Hip Hop

You Know My Steez - My Why

Cincinnati, OH early 2000s
That makes me know that what we’re doing
We had the right idea in the beginning
And we just have to maintain our focus and Elevate
What we do is we update our formulas
We have certain formulas but we update them with the times
The rhyme style is elevated
The style of beats is elevated but it’s still GURU and Premier
And there’s always a message involved….
— GURU

This passage is the introduction to the title track You Know My Steez on Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth album and it perfectly summarizes how I’m feeling after the journey to put my idea into action --  the idea of building a personal financial advisory brand providing indie artists and creatives with palpable financial solutions. Receiving confirmation from the relationships that I’ve built lets me know that I had the right idea in the beginning.

You may be asking yourself: Why?

First of all, I want to continue to bring light to this album. The combination of GURU on the mic and DJ Premier on production is, in my opinion, the best duo to ever do it. The Moment of Truth is a timeless piece of art, which continues to provide me insight into my own life and this intro track lays out GURU’s WHY quite clearly for the album.

I’m also using this introduction as a way to introduce or re-introduce myself and my company, Elemental Financial and the Why behind the business.

I believe that when artists prosper, they can deliver more of their message to the world. So, I founded Elemental Financial to empower musicians and creatives to take ownership of their wealth potential through one-on-one financial coaching and customized financial planning and investment advice.

In February 2006 I stepped off of the stage at the Southgate House and felt an exhilaration like I had never felt before in my life. I had just performed a 30 minute set of spoken word poetry. I remember a father and his daughter approach me soon after and ask me where they could get a copy of my CD, and this was the first time I realized that my words had power -- that my words caused emotion in strangers. I had hosted poetry slams and performed single pieces on stage before but this was my first opportunity to showcase multiple pieces and put on a show. I remember writing with more fervor over the following weeks and realizing that this was what I was supposed to be doing. This was my calling.I performed only one other time after that evening. What happened?

While my passion was being exposed, my logical side was concentrated on starting a career, paying off debt, and taking care of bills. This onstage performance coincided with a promotion at a large asset management company that I started working for 6 months prior. The new role would lead me to tour across the country -- but instead of delivering poetry, I was conducting educational seminars for 401(k) participants and talking about asset allocation and preparing for retirement.

My notebooks changed drastically over this time. Notes from studying for multiple securities’ exams, the Level 1 CFA exam, CFP coursework and finally the CFP Exam took over my rhyme books.

For almost 10 years I navigated corporate wealth management. The birth of my oldest son was the push I needed to exit life on the road and start fresh. I became a stay at home dad and began to map out my plan to start an independent financial planning company that would serve younger generations.

We were living in Nashville, TN at this time and as I began to do market research and have conversations about my idea common themes presented themselves. Everyone I talked to was in some way associated with the music industry or was a creative, and they all had similar challenges: cash flow, variable income, tax planning, and having financial security so they could do more of what they loved. My light went off again - this is what I am supposed to be doing.

I didn’t grow up in a musical family but in a literary family. My mom was a children’s librarian so I was always fascinated with stories and once I heard the stories of the likes of Chuck D, KRS ONE, and GURU my love for Hip Hop was sparked.

I want to help you use money as a tool so you can do more of what you love and spend more time getting your message out to the world! You Know My Steez.

Work through worldly problems, I got the healing power
When the mic’s within my reach, I’m feeling more power
Stealing at least three minutes of every rap radio hour
It’s often easier for one to give advice
Then it is for a person to run one’s own life
— GURU

ALONGWAYTOGO

It’s a long way to go when you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know where you’re going when you’re lost. It’s a long way to go when you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know where you’re going when you’re lost
— GURU

Let’s be real. It’s a long way to go whether you know where you’re going or not.  ALONGWAYTOGO is the funky introduction to Hard To Earn, the third studio album by Gang Starr and it’s with this song that I’m beginning multiple posts that delve into the messages delivered by GURU and DJ Premier.

