I remember the first time I saw the “Through The Wire” video on BET. I was a high schooler sitting on the couch, flipping through channels until I landed on the video. I had no idea who this Kanye West was, but I knew I wanted to hear more from him. When my sister purchased “The College Dropout”, I borrowed the album from her so much that I forgot she was the one who originally bought it. It was a no-brainer that a few years later, I would buy “Late Registration” and then “Graduation”, an album that I played to the point of obsession in my freshman dorm.
Kanye’s sound and sentiment took a turn after that trio of very perfect albums, but I remained loyal. I held on. In 2011, I flew from Boston to Baltimore for one night to attend the “Watch The Throne” tour with my best friend. But, by the time “Yeezus” came around, my fandom wavered. I didn’t buy the album. The tracks I did hear didn’t make a lot of sense, and I found myself turning to J. Cole, a rapper whose lyrics and knack for storytelling reminded me more of the old Kanye. I would YouTube the old Kanye songs, longing for the time when a man dropped an ad lib in the middle of a song apologizing because his mouth was wired shut.
I do not want to become a Kanye West when it comes to my writing.
Last week I got entrenched in several heated conversations about the direction in which I’ve taken my blog. And by heated, I mean people close to me calmly offered their thoughts about how they have seen the blog change and evolve because I solicited their opinions, and I pretty much just wanted to curse everyone out. When people discuss Twenties Unscripted, it’s kind of like someone telling someone else how to raise their child. It’s difficult not to get immediately defensive and overly explanatory because you believe only you know what’s best for your offspring. However, when I finally processed all of the conversations–I have a tendency to react first, process, then revisit the chat with less of a go-fuck-yourself attitude–I realized the overall theme from these conversations was just that the direction has noticeably changed, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Still, I wondered if I had Kanye Wested my readers, if I had gone so far left from where I was early on when I would write about my dates that I now felt too removed, too distant, too above it all. I have said before that this is a personal blog that has simply gotten less personal, but I realize there is still a need to shed my layers from time to time and write the stories that reflect my insecurities, vulnerabilities and fuckedupness. I also know those insecurities, those vulnerabilities and that fuckedupness look a hell of a lot different than they once did.
Art changes because people change. I didn’t buy Yeezus, but I get it. I get that for better or worse, who Kanye West is now is not who Kanye West was in 2005, so his work will represent that. I stopped reading one of my favorite blogs because it started to feel less like truth and more like click bait, given that the blogger had taken off and needed to continue to get her coins. I am not as hooked on Scandal as I used to be, and I am still trying to figure out what the hell happened last Thursday. All of these are examples of artistry changing because the masterminds behind them change as people.
This space has grown up and I now know what I want it to look like and how I want it to feel. I realize that I have a mic in my hand, people are listening and I am not going to just stumble through my speech. I know that when you have people’s attention, you should not waste their time. I believe in the power and gravity of this moment for my writing. I feel it, I see it, I know it, I respect it, I honor it and I cherish it. I also know that once you’ve been called a whore, a naive fuck and a dumb nigger by random trolls, yes, you are going to become much more protective of your experiences. You aren’t going to be so quick to blab about your personal life. You are going to give people less access. If someone comes into your house and takes a shit in the middle of the floor, you are probably going to stop letting people into your house so freely.
The first few years of TU were really about the sassy and smart-assy take on growing up. These years now are more about the sincere take on growing up. These years are about a coming-of-age story marked by the aggressive pursuit of my dreams, the gall to challenge societal norms, and the fight to become the woman I want to be. Still, I know my biggest challenge this year as a writer will be to balance strength with vulnerability in every strand of my work. Temper privacy with transparency. Embody the sincere, the sassy and the smart-assy. I came into the year with a grand plan for what I would do, but now I am taking a step back to focus on how I want to do it.
The people who were with you on Day 1 may not be with you on Day 500. In fact, most won’t. All you can do is roar your truth, believe in your path and blaze the trail you are so sure you have been sent here to create.