Austin Kleon’s book, “Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative,” was a book that I had been dying to read since it’s release date in March of 2012. I constantly saw the book in my favorite hipster store, Urban Outfitters, however, for some reason I thought it was a fake book — a cute fake book nonetheless. While on my trip to Portland and the awesome bookstore Powells, I finally got my hands on the little book. To be small, the book is filled with lots of helpful tips to allow you to explore your creativity. Some tips were things we know as humans, while others were not so common sense.
With the book, Kleon focuses significantly on the difference between being creative and using influence for inspiration instead of stealing ideas. This is detailed through ten different concepts.
I found this book to be very helpful in helping me explore my creativity because I feel like a lot of times as creative people in whatever profession, we are trying to figure out something that sets us apart and makes us different. As a writer myself, I struggle with this a lot. I want to be known as a journalist with a respected opinion like my idols — Danyel Smith, Lisa Ling and Raquel Cepeda, but I didn’t want to be like them. I want to define my own style. After reading Kleon’s book I realize that I still have to define my own niche but looking to them as guidance, as well as their idols for guidance is fine and a good way to get inspired.
After reading the book there are some additional principles that I will take with me such as the following:
1. Keep your day job I know that this is a thing that I should do, however, every day I go to work I want to quit. Granted, I work four hours a day, but, man — I hate working for and with other people. They kill my vibe, especially all of their personalities. Kleon says, “A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them.”
2. Leave your home “Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder.”
3. Write what you like “The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like. Write the kind of story you like best — write the story you want to read. The same principle applies to your life and your career: Whenever you’re at a loss for what move to make next, just as yourself, “What would make a better story.”
4. Save your thefts for later “Carry a notebook and a pen with you wherever you go. Get used to pulling it out and jotting down your thoughts and observations. Copy your favorite passages out of books. Record overheard conversations. Doodle when you’re on the phone.”
I would definitely recommend this book — it’s a fast read, but good and informative nonetheless. Plus, the compact size of the book helps to make this book a functional read a well that you can put in your purse, backpack and etc.
Purchase the book here
On Friday evening, I got a chance to check out Toro Y Moi live at The Independent in San Francisco. I’ve been to the venue hundreds of times , however, I have never seen it so packed. Everyone in the show seemed to generally want to have a great time — people in front of me made sure I can see, people walking around said things like excuse me — it was pretty interesting. Below are some videos from the show with two of my favorite tracks, “New Beat” and “Still Sound.”
You can also read my show review via The Examiner here.
Once again, if you followed my previous blog, you’d know I was pretty obsessed with The Seshen, who also call the Bay Area home. When I was first introduced to the group, via an e-mail about their debut track “Oblivion” I was super excited and vowed that I would be a fan of them for days to come — read post here.
After nearly two years, my feelings of love for The Seshen have continued so you can guess, I am pretty excited about their upcoming EP. Here is the first release from their upcoming project in the form of “Turn,” and it’s lovely. The intro harmonies, the production and the vibe of the track overall is love.
If you are in The Bay Area this Friday, The Seshen will be hosting their dual single release party with Guy Fox and Ash Reiter at The Rickshaw Stop located at 155 Fell Street. Lastly, make sure to check out my interview with them for Soul Culture here.
This is the first post on my brand new blog. Rawemag, is still a love of mine — however, I wanted to have a place to encompass everything that I love — music, books and some good ass food. That’s what this site is for, hopefully, you dig it.
That being said, if you read my old site – you’d know I have a huge love of UK Songbird Lianne La Havas shown here, here, here . Not only is she an amazing songwriter and singer — she also sounds amazing live which is a skill that a lot of people don’t know how to do. I gush every time I talk about her a little.
From her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough? one of my favorite tracks is “Elusive.” The song, which was originally performed by Scott Matthews, is one of my favorite tracks on the album. I love the way her voice sounds, the lyrics and everything. Finally, the track gets the visual treatment courtesy Colin Solal Cardo. She looks absolutely stunning in this video man. If you still haven’t got her debut album, make sure to do that here. Also, if she is coming to your city — make sure to get tickets to the show ASAP, like I said, she puts on an amazing show.
