The journey to reaching the top of the food chain is long and strenuous. It’s not something that everyone can handle, mentally and psychically speaking.
That sound familiar? Well it should, as you might have heard or read it somewhere; especially if you’re an up and coming artist. You’re not alone. The path an artist walks, runs nearly parallel with the path some anime characters have taken. Yes, anime. We’ll be using that as today’s example to illustrate the road to the top. Let’s stick with two well known anime in Dragonball Z (DBZ) and Naruto.
Growth: Just imagine for one second, one minuscule second, Goku stopped training after defeating Vegeta. You think he would have stood a chance against Frieza? Rhetorical question. Well it’s the same for any artist, not in this country, but in the world to constantly keep growing regardless of the victory. I’m also not just talking about growing musically, but personally as well. You can’t remain the same person, doing the same sound, with the same flow. You need to broaden your horizon. This leads us to mentors.
There’s no antagonist who hasn’t had a genius as a mentor. Goku for example had more than one. He learned something different from each one of them, like the Spirit Bomb from King Kai. That’s a technique Master Roshi could have never taught him. So why not as an artist or producer take a mentor. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you know personally. It could be someone who’s music touches you or someone who has a work ethic that you admire. You could watch them on YouTube, listen to their podcast or read up about them on Google.
Naruto and Sasuke started off with the same mentor, Kakashi. However it was always inevitable that they would seek new mentors as they had different objectives (they branched out to Jiraiya and Orochimaru respectively) . They each had something different to offer. It’s the same with artists and producers. You should branch out based on your objectives. Diversify your beat choice and travel from studio to studio to see which atmosphere works best for you. Learn how to DIY your career from Russ or take inspiration from the craft of an !llmind or Ryan Leslie and perfect it. You shouldn’t just learn from the mentor/s you have chosen, but you should surpass them much like Naruto and Sasuke eventually did.
The Final Fight
While far from a final fight, Rock Lee v Gaara is arguably the greatest fight in anime history. There’s nobody who’s worked harder than Lee, but in the in the end he couldn’t deliver against a much more powerful opponent. That’s something you need to avoid. You need to make sure all the work you put in off the mic, makes a huge impact when you step in front of it. You’ve spent weeks, months, perhaps even years perfecting what you have learned from those that came before and now you are ready to deliver, but are you really ready to deliver? Let’s say that you have generated a little buzz with a single you have released and you are now opening for someone like AKA. Let’s just say he likes the music that you are making and wants to collaborate with you. Would you be able to deliver a world class 16 in the heat of the moment? If he asked you to play a few more songs from your catalog would you be able to? If someone from his team looked you up online would they find a long history of hard work and good music or are you just going to be a flash in the pan? You’re going to need to have an extremely high work rate like someone with the ilk of a YoungstaCPT. A producer could find themselves in the same boat. Say you have produced a few radio singles for a few artist and Cassper Nyovest hears it and wants 50 beats ASAP. Do you as a producer have that many to send to Cassper right there on the spot? Think about that. Preparedness is what will differentiate you from a one hit wonder. Having a back catalog of solid projects or beats is paramount to an artist’s success.
The links between succeeding in the music industry and anime are there. You just have to look close enough. Find a mentor, learn from them, surpass them and then deliver when the time comes (think Naruto vs. Pain).