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The Road to Success

It’s interesting how success starts. More interesting than that is how we individual weigh success. I remember a fall morning in 1996. I was walking down Fernway in Shaker Heights, Ohio at 6am on a Wednesday delivering papers for The Sun Press. My mother must have been concerned about me cause it was cold and rainy. I saw her 96 Grand Prix creeping up on me but the music was so loud that I knew it couldn’t have been her. As the car approached the driver window slowly rolled down and my brother told me that he was going to trail me while I did my route. I had no clue what he was listening to but I liked what I was hearing. After completing my route I got in the car and we rolled around before going home. It wasn’t often that he got to drive my parents car because he had just got his drivers license that summer so he took advantage of the opportunity. I asked him who is this that we’re listening to and he replied:

"Jay-Z, you know who this is!"

I pondered…..

He said “the guy on Biggie’s album.”

I looked confused…..

He said “the guy who was in that Big Daddy Kane video with ODB when they’re outside rhyming.”

I really looked confused….

He said “the guy in the Hawaiian Sophie Video with Jaz-O they use to play back in the day”

I was ready to give up….

He said “you know him, he’s the guy with Foxy Brown in his new video!”

Then it connected! I thought that was Foxy Brown’s song but turns out is was Jay-Z. Had I read the video call I would’ve known that. I remember the first time I saw the video I didn’t see it from the beginning and drew my conclusion that it was her record.

I was intrigued by this Jay-Z album “Reasonable Doubt” and borrowed my brothers cassette tape and wore it out.

Looking back on this moment it’s crazy to see all the places he pulled from to get me to recognize who Jay-Z was. His point was I knew him, I just didn’t realize it. In 1996 Jay-Z put out his first rap album but who knew him prior to that? Who knew him in 1996? Initially I didn’t. He starting rapping in 1989 and 7 years later he put out his first album on his own label after being signed to a major label who failed to work a previous single the way he saw fit. Him along with two of his friends left that label to form Roc-A-Fella Records and began a journey.

Who were fans of Jay-Z before 1996? Who was inspired by Jay-Z before 1996? Who was Jay-Z before 1996?

I believe before 1996 Jay-Z’s fans were his friends. I believe his friends were inspired by him and he was inspired by them. I believe Jay-Z was a dreamer who saw a vision and learned after signing with a major label and letting them control his destiny for a short period of time to his disliking, he decided to control his own destiny and parted ways with people that couldn’t see what he saw. The great thing about all of that is I know for a fact that Jay-Z couldn’t see who he would be in 2013 in 1994 when him and his friends started Roc-A-Fella Records. That alone is the incredible part of dreaming and believing in oneself…..

The unknown that awaits you…….

Becoming more than you ever thought you’d be…..

Watching your dream become bigger than yourself….

Watching your dream plant seeds for other dreams you have as well as the dreams of others…

My friends inspire me. You might not know who they are but I do. They have these amazing dreams that they’re working on everyday. When I talk to Scooda and he’s telling me he’s close to getting his invention out to the world and has investors in Japan I’m inspired. I was there with him in Los Angeles in 2008 when he told me he was getting a patent on this idea he had. When I hear that Ayah is in culinary art school in bay area after years of knowing how great of a cook she is and finally taking the next step I’m inspired. When I see Chris deliver his first novel “Shadow Precinct” for the world to read and spoke with him yesterday and he’s already completed follow up and is working on a short story I’m inspired. When I received Tanekeya’s Neon V magazine in the mail and attended the release party to see a packed house of supporters I was inspired. I remember when it was just an idea. When I talk to Shannon and see her working daily on the lounge she’s opening and her growth as a photographer and entrepreneur I’m inspired. When I watch Curtis program drums and create music that only he can make I’m inspired. When I see Malik pick up his bass and play so effortless I am inspired. When my mother makes quilts and gives them to me I’m inspired. I remember when she joined the quilt club. When I see Anthony being a think tank for Nike, one of the most powerful brands in the world I’m inspired. I’m a fan of my friends and I have no clue what all of them will become within this world. Perhaps they’ll be as big as Jay-Z or maybe they won’t but they’ll be as big as themselves and that is incredible to me.

We don’t know what will become of our dreams but we’re working towards them and that’s where all of us are successful….

That’s where the road to success begins...