Do you Swim with Sharks?

Written by @PresidentElla

            If you don’t believe in me now, watch when I get rich. I’m gonna have you in the basement like a chopa,” a maid, I told her. My mom has the best sense of humor because only the most vulgar shit makes her crack a smile.  My household was the epitome of “tough love”, run by a single mother and my older brother, we shared plenty love and little emotion. My brother, who is 11 years my senior, was nicknamed “Jest” because he would make a joke of anything, as can I. But just like him, when I mean business, I mean it from  top to bottom, open to close. When I enter a room, I enter it with a smile, like my brother used to. What I’ve also learned is that when I’m pissed off, it’s pasted on my face just like it used to be on his. For that reason, I try to keep as calm as possible — I can’t hide my emotions. I try my best to be numb as I can so that I’m not taken out of my zone every time things don’t go as expected. I’m a product of the people who raised me. My mother is a hard worker with a calm demeanor, my bother was joker with a mean temper and my sister is pretty and smart with a bad attitude (who also had drawers full of everything I wanted behind the door to her room which had a DO NOT ENTER sign drawn on it in permanent marker). This is who I am — bred from a species of independent animals who will bite you head off. That’s why I am making (and will continue to make) strides in both the corporate world and the music industry. If you have not noticed, yes, I swim very well with sharks and if you watch me, you can learn how. 

         “What can I do to help you,” he said, but he really meant, how can I get in those panties. “Give me the mic” is my standard response but people never believe me. If I want to get into a showcase, I can afford it. I would rather not have to pay my way into everything, but mosttimes, that’s the way it is and that’s what I was referring to when KD the Rebel interviewed me for The Kind Indeed.  As I got on the train this morning to head into my 9-5, a woman stood next to the turnstile, irritated that no one would swipe her in. But every ride is $2.75 and a monthly pass is $114. If I have to pay my way, why don’t you have to pay yours? We never really know how much work a person has put in until you sit them down and ask them. People years of work to be an overnight celebrity.  Jay-Z  first stepped into the booth with Jaz-O when he was 15, but ddidnt release Reasonable Doubt until he was 26. Similarly, Jay and Dame still needed Biggs to fund Rocafella. 

         Sometimes the sacrifices are monetary, sometimes it’s just the time that you have to dedicate in being present. Sometimes, it’s your pride. Now… I’d never tell anyone to bow down to anyone else, but what I mean is that sometimes, our own character or pride can get in the way from our getting to where we need to be. I don’t like to beg or ask anyone for help, so when I show up to a showcase, if they don’t call my name, I’ll wait until they do. If they never call my name, I never fuck with them again. Simple *shrugs*. But that’s where I need to understand my strengths and weaknesses (which is a key to swimming with sharks and flying with vultures). There are just some things I am not going to do; I need to find alternatives to my struggles or help with them. I need to find people or methods to help me deal with the struggles, if I can’t change myself. 

Ella performs at Blackthorn for the H2O Music "Queens Gets the Money" Concert. Photo by  @Str8FromTheGuttaElla performs at Blackthorn for the H2O Music "Queens Gets the Money" Concert. Photo by  @Str8FromTheGutta

Ella performs at Blackthorn for the H2O Music “Queens Gets the Money” Concert. Photo by @Str8FromTheGutta

        The alignments you make can and will change the direction of your life; different people have different keys to different doors. These music showcases are all the same, until they’re not. If you’re just starting, you wait all night to perform for whatever reason. The more well-known artists get to perform first, or at primetime, or as soon as they walk through the door — it takes time to earn that time. I think I’m too patient because I understand that. I don’t like to have to walk on stage and argue with DJs about set times. I like my name to be called and my tracks to be ready to play. I would also like a film team to catch me from a billion angles but (while I have the budget for some things) I don’t have the budget for that. So here I am, quiet and unsigned, trying to get famous. But, I have the answers.

       The key is to continue to be consistent and earn the recognition of the other sharks first. The actual animal, a shark, is not a bad animal, it just has real sharp teeth and if you’re not another shark, it recognizes you as food. And that’s the way it goes in any industry. At first, it is what you know… and then it becomes who you know. I have faith that greatness is undeniable as is mediocrity. Regardless of which one I am, I hope someone tells me the truth. 

       So, I’m waiting to perform, right…. and the night is almost over, and in comes the main female act — another female rapper. No shade, she was dope but… i was supposed to go on before her. Still, she wanted to go on before me. As I stood around with my lean and mean team of supporters, I debating taking my cash back and heading home. But when there’s a mic in the room… It’s hard for me to break away. I also valued the time and effort of those with me. I mean… they even helped me switch from my Louboutins to my Jordans when I was faking like I wanted to leave (I was just frustrated). But what I never want to do is be overly, frustrated because it ruins my entire mood for the night and throws my focus off. Point proven is that I agreed to have her perform before me and I surely enjoyed her show. But when it was my turn, my mind was thinking so many things (mostly about how Grafh is next and this makes me his opening act so the pressure is on), I messed up when I started. Luckily I’ve got my own DJ now (s/o to Pudge) so he  granted me some courage and spun it back from me… but that’s the reality of swimming with sharks;  you might not eat. You never know when a shark is going to strike, they hunt all day long. And there’s always that Jaws theme music playing in the background to try to distract you.  That’s the hustler’s spirit. The hunter’s spirit. You have to recognize yourself as being about the influences; to swim with sharks you cannot allow the others to see you as prey. That’s why I get on these stages. That’s why I swim with the sharks and fly with the vultures. I’m trying to eat, too.

Anyhow.. as usual… these are just my thoughts… just what I’m feeling at the time… more videos below.

Enjoy & Stay tuned

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