Be Yourself

Photo by James Killeen taken in Hamburg, Germany in October, 2018.
This image became the artwork for my debut EP ‘Be Yourself’.
The visual for the title track can be found here:
https://youtu.be/G8bquswiNWs

When you were a child, think of all of the things you wanted to be or do… are you doing them? Have you done any of them? Do you put things in motion for you to achieve these things, or have they been forgotten about as “life” takes over?

I don’t like to generalise, but I think when we were younger we probably all had at least something we were passionate about. It could have been football and maybe you still play with mates a couple of times a week and that’s enough. That’s great! It could have been art and design, or music. Do you still work on those passions as “hobbies” or have they been left due to work/family commitments and all of the other things that come with “adult life”?

As you are probably aware by now I’ve always been into sports and training but that is entirely from an active, participating stand point. I have zero desire to be a spectator of sport. I watch the odd big boxing or MMA fight, especially if it’s a fighter I like. I enjoy the athletics when they’re on, gymnastics too and I am partial to a Wimbledon final during the summer. But other than that I really couldn’t care less. I don’t watch football, I don’t even follow it and I can’t get my head around why people spend their lives putting so much emotion into a team that really doesn’t care about them. But those people think I’m weird too so that’s cool.

My main passion is, and always has been, music. I played the piano as a child until my early teens and I then started rapping into my mid-teens, which carried on into my early twenties. I had a passion for language. Rhyming it became an obsession. I would sit in my room every night constructing lyrics that rhymed 6, 7, 8 syllables perfectly with one another whilst making sense and including punch-lines which bordered on the verge of creatively insane. It gave me life. Performing the new bars to my mates on the park or any other of the spots we used to congregate was all that it was about. If you spat the same bars as last week you weren’t worth listening to. The goal was to have something fresh every time this happened, which could be every day. It was lyrical sparring, a raw passion and competitive drive to have a better 16 than the next man. We lived for it. Most new guys these days missed that era. It’s all studio music now. Which inevitably is great but they miss those vital training years of pure, unfiltered energy and a desire to come out on top. I have witnessed this myself when some of these guys quiver and shake when asked to spit a freestyle over a beat in front of people. For us that’s second nature. It’s what we do! I can’t say the same for them.

I fell off a bit for a range of reasons at about 22/23, but as I re-built my life, I realised something was missing. The thing that had always given me the most enjoyment in life, bar none, was no longer a part of me. I had essentially given up. Initially through a lack of passion due to being in a very bad place mentally, and then by working on myself and becoming more “responsible” I began to believe that my time doing music was over and it didn’t “go-with” my new way of life.

I was a Sports Coach in Primary Schools. As an employee of education, you have to accept that certain behaviours are not OK. You should be completely private where social media is concerned, which doesn’t bode well for a music career, and you shouldn’t be seen publically doing anything which doesn’t set a good example for the children you teach, or represent the place you work in a good way.

My old music was very raw and reflected a crazy time in my life. It was honest, it was real, but it was what I can only describe as “rags”. It certainly didn’t meet the criteria above of what’s expected of an employee in education. So when I started this job, after a scare of some of my old music being seen/heard by some pupils and their parents, I got everything I had released, that of which I could, removed from the internet. I was fairly lucky as most of it had been put out by one of my best friends. A few things stayed up but for the most part it was all gone. It was a hard choice, it felt wrong, but I was scared of losing my job that I had worked very hard for and I had to make what I thought was a “grown-up” decision. That was to turn my back on music. I was a P.E. Teacher now.

I’m not going to say that decision was wrong because at that exact moment in my life, it was 100 per cent the right thing to do. But as a year or so (maybe longer) went by, I was really lacking something in my life: Passion, drive, desire! That reason to really keep going despite how bad I felt some days.

In June 2017 I was introduced to a guy I knew as a Manchester veteran in music at a friend’s birthday meal, Virus Syndicate’s JSD. My friend then announced I could rap, and rap well, to which Jay invited me to come down to his studio if I ever fancied it. I said “I don’t really do it anymore but nice one”. I did, I still wrote now and again, I had just stopped showing people and putting anything out there. However during the summer of that year, being off from work for 6 weeks, I took him up on that offer. Here is the result of that session:

The visual obviously came a lot later but the audio is pretty much exactly how it was created during that first session. Within a week I had contacted Jay again and booked 10 hours studio time to work on more stuff. My vision was a 6 track EP. I thought if I make that, I would have achieved something and could go on with my life knowing I gave something a go. I will never forget Jay’s words to me, “We could make 6 tracks, or we could make 20 bangers, let’s just get in and work and worry about the rest later”.

This guy has become my brother. He is so dedicated to his passion that it’s contagious and I very much caught it too. He reignited a spark in me that had died through the pressures and pains of life and through the re-building of my life and believing that my time was done and best left in the past. He made me believe in myself again. I hadn’t done that in a long time. He made me believe I was good enough, something which only one other person had done during my turbulent years, he’s J. Killeen, the creative director to all my music videos, those are the people you need around you. They believed in me when I didn’t, and thank God they did because I am now in a place where I undoubtedly believe it too.

The music I make today can still have “rags” elements. For a while I couldn’t hone in too much on my past life as it took me back there and I struggled mentally to detach from it when I went too close. Now I am in a place where I can go there, float in the atmosphere of how it was, creatively paint that picture through lyrics, and come back to the here and now without it weighing me down. That is pure magic! There is no stronger therapy for me than that. I use it as that. As a therapeutic exercise, to display the grind and growth which has got me to where I am now, and will hopefully take me to where I’m going next.

My music today carries a message I believe to be the most important message in the Universe.

BE YOURSELF!

I am a PE Teacher in a Primary School, for the last 4 years I have been studying to be a counsellor who specialises in therapy for young people, I am a training enthusiast, a man of God (I try), I guess I am now a blogger and I am most definitely a rapper! Many people will say almost all of those things don’t “go-with” being a rapper. But here I am. My music is all about growth and pursuing your passions. It was tough for a while and I didn’t know what would happen when my work found out about my music as you can’t have a private account when you’re trying to get your music out there and every child these days watches YouTube by the hour. However I grew to accept that, as an artist, I am promoting that you must do in life what makes you happy. Music is my passion, and for me to not pursue that, in fear of losing my job, would be doing myself a huge disservice. I also believe that by keeping it real, and documenting the growth of my life, the message I carry is one of self-belief, positivity, humility and passion. I challenge anybody to tell me that that’s a message which will have a negative effect on children and young people.

I encourage everybody to be themselves. Do you. Do what makes YOU happy. Forget the people who will criticise, let them use their energy on criticising you. You use yours by doing something you love. I made that 6 track EP, along with multiple other singles, and I am now about to release my debut album. I’ll be continuing after that too. For me to give-up on something I love, based on not achieving “results”, would be going completely against the reason I started doing it again the first place. My mate Jim constantly reminds me of that. “Remember why you started again”. Providing I never lose track of that, why would I ever stop being who I am.

2 thoughts on “Be Yourself

  1. Blown away by Growing pains Rob!
    Love the piano track you’ve done and the passion with which you delivered ya message. Just brilliant. Great video to. Overall mega impressed by ya work. Love ya bloggs too. You go Rob. You’re passion shows and you’ve got real talent. Hope this road takes you to a place you’re happy with. You shud be really proud of yaself. I’m sure ya Mum& Dad are proud of the journey you’re on. Well done you! Very inspiring for other young people. Xx

    Like

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