In a particular scene of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is conversing with some eccentrics after having been propelled by a cyclone into a strange territory, a land of foreign, yet blooming earth. Dorothy, when told of the City of Emeralds where the Great Wizard is, (as he is her only hope of returning home) decides to take the leap. How can I get there? she asks. You must walk, replies the good witch, the Witch of the North. It is a long journey through a country that is sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible.
If youll permit this writer a moment of sentimentality, this is not unlike the way I feel about hip hop. It often feels like a dark, foreign land, a land of which I want no part.
But there is a thing called conviction, an awful mess of a thing that can also be described, when in tune with the spirit realm, as wonderful. You see, a man (or a Dorothy) on a mission finds it more bearable than most to dismiss cynics, naysayers. Conviction has a way of straightening ones path, a path adorned with obstacles and an ever-present darkness, darkness which seems to swallow anything that is not prepared to confront it, like Oz.
If hip hop, as a culture, is anything like Oz, the motivation to do good, meaningful work, work that will impact even the darkest corners of its breaking space, should be a huge motivation for those involved in it.
Ive heard it said that most genius do their greatest work before the age of 26 (John Calvin, Albert Einstein). And while this can easily be described as hogwash, you secretly wonder. You wonder if good work (artful literature, beautiful music, world-altering technology) can even be accomplished in a place where this is no conflict, no darkness. The realities of a fallen world, I contend, are what truly motivate one to create something beautiful out of a void.
– What is your Oz?
– What are you doing, creatively, to impact it?
– How has your journey changed you?