Chapter 5 – Shine your light

“Shine your light and make a positive impact on the world; there is nothing so honourable as helping improve the lives of others.”

Roy T Bennett

It was my time to shine, the act before me was going into their last verse. This was our big break; opening up for KRS One, the venue is the Thekla in Bristol. The Thekla is a cargo boat and stationed in the Mud Dock area of Bristols floating Harbour. Was it coincidence that at the point where slaves were brought into England was now the venue for the children of slaves to entertain? KRS was one of my favourite rappers but this time I wanted to outdo him. The night before we were the opening act of three, KRS liked our set and asked if we could go just before them. I sat in the dressing room in silence; I was focusing on what I had to do. I was going over again and again through the perfect set. The venue was packed, the boat moving with the water, back and forth like a metronome. The ceiling was low and wet, the crowd waiting to be rocked. The MC introduced us and the crowd went nuts, I strolled out confidently and all I could smell was the water. Our backing track began to play and I started to spit my verse. As I rhymed I moved from side to side, I was feeling this. I looked up and the whole crowd bar none were moving with me. A human metronome causing the whole crowd to move with me and in turn the whole boat rocked. For the fifteen minutes the set lasted this was the peak of my climb. I left the stage so pumped up. It got even better when KRS called me out for his finale, yeah I was shining. Top of the pops had nothing on this. After the show we all went out to eat KRS didn’t say much but he did say, you guys are dope. “I loved what you guys did tonight; you gotta come to the Bronx.” “For real, I’d love to.” He was no longer this hip hop icon he was my peer and it felt good. We touched fists and then conversation drifted back to what it usually did. The girls in the crowd, we could spot the needle in the haystack, like we had a sixth sense.

My friends often told me that I would shine with the microphone in my hand; I was in my element. Some people are called to teach, some to play sport, some to act, I was skilled in verse. We are all destined for something and part of the journey we are on is discovering our calling. We all have a skill set we have been blessed with. Many never get the backing needed to ride the storms and deal with the failures they suffer along the way. Failure is a stepping stone to success. I always take inspiration from people who use failure as a Launchpad to succeed. We weren’t made to hide our gifts, we are the crown of creation we are designed to shine. My talent is God’s gift to me and how I use it is my gift to God. The things we are passionate about are not random, they are our calling.

“Shine your light, shine it bright.
Gonna get hype, gonna get hype.
In the darkness watch us glow.
When trouble come’s watch us grow.
Watch my flow, watch it watch it.
Unu listen but you can’t de-code it.
Standing firm like a pillar.
Wisdom winner strength I figure.
Free world, do you wanna enter?
In the centre, Spiritual mentor.
Gonna breath till theirs no breath left.
Gonna step from the rep with a clean intellect.
It be the Free world keep it in check.
I’m gonna shine bright no time left.
Wanna get hype, wanna get hype.
Out of the darkness into the light”.

I realised that we had to leave a trail, so others can follow. When I was a kid and they asked me what I wanted to be, my answer could have been anything from an Astronaut to a Footballer. Today there is a poverty of aspiration and this generation has no great dream. In the shadow of greed you will always find poverty. I strived to succeed, but true success would mean that my children are fulfilling their dreams. It was time to pass on the baton, to inspire a generation to be all they could be. It was time to transfer what I got from those who went before me; I had to transmit the vision from my heart to my verse. I had spent my time as a rhymer inspiring people I didn’t know. I would perform to the best of my ability so they could enjoy the night’s festivities. I wanted the Deejays to play my songs; I wanted them to be appreciated. I was a rapper with a Beanie hat and Double Goose jacket. I had the phat trainers and the attitude to go with it. Now I wanted to leave a mark on people, similar to a branding iron. I wanted to leave an imprint upon the hearts of those who heard me rhyme. I would get so disappointed when people would say good flow; it was always about the message for me. Some people would say I loved that beat but the rhyming was weak. For me it was a total package, the beat enhanced the rhyme and they both complement each other.

“Outta sight and outta the night.
Gotta aim high gotta get hype.
Gotta get by gotta let fly.
Gotta earn it not gonna get a bligh.
And work it too.
Bring what you got what you got bring it through.
I’m never ever gonna fade.
Show what you got and then get it laid.
You gotta show your potential.
Customize it come with the essentials.
It’s gonna take heart.
Releasing your gift is kind of an art.
The right kind of start with the right kind of flow.
Gives the right kind of glow from the right kind of pro.
It’s time to ignite.
Shine your light”.

To make it in life talent is not enough; you got to have the character and work ethic to back it up. Every day, even when encouragement was not forthcoming you have to keep going. When the odds are stacked in against you, don’t give up or give in. If you do your best, then that is good enough.

