One Lesson That All Creators Can Learn from Kanye
The Jeen-yuhs docuseries released on Netflix last week has given us an inside, behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest hip-hop careers of all time.
Coodie Simmons began filming Kanye before he was known by anyone outside of Chicago and captured the most historic moments in his illustrious career.
In an interview with Sway, Coodie revealed that their team of editors worked for 2 years to put the documentary together as he'd been filming Kanye for over 10 years. (I wonder how many hard drives were used throughout the whole process)
It's reported that the 3-part series was sold for $30 million to Netflix, but many people on the team have claimed that the number is inaccurate.
Nonetheless, the documentary showed what it's like to be an unknown creator who has a belief in their own work, but hasn't yet been recognized by those who can help elevate their career (for Kanye, this was a music label).
Kanye was on a mission to prove to the industry that he was more than just a producer. He wanted to release his own music and be known as a rapper and an artist - much like many up & coming creators want to be recognized for their content and creations.
He barged into Roc-A-Fella records to play the now classic "All Falls Down" in hopes of getting signed so he could release the also now classic, "The College Dropout" album.
He had unwavering confidence in his abilities but through all of the work and passion, my biggest takeaway - and something I believe every creator can learn from - is this:
He never stopped producing beats for other artists
His early career was fueled by making beats and producing songs and albums for other artists.
However, because there were gatekeepers for him to have a shot at becoming a rapper (music labels), he had to keep producing to pay bills and live his life.
I relate this to creators who haven't reached a point in their career where they can be full time and they currently do freelance work, have a 9-5, or perform other services outside of their content creation to make money while pursuing their creative career.
I think we exist in a time where it's so easy to see other people blow up or succeed that we get down on ourselves because we haven't "made it" yet.
For Kanye, he didn't have the transparency into other rapper's lives that social media now provides. He was head down because he loved his craft and didn't care what other people were doing. He was focused on getting better and had a relentless approach to getting his music heard by the people who could put him on.
Kanye's confidence is unmatched and I think every creator can learn from this instance: if you truly want the career or life that you're working towards, it's not always going to be easy, you'll most likely have to work on the side to fund your life until you break through, and nobody else is going to believe in your work as much as you - it's your job to sell people on your story and your creative efforts.
Nobody's going to do it for you.