So it’s mid December and mentally I’m a wreck and it sucks because it’s the holidays so everybody fake happy and everywhere I would go I’d hear stupid ass cheery Christmas music and I wasn’t in the mood to be around people at all and if I had no choice to be around people I would force it. I was forcing everything in my life at that moment. I was pretending that shit was okay and trying to carry on with my business. But it wasn’t real and at that point I just wanted to disappear like I normally do. Not talk to anyone, not answer calls or texts and enjoy my own company. I love being alone because I get a lot of things done when I’m alone and no one can hurt or bother me when I’m alone. If something doesn’t go my way I can deal with it better because it will fall only on me since I’m alone.
At that time I’m trying to write but I’m so out of it mentally that I couldn’t so I wrote a blog post about how I was feeling and I basically shut writing down until further notice. I wasn’t working out anymore. My eating habits became terrible again. I stopped getting up early. I became undisciplined. No one really understood how I felt and the people who knew what was up was telling me what they would do and telling me all this optimistic shit but none of that shit made sense to me because they weren’t in my shoes. I just gave up on talking about anything.
So one day I’m laying in bed and I’m listening to Bootsy Collins and I’m just letting the songs play and the music was making me smile and I haven’t smiled in a while at that point. I probably listened to at least 30 songs in a row and I randomly thought “I’ve never seen Bootsy speak.” I’ve never seen an interview with Bootsy Collins so I turn off the music and go to youtube and type in “Bootsy Collins" interview” I scroll down to see if any title jumps off the screen to me and I see this animation of Bootsy in the thumbnail and the video is called “Tales From The Tour Bus” and I watch it and the video I watched was about Bootsy being hired by The Godfather himself James Brown. The video was hilarious and I went all the way back to the beginning of Bootsy’s story and watched all of the videos. Then I watched George Clinton’s story. Then I watched James Brown’s story. Then I watched Rick James story. I became hooked to this series. So hooked that I watched George Jones story and I never gave a fuck about country music a day in my life. Not even when Nelly did it.
From that day I have listened to funk everyday. I already listened to funk in the form of DJ Quik cause he’s my favorite rapper ever and G-Funk is my favorite type of hip-hop but now I have a different perspective and appreciation for Funk.
Funk got me outta my funk.
It’s difficult for me to be sad when I hear funk. The combination of bass, the fusion of soul and jazz makes me forget about anything I’m dealing with in life. It puts me at ease. Doesn’t matter who I’m listening to. It can be the originator of Funk James Brown. It can be George Clinton and his psychedelic version of funk. Chaka Khan, Klymaxx whoever the artist is funk always puts me in a great place. When I’m working out I’m listening to funk. When I’m commuting to work I’m listening to funk. When I’m at home I’m listening to funk. If I feel myself getting upset or sad about some shit I go straight to listening to Betty Davis. How can I give a fuck about the shit people saying or doing when I have Betty Davis? I can’t.
The key moment of my funk journey that put everything in perspective for me and made me realize that I’m responsible for my happiness and nobody else is Bootsy’s episode of Tales From The Tour Bus and when he started playing for James Brown, James Brown had a one on one conversation with Bootsy and told him to his face that he couldn’t play and he didn’t have “The One.” The “One” is heavy emphasis on the first beat of the measure and it sets the tone for the entire groove. James told Bootsy he can play all the crazy shit he wanted as long as he came back to “The One.” This changed Bootsy craft in 2 ways.
1) Bootsy is a bass virtuoso. Bootsy to the bass is what Floyd Mayweather Jr is to boxing. To have someone tell him he doesn’t know how to play is exactly what he needed because it changed his life. The biggest thing I took from it was that Bootsy listened. He didn’t argue with James. He didn’t ignore with what James said. He learned and implemented the advice into his playing. It showed me that you’re always a student and you never want to lose the willingness to learn. Bootsy made it to playing with James Brown The Godfather of Soul playing the way he was playing his whole life and he changed his style at the drop of a dime. Now I’m sure you’re thinking “It’s James fucking Brown of course he would listen” but you’d be surprised how many creatives have been in similar situations past and present that did the opposite and learned the hard way. If someone has advice about my writing whose done more than me I will surely listen.
2) No mater what you do. You always wanna go back to the basics. The basics are the foundation of everything especially when things are going wrong for you. Bootsy learned the basics of playing the bass. I can give you an example of how the basics are critical. Roy Jones Jr in his prime was arguably the greatest boxer we’ve ever seen but later in his career you started to see a athlete who’s use of the basics wasn’t the greatest. Same with his peer James Toney. They were both gifted but their use of the basics wasn’t the forefront of their styles. Especially on defense. Bernard Hopkins who was less talented than both fighters built his career on the basics. He studied the basics. Bernard Hopkins won a major title at 46 years old then won 2 more titles at 48 and 49 years old. He beat younger fighters in their prime when he was almost 50. That is unheard of. Bernard achieved that because the emphasis he placed on the basics and his lifestyle. Bernard lasted longer than the 2 fighters that were more talented than him. The talent is only a small part of the equation. You need the basics to tie everything together and build something special. I learned this when I wrote a script. Yeah I have imagination and can write funny shit but if I don’t know the basics of screenwriting then the overall story will be garbage.
The final thing I took away from “The One” was Bootsy explanation of how he applied “The One” to life. Bootsy Collins hated being a solo artist even though he was successful. Him being a frontman made him nervous and he would break out in shingles when he would perform. It got so bad he went back to live with his mom back in Cincinnati. One day he’s riding his motorcycle with a girl and they get into a terrible accident where Bootsy fucks up his shoulder so bad that doctors told him he may never play again. He had surgery again and Bootsy was able to continue playing. What he discovered from the accident was that he realized he didn’t grow up wanting to be a solo artist. He just wanted to be apart of a great band. That was Bootsy’s happiness. That was his “One.” You have to figure out what your “One” is in life and you have to keep coming back to it no matter what. Regardless if you’re in a good place or bad place go back to your “One.” Just like the basics. When you see sports teams overcome adversity when they’re losing they always go back to the basics and end up winning. I saw what Bootsy said and realized that my “One” is writing and I had to go back to it. Abandoning writing was the dumbest thing I could’ve done. Writing is the only thing in my life that makes me happy no matter what. It does what humans can’t. It can’t disappoint me. And The Funk can’t either. The Funk saved me.
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