“Time to release and increase the tempo.
Do what you do best, then you got to let go.
To the get go, got to get yours.
No matter how hard leave it all on the floor.
We all got talent.
Don’t hold back make something happen?
Find the strength from within.
It’s where your gift dwells and where you begin.
Never stop at you can’t.
Never say no like a seed I got to plant.
It’s like a race and you got to hit the line.
No time for a negative style.
The sign a mind that is active.
Active to get it on so step to the positive.
Crew you once knew on a dope tip.
Still on a dope tip, so now you want to get with it”.

On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb to the summit on Mt. Everest. At 29,035 feet, you are at the tallest point on earth. However, he didn’t achieve this accomplishment in his first attempt. In fact, in 1952 a few weeks after a failed attempt, he was addressing a group of people in England. During his talk, he walked to the edge of the platform, made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice, “Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow… but I’m still growing!” He knew that his personal growth of knowledge and skill would inevitably lead to overcoming the mountain itself. How high can you climb? Have you ever considered the fact that everything ever accomplished once held the title, “Never been done”? One of the reasons I love sports so much is that World Records are set all the time. When a new record is set, somebody raises the standard. At times we have to work hard not to let our own limitations dictate to us. The past doesn’t need to determine who you are or what you can do. You are still here and as long as you have breath there is hope.

If you want to change the past, change today. Because, today will be tomorrow’s past. Your past failures do not make you personally a failure, they are just stepping stones. In fact, it’s often said, “The road of success is paved with failure.” Everything ever invented, every record ever set, every problem ever solved was by somebody who decided that the ‘impossible’ is ‘possible’. Don’t let what others do limit you? Somebody needs to be the first. Why not you? Why not now? See the end, invite your imagination into the process. See it, believe it then you can work towards it.

Consider the words of Gentleman Jim Corbett:
“Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the center of the ring, fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish that your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round – remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped.”

At many times I have thought about giving up and assigning my dreams to remain as dreams. But I have been inspired to fire at various times in my life. This quote always gives me strength and focus to shine my light. It’s not in my DNA to quit. Always remember if you don’t give up your still in the game. This resonated with me and in me.

“Someone in your ancestral line survived being chained to other human bodies for several months in the bottom of a disease infested ship during the middle passage, lost their language, customs and traditions, picked up the English language as best they could while working for free from sun up to sundown as they watched babies sold out of the arms of their mothers and women raped by ruthless slave owners.

Given first names but no last names, no birth certificates, no heritage of any kind, braved the Underground Railroad, survived the civil war to enter into sharecropping. Learned to read and write out of sheer determination. Faced the cross burnings of the kkk, reverted their eyes from the black bodies swinging from the trees. Fought in world wars to return to America as boys, marched in Birmingham, hosed in Selma, jailed in Wilmington, assassinated in Memphis, segregated in the south, ghettoised in the north, ignored in history books, stereotyped in Hollywood, and in spite of it all someone in your family endured every era to make sure you would get here and you receive one rejection, face one obstacle, lose one friend, get overlooked and you want to quit? You will never know what it took to survive from generation to generation so you could succeed. Don’t you dare let them down.”

Author unknown

Men and women survived the horrors of slavery, the holocaust. Stripped of everything and yet still able to see beyond their condition and build towards a better future. True dreamers who in the midst of their oppression dreamed of freedom. What price has been paid so that I could shine. I can’t take it lightly, my freedom to choose has come at a price. I choose to be the best version of me and I’m willing to be changed in the process.

A man met a guru in the road. The man asked the guru – ‘Which way should I go to achieve success?’
The robed, bearded sage said nothing, but he pointed to a place in the distance.
The man, thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, rushed in the appropriate direction. Suddenly, there came a loud ‘Splat.’
Soon, the man limped back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message. He repeated his question to the guru. ‘Which way should I go to achieve success?’ The guru again pointed silently in the same direction.
The man obediently walked off once more. This time the ‘splat’ was deafening. When the man crawled back, he was bloody, broken, tattered, and irate.
‘I asked you which way I should go to achieve success,’ he screamed at the guru.
‘I followed the direction you gave me, and all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Talk!’
Only then did the guru speak. What he said was: ‘Success is that way. Just a little past splat.’

Author Unknown

A man met a guru in the road. The man asked the guru – ‘Which way should I go to achieve success?’
The robed, bearded sage said nothing, but he pointed to a place in the distance.
The man, thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, rushed in the appropriate direction. Suddenly, there came a loud ‘Splat.’
Soon, the man limped back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message. He repeated his question to the guru. ‘Which way should I go to achieve success?’ The guru again pointed silently in the same direction.
The man obediently walked off once more. This time the ‘splat’ was deafening. When the man crawled back, he was bloody, broken, tattered, and irate.
‘I asked you which way I should go to achieve success,’ he screamed at the guru.
‘I followed the direction you gave me, and all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Talk!’
Only then did the guru speak. What he said was: ‘Success is that way. Just a little past splat.’
Author Unknown