GURU stands for Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal and in this song he provides insight on the importance of having a vision and setting goals to get where you want to go.

Here’s the deal like Shaquille O’Neal if you don’t know what you’re doing how the hell can you be real?

What’s your vision? Put it down on paper, create a mind map, tell someone that will help you on your path. Get it out of your head and put it into physical format so you can see it. If you don’t know what to look for the odds are that you won’t find it. Create attainable goals towards this vision. With a vision and defined goals to reach this vision you will start to see the universe working to assist you along the path to reach your vision.

Now in '93, realistically you should be
Well aware of all the evils out there
It's like a jungle sometimes. You get the message?
You got to rumble sometimes, it's gettin hectic
Emotions run deep as times run out
Solutions, it's time to find some out

Turn off all the outside noise (social media, tv, any negativity) and make progress on YOUR goals. Now in 2018, we are well aware of the evils out there and I’m not saying don’t care, but you need to take control of how much you let the news cycle or your twitter feed suck your energy. Feed your mind with knowledge and make some type of progress on what matters, everyday. Consistency is key, and while you won’t see immediate results stay dedicated to making progress on the goals and the vision that you have laid out and your time will come.

A law giver, 'cause you shiver when I quiz ya
All about the real necessities of life
All about the game and all about the name
G to the A to the N to the G Starr
We know who we are, but do you know who you are?

Be yourself. Set a vision that makes you feel the most alive. People in your life won’t understand your vision because it isn’t theirs. They will doubt you, because they see life through their eyes and not yours. Uncover your “Why” and deliver it to the world and it is bound to resonate.

When you stay focused and pay your dues you will be prepared to face your Moment of Truth…

DJ Premier remarked on a tweet that I posted on the anniversary of the Hard To Earn album regarding the song ALONGWAYTOGO. As you can see things don’t always work exactly planned but your dedication and determination will be your poetic justice.

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Health, Wealth, and Knowledge of Yourself

I have been listening to the Hip Hop artist, KRS-ONE for the past 30 years and I finally took the opportunity to see him perform live and see him in conversation as part of the Moogfest in Durham, NC. After his conversation, KRS did something I should've expected from him but was still left in awe. He took time with every individual that came down to speak with him and he engaged with them on a very personal level. I got the chance to shake his hand and to express my gratitude for him and the messages in his music that has heavily influenced my life and helped shape me into the person that I have become. Whether it be my interest to study Egyptology or my decision to pursue my current passion through my venture Elemental Financial, KRS's lyrics and the music was in my ears helping me better understand myself and how I could use my gifts to Uplift. Our conversation was quick but it touched on the idea of wealth and thus brought me to think about the song  Health, Wealth, Self.   On the last song of his self-titled album, KRS-ONE tells us that he's not going to need anything else other than health, wealth, and knowledge of self. This has been an important mantra in my life since hearing this track in high school. Through the song, KRS provides  5 lessons for Emcee longevity , and as I hear these lessons now they can easily be substituted for any other career path as well as providing an understanding of Wealth.   1. "If it ain't fun you're done. If you don't like what you do - your through"  If you are pursuing your passion it should be driven by your love for what you are doing and will likely be shaped by your values. In terms of understanding wealth, we'll call this Cultural Capital.  2. "Make sure you've got a dope Crew" -  The relationships you build and those that you surround yourself with should not only have your back but should have your best interests at heart. To be a supreme being you'll want to surround yourself with others that are seeking to be supreme as well. Your Social Capital is another important aspect of understanding wealth.  3. "Emcees should have other ways of making money - Learn other things besides music, make money elsewhere that way Hip Hop you won't abuse it."  This lesson touches on Financial Capital, which is what we usually associate with wealth. Making money, having money, the numbers in our bank or retirement accounts. I love this contradictory message - KRS is telling emcee's that if you are doing this just to make money then you will lack longevity, so find other streams of revenue to allow your art to remain artistic.  4. "Sell your image never sell a record" -  In 2018 this is much more apparent than it was in 1995 when it was more prevalent to 'sell a record'. In the day of streaming,  fans are more interested in your brand, in your authentic self and are looking to engage with your art more than just spinning the physical format of your music. Here we are talking about Human Capital and for all of us, this provides us with our greatest wealth potential. Be you!  5. "The Illusion - What separates the Pro from the amateur is Stamina." I take this lesson to state two things.  1)Wealth is not measured by consumption, don't let the illusion of what you see promoted by the media and marketing influence your consumer behaviors. 2)To be a professional at whatever you do takes time, effort, practice, evolving with the times.      Longevity isn't measured at the beginning of your career and it isn't measured by how much money you make or how much money you have. It is measured and acknowledged by those that you have taught, by those that you have touched, it is measured by what you have created and the other leaders that have learned from your lessons.     Thank you Mother, I'm out....   Sign up for the 5th Element Blog