Grammy Award Winning singer Alica Keys has come a long way from sitting behind a piano, with braids and beads singing about “Falling.” She is now an accomplished singer/songwriter, wife and first time mother with Grammy’s, number one songs, and sold out shows under her belt. She is also on a new label, RCA, since J Records is now defunct. The evolution that Keys has gone through is documented on her latest effort, Girl on Fire.
For the album, which was recorded shortly after her wedding to producer Swizz Beatz, and the birth of her son, Egypt, Keys enlists help from a great roster: Emeli Sande, Stacy Barthe, Babyface, Swizz Beatz (baby daddy), Dr. Dre, Frank Ocean, Bruno Mars, and etc. The album also includes collaborations from singer Maxwell, and Nicki Minaj. The end result, is a beautiful album full of love, passion and excitement with where she is in life currently. There’s also those “first time mom” moments that singers turn to incorporating vocals from their children, example: Whitney Houston’s “My Love is Your Love.”
The album opens with “Brand New Me” which was co-written with singer Emeli Sande. A song full of confidence, and independence as Keys sings essentially, as the title alludes to, not being the same girl she was before. Singer Stacy Barthe lends her hand to writing one of the most beautiful songs on the album, “When It’s Over.” The track features great production from Keys that would sound amazing live. The song has a “My Love Is Your Love,” vibe ironically, and speaks to if her world were to end, at least she had her one true love. Keys sings, “When they lay me down, put my soul to rest, when they ask me how I spent my life, at least I got to love you. When it’s all over, when it’s all said and down, at least I got to love you.” The track ends with an adorable outro from her son Egypt.
The production on “Listen To Your Heart,” laid out by Keys puts you in the mindset of Drake’s So Far Gone, Mixtape produced by 40. The track speaks to having to listen to your heart unlike the cliché tells you to do with doing what your head tells you to do. “New Day,” which features production from Swizz Beatz and Dr. Dre, is a banger. The song, which speaks to celebrating life and not letting the negative things you occur, break you down. “There’s no limitation no, fill up your life, let me see your hands up one time. I celebrate mine, cause I ain’t gonna get no more.” The song, towards the end has a crazy beat breakdown – with heavy drums. Overall, the track evokes a great party like vibe with a positive message.
For “Fire We Make,” Keys recruits crooner and sex symbol, Maxwell, for one of the sexiest songs in her whole discography. The Pop & Oak produced track, will for sure be a baby-maker, its sexy, sensual, and passionate. Definitely, evokes some type of fire for the listeners, not to mention the horns in the bridge only add to the overall sexiness of the song. “One Thing” has an old soul, like vibe, and beautiful lyrics definitely adding to the high points of the album.
For all the good that comes with the album, there are definitely downsides, which first become prevalent with the title track, which preceded the album. The song, “Girl on Fire,” was charted at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, and essentially was created for empowerment to be a metaphor for letting your light shine. “Looks like a girl, but she’s a flame/ So bright she can burn your eyes.” However, what comes across is a forced effort that borders the line of annoyance and trying to hard. The forcing only was further deepened with an added verse from Nicki Minaj for the “Inferno” remix, as well as adding Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas for her performance on MTV’s Video Music Awards. “Not Even a King” has great lyrics, but Keys’ voice sounds whiny.
With this album, Keys, creates an album that clearly shows fans what she’s been doing since releasing her 2009 effort, Element of Freedom. As a whole, the writing on the album is great — almost makes you forget that Alicia Keys isn’t the best singer around. A lot of the lyrics on the album, especially “That’s When I Knew” speak to the way I want to feel about someone one day.
Final Rating: 3.5 / 5
Listen to the Stream Below, and Pre-Order the album here. The album comes out tomorrow.