The One’s to Watch in 2013
This is not a hate blog, or an attempt at getting some cheap publicity. This is a reclamation of sorts. You see, on Friday September 21st 2012 Niko and I attended a private VIP Party for an event that was held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 22nd. The party was nice. We mingled and met many like-minded people who are striving to be their best selves through music and entertainment. The VIP party was the pre-party for the Canadian Urban Music Conference. We managed to get some tickets at the last minute so we decided to go. I wasn’t at all “prepared” to go mingle with industry cats, but I figured charisma, a couple live demonstrations of what I can do, and the courage to approach people with flare would be much better than having a demo and a business card. I guess instilling that belief was just my way of dealing with the hard facts.
Hard facts? Yes the hard facts. The HARD FACTS are:
1. I don’t have a cd
2. I don’t have business cards
3. I don’t have a following of fans
4. I don’t have jack shit
But, as I said previously, I have charisma, skills, and confidence in my art. Niko and I did what we usually do when we arrived. We smiled and said hello to everyone we made eye contact with. As the night progressed we realized there were people there that we had already met at previous events so it was nice to catch up with other acquaintances.
Now lets fast forward through that night, to the next day…..
The next day was a whole other world. The conference itself was huge. There were so many industry cats. It was exciting to be surrounded by the energy that the Canadian music scene had to provide. We arrived a little late, but it was all good. When we went into the conference room there was an A&R, a Manager, and a Record Executive on the panel. In the audience there was an artist that was standing up and speaking to the panelists. He seemed to be very passionate about his concerns. I couldn’t catch the entire question, but I did catch the answers from the panelists. From what it seemed like, I would think that the artist asked something about how come A&R’s and managers don’t scout more Canadian talent to enter into the mainstream Hip Hop scene in all of North America, not just Canada. The panelists responded with honesty and candor. But then again who knows if they were being sincere or just trying to get past the question. It seemed like there was a low energy frequency just floating around the conference room. I saw people slouched deeply into their chairs, and some even sleeping. It caught me off guard. I expected more questions, more life, more ambition from the opportunities that these artists paid for by purchasing a ticket to speak to top industry pro’s.
The next artist made a comment about how in Toronto there seems to be this trend going that has people planning showcases that make the artists pay a certain amount of money via ticket sales to be able to perform. The panelists all had a turn at answering this concern, and it all came down to this:
– keep going with your music
– do as many shows as you can
– put out quality content
– build a fanbase
– when it’s your time, we will find you, and sign you.
Anyways, Moving on…
The next panelist to grace the stage was the Featured Guest. Mr Robert Fernandez, manager of International Superstar Pitbull. After they gave the introduction, they opened up the floor for questions. After a brief moment of silence someone asked a question. (brief felt long) I don’t recall what that question was. Next was my turn. I asked Mr Fernandez if they were scouting up and coming Latin Hip Hop Artists and if they planned on developing a new breed of “Pitbulls”. He answered by saying, “yes of course, the next artist we are developing is Fito Blanko”. I looked at him with a sour face and sat down. I was hoping he would say something like “what you think you got what it takes?”, and I would have replied with a “hell yeah” and busted out verse 1 from my song “Milagro”
Now here is where things get interesting.
The next question that someone asked him was if he could explain the process of how he became a successful manager. Mr Fernandez went into as much detail as he could. I’ll break it down:
– invested money into a label
– label didn’t do well
– took action to help the label grow
– signed some artists
– dumped more money into the artists
– made connections with other artists (Lil John)
– got introduced to pitbull when he was wearing baggy jeans and had corn rows
– took an interest
– hooked him up with Lil John
– got him on the “Kings of Crunk”
and the rest is history.
As I sat there and listened to him speak about all the money they dumped into Pitbull, all the time that passed, and all the steps he took to get to where he is today, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of anger, envy, jealousy, and disappointment. My blood was boiling. I had to leave. I got up and left in an extremely sour mood. I ended up catching the sour vibe that I felt when I first walked into the room. Strange. I went to my car, pulled out my Ipad, and started planning steps that I needed to take to make some major moves with my music career.
I wasn’t feeling those negative emotions towards Mr Fernandez. I was feeling that way towards myself. I hate to say this, but I’ve wasted SO MUCH FUCKING TIME! All the steps and resources needed to manifest ANY GOAL is either a phone call away, a couple of websites away, a meet and greet away, or a few baby action steps away. I’m fully aware of what it takes to make things happen, but since I have created walls around my ambition, I have put off some of the things that I love to do most, WRITE, PERFORM, and SHARE with the world….for a price…. I have never put a value on my art, and therefore that has led me to where I am today, a starving artist.
I’ve put up so many limiting beliefs. It’s sickening. Things like:
– I need a manager to do things for me
– I need an agent
– I need a street team
– Nobody cares
– I don’t have the time to market myself
– I don’t have the money
All of these limiting beliefs are powerful enough to stop me from getting anywhere before I even attempt to start. I’ve had loads of support, I’ve had tons of fans, and I’ve had more than 10,000 hours of freestyling, over 500 songs written to date, and I’ve performed over 120 shows in the past 10 years. I’ve lived the dream. I just didn’t follow through with the next steps.