I have been listening to the Hip Hop artist, KRS-ONE for the past 30 years and I finally took the opportunity to see him perform live and see him in conversation as part of the Moogfest in Durham, NC. After his conversation, KRS did something I should've expected from him but was still left in awe. He took time with every individual that came down to speak with him and he engaged with them on a very personal level. I got the chance to shake his hand and to express my gratitude for him and the messages in his music that has heavily influenced my life and helped shape me into the person that I have become. Whether it be my interest to study Egyptology or my decision to pursue my current passion through my venture Elemental Financial, KRS's lyrics and the music was in my ears helping me better understand myself and how I could use my gifts to Uplift. Our conversation was quick but it touched on the idea of wealth and thus brought me to think about the song Health, Wealth, Self.

On the last song of his self-titled album, KRS-ONE tells us that he's not going to need anything else other than health, wealth, and knowledge of self. This has been an important mantra in my life since hearing this track in high school. Through the song, KRS provides 5 lessons for Emcee longevity, and as I hear these lessons now they can easily be substituted for any other career path as well as providing an understanding of Wealth. 

1. "If it ain't fun you're done. If you don't like what you do - your through"

If you are pursuing your passion it should be driven by your love for what you are doing and will likely be shaped by your values. In terms of understanding wealth, we'll call this Cultural Capital.

2. "Make sure you've got a dope Crew" -

The relationships you build and those that you surround yourself with should not only have your back but should have your best interests at heart. To be a supreme being you'll want to surround yourself with others that are seeking to be supreme as well. Your Social Capital is another important aspect of understanding wealth.

3. "Emcees should have other ways of making money - Learn other things besides music, make money elsewhere that way Hip Hop you won't abuse it."

This lesson touches on Financial Capital, which is what we usually associate with wealth. Making money, having money, the numbers in our bank or retirement accounts. I love this contradictory message - KRS is telling emcee's that if you are doing this just to make money then you will lack longevity, so find other streams of revenue to allow your art to remain artistic.

4. "Sell your image never sell a record" -

In 2018 this is much more apparent than it was in 1995 when it was more prevalent to 'sell a record'. In the day of streaming,  fans are more interested in your brand, in your authentic self and are looking to engage with your art more than just spinning the physical format of your music. Here we are talking about Human Capital and for all of us, this provides us with our greatest wealth potential. Be you!

5. "The Illusion - What separates the Pro from the amateur is Stamina." I take this lesson to state two things.  1)Wealth is not measured by consumption, don't let the illusion of what you see promoted by the media and marketing influence your consumer behaviors. 2)To be a professional at whatever you do takes time, effort, practice, evolving with the times. 

 

Longevity isn't measured at the beginning of your career and it isn't measured by how much money you make or how much money you have. It is measured and acknowledged by those that you have taught, by those that you have touched, it is measured by what you have created and the other leaders that have learned from your lessons.

 

Thank you Mother, I'm out....

Sign up for the 5th Element Blog