2.13.2011

SmCity: The Indie Life Manual

Even though I enjoy more than my fair share of it, one of my major issues with mainstream HipHop (and the entertainment industry by extension) is the glorification of a lifestyle very few actually have the time and money to live. If you take a lot of rappers you hear on the radio at face value, their whole day consists of partying, having sex, shopping, smoking weed and drinking. Throw in a few gun shots, drug deals and rides in luxury cars and we have a reoccurring cycle of the best day ever.

I can appreciate the need to create an image that separates artists from the "common" man, but what I don't understand is the need to completely hide the work that goes into providing those amenities they love to floss, especially the artists that are actively involved in the business side of their career and other side ventures. If listeners were to simply write them off as chronic partiers without a care in the world, each and everyone one of them would be offended because it would be completely dismissive of their struggles with industry politics, budgets, marketing and personal situations that take place right alongside the puffs of weed and sips of alcohol. It's one of the reasons I love listening to indie artists.

One of the artists willing to expose listeners to everything that goes into being independent with major dreams is the D.M.V.'s SmCity. The Indie Life, Sm's debut album, is, in essence, a manual for taking control of one's career and navigating through the trials, tribulations, successes and affects of chasing the dream of "making it."

Starting with an examination of the ultimate goal, I Miss You is another entry on the list of songs using female imagery as a euphemism for success. While this could easily be viewed as overdone to some, Sm does a good job of keeping the concept fresh with references to Jay-Z, Nas, Oprah and Stedman, Kevin Garnett, Kobe, Shaq and LeBron that further paint her as an elusive slut.

While she may be elusive, Sm recognizes that capturing her isn't impossible. It really comes down to the process. Beginning with setting the right expectations (Get Low) and ending with taking control of the situation (My Own Boss), The Indie Life also highlights the glue that binds the beginning and the end. The most important aspect of getting to the finish line means putting yourself and your team in the right position to win (Play Your Part, Doing to Much). This is most evident in the title song.

I wasted so much time for a label to find me
I ended up finding myself
Then I ended up signing myself
And yeah I sold my soul
But I ended up buying myself
And I needed a staff
So I ended up hiring myself
And I sucked at making beats
So I fired myself



Since The Indie Life is a 360-degree view, it would be reckless to overlook the cost and risks of chasing a dream. Sleeping With the Enemy and Return the Call detail the toll chasing a dream can take on a relationship, while All My Friends highlights the low lights of friendships come and gone as business and friends do not always align or end the way they started.

The Indie Life may be about Sm's dreams of reaching his goals as an artist and business man, but the lessons and examples can be applied to all walks of life. Every path to success is laced with benefits and rewards and costs and risks. The important thing is recognize them and navigate accordingly. Going too hard or indulging in too many Selfish Thoughts could lead you to the Dream Cemetery.


Sm City- The Indie Life

Bonus:

Don't forget to check out SmCity at tonight's The Indie Life concert, headlined by Black Milk and featuring Gods'Illa and X.O.

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