The way the mind of an unsigned artist should work is like this:
– think of an idea
– find ways to manifest that idea
– take baby action steps towards accomplishing those baby steps
– do not move on to the next step until you accomplish that first step
– stay positive, energetic, optimistic
– believe in the final outcome
– expect nothing but the bliss that comes from knowing your making moves
– let the universe do the rest.
Back to the blog:
I was in such a pissy mood. For the next 4 hours I felt like such a loser. I was angry with myself and fairly confused with the thoughts of contemplating whether or not I should give up on my dream of making a living touring the world making, providing, and sharing music/motivation with people. I just felt like giving it all up, because clearly if I was making any moves I would have been in a different state of mind at the moment. My boys Niko and Sheldon couldn’t even cheer me up, and believe me they tried!
After dinner we stopped by one of Niko’s friends place since we were in the area and Niko had to go grab his bike. We went to Smile Music and Film Productions and the owner Victor Crowl gave us a most welcoming greeting. I would imagine that Mr Crowl has some sort of healing power because immediately he sensed there was something wrong with me and he performed a healing technique on me that changed everything. I won’t get into the details, but lets just say after 10 mins of healing therapy, I felt like a new man! It was amazing. Thank you Victor.
By the time we were ready to leave his studio, Victor asked me “so what you gonna do now”, I said “I’m gonna go back to CUMC and I’m going to be myBestSelf!”
So on we went.
Before heading back into the conference, the following events happened:
We made a pact to go back inside and gather as many twitter contacts as we can so we can tweet this link to every single one of them and show them what we did in the parking lot across the street from the venue. We were extremely adamant about sharing how good we felt doing what we do best. We bust freestyles and we love it. We’re not just artists. We’re Freestyle Artists, and that my friends is a Genre on it’s own as of right now.
While we were in the lobby waiting to head inside, there was cameramen trying to get people who were in line waiting to go in, to sing. Nobody would step up to the plate. Until a man named Marcos Mendosa stepped up.
Imagine a room with about 300-400 people all in a very close proximity to each other. Now imagine a backdrop, a camera, a mic, and lights on the backdrop. As far as I’m concerned, when someone asks me to perform, I’m on it!
I did what I do best. I shared my passions with all of those people and with the camera. Niko and I just went in! Beat box, rap, singing, backflips, positive messages, crowd pleasing, and more!
We were the center of attention. It felt amazing to be my best self once again and to share my love of performing with all of those people who I had never met.
After those random performances, the contacts and twitters began to pour in.
The Moral of the Story is:
1. Never give up on what you love
2. Never stop executing ideas
3. Never stop believing in yourself
4. Never doubt your skills, talents, or abilities
5. Never be afraid to ask for help
6. Never settle. Ever.
So who are “The One’s to Watch” for in 2013?
Owner and Creator of FITHOP
Performing Artist, Singer, Former Mr. Intercontinental Canada, Philosopher, Recording Engineer
Performing and entertaining is probably the most recognized aptitude. Currently working as a session musician (stage and studio) and as an accompanist for dance schools and companies, including: New York’s Martha Graham Studio, Ryerson University, Unionville High School/Arts York, Toronto Dance Theatre, Ballet Creole, Dancemakers, DanceTeq- National Ballet of Canada, George Brown College, Cawthra Park and more. Sheldon is a prized Vocalist, Pianist, Dancer, Drummer and Percussionist. He is a former St. Michael’s Choir alumni who was privileged to tour, record, and perform annually at Massey Hall.
From the moment JD touched his first note, he felt the urge to keep playing and learning what he was capable of. Always pushing the envelope and experimenting with new sounds JD made progress incrementally over the years. Throughout his early years life has challenged his will to live leaving him hopeless at times but opportunity presented itself as a result of these challenges which led JD back to his piano time and time again. Each time he had no one to hear his pain, but it was the piano that allowed him to express these internal states of turmoil. The music he composed through these moments of expression brought about intricate phrases throughout the story line he arranged. Constantly striving to push the envelope of creativity, experimenting with new sounds at every key struck, increasing dynamics of amplitude and rhythm from key signature to time signature. Increasing and decreasing tempo to find the right sequence to best describe his emotion.
At times he was pleased with his progress surpassing his prior best, but there also seemed to be more possibilities after each passage of notes.
Only to find that this method did not satisfy his hunger for improvement, he started to explore the emotions in others. Yearning to understand his peers he would play for the enjoyment of others hoping to receive their blessings and appraisal for the best sound and most accurate expression derived from the atmosphere created by the audience. He wanted his music to effect people in ways no one else ever did.
He studied the most accomplished of piano players and established musicians to gain inspiration from. Implemented new techniques and exercises taking his style to the next level and was appreciated and respected by his musical peers.
JD Keyz is an aggressive player, his imagination of sound is only comparable to that of epic movie soundtracks with twists of dubstep, trance, and electro.