Every bloody second of your life

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Life happens in the moment. Life is forever fresh. The point between this moment and the next is all there is. Keep in the game, and keep changing with the game.

When RuPaul met Norman Lear

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Norman Lear turns 95 later this month (on Thursday 27 July 2017). In his time, there was no-one hotter in the TV game. In a charming, life-affirming chat on Rupaul’s What’s The Tee podcast, he explains the key insight on life that he’s picked up while getting to this point. It’s all about living in the moment. Lear tells RuPaul:

“It took you every split-second of your life to get here to talk to me. If there was a hammock between this moment and the next, that would be what I think of when I think of living in the moment. If it takes every bloody second of your life to get some place, make the best of it. How can you do otherwise?”

Lear’s reputation is built on having created a bewildering succession of smash-hit US TV series. He is still creating TV shows today. In his position – rapidly homing in on a century on this earth – he could be forgiven for getting nostalgic. But Lear refuses to rest on his laurels. He stays engaged. Life is forever fresh. I love his nostalgia-free, engaged take on modern TV:

“I’m convinced this is the golden age, because twice a week at the least, some good friend says ‘You mean you’re not watching…?’ and they mention something I’ll watch, and it’s terrific.”

For Lear, sustained achievement is about luck, an empathy and interest in people, and an enthusiastic willingness to keep changing up his game over time.

Long may Mr Lear reign.

Nothing is quick in the desert

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Public Enemy rapper Chuck D turns 57 next month (on Tuesday 1 August). Right now, Public Enemy are celebrating 30 years in the game. It took them every bloody second of their collective lives to get to this moment.

Hip hop is all about the moment. The game is all about keeping fresh, keeping relevant, keeping engaged and engaging the crowd. The game will change from one second to the next. The next MC and the next seismic shift in hip hop music is always just around the corner. There is no room for slip-ups.

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That Public Enemy have hit three decades is inspirational to me. They’ve released a very good new album – entitled Nothing is Quick in the Desert – as a free download to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Musically, the album reflects their evolution into a relentless live band that fully integrates live instrumentation with old school hip hop DJ-ing. There are no gaps between tracks, the songs hitting hard and constantly changing with the structure of a storming live set.

Lyrically, this is still the PE we know and love. Public Enemy’s engagement at the state of the world, their rage at what they see and their positive message that people can achieve change, all are present and correct. I love this lyric from the track So Be It:

“Whatever you want in the world, start by being it.”

Long may PE reign.

When Lamar met Mack

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Kendrick Lamar just turned 30 last month. Right now there’s no hotter MC in the rap game. It is his moment. But hip hop’s pace of innovation and change can’t, won’t, don’t stop. The next contender is always stepping in the arena. These past few days, I can’t stop watching an amazing video of Kendrick Lamar having his mind blown by a brand-new hip hop contender, YouTube rapper Harry Mack.

Freestyle rap is not easy. Harry Mack makes it look effortless. Harry Mack raps from the top of his head over Mobb Deep’s Survival of the Fittest (in tribute to their recently deceased MC Prodigy). Throughout the freestyle, Kendrick feeds Harry Mack keywords, which the latter instantly incorporates into his lyrical flow with an impossible deftness.

The look of delight on Kendrick’s face during Harry Mack’s flow is priceless. Rather than feeling threatened by Harry Mack’s remarkable talent, he is inspired to up his game still further. I love Kendrick’s words of encouragement to the new MC:

“It’s the hunger, it’s the drive, what it does. You’re saying I’m great in your eyes, but you’re great in my eyes. You inspire me. When I see that hunger it runs me right back to the lab, gets me back with my pen.”

Long may Kendrick reign. And I can’t wait to hear what comes next from Harry Mack.

Life happens in the moment.

Life is forever fresh.

  • The image at the top of the page is from the wonderful Japanese artist Hokusai, about whom I blogged recently, and who approached every bloody second of his very long life with joy and a desire to learn and to develop his talent.

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