I found a job in retail and even after becoming serious with my art and music, 7 years later, I would find myself still, working in retail, sharing my time and energy by retail standards.

Let’s be real..

If you're going to spend serious time doing something you love, that doesn’t make you any money, you’re going to need to have some type of income. There has to be a balance. If not, well, you’ll find yourself spending more time stressed out about life rather than working on your craft or passion.

What I had to realize was, in reality, there’s nothing that’s FORCING you to work a job you don’t want. With that being said, you have to ask yourself, “if that’s the case, why do people take/stay at/deal with jobs that they don't want?”, well.. there’s a lot of reasons for that including timing, personal situations, comfortability, etc. But the stone truth is that it doesn’t matter where the money is coming from (as long as it’s legal and legit), money is money. If someone doesn't like their job, I believe they should be on the hunt with every opportunity they get to either find a new job or just any other way to bring in income. It's easier said than done but it's also 2019 and possibilities are borderline endless. The hunger for change has to be there though, that makes the biggest difference.

When you truly truly want change and believe in the possibility of that change coming to past and bettering your life, NOTHING should be able to stop you from making that happen. It might take some time as all great things do but if you're pushing with everything you've got, you're unstoppable. I say that in attempt to help open the eyes of those struggling to find happiness due to their job/work place. If you hate the place where you work, you shouldn't be going home after your shift to watch Netflix for several hours where you doze off, wake up the next day, and head back to work so you get back to hating it for 8+ hours!! If you live like that, you'll die unhappy, I promise you. So just get it together lol, you deserve more.

That's enough motivation for now lol, onto the story..

So right when I was thinking about leaving my job to become a full time rapper and artist, I started telling myself, "you can do this", "money is everywhere, you just have to find it", "you have skills that can make you money, put them to use", shit like that. The thing is, as far as my job itself, I loved it. I had dope friends, there was always good energy, and my responsibilities were cake to be honest, I'd been there so long. In fact, for a lot of my shows as a rapper, it was my co-workers who supported me the most (and still do). So my reason to leave wasn't because I hated my job but more so because of timing. I felt it was about time I put more of said time into what I loved doing. I just wanted to have more control of my time pretty much. Not only that, I needed maximum schedule flexibility. Working in retail, you're only going to get but so much flexibility with your schedule, that's just how it is. So after some serious pondering, I decided to jump ship.

I had plans for my newly found, soon to come, time flexibility that included making more music, booking more shows, showing up to events, going out to network, making more art, & all in all, just improving on being the best artist I knew I could be.

Here's why this was a big deal for me. I had no safety net, I had little to no savings (about $200 in my checkings account), I shared an apartment with my siblings who couldn't cover my expenses in a jam and also had no safety net, & lastly, I'd be putting not only my livelihood at stake but the livelihood of my siblings as well. Our parents ain't got it like that to be helping us financially either so that was never an option. All I really had that gave me confidence was my determination and a plan. I had a plan, determination, and a dream. So in my mind, that was all I needed. I started using all my discounts at work, saying my "good bye"'s and prepared my exit.

Compared to what I knew was set to come, I had been smooth sailing & living good all these years. A paycheck was always around the corner, bills were pretty much on time lol, and life was easy but with it came rotation. By rotation, I mean re-runs of the same shit over and over. The bills that were late, were always late. They people I would see and associate with were the people I would always see and associate with. Year in and year out, my job was the same, my days were the same, my progression was at a stand still, and I was too comfortable. Now don't get me wrong, as I said before, I loved my co-workers, I loved the security of my job, but inside I felt incomplete. I'd come to work feeling like there was something more and that I was missing out on whatever it was by being at work. True or not, that's how I felt. So a month after putting in my notice, I took off the golden shackles and set out on a journey that I had been curious about for years prior.

Free at last..

Let's be clear on something before we start. Freedom is great, everyone wants it, it sounds like paradise right? Well it doesn't come cheap & it doesn't come easy. The upkeep of hard work can have your "bank of energy" over-drafting only 2 days in. The hard work it takes can leave you so mentally broke, you'll be crying in your ramen noodles while trying all your debit cards to get your Netflix back on lol, trust.

Now let me fill you in and elaborate on all that confidence I was telling you about. Long story short, if you don't know, I went to school for media arts & animation where I learned skills such as digital painting, photoshop, graphic design, etc. I went to college for 3 1/2 years at the Art Institute & got my Bachelors. The skills I gained really made a big difference not only in the situation of me quitting my job but also in my life, in general really. In times of need, I could use those skills to make a little money here and there and stay afloat. Good shit right?

Ok, now remember how I was telling you that I had a plan? Well it wasn't the smartest, fool proof plan you'd expect, but it was a plan nonetheless. Which, honestly is more than what most people have. Here it is..

In order to make up for the money I would no longer see from my job, I would do commission art work, song write for artist (something I'm fairly new to), sell stuff from around the apartment online, and, wait for it...

Do Lyft. lol.

Mind you, I don't have car lol. Here's the thing, when it comes to needing money, you're going to need something concrete and for sure. At least one aspect about your plan to make money has to be concrete and for sure. Notice how I didn't list "taking surveys" as one of my ways to make up for the lost job money. If I was going to pay my rent on time every month, I needed a concrete money maker that gave me what my 9 to 5 didn't: Time Control and Flexibility. That's what I wanted and couldn't have but with this half-ass plan, I seen it possible.

Because I didn't have a car, I had to do my research on the whole Lyft thing. I discovered a lot of services but decided to just go with the Lyft Express program where you rent a car and drive to pay it off and make some bread. This worked for me so I implemented it into my plan. Truth be told, the rental is kinda pricey and I don't have experience driving people around but that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, this could work I thought. So I signed up, got approved, and my plan was a go. My music doesn't make the shiniest penny just yet but with me having the car, it makes it so much easier to make it to shows (that may pay sometimes), collabs, events, and studio sessions on time. No more relying on LA's Metro smh lol.

Along with Lyft, I knew that my with commission work, my song writing, and my general hustle to go and get it, I'd be okay. In the words of Daniel Lugo (from Pain & Gain. It's a movie, go watch it somewhere), I'm a doer so when I set out to "do", I do. Feel me? So after a little 4 day weekend break lmao, I got to it.

When I wake up now, I have daily plans and goals. I write them in my pocket notebook & also on this big piece of paper on my wall that I taped up. There's always something to accomplish if I did my part in finding opportunities for work. For instance, the other day, I finished a song for an artist who paid me $65 (Shut up, we can't all be Quentin Miller lol), I drove Lyft and made like $150, a friend reached out to me to help him shoot his music video for $100 ($50 that day, $50 once finished), and I had some character design commissions lined up too. hat's damn near $300 in a day & these were all things that I had set in place for myself in some way in the past.

"How does it feel?"

I thought you'd never ask. In all honesty, it feels amazing. But let me break that down to you because it's deeper than that really. It feels good because I got what I asked for and plotted on for so long. With that being said, I haven't worked less at all since leaving my job. In fact, I've worked much more. I've been sleeping less and almost always really busy so the workload has actually increased. That's not a complaint though because I work more than I did but the work I do now means more to me than the work I did then, if that makes sense.

As a result of my actions, the consequences include unpredictable days, uncertainty of finances, little to no naps, growth of creativity, growth in knowledge of one's self, growth in determination, growth in the ability to plan and adjust, growth in the ability to fail and learn, growth in the ability to get back up and keep fighting, self betterment, new ideas, realistic self expectations, growth in the ability to not only create goals but to also accomplish them, and many more to follow I presume.

Now let me take a second to show you some differences between having a 9 to 5 and making your money day to day around working on your crafts and passions.

You no longer get your money in lump sum every other week. You're now going to be making trickles of money every day, here and there, in different ways. The more skills you have at your arsenal, the better. As a rapper, the lump sums used to help because I'd buy my beats and fund my ideas in like one day. But now, I have to be smart and save up for my ideas and rapper investments.

Also, no more splurging. Because your money doesn't come in lump sum, splurging suddenly doesn't feel smart anymore. With me, I get to feeling like, "you know what.. I worked really hard for this money, I don't wana just spend it all in a snap like I used to". So in result, my money stretches wayy further than it ever did. I remember days where I'd spend damn near $200 in a couple swipes. Now, I've gone a week on literally $50 at times. And it's like, you could spend your money as you get it but it's just not smart. You'll be working triple just to make it back and then some.

With that being said, without my 9 to 5, I've noticed that I'm broke less. When I used to get my paychecks, I'd spend them up and would be broke in week or whatever. Then I'd have to tough it out until my next paycheck (A WEEK LATER, sometimes damn near two!!! smh). But now, I've peeped that I hardly go a day without at least a few dollars in my pocket for food and such. I feel like, because I work so hard for my money now, I appreciate it much more. Plus, with you having opportunities to make money every day, you can bounce back at any moment.

Lastly, no cap. When your earning your money day to day, there's no cap on how much you can make. At a 9 to 5, your check is your check. Sometimes you'll make more or less but because your pay is hourly and most companies won't allow you to exceed a certain amount of hours, you have an income cap. Making your money day to day around working on your crafts and passions has no income cap and so you could make who knows how much in one day, there's nobody stopping you.

So on a day to day basis, I do my self justice by hunting down opportunities for myself. Maybe it won't make me money that same day but remember, money is money and If you stand where it fall, eventually you'll catch some. Just figure out where it's falling and put yourself in the position to be able to catch it.

Between Lyft and all the other things I do to catch the moneys, I pay my bills and everything ends up okay. In fact, I make the same amount of money I did at my job (sometimes more) but it was never about the money for me. Once again, it was always about Time Control and Flexibility so that I could work on my craft, my art, & my music when I wanted.

So all in all, it's been crazy, believe me. In just 2 months, so much happened in my life as a result of leaving my job but it just felt like the cost of freedom in my mind and so nothing has yet to phase me. Shit happens when you're just rolling with the punches in life that would make anyone tap out and regret their decision, trust. But this is what I signed up for. I prepared to battle this beast and so the fight isn't over until it's over. The craziest part about it all, of course I go through the downs and ups just like everyone else but I've noticed that this has been the happiest decision I've made in a long time. Allow me to quote myself from earlier: "When you truly truly want change and believe in the possibility of that change coming to past and bettering your life, NOTHING should be able to stop you from making that happen." - Flythe. Go make it happen, whatever that may be. You have no limits.

P.S As long as you have a solid plan and determination, everything is going to be alright. Get to understand your situation and that, when you're planning to do something risky for the betterment of your life: Everything isn't going to go smooth all the time. If you pray for rain, you have to deal with the mud